MMR Blog

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


My Word: Being 16 at Le Mans

Posted on June 26, 2014 Comments (1)

… and elsewhere.

by Denise McCluggage

A useful capability for those who write for “publication” on the internet is the ease of correcting errors, typos or the God’s-truth you just now discovered was really not true. Try to do that with a newspaper or magazine. Even then the internet’s first incorrect version floats its way through cyberspace in parallel inaccuracy to the corrected piece. Bother.

Alas, too often no one bothers to make the changes anyway. And because many Google-it, researchers on a hasty harvest of facts choose the first source they come to, they seed their new columns and articles with old errors. Thus do the weeds of inaccuracies proliferate and are blown farther afield.

(I’ll be getting to Le Mans soon.)

I think of my mountain-side house in Vermont where I lived with my heavy typewriter and a lighter cat and mailed (mailed!) stuff I wrote to editors in New York and elsewhere. I had to drive at least 30 miles to a library of any serious use where I fingered through card catalogs; lugged bound magazines to those things called “carrels”, or fiddled with microfiche in search of Facts.

Now in Santa Fe I stay at home office-chaired before a computer, which is quicker and grabbier than a host of human searchers, and dumps before me indiscriminate information with facts, factoids, suppositions, misapprehensions, simple blunders and purposeful lies. Some of these are recognizable to me for what they are. Some require more tracking and sourcing. Throughout I wonder if truth and accuracy are really better served than when I wheeled a Land Rover, yellow like a school bus, over snowed-on New England roads to Dartmouth or the University of Vermont campuses to a library where I could check things. Were facts a truer blue then for my efforts?

In any era, GIGO.

I was brought to this rumination by an article on the internet by a colleague of mine at AutoWeek—Anthony Peacock—whose name and writing I like. It was about a 16-year-old yclept Matt McMurray who this year, 2014, became the youngest driver ever to compete in the 24-hours race at Le Mans (aha!). I read it for several reasons: For one, to me 16 is an age larded with meaning. The difference between going to bed a child and waking up with the door swinging open to adulthood. Or, more limited to my gender but of significance as you shall see—the difference between wearing high heels or flat shoes.

Anyway it was I who at 16 one late summer day boarded a Union Pacific train in Topeka KS and click-clacked across half a nation to Oakland CA. There I disembarked more or less ready to begin my first of four years at Mills College, a highly regarded women’s college for which I had landed a scholarship. I had never been to California. I was all by myself. Alone. There was a war on, as we were constantly reminded, and common knowledge had it that the Japanese were certain to bomb the West Coast any time. People thought my parents were totally bonkers to turn me over to the Union Pacific.

The train rollicked about in its mostly forward intentions, but I walked the passageways secure in 16-year-old balance and my flat shoes. However before leaving the train at the Oakland station I changed into my high heels. Nothing extreme—just workaday high heels, for those who worked days and wore high heels. I think I could count on one hand the times I had worn such shoes, but I was being met at the train by someone from College. Childhood was over.

The image I have of my disembarkation was of my portable Zenith radio, at the time the smallest version of such devices was the approximate size and weight of a Buick battery, flying halfway across the platform. I had flung it thus when I caught one of the unfamiliar heels in the top step, ripping it off the shoe, scattering everything in hand and upsetting any hope of a near-adult’s smooth arrival. Luckily for me I was dumped into the arms of a handy and helpful Pullman porter on the platform.

He then helped me find the heel, collect my belongings and dig the sensible-for-a 16-year-old flat-soled shoes from my bag. Down a peg but no bones broken I proceeded to meet those from college—now without a capital letter—who were to meet me.

Thus 16 has been an age I pay attention to.

Almost fifteen years after that I was at Le Mans, camera in hand but also hoping to be allowed to race there the car I had been offered by Luigi Chinetti. There, too, was a pair of teen-aged brothers from Mexico who had the motor racing world agog with their good looks, keen spirit and uncommon talent. Ricardo at 16 was two years younger than his brother, adorable and spoke little English. Pedro, only a tad less dashing, had been to school in the United States and his English was fluent.

Ricardo Rodriguez Pedro Rodriguez

Ricardo (left) | Pedro and his little brother

I knew them both, raced at Nassau with them … was even photographed for Sports Illustrated with Ricardo. The title of the piece was “Look Who’s Racing” which meant a girl and a child. (Oy. What are we coming to?) Ricardo was also hoping to be allowed to race at Le Mans that year. Officials had dithered over his age despite his extraordinary experience.

When I spotted the brothers on the pit wall the day before practice was to start I had just come from the inspection site where I had watched Luigi plead my case to M. Acat, head of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, forever the race organizers. Luigi had some clout at Le Mans having won the race at that time more than any other driver (three). I watched him across the way, shoulders shrugging, his mouth shaping French words for this imperious little man before him who had a profound power over my life for the next few days. Camera or car. Then Luigi came to where I, unbreathing, awaited. He shrugged another shrug. “Monsieur Acat says, ‘This is an invitational race and we do not cho-o-se to invite women.” With Luigi’s accent it came out “sh-o-oes”.

Simple. No. You cannot race at Le Mans. Stock up on film.

I asked Pedro if he had a ride. Yes, he did. And you? No. Ah-h. He was sympathetic. And Ricardo? Head shake. Too young. So, said I: no women or children allowed. He laughed and translated for Ricardo, who smiled his so-sweet smile. After that all the weekend whenever he saw me he would smile it again and pipe in English: “No ladies or babies!”

The next year—1959—Ricardo was a year older and was readily accepted at Le Mans. I was still a woman and remained uninvited. The Rodriguez boys shared a 750 OSCA. A car like the one I was to drive in 1958. Through the years of my racing my being “uninvited” at Le Mans kept me out of a Briggs Cunningham Corvette and a Porsche factory drive there. Wouldn’t that have been cool?

Oh, dear. This piece seems to have become about me. Probably because I am writing it. But it was meant to be about a 16-year-old driving at Le Mans and Anthony Peacock writing about that. In Peacock’s article he said that Matt McMurray had supplanted, as the youngest ever to drive Le Mans, one Pedro Rodriguez who had previously been the youngest at 17 in 1959.

That was very un-Peacock. I’d always found his accuracy admirable. If he had just checked the Le Mans line-up for that year—available with a few clicks on Google—he would have seen that Pedro was driving with Ricardo. And quick click to the 1958 entries and Pedro was there with someone else’s brother: Jean Behra’s sibling Jose. No Ricardo as a starter in any car. Even if he had not known it was clear who was the elder.

I tried to email the author so he could use the internet’s post-publication ability to allow corrections, but when I searched for the story again I found another Peacock article about the youngest driver neatly correct to the right Rodriguez hermano—Ricardo—and his age now to the day (17 years and 126 days) compared to Matt’s (16 years and 202 days.) My colleague hadn’t disappointed me after all. (Check out his Mark Webber story and others on AutoWeek.)

I noticed two things. For one, the earlier Peacock story about the 16-year-old was still floating about with its error intact despite the new correct piece. And for another thing, according to my calculations, if the “no ladies or babies” rule had been overridden in 1958 by M. Acat—or the babies part at least—and Ricardo had been okayed to drive he would still hold the youngest-driver-at-Le Mans title. By 76 days.

But what if I’m wrong? (I don’t get along well with numbers.) Then I can chase all this down later with the “real fact” and have antithetical stories dancing together in the clouds. Facts may be facts but you can believe what you choose. Most everyone else does these days.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 20, 2014 Comments (0)

Michael Furman’s side view of a Bugatti T-46 Coupe, from his Art of Bugatti book, is our feature image this week.

Michale Furman’s side view of a Bugatti T-46 Coupe, from his Art of Bugatti book

A surfeit of events on TV kept us glued to the tube. Golf’s US Open, the NBA Spurs downing the Miami Heat, Soccer’s World Cup, and of course, Le Mans. What don’t they all have in common? That’s easy; only racing involves real personal risk. (Not, that falling down on grass and grimacing as often as soccer players do isn’t dangerous.) What do they have in common? That’s tougher; they are all entertaining. And until relatively recently that may not have been true. See our Le Mans story below.

This is a read and travel issue. I report on Roy Spencer’s MotorBinder book and the peripatetic Sandy Cotterman shares her Mille Miglia travel adventure and makes it bucket list attainable and desirable watching.


Electronic Book: The Last Open Road

Burt Levy

MMR friend and author Burt Levy has a very special offer for the first (and the best) in the Buddy Palumbo series of racing novels. You can’t beat this deal and his stories about the early days of US road racing are an addiction of which I am proud.



Le Mans

Tommy Kendall and Justin Bell

In conversation with Tommy Kendall, one of MMR’s adopted sons, at Amelia in the spring, something he said stuck with me. We were discussing what Fox might do with motorsports events other than NASCAR, and the role he and Justin Bell might play. He said he felt Fox understood that their broadcast had to be not just reporting but also entertaining.

We won’t even try to tell you what happened over the 24 Hours of Le Mans. By now you know that Audi again won overall but it was a battle for all 24 hours and both Porsche and Toyota also lead at some point. They’ll be back and rumor has it that Nissan will join the fray next year. The GT Pro class was won by Ferrari but it also was a battle. Aston Martin and Corvette both led and Aston won the GTE Amateur class.

Fox put together a fine team to cover the event. Dorsey Schroeder and Tommy Kendall added the depth of their experience and knowledge to the coverage and Justin Bell adds a refreshing dimension to what is a very long event.

The French will be French: One of the more enjoyable distractions from the actual 24 hours of racing is Justin Bell’s mingle with the crowds who come from all over the world to take in the event. Like many other racing events, Le Mans spectators often travel to it in groups. Bell revels in finding these groups, generally men, who have had a pop or two and who, upon seeing the camera, are prepared to behave badly for the folks back home. It should be noted that for all his angelic qualities, Justin Bell is the kid you knew in your teenage years who was consistently the center of trouble but was never caught. While around him, of course, you and others paid the price. He was the one your mother said to stay away from. Forward twenty years to Le Mans where this same character is protesting to the camera about being in a tough spot and needing to get away, all the while backing up with microphone and camera to find the most wasted of the group to interview. 

Grand Marnier

At one point, he finds a clutch of men wearing similar shirts at the Grand Marnier stand where the company is serving plain crepes and inviting patrons to help themselves to a little of their product from 40 oz. bottles on the counter. Encouraged by the site of Justin and the TV camera, one man abuses the privilege. He douses his crepe and then raises the bottle over his head and aims the spigot at his mouth. While a wide-eyed and smiling Bell watches, the man takes on board an illegal amount of Grand Marnier before the sturdy lady in a blue smock reaches over the counter, snatches the bottle from his hands and restores order.

Justin, ever the angel on the side of Justice (Justin is Latin for Justice) and Grand Marnier, attempts to bury the poor bastard and ingratiate himself with authority. He points to the man’s foggy noggin and in an accusatory tone tells the woman in French that the man is sick in the head. All fine except that the words he chooses actually informed her that the dumb bugger had a headache. TK was right. That’s entertainment!

F1 is in Austria this weekend. Next weekend is quite busy. Check out our MMR Motorsports Calendar and join us at Volante Classics Open House next Saturday.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this with a friend. That’s how MMR grows.

Peter Bourassa