MMR Blog

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 May 28, 2015 Comments (0)

Monaco – Indy – Villa d’Este Results

Ferrari 212 Europa

The Memorial Day weekend races dominated the TV screens of America but for New England enthusiasts a pair of happy events meant more. Internationally, at Italy's Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance, Essex Ma. based Paul Russell & Co presented a 212 Vignale Coupe and won the Trofeo BMW Group Classic award. The award is the jury’s choice for the most sensitive restoration. The 1952 212 Europa, Vignale Berlinetta is owned by Bradley Calkins of the USA. The car is stunning. Congratulations to all involved. The remainder of our eye candy also came from Villa d’Este. Thank you BMW for sponsoring this superb event. On the racing front, New Englanders were absorbing the news, announced on Thursday past, that Boston will host the final race of the 2016 IndyCar season. We have mixed feelings. Read on McDuff and tell us what you think.

F1 Monaco: Rosberg wins – Mad Max Steals Hearts!

Lewis trails at F1 Monaco

Lewis Trails in Third

When enthusiasts tire of the beautiful setting, the beautiful boats, and the beautiful people, there will no longer be a race in Monaco. Long recognized as the most exclusive tax haven in the world (rumor has it that citizenship applications require proven assets in excess of seven uninterrupted digits), its days of hosting a truly competitive F1 race are in its distant past. Its crowning achievement is its downfall. This is the only F1 track in the world where excellence is demanded because there is literally no room for error. Yet the entertainment of racing consists of high speeds and errors, forced and unforced, which allow pressing and passing and in a word, entertainment. Hamilton proved the rule; he qualified best and would have won but for an error by his pit which caused him to lose. Sad for him but good for racing. On purpose-built race courses such as Laguna Seca or Silverstone, or the long course at Nurburgring, or road courses such as Spa or Le Mans, where houses and harbors do not inhibit passing, Hamilton may have had to defend, take chances, make errors and oblige his fellow competitors to do the same. Not so at Monaco. He had the fastest car, and all he needed do was be in front and not make errors.

But even a parade needn’t always be a bore. A comparison could be made to the historic 1981 Spanish GP at the narrow and twisty Jarama circuit. Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve (See Villeneuve’s 5 greatest races) qualified seventh in the Ferrari 126CXK, a powerful car with atrocious handling. He dubbed it a “big red Cadillac”. He was third by the first corner. Villeneuve passed the second place car on the opening lap and later, when race leader John Watson made a mistake, he passed him to take the lead. For the remainder of the race, without blocking or weaving, he held off competitors by placing the car in situations that discouraged his competitors from passing. It was brilliant driving. The first five cars crossed the line within 1.24 seconds.

Lewis is still scratching his head - what happened?

Lewis Still Scratching His Head - What Happened?

Sunday’s race, which for television purposes focused primarily on the leaders, was simply another high speed parade. Two exceptions that kept it from being a complete bore were, one, the pass for the lead that took place while Hamilton was in the pits. As a result he came out of the pits with eight laps to go, superior tires, and a superior car to Vettel’s Ferrari but couldn’t pass him. Makes you wonder what Villeneuve might have done. And, two, Max Verstappen. His pass on Maldonado on lap 6 was brilliant, and gutsy. It reminded us of Villeneuve. Later on he crashed while trying to pass the other Lotus driver, Romain Grosjean. Verstappen said Grosjean eased off 10-15 meters early. The telemetry didn’t support that. Grosjean actually braked later. Max VerstappenBut young Max was caught short of room when he decided to pass on the right while sitting too far to the left of the Lotus. Prior to that, after in the process of allowing Vettel to lap him, Max tucked in behind the Ferrari and taking advantage of the blue flags that waved other drivers aside for the faster Vettel, he thus slipped past Sainz and Bottas. But it was a short lived tactic once word got back to the pits. Clever though. My guess is that the Montreal fans will love this “special” kid (Mad Max?) when he arrives at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian GP in two weeks. As for Hamilton, it had to be a huge disappointment. And there were probably several ways to handle it. He was perfunctorily correct. His teammate rival was also in an awkward, though happier, situation and acknowledged same. But grace under pressure continues to elude Hamilton.

IndyCar Indianapolis 500: Penske – Ganassi Driver Wins!

Montoya on podiumThe major difference between Monaco and Indy is striking. At Monaco, the leader into the first turn generally wins the race. At Indy, the car leading the last lap generally loses. On this Sunday, both proved untrue.

Fifteen years ago, 24-year-old Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 for Chip Ganassi’s Target Team. On Sunday, 15 years later, he won it again. This time for Ganassi’s arch rival, Roger Penske’s Verizon Team. In the meantime he has spent time with McLaren in F1 and struggled for seven years in NASCAR. When Ganassi cut him loose from the NASCAR team last year, it would have been easy to believe that at 38 years of age, he was done. And JPM, whose reputation could be considered mercurial at best, found little sympathy. But Roger Penske, against whom he has competed in both the old Champ Car days and currently in NASCAR, called him and offered an opportunity, not in NASCAR, but in IndyCar. He jumped at the opportunity to come back. It was a mellowed and thankful JPM, surrounded by family, who accepted tributes in the winner’s circle. A pleasant change from the combative and often surly demeanor he has presented over the years. The new Juan Pablo has been a strong addition to the Penske Team and this win for Montoya was validation of his worth. Possibly even in his own eyes.

An aside: The race was between these two major Chevy teams, and for the third IndyCar race in a row, the first single car team was the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda powered team with driver Graham Rahal who finished fifth, is fifth in the points standings, and the leading American driver.

The final five laps were frantic as Will Power, Montoya, and Scott Dixon swapped the lead 15 times in five laps. It was ballsy racing and damned dangerous too. But they trusted each other and each knew when to give up a little space and so it all worked out. This is what racing is all about.

Michael Furman – Photographer

Michael Furman, photo of 1995 Porsche Carrera RS

Our Michael Furman image is of a 1995 Porsche Carrera RS from his book, Porsche Unexpected.

Featured Video

This week's featured video is our interview with Hugh Ruthven from The Finish Line — importers of the Chapal line and other “best in class” vintage style driving gear. Enjoy!

Our featured Classified Cars

Spring time and the open road beckons. What better way is there to enjoy this most-special of seasons than in a new-to-you classic car. Maybe even a convertible. Check out our picks in the  MMR Classifieds.

The MMR featured product, from our  Goods & Services Directory, is the Classic Bell-Chapal helmet from The Finish Line.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on January 22, 2015 Comments (0)

America’s First Production Supercar!

The new Ford GT

The surprise surprise of the Detroit Auto Show is the new Ford GT. Arguably, the first supercar made in America and Ford’s third effort at marketing a “halo” car. Their first, the street version GT40 was built in England and really was one of the first almost affordable supercars. However, it was not particularly comfortable or quiet, or easy to drive, but it was and still is a viscerally stunning car and remains a reminder of the great car that won Le Mans. The recent Ford GT was an excellent tribute car. It solved all the creature comfort and drivability issues, reminded us again of the GT40 but broke no new ground in terms of design. The NEW Ford GT is the best looking American mid-engine car ever and a worthy adversary for any supercar since being offered anywhere. Way To Go Ford! Now take it to Le Mans. Again! So what do you think about the new Ford GT?

The New Ford GT, two views

Daytona – Famous for Being Well Known

America’s long distance racing Mecca is Daytona. A 2½ mile oval with an afterthought road course set in the middle of a drainage area that extends the track to 3.5 miles. The oval is fast and banked and the infield course is slow and at times muddy. But Daytona has history. Despite the mediocre course, some historic battles have taken place here and the greatest drivers in our sport have driven in them. Winning puts a driver in that very select company.

LMP Car #16, Daytona

This weekend the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona takes place. Our two favorite announcers Tommy Kendall and Justin Bell will, among others, be covering the race. Listen for them, they are good. MMR supporter, Autosport Designs of Huntington Station on Long Island NY, is sponsoring LMP car #16. Tom Popadopoulos, A-D principal and former Ferrari Challenge Champion, is driving and he is very good. So we MMR Supporters have someone to root for.

Denise Has a Birthday

Happy 88th Birthday, Denise McCluggage!

Denise McCluggage has achieved as many years as a piano has keys. And she is always in tune.

Book Review: The Ferrari Companion Reader

The Ferrari Companion Reader, by Gerald Roush

MMR Editor, Dom Miliano, reviews a compendium of Ferrari Market Letter articles penned by the late Gerald Roush. This is a must have book for every Ferrari owner or would be owner.

Masha Paints!

Masha Pasichnyk, painter of automotive art

On our recent visit to Phoenix we met an exciting new artist. Today we share some of the images we saw there.

MMR Weekly Regulars

The MMR Classifieds this week features Porsche 356 cars.

1928 Mercedes Benz 680S Torpedo, by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s Image is of a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo badge from his book Automotive Jewelry.

MMR Needs Your Help!

We know, because you told us, that you share this Newsletter with friends. Please encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter. It’s good for us and it insures that they will receive the Newsletter on the day you are away or busy.

Have a great weekend. Take your sleeping bag down to the basement and watch TK and Justin tell us what is happening at Daytona. Go Tommy!

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 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