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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 4, 2015 Comments (0)

British Beauties at the 2015 Greenwich Concours, by Dom Miliano

Welcome to June! The month named after the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, who gives the Northern Hemisphere its last gasp of spring and first taste of uninterrupted warmth. This is the month of 24 Hours of Le Mans. Depending on which you favor, our multi-disciplined sport has several “Greatest Race of the Year” designations: Indy, Monaco, Daytona 500, and 24 Hours of ..., all qualify to someone. We believe that from a historical viewpoint alone, Le Mans is the best. Check our MMR calendar below and reserve a spot on your couch. This year promises an interesting battle between Porsche, Audi, and Toyota.

2015 Le Mans Test

Our lead image this week comes from a class winning Lancia Aurelia at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance last weekend in Greenwich, CT. It was shot by editor Dom Miliano as were the bulk of the images in this issue. You can view more images by clicking here.

A reminder that Father’s Day is not far away and we will be making not-so-subtle suggestions to be passed on to the appropriate members in your family.

F1 in Montreal

Canada GP

An exciting and excited city will have another wonderful party to support a race at a boring track. Another, “track of convenience”, the service roads of Île Notre-Dame are again pressed into service for Bernie’s Boys. Unlike the truly challenging sections on other public roadways turned temporary racetrack such as Eau Rouge and the Mulsanne Kink, Montreal features the Wall of Champions. Yes, a concrete barrier parked perilously close to an exit on the last corner before the start finish line, and where a number of drivers have crashed, is its main feature. Brilliant! 

The truly exciting “feature” of the Canadian GP is Montreal itself. The women are beautiful, the old city is historic and charming, the restaurants are wonderful, and the city goes nuts for F1.

Tips: Access to the track is via an excellent Metro system. Though organizers graciously sell “open” tickets, there are no “open” viewing areas and assigned seating at the track is a must. “Open” tickets are only good for access to the vendor area and for “hearing” race cars go by. Consider buying tickets for Friday’s practice and Saturday’s qualifying. On Friday you can move from grandstand to grandstand as they are hardly full. Qualifying is different, as it is well attended.

What do Detroit and Boston Have in Common?

IndyCar logo

At the moment, not much. But in 2016 they will both offer an IndyCar race in parts of their city which are little cared for at any other time. Belle Isle is a lovely green island park straddling the cities of Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON in the middle of the Detroit River. The track is a combination of concrete slabs and asphalt on what are essentially the service roads of a public park. Last year’s race, in the dry, showed the track to be a bumpy mess and the race became the poster child, along with Baltimore, of where not to run a race.

This year, the two races in two days, was far better. Despite the rain, which shortened the Saturday race and precipitated crashes in the Sunday event, the racing was very good and neither the Penske nor Ganassi teams exerted their usual dominance. In point of fact, Roger Penske, who is the guiding light of this event had a horrible Sunday when two of his cars, with help, collided, and Indy winner JP Montoya ran out of gas on the last lap. Andretti Motorsports had a good weekend, finishing 1-2 on Saturday and 5th on Sunday. This was also a good weekend for Graham Rahal, who crashed on Saturday and finished third on Sunday. And also for Honda who finished 1-2 in the first race and 2 thru 9 on Sunday. Carlos Munoz won the rain shortened Saturday event and Sebastien Bordais won the Sunday race.

Pardon Our Lack of Enthusiasm

Boston, despite its global image of an old ship, Harvard Yard, and uptight Yankees, possesses a varied and active motorsports community. The advent of very successful Boston Cup and the continued efforts of the very active lawn show season at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum have proven that it can support a major motorsport event, and it would appear that its time has come. 

In many ways, New England motorsports fans are blessed. We have the aforementioned Boston Cup on Boston Common, NH has the NHMS oval and road course in Louden and now has a NHRA sanctioned track, CT has Lime Rock Park and all its rich history of major races, and the CT/MA borders share Thompson Speedway with its 75-year-old oval and its newly reconstituted road course. Tamworth NH is home to what will shortly be a beautiful mountain track called Club Motorsport, and Palmer MA has recently opened a track that has been very highly rated.

So let’s talk about the Seaport District of South Boston. Across the Boston main Channel from Logan Airport, it is an inhospitable piece of flat land that the city and private developers have been trying to promote as a modern living space (on the water and close to downtown) for a number of years. In an effort to bring activity to the area, it is now the home to the Boston Convention Center, the Institute for Contemporary Art and a number of high rise hotels and restaurants. Now it has an IndyCar race.

Our feelings about street races are known and, were there no options, we might even be mildly supportive of this effort. But so far the hype has all been about how much money this will garner and how many hotel rooms will be sold. Strictly from a racing point of view, which is what enthusiasts tend to want, not much is being offered. If the history of street racing in North America is a guide, our expectations are very low.

Michael Furman – Photographer

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo, by Michael Furman

Our Michael Furman Image this week is a detail from a 1928 Mercedes Benz 680S Torpedo from his book, Automotive Jewelry.

Our Classic Classifieds Feature Lamborghinis

Lamborghini Muira SV

The Markets continue to rise and while current owners of every older car are presently looking satisfied with themselves for owning an investment of seemingly unstinted growth; some are growing faster than others. For Lamborghini, this is boom time. The new Huracan is a huge success and has a long waiting list. Older, previously less appreciated models are also growing but not as quickly as Ferraris. Is this an opportunity. Perhaps.  Check out this week’s offerings. With Audi backing and engineering behind it, Lamborghini looks to have a bright future that will reflect well on its past models. These are worthy of consideration while they are relatively affordable.

This Week’s Video is a Message from the Henry Ford Museum

Lotus-Ford

One car and one race changed Indy car racing in America forever. The car was a rear engine Lotus 38, the motor was by Ford and the race was the 1965 Indy 500 won by Jim Clark. But the death knell for front engine roadsters was sounded four years earlier when Jack Brabham introduced his rear engine F1 Cooper with a modified F1 engine to the Indy 500. By the time Clark won, there were only six roadsters that qualified for the race. But Clark’s win was huge for European chassis manufacturers and for Ford who had backed the project. Watch this video and learn which other driver, an American, was instrumental in making it happen:

Vintage Racing at Thompson: June 18 thru 21

Three days of VRG and VSCCA racing at Thompson Speedway, 45 minutes from Boston.  Drop us a line if you have an interest in going. If enough of you want to go on Saturday, we will speak to the track about parking together. Check them out online at thompsonspeedway.com

Next week is our Father’s Day Gift Guide Edition. Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on April 16, 2015 Comments (0)

F1 - China Ho Hum

Empty F1 Grandstands

Shanghai, China: Following an exciting Malaysian GP, hopes were high that China would produce another close race between two teams. It didn’t and it did. The first six spots returned to form and Mercedes, chagrined by their loss in Race #2, emphatically and depressingly controlled every facet of Race #3.

Meanwhile back in the remainder of the field, the once mighty Red Bulls were beaten by lowly Lotus and Sauber and McLaren, the perennial challenger with the second most successful GP record of all modern day teams finished one lap down and trounced only Marussia. Sad.

For the top four cars, Mercedes and Ferrari, this was a race determined by tire degradation. For those watching on TV, color commentators, with the aid of intercepted team-driver communications, interpreted what passed as drama. Pity the poor people in the stands who, without access to even that sad explanation, paid serious money and watched a 90 minute parade interspersed with lightning fast pit stops.

Press: Autoweek.com reports that after the event, China GP organizers lamented the steadily declining quality of the F1 show. Their accompanying image showed stands filled with empty seats. Fascinating.

IndyCar - Nola Contendere

Rainy Pit Lane at IndyCar in New Orleans

New Orleans, LA: It is really quite amazing how, blessed with a field of competitive cars and many talented drivers, the crucial ingredient for good racing (and quite the opposite of F1), IndyCar still manages to produce a mediocre product. Sunday’s event on the outskirts of New Orleans was halted after 47 laps because TV time ran out. James Hinchcliffe stayed out when everyone else pitted on lap 33, and the race was called before he ran out of fuel.

Press: Racer.com ran an excellent commentary by print and oft times TV pit lane reporter Robin Miller. In it he decried the suitability of the track, the size of the crowd (8,000 maybe), and the IndyCar organization. In a piece entitled IndyCar Fans Deserve Better, he complained about the shame of running races on such courses when real race courses like Watkins Glen, Mosport, CoTA, Road Atlanta, and Road America go begging. Not to mention Mt.Tremblant and Lime Rock Park.

WEC Silverstone 6 hours: Audi Again

Silverstone 6 Hours

Silverstone, UK: First race of the season and primer for Le Mans in June, last year’s LMP1 World Endurance Championship (WEC) winning Audi finished first and fifth. Porsche was 4.6 seconds behind in second and Toyota Racing was another 10 seconds back in third and one lap down in fourth. Ligier/Nissan cars were sixth and seventh overall and first in LMP2. In GTE Pro, Ferrari beat Porsche and Aston Martin. In GTE Am, Aston Martin beat Ferrari and Porsche. This was the first race of the year, next comes SPA, on the same weekend as the Tudor IMSA race at CoTA. This is great racing and hopefully some broadcaster will pick it up for TV. We will, of course, see the Le Mans race.

Michael Furman - Photographer

This week’s Michael Furman image is detail of a 1959 Porsche 356A Carrera GS GT from his book Porsche Unexpected.

1959 Porsche 356A Carrera GS GT by Michael Furman

Classifieds

This week’s selected cars from MMR Classifieds are several interesting Porsches.

Eye Candy

Ferrari Interior, Amelia Island, by Bengt Persson

The eye candy this week is from the recent Amelia Island Concours event. We thank friend and MMR supporter Bengt Persson for his wonderful images. Circumstances dictated that Bengt was actually unable to attend the Concours but was fortunate enough to be there on Saturday and his work proves that people and surroundings contribute much to making images of even the most beautiful cars just a little more interesting.

Sandy’s Dino Image

Ferrari Dino, Amelia Island Concours, by Sandy Cotterman

Also at Amelia, Sandy Cotterman took a picture of a winning Ferrari Dino that had recently been prepared by Paul Russell and Co. of nearby Essex, MA. Unbeknownst to us at the time, this car is also the cover image for a forthcoming book by Michael Keyser about his close friend Jonathan Williams.

Shooting Star on a Prancing Horse, book cover, by Michael Keyser

Michael brought Jonathan to us and you can  read his Le Mans 1970 story here. The book will be available late summer.


From our MMR Goods & Services Directory we feature a brilliant garage lift for us amateurs. It’s finally getting warm enough to do some work out there.

F1 is in Bahrain this weekend.

Have a great one. And don’t forget to subscribe a friend who will thank you forever! And so will we.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 11, 2014 Comments (0)

Racing Alternatives

Toyota Endurance

Fed up with F1 blather? Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at another series in 2015. The World Endurance Championship (WEC) the purview of Audi in recent years and before them Porsche, was won in 2014 by Toyota. While everyone was keen on watching the two German giants fight it out, the Japanese giant won. They won at Silverstone, Spa, Fuji, Shanghai and finished second at Le Mans behind the winning Audi. Not bad for the guys nobody looked at after Porsche announced they would compete. Audi was second and Porsche was a close third. Next year Nissan join the fray in LMP1. Former F1 drivers Anthony (Ant) Davidson and Sebastian Beuemi, were the winning drivers for Toyota.

GT Cup for Manufacturers

In the GT Cup for Manufacturers portion of the series, Ferrari won the series over Aston and Porsche. In WEC, the cars and drivers are good and the racing is fierce and close. What more could a fan want? TV coverage for more than just Le Mans and possibly COTA for America PLEASE!!! I know we have the Tudor Sports car series, but why should that preclude having coverage of WEC?

Market Shifts

Gooding & Company AuctionFor the past year the dealers we have contacted have complained bitterly about the difficulty they have finding cars to sell. Nevertheless, 2014 will go down as a very good year for people who are selling classic and vintage cars. Unbelievable! has been attached to the selling price on so many auction cars that it has become the new norm. The key word here is “auctions”. No one dealer or person can make a market. But, auctions by introducing the element of entertainment to the sale of vintage cars have virtually become 21st century’s dealers and by the power of their numbers and their marketing presence, they are definitely influencing market pricing.

Barrett Jackson Auction Company

In the final analysis, dealers and auctions have the same goal, satisfying buyers and sellers. Generally both are looking for a fair price or, hopefully, better. The difficulty for sellers is choosing the market channel that best suits their needs. High prices achieved for spectacular cars and the glitz of huge crowds and TV coverage might appear to give auctions an advantage. They have become a spectator sport. But auctions also have a downside for sellers. Not everyone is selling a rare Ferrari. If your car is a second level or lower car, chances are that it won’t be seen on TV. And likely it won’t be presented in prime time. When the majority of people remaining in the room are car dealers looking for a steal, the seller may be thinking that a respected dealer with a good rolodex has something better to offer. Then again many dealers also use auctions to move their slower moving inventory. So it is an interesting game and as we have mentioned before on these pages, it is not one for the inexperienced. If you are considering buying or selling at an auction, you might also consider using one of the seven auction advisers listed in our MMR Goods & Services Directory.

Bell Chapal HelmetIn the 1950s and ‘60s many famous drivers raced wearing an open faced helmet with a visor and face shield. Bell Helmets and Chapal have teamed up to offer vintage racers a redo. The Helmet below is being offered by Hugh Ruthven of The Finish Line. For those of you in the Chicago area, during December only, you can view The Finish Line products at the corner of Cook and Lake Streets in Barrington IL. Or give them a call at 847-382-3020.

Cars of the 1960s

Jaguar XKE, droptop

The sixties were arguably the golden age of sports and GT cars. Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes, Aston, Corvette all delivered models whose desirability may never be matched. When the new Jaguar XKE was introduced in 1961 the motorsports world swooned. I remember them being offered in Canada at around $6K. Ads featuring the coupe in profile became the model for simplicity, beauty, grace, perfection. Someone quoted Enzo Ferrari as saying that the XKE was the most beautiful car ever made. Even if he thought it, it is unlikely he said it. At some point a friend scored a well used press car from Jaguar Canada and we drove it from Montreal to the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport in Ontario.

Driving it there and back that weekend was about 800 mostly highway miles. It was a cold rainy weekend and by its end the gorgeous green coupe was no longer the object of my affections. The seats were stylish but quite uncomfortable. The wipers didn’t work particularly well but worse of all, the car leaked horribly. If memory serves it was at the top of the windshield. First gear didn’t have a syncro and the lights didn’t seem to work that well at night in the rain. The engine leaked oil.

Jaguar XKE in profile

Jaguar eventually addressed the comfort problems by changing the seats and dropping the floor pan to provide a more comfortable angle of access to the pedals. The newer 4.2 engines were also better. For years the pricing for XKEs languished but no more. That original flat floor design tops the chart in XKE pricing. The desirability of the early XKEs appears to be based on the fact that it is exactly that, an early model. Either way, early XKEs are tough to pin down on price but we have seen them recently offered at well north of $200K. Subsequent models equipped with the 4.2 L engine and a full syncromesh transmission are generally more affordable. Go figure.

This week’s Michael Furman image is of a 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS from his book Curves of Steel.

1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS, by Michael Furman

Our Classifieds this week feature Maserati.

Speaking of buying, we encourage readers to support our advertisers. In the coming weeks we will be sharing advertising and buying suggestions from many of our MMR Community supporters.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


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