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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 25, 2014 Comments (0)

In our continuing series of images from prior Monterey Weeks, this issue’s eye candy is from the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in 2013.

My Word

The subject of Denise McCluggage’s column this week, as we move into the second F1 race in two weeks, seems particularly apt.

The Weeky Leek!

Regular readers of our MMR Newsletter recognize how hard we work to keep up a semblance of journalistic integrity. Last week’s report by Rocky Beech (net worth $370) about the proposed 2017 Vatican GP was wildly inaccurate. We have released him from our employ. To set the record straight, no one at the Papal Racing Dept. of the Vatican has denied that the Vat GP is on, but the Vatican has flatly denied that Bernie Ecclestone has been canonized. The two conditions for sainthood, they say, are having performed miracles and being dead. They confess (it’s something they do regularly) that in Mr. Ecclestone’s case there is some doubt about whether either condition has been met.

Book Review: Hard Luck Lloyd

In the Sixties, Lloyd Ruby was one of those drivers that was everywhere. One week at Indy the next driving a Lotus 19 at Mosport. John Lingle has written an excellent biography of this fast and quiet driver and Sabu Advani of Speedreaders.info reviews it for us.

Michael Furman Image

Michael Furman photography

In keeping with our racing theme, Michael Furman’s image of the 1936 Bugatti Type 57G is from the book by Dr. Fred Simeone for which he supplied the images, The Spirit of Competition. The car is a treasure and so is the book. The car is posed against factory preparation notes for the June 20th, 1937 Le Mans race, which it won. The original notes appear to have been made on June 9th, and penciled in beside the line describing the pistons, are the words “too weak” in brackets. (Fr. trop faible)

F1 Racing

Fans of F1 and IndyCar racing had a full day on Sunday as the early morning F1 German GP at Hockenheim was followed by a mid morning IndyCar race in Toronto, postponed by rain from Saturday, and a second mid afternoon race. It was all good racing.

In F1, generally when one team dominates, boring racing follows. Not so this year. The rivalry, antipathy, and animosity between the fair haired multi-national/multi-lingual German Rosberg and the talented but emotionally mercurial “pride of the English streets”, Hamilton, has made each race a compelling opera. The cars are equal and on any given day, the drivers are very close to equal. The Team however has a goal to win the Manufacturers title first and the driver’s championship second and plans its race with those priorities in mind. To maximize their opportunity, they have each driver on a different tire strategy. Ideally, in the dying laps of the race, one car will be ahead on worn tires and being caught up by the other on fresh tires. Who gets which strategy is their determination. Though only at the half-way point, these decisions will come into question more and more as the season winds to a close.

Meanwhile, the race for second place was dramatic and exciting. Qualifying failures and penalties relegated Hamilton to 20th position at the start and always bearing in mind that he and Rosberg had the use of the best cars on the track, his passing skills were none-the-less remarkable. Continuing to impress however was the actual second place finisher, Valteri Bottas, in his Mercedes powered Williams. The car is good, but so is this kid. Williams is good, but it will need to up its game to the top step of the podium if they expect to keep him. Alonso’s attempts at passing Ricciardo’s Red Bull were a fine display of the mixture of aggression and remarkable reflexes that are a requirement of all drivers wishing to compete at the sharp end of this grid. Both appeared to enjoy their tussle and the fans were served a rare F1 treat. Passing.

IndyCar Racing

As mentioned, the rain-delayed Saturday IndyCar race from Toronto was shortened to 65 laps and run on Sunday morning. The concrete barriers, along downtown city streets, defined the track. It was like all the others, bumpy, unimaginative and prone to inducing crashes. But, the field was good and the racing spirited. In the first race, four time Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais won his first race in six years and so another small team was taken to the winner’s circle. The second race was won by Mike Conway who benefitted from a smart call to change from wet to dry tires and caught a lucky break when a full course yellow prevented his competitors from getting into the pits to do likewise until it was too late. Smarts and luck are a nice combination and you definitely need both to win championships. While F1 is going into its second half, the IndyCar season has but four remaining races, two on road courses and two on ovals. The finale being at the dreaded Fontana oval.

Attendance Falls

A note about attendance. It was noted at the German GP at Hockenheim that despite the fact that Mercedes is leading the Manufacturer’s Championship and a German driver is in the lead for the Driver’s Championship, it did not sell out. According to European pre-race reports only one-half of the 95K available were sold and it was politely suggested that the ticket prices at $700 for good seats and $225 for the cheapest were the cause.

On this side of the Atlantic, the IndyCar series has woeful numbers for both on-site and TV viewership. IndyCar may need to look partially at its history to see its future. At one point CART was poised to rival F1. With the series splitting into two competing series from 1996 to 2008, the quality of the racing was compromised and the fan base just went away. IndyCar are back now with a very competitive field and an overall superior product, but they have some tweaking to do to get the fans back. Do you follow IndyCar? Share your thoughts.

Final Broadcasting Thoughts

David Hobbs spoke to a packed crowd at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookilne MA last Saturday. He is very entertaining and had nothing but positive things to say about NBC’s support of F1.

Bob Varsha announced on Sunday that this was his final broadcast of IndyCars. Whither goest Varsha? Does anybody know and will you share?

Hungarian GP this weekend. Enjoy!

Peter Bourassa


My Word: Like a Child

Posted on July 24, 2014 Comments (0)

By Denise McCluggage

When Niki Lauda berated Sebastian Vettel for “screaming like a child” while on the radio to his pits I had an aha moment. Seb was grousing to his pits about the way Fernando Alonso was conducting himself in the pair's remarkable dice at Silverstone.

“Child,” Lauda said. That was the key.

This Formula 1 season, one of the best for some serious racing never mind the obvious dominance of Mercedes-Benz, keeps scratching at something in my memory. And the remark by one three-time champion (Lauda) about a four-time champion (Vettel) and his extraordinary mid-pack 14-lap set-to with a two-time champion (Alonso) put me—zap!—with my big sister in the backseat of a 1936 Oldsmobile on a hot Kansas highway headed for Colorado’s mountains. (“Mama, make her move her foot. She stuck her foot on my side on purpose!” “You touched my arm!” “You touched mine first!”)

Sebastian Vettel    Niki Lauda

Both the champions were complaining to their pits. “Screaming like a child” Lauda said. We were children screaming at a beleaguered Mom in the front passenger’s seat. So “child” fits the scene. But still that wasn’t the element that had been bothering me a few weeks before as I watched a petulant Lewis Hamilton snub a suddenly luckier-than-he Nico Rosberg. “Child” covered that, too.

But Lauda’s remarks swirled it all into focus. These grown men treat competition like children. Just read a few articles by child psychologists on childhood and competition. Some have written books on the destructive effect competition has on little developing egos. You’ve probably seen protectors of self-esteem introduce prizes-for-everyone at kiddy parties—which I certainly don’t object to. Parties are parties. And if you’ve seen kids you’ve seen tears when losing a game is something they can’t quite handle.

Today’s drivers started racing as tots, with helmeted heads barely balanced on reedy necks. Probably their hand-eye coordination developed faster than the neighbor kid’s did. And probably they had the sort of parents who noticed who had greener grass or played more holes of golf on a given weekend. Not competitively really, just noticing.

Kids just notice, too. Particularly how doing something better or earlier or faster or more often can put that special look on Dad’s face. Competition seems to produce the most varied reactions in similar people as anything I can think of. Kids learn early and easily what’s important to parents and that is a guidepost to behavior. Even parents who don’t overtly push their kids in competitive situations (my sister when she was a director of a children’s theater group in California called those parents “Dancing Mothers”) can communicate crushing disappointment to a child. Some kids can handle it, some can’t.

I had two nephews, brothers, who responded as differently as possible to competition. One was blithely oblivious to the pressure. He swam as well as he could that day and sometimes did better than most, but he always had a great time. The water got them equally wet but his older brother would brood the rest of the day if he didn’t win. Yet both as young adults and in different years won a title setting them apart as the best trombonist in all of California. Guess which one—retired from a marketing career now—still plays his horn. And owns a sweatshirt that reads “I may be old but I heard all the great bands.”

The little brother of a friend of mine was a star Little League pitcher. Made the newspapers and local TV. He loved the acclaim. Then he outgrew Little League. The new baseball program he was eligible for found him at the bottom of the heap starting over. Not for him. He simply quit playing baseball. The son of another friend, after he finished second in his first ski race, announced he didn’t like it and would never do it again. And he didn’t.

My own childhood competition was a lot of ping pong with my Dad. And we both were serious. Bright-eyed and eager. When Daddy won he shouted: “Game. Set. Championship of the Wor-r-ld!” That didn’t seem extreme to me. So I’d do the same thing. Girls were not supposed to be competitive and the rules for women’s basketball then allowed only one bounce per dribble. Yes! We could use only half the court (lest we perspire in an unladylike fashion) so we played either defense or offense. Stupid dumb game. Driveway backboards were common enough so after school I played HORSE with the boys. New kids might have to get used to playing with a girl but the regulars were fine with it.

I think I had a healthy attitude toward competition.

Briggs Cunningham Time Magazine cover

But the most unique, and I think healthiest approach to competition I ever encountered was that of Briggs Cunningham, a Corinthian in the original sense of sportsmanship, particularly of yachtsmen. On the water is where Briggs first excelled and he was the skipper of the Columbia when the America’s Cup competition was revived in 1958 after the prewar era of the huge 12 Metre boats.

I was racing some of Briggs’ cars at that time—OSCAs, Formula Juniors and Porsche Spyders. The Columbia was taking on the British yacht in Long Island Sound. And was beating it all hollow. This bothered Briggs terribly. “It’s no fun if the competition isn’t close.”

It was said that the British boat was confounded by the light air; all would be different if there was some serious weather. Yet came a big blow and the Columbia beat the Brits as badly as ever. Now here was Briggs in all seriousness suggesting that to shake things up the American and British teams should swap boats. Maybe the results would be different.

Can you imagine Ted Turner, an American team captain a few years later, suggesting that? His idea of competition was to leave the opponent bloody and pleading for mercy. Nor could Dennis Connor, long an America’s Cup skipper, be called a “sportsman” in the sense Briggs exemplified. Yes, he wanted to win, but mostly he wanted to compete. A challenge.

Here were Vettel and Alonso at Silverstone competing tooth and nail. And complaining to their pits about the driving tactics of the other. Or at least Vettel was “screaming like a child.” What I had felt through this season was an unpleasant tension that made me wonder if these people were actually having any fun. Were they hating what they were doing and who they were doing it with? Is racing only about the boundless money they are pulling in, the rewards, the accolades. I recall falling in love with everyone I had close dices with. At Meadowdale near Chicago Don Yenko (Corvette) and I (250 GT Ferrari) had a terrific go. The race was red-flagged because of some serious incidents among smaller cars also in the race, and we had to stop on the course. Don and I jumped out of our cars and grabbed each other like bears and danced about in what might best be described as glee. That was maybe the most fun I’ve ever had in a race.

Denise McCluggage    Don Yenko

I know racing stopped being a sport and became a costly business when Bernie and his moneymoneymoney culture took over. I was trying to pinpoint just how racing differs today from the days when I was following the scene more intimately and indulging in it myself. Lauda’s “child” remark gave me the answer.

As I said, most of today's drivers started their careers as children—Vettel began his astonishing collection of helmets especially designed for him when he was just eight and already a star. Children like attention, like being told they are wonderful, but they rarely really like competition.

The Formula 1 drivers I was watching weren’t enjoying themselves. Nor were they loving each other. They were doing hard work, displaying great skill. But experiencing pleasure? Not until the flag dropped and they—yippee—won. Children.

Fernando Alonso

But then I had a glimmer. Was Alonso having something of a good time? Even in that Vettel scream fest. And then in the next race, the German Grand Prix, I swear Alonso downright enjoyed himself. And drove fantastically well. 

He and Daniel Ricciardo, the Red Bull rookie from Australia, gave a workshop in tight competition, the art of dicing. And the delight—yes, delight—showed. In both of them. Actual smiles. Maybe a little love.

Now I know who to watch. And enjoy.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Le Mans is done! The world Cup is settled! The Tour de France is moist and shambling and so now a young man’s fancy turns to Monterey! This week we whet your appetite for the upcoming feast by sharing images from Pebbles past. 

Michael Furman’s image this week is a 1927 Bugatti 35C racer

Michael Furman’s image this week is a 1927 Bugatti 35C racer. Stunning! And fitting too!

Last week’s descent into the tabloid world via The Weekly Leek was great fun and enjoyed by most of you who wrote. We also received several suggestions for The Weekly Leek motto but nothing struck a chord; several were funny but too ribald for print. Keep trying team! Of greater import is the offer to write The Weekly Leek from British Motorsports writer Rockford Cantwell-Beech. In his day, Rocky was a hot Formula Ford driver with a bright future until a shunt, as the Brits call it, put paid to his career. I met Rocky at Monza three years ago where he was helping a British team organize their vintage Alfa effort. He is funnier than hell, much closer to F1 than anyone on our team, and I think he will bring credibility to The Weekly Leek. We have separated his column from the editorial and have created a spot for it Short Stories.

Andretti Autosports Stuns the Clever Ones

Masters of the 7/8 mile oval, The Andretti Autosports team won its fifth consecutive IndyCar 300 race and they did it by racing smarter than the Penske and Ganassi teams. Regular readers know that oval races are not our favorites. Indy is redeemed by its history, just as Fontana is condemned by its. In between, the remainder are what they are. But the last two races, at Pocono and Iowa, were interesting and far more entertaining than expected. In the end, with 15 laps to go, the Andretti Autosports team put on new rubber and when the race went green with 10 laps left they beat the cars that had been faster all night. Historically, that is a Penske kind of win. Ganassi driver Scott Dixon, who led 17 laps and was fighting teammate Tony Kanaan for the win, finished fourth. The TV camera caught a none-too-pleased Dixon sharing his disappointment with Ganassi team manager Mike Hull. He said the one-word expletive that said it all for everyone else.

Weekend Reminders:

David Hobbs speaks at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum tomorrow afternoon. Ticket are not for sale at the door and can be purchased via the New England Region Porsche Club of America.

We hope to see you there.

F1’s German GP is this weekend and the IndyCars are once again bouncing between the concrete barriers for a Saturday and a Sunday race in Toronto.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa

Pebble Beach - Alfa 7011

Pebble Beach Mascot

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach - The American


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 11, 2014 Comments (0)

This issue will have a photographic bent. Beginning with our lead image and eye candy by MMR Newsletter Editor and Photographer Dom Miliano.

Michael Furman photography -- silver Jaguar D-Type

Michael Furman’s featured image is the silver Jaguar D-Type.

Never aware that he is a car person, we often receive informative and entertaining information about photography by a Malaysian blogger named Ming Thein. His latest blog compares the two worlds in a country where import duties and taxes oblige enthusiasts of each to make hard choices.

F1 – FLASH! MMR GOES TABLOID!

MMR Publisher explains, “We Stoop to Conquer”.

Peter the Publisher says: In a desperate effort to grow our audience we are abandoning insightful commentary for rumor and innuendo. It comes more naturally to us, it is more fun, and it is cheaper. Modeled on the British tabloids and the ever irreverent The Onion, but smaller, we will be henceforth known as The Weekly Leek.

We need a motto. All suggestions are welcome and the winner will receive a Ferrari Transporter image signed by Denise McCluggage.

This is our sample; please tell us what you think.

Coronation Street debuted 54 years ago and is the second longest running soap opera production in Britain. Formula 1 is the first! One moment distraught and depressed, the next exultant and ebullient, Lewis Hamilton is the lead car occupant on an emotional roller coaster ride that appears to have countless Brits crammed into all the following cars. The lives of his and previous F1 drivers still dominate the front pages of the tabloids in Britain much as the antics of rich and infamous do in America. Seemingly, the more flawed their native heroes, the better the Brits love ‘em. Nigel Mansell (net worth $90M), the talented but emotionally unbalanced star of the ‘80s, while considered the punch line for most insider F1 jokes elsewhere, remains “their Nige”. Scoop: The Weekly Leek has learned that three weeks ago, in a private ceremony , Nige was knighted by the Queen. All did not go well. As tradition demands, his sovereign tapped him on each shoulder with her sword. Sir Nigel promptly fell to the ground writhing in pain and was taken to Royal & Ancient Dumbugger Hospital where, at his insistence, he was pronounced dead. Before him, James Hunt, only recently sanitized by Hollywood, was the perfect walking disaster that sold newspapers all day long. The will he or won’t he aspect of their lives and those of their relatives, acquaintances and dog walkers, are fodder for an insatiable public that can seemingly never get enough.

The Weekly Leek Predicts! At some point within the next two years, Hamilton will be back at McLaren and British tabloids will have their biggest sales day since Charles discussed personal hygiene with Camilla! “McLaren is mother’s milk to Lewis and the only place in the pits where he is consistently loved” Ronny Dennis recently told The Weekly Leek.

Meanwhile, the somewhat less loved Kimi Raikkonen (net worth $130M), whose crash last weekend is a metaphor for his season, and his career, has announced that when his Ferrari contract expires at the end of next year, he will no longer race in F1. Hmmm. The Weekly Leek wants to know: What is it he doesn’t get?

Flash News for Kimi! From Shakespeare’s Henry V to the troops before the battle of Agincourt: Proclaim it through my host that he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made and crowns for convoy put into his purse . “We didn’t keep you on through the end of your previous contract when you won a championship for us, and we won’t do it this time either”, said Ferrari President Monty Zemolo. If, like the folks here at The Weekly Leek, you enjoy the irony of negative achievement, you have to chuckle at the fact that the Kimster has probably taken more money from the Ferrari factory for NOT doing something, than the average Ferrari employee has earned in a career of turning up every day to work.

IndyCar – Houston Race Medical Alert!

Flash! The Weekly Leek has learned that twelve IndyCar drivers were hospitalized with kidney failure after a bumpy parking lot race last weekend in Houston! IndyCar has responded by insisting that all future parking lot event cars be equipped with onboard dialysis machines. Drivers with weak kidneys or bladders are encouraged to find a smoother series. Spectators complaining of blurred vision and sore necks from trying to watch the race were advised by British doctors to sod off.

IndyCar Holds Secret Race at Obscure Location!

Pocono Raceway, best known for being one corner short and 30 miles from the home of Mario Andretti, was the site of last week’s IndyCar race. Organizers blame low attendance on either a lack of GPS satellite access in this remote area of Pennsylvania or the Tupperware party at Mario Andretti’s home.

Success Softens Penske

After 500 miles on the Pocono tri-oval, 37 year old Juan Pablo Montoya (Net worth $35M), led 39 year old Helio Castroneves (net worth $30.2M), to an exciting one two finish over their younger competitors for their jubilant 77 year old Captain, Roger Penske (Net worth $1.1B). The Weekly Leek has learned that AARP (3.1 M served) will sponsor next year’s race and only drivers qualifying for membership will be allowed to compete. The trophy party will be at inevitable race winner Mario Andretti’s house. (After the Tupperware party.)

The average speed of the race was over 102 mph and was run caution-free for 158 laps. Montoya lost the upright winglet on his front wing when he clipped the back end of Championship points leader and teammate Will Power’s (net worth N/A) car. At another point, Power, at approximately 210 mph, made what race officials judged to be one more blocking move than allowed on teammate Castroneves. The close call earned him a drive-thru penalty that may have cost him the race and most certainly a good points paying finish. But the Captain was positively exuberant in the winner’s circle and when asked about Power’s obviously dangerous move that might have cost the team two cars at the very least, seemed unphased, announcing that “they are racers”. This mellow boys will be boys attitude is a side to Roger Penske we have never seen before. Prozac?

The Weekly Leek Late Breaking news: Bernie (net worth 4.2B) announces Vatican City Grand Prix for 2015! More next week.

Don’t forget to pass this on to a friend and also to tell us what you think about The Weekly Leek.

Peter Bourassa
Head Leeker



MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 27, 2014 Comments (0)

We received many positive comments about Sandy’s Mille Miglia story. It certainly seemed a feast for all the senses and we thank Jonathan Kirshtein for his post. We have included the image which Sandy took of him and local Alfa enthusiast Andy Kress at the starting ramp. Jonathan lives in New England and this brings it all close to home. Le Mans is all over this issue. Denise McCluggage’s story this week is a personal reminiscence of her salad days with Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez. As ever Denise finds a clever way to tie that into something meaningful today and how tempus has fugit.

Le Mans Redux

If you had any doubts about just how important this 24 Hour race is to manufacturers, check out the two videos produced after the race by Audi, the winners and Porsche, the losers. And please note the quality of the work.

F1 in Austria

Williams podium

A most entertaining battle of engineering subtleties, their effect on tires and braking and the drivers best equipped by their teams and best prepared mentally to win. Much is being made of the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg, and two more contrasting figures it would be difficult to script, but the weekend really belonged to the Williams Team. With help from a desperate Hamilton, they locked up the front row of the grid and their driver Valterri Bottas, the unassuming and very gracious Finn who finished third, made an indelible impression. He definitely has talent.

The new Red Bull circuit looks interesting and certainly is challenging for both the drivers and the cars. Deiter Mascitsch spent a fortune redoing it and bringing F1 back to Austria, and good on him. But one has to wonder why Turn 8, with its yards of painted surface is still pretty Mickey Le Mouse. I think F1 expects better. And while we are complaining, the ads on NBC S/N are also a pain in the driver’s seat area.

New Red Bull circuit

911 x 911

Adrianne Ross, Editor of The Nor’ Easter, the Porsche New England Chapter magazine, has reviewed 911 x 911, a new Bull Publishing book done in conjunction with Porsche. As she explains succinctly, this is a different take on the 911.

Affordable Classics

Any Enzo-era Ferrari with a racing history and less than 1000 brethren are destined to make auction numbers that are unaffordable for most of us. That is commendable, but it also takes them out of the let’s get out there on the winding cart path or the packed snow and kick the snot out of this thing class. Fortunately, there are still some great cars available for under $75K that can be driven the way they were meant to be driven without worry about whether the kids’ college tuition is on the line if you screw up. Alfas, BMWs, Morgans, older Porsches that don’t have special engines, a lot of these are still affordable to own and fix. Volante Classics (link) in Wilmington MA, specializing in these older affordable classics, is having an Open House at their new Facility in Wilmington on Saturday and Sunday. Stop by and take a look at their inventory and restoration facility. Hope to see you there.

Our images this week are from the Mille Miglia by Sandy Cotterman (below). 

Our Michael Furman image is that of a well-used Vauxhall hood. This is patina of the very best kind.

Michael Furman image of a well-used Vauxhall hood

IndyCars are at Houston this weekend for a double header.

Have a great weekend,

Peter Bourassa

The Mille Miglia by Sandy Cotterman

The Mille Miglia by Sandy Cotterman

The Mille Miglia by Sandy Cotterman

The Mille Miglia by Sandy Cotterman

The Mille Miglia by Sandy Cotterman

The Mille Miglia by Sandy Cotterman