MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 2, 2015 Comments (1)

Porsche Parade by Dom Miliano

Porsche National Convention

IndyCar Amazing Race – Porsche Pics – Much More

We have an action packed issue this week. Editor Dom Miliano was in French Lick, IN for the Porsche National Convention and came back with some neat pictures. We also have some images from Thompson’s rain shortened Historic Vintage weekend and many good stories. (We at MMR often say there are only two things in life: good times and good stories.)

Michael Furman - Photographer

Michael Furman image of 1988 Porsche 911 club sport

Michael Furman’s image, in keeping with our theme this week, is Porsche from the book  Porsche Unexpected. Read our review.

Our Car’s Yeah! Podcast is with Tina Van Curren, owner of Autobooks-Aerobooks, the enthusiast’s bookstore in Burbank CA since 1951. A-A has recently moved seven blocks and is this issue’s featured supplier from our Resource Directory.

Classic Classifieds this week features some interesting Porsches.

Porsche National Convention

Boxster at the Porsche National Convention.

IMSA Tudor at Watkins Glen 6 Hours: Just Gets Better

The series is getting better with every race. Watkins Glen was amazing. The weather was the story. Dry, wet, rain, fog, it was all there. The Series leading Taylor Daytona Prototype Corvette dominated the race in the wet and the dry. With 45 minutes to go Ricky Taylor lost adhesion in the last turn before the pit straight and opened the door for the Westbrook Chevy to beat the Ganassi Ford. In Daytona GT, the non-factory Dodge Viper won with Marc Goosens. Astounding!  GT LM was won by Porsche.

Ford at Le Mans

WEC Ford GT

Ford released images of the race-prepared 2016 WEC Ford GT and it is beautiful. Ganassi will be running the effort and in a trackside interview, Scott Pruett confirmed that all is on schedule to introduce the car for the 2016 season. It will run the Ford six cylinder Eco-boost engine, which they ran at Watkins Glen and led much of the last part of the race, only to finish second when they needed a splash of fuel. Great racing and super coverage by Bob Varsha, Calvin Fish, and Tommy Kendall.

TK is our Hero

Congratulations Tommy Kendall on being inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame. Our home page video is of TK discussing his induction. Well done.

IndyCar: Amazing Race – How Rare Thou Art

Indy cars

Before a very small crowd, the IndyCar MTA-TV 500 at Fontana on Saturday took place at a horrible track and yet produced an incredible race.

The IndyCar race at Fontana was unquestionably the finest combination of bravery, skill, and foolhardiness seen in pro racing in decades. If the norms of our times prevail, someone will surely put an end to it. And some drivers will be torn as to whether it should be so.

Readers Warning: The following will ramble.

It began with Man’s beginning. The excitement of eliminating or evading the danger posed by animals or circumstances that might harm, was triggered by “fear”. Some would argue that, other than our fellow man, we have eliminated most of the natural sources that once prompted that fear. But we have retained the capacity to fear and modern man has found that overcoming danger can be both a challenge and a stimulant. Under stress, the body produces “adrenaline” which heightens the senses and sometimes allows the achievement of feats not ordinarily possible. It also produces a pleasant, and possibly addictive, “endogenous morphine” called “endorphins” which decrease the feelings of pain and lead to feelings of euphoria.

An aside: The entertainment industry has simulated and monetized our primal fears. Ferris Wheels at County Fairs stimulate our natural fear of heights and motion. Their modern cousins are the studio created “theme” rides. Here patrons strap themselves into pneumatically operated chairs for a predetermined, computer coordinated time. We are simultaneously bounced around, assaulted audibly and visually by loud noises, and all encompassing movie screens projecting the "fear" flavor of our choosing. Brilliant! The long and constant lines to experience these faux fears attest to our apparent craving to be so stimulated.

Again, in keeping with societal demands, racing has striven to eliminate any real fear of death and, like the studios with bouncing chairs, it simulates danger while tantalizing the viewer with morbid fears of possible disaster.

On June 30, 2013 nineteen firefighters were killed near Yarnell, Arizona when winds shifted, trapped, and killed them. It was the deadliest wildfire since 1991. 

It sticks in my mind because I was traveling home in my 308 from a visit with friends in Phoenix. They suggested I take this particular route because the road offered beautiful scenery and the opportunity to ignore the speed limit on sweeping and scarcely patrolled roads. They were correct. As I was enjoying my car at a comfortable 85 MPH I saw and smelled the smoke from the wildfires and listened to the stories on my radio about the local firefighters, most well trained locals, who were battling it.

We will return to the speed I was traveling later.

As I write this it is almost two years ago to the day that this tragedy occurred and in hindsight the death of these men has been considered, by some, avoidable. In December of that year the Industrial Commission of Arizona deemed that the State had “knowingly put the protection of property ahead of safety and should have pulled the crews out earlier”. Their commander had made a choice to send them from a burned out area, where they were safe, to save a nearby town which had been evacuated. I am certain that every man who died was fearful to different degrees. I am also certain that every man saw the risk as a challenge for which he was prepared and excited. The excitement was caused by “fear”.

Fear is instinctive and a part of each of us. Men, particularly young ones, and women, more today than ever before, thrill at risk.

Another aside: Thirty years ago I was on a 40 foot sailboat off St. Vincent in the British Virgin Islands. We were returning to St. Vincent to repair our non-functioning engine when we were hit by a force 4 gale. The boat was well equipped. We were seven people aboard and we were running just enough sail to allow us to control our general direction. I know nothing about sailing, but I can take direction, so I was helping our hired captain in any way I could. The atmosphere was tense and we were all excited. At some point I noticed that a mop, lashed alongside the cabin had come loose and was in danger of falling overboard. Holding tightly to the rails on the cabin and the lines that ran from stanchion to stanchion around the boat I moved from the safety of the cockpit to “rescue” the mop. “Foolhardy” is a kind word for what I did. "Stupid" is more accurate. In those seas, with no lifejacket and a boat with no motor, the chances of the boat turning around and finding me would have been slim. Why did I do it??? Well, the feeling of fear and the sense of accomplishment from that 25 foot walk was exhilarating. I wouldn’t compare my stupidity with the bravery of those firefighters. But, it had to have crossed at least one firefighter’s mind that his choices were to stay comparatively "safe" in the middle of a burned out area in the middle of the day, or take a chance and save a bunch of buildings. To a man they went. And I understand that.

In my late teens, I was participating in a club race meet at Mosport, near Bowmansville, Ontario. The spot next to me in the paddock was occupied by a well-known Formula Vee driver. Race weekends are always very busy and though we had met before at other races we were just like all the other guys parked next to each other. We weren’t together but we would have helped each other. That’s how it was. He was killed on Saturday when his car went off the back straight.

They parked the wreck next to our pit and Sunday, mid-morning, when I came in after my race, it and all his “stuff” were gone. Just like that. We all said the right things about him being a great guy and a really good driver and how he died doing what he wanted to do. Not one of us ever thought that it would happen to us. Yet the reason we raced, to some extent, was to see just how close we could come to disaster, the edge, the limit, or numerous other words that implied disaster, perhaps death. But not likely to happen.

Back to when I was doing 85 in Arizona. I was 68 years old. Had I been 38 years old, I would have been doing 90. And had I been 18 years old I would have been testing the limits of adhesion. Badly, and with adrenaline.

As one ages, whether or not one matures, one learns. Whether by accident or by design those “learnings” define our thoughts and actions going forward. If one is the slightest bit introspective, they explain many things that seemed puzzling in the past.

Many years ago I watched a TV show about marathoners. Runners were being scientifically analyzed and compared to other athletes who competed in sprints. Basically, it was determined that to compete successfully in these two disciplines required distinctly different muscle fibers structures. The sprinters had “fast" twitch muscles which were quick and powerful. “Slow" muscles enabled the low intensity required for marathon running.

While this information defines and separates us physically, our aspirations don't recognize the difference. Upon reflection, this physiological fact of our being might shed light on events in our lives that have defined who we are and what we believe ourselves capable of being. My father was a gifted athlete who played hockey and baseball and competed well into his fifties against much younger men. He had excellent eyesight and physical dexterity. We had little in common. He was very competitive in nature and sports were very important to him. I imagine now that I must have been a disappointment.

A 10 mile foot race, at age 39, was the first time I realized I could run distances comfortably and competitively for my age and running became a life-long love. The knowledge that we all possess either “fast” or “slow” twitch muscle fibers color how I view all sports and my personal ability to excel in them. Particularly, motorsports.

Denise McCluggage told me that Sir Stirling Moss could pick flies out of the air and read the fine print in a certificate mounted on a wall across the room. I have heard the same extraordinary qualities attributed to Juan Manuel Fangio. The protagonist of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, Test Pilot Chuck Yeager, is described as equally gifted. Defined by their natural abilities, these are special people who have found the occupation, niche, or sport which suits their set of particular physical attributes and allows them to succeed.

There is no doubt that today’s top drivers are all “fast” twitch equipped and gifted in additional complimentary ways such as size, eyesight, experience etc. Proof was on exhibit at the IndyCar race on June 27, 2015 at Fontana in California.

As we write this, Graham Rahal is the declared winner of the race. However, on lap 187 of 250, Rahal left the pits with a portion of the refueling rig attached to his car. It fell off at the track entrance and the race was yellow flagged. IndyCar did not assess a penalty immediately but allowed that they would review the incident after the race. Derek Walker, IndyCar’s competition manager, told the announce crew that the race stewards would definitely assess a penalty at race’s end. They fined him $5000. Not much in dollars but big in percentages when you calculate that the win paid $30,000.

The Race: Teams have complained to IndyCar that driving cars with similar aero packages and engine power creates an equality that results in what is called “pack” racing. The cars don’t have the power to get away from one another and are moved around on the track involuntarily as they pass and repass each other. The race was 250 laps on a two mile banked oval track with average race lap speeds of 215 mph and speed on the straights over 220 mph. From the drop of the flag “pack racing” was on. Official lead changes are measured once per lap at the start-finish line. There were a record 80 official lead changes. Certainly far more than twice that overall. The track is 75 feet wide with a 15 foot apron and the racing was often three and four cars wide with occasional moments of five wide racing. It was incredibly risky. All the leading drivers took part.

These are comment highlights from drivers and Team Managers after the race:

Will Power: What are we doing? What are we doing? As exciting as it is, it is insane. It is crazy! Crazy!

Tony Kanaan: It was a crazy race. It’s a great race for the fans but hopefully we get together and come up with a better solution.

Tim Cindric, Pres. Penske Racing: We talked about (putting an end to) this kind of racing. I am sure it is fun to watch but it is very difficult.

AJ Foyt: I enjoyed this kind of racing when I was doing it.

Marco Andretti: I enjoy it. It is definitely crazy. It was definitely great for the fans.

Juan Pablo Montoya: This was definitely crazy and sooner or later someone is going to get hurt.

Tony Brooks was a highly talented British driver who was the fourth winningest Grand Prix driver of the fifties behind Moss, Fangio, and Ascari. In a recent interview, Brooks, who retired early, said he felt that racing was too dangerous then. Three or four drivers per year were dying. It would be years and many more driver’s lives lost before track safety got us to where we are today. Ayrton Senna was the last F1 driver to die on a track. That was in 1994. In 1999, IndyCar's Greg Moore died at Fontana.

Overall, we take a couple of things away from the post race interviews. One, everyone interviewed said it was exciting. Most agreed it was dangerous. This is the best race we have seen in a long, long time. IT WAS EXCITING! We don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed but we do want to see more “exciting racing”. Don't change a thing.

Other Voices:

Gordon Kirby: IndyCar racing has issues. Venues and scheduling leading the pack. This week’s  Gordon Kirby column in MotorSport addresses these issues in detail. He feels that less downforce and more engines are the answer. Perhaps he is correct. In the meantime, while New Orleans was unquestionably a low point, since then Indy, Barber, and certainly Fontana, were a damn sight more entertaining. 

Robin Miller: Always controversial and seemingly never concerned about political correctness. You don’t want to dance with him, he steps on toes. Miller has a similar take on dates and venues but agrees with us about how good that race on Saturday really was and has a message for IndyCar management. Watch his video.

Tracks Access Grows

This story was prompted by our visit to the Vintage Motorsports Festival at Thompson Speedway on June 20th. We had the opportunity to watch good people having a good time.

First automobile race.

Automotive folklore tells us that the first auto race took place when the second car was built. That may be an exaggeration but it is likely true.

The first car races were point to point affairs, generally between towns along crazed-spectator-lined dirt roads. Once the cost to flora and fauna was calculated, the racing madmen and their equally mad followers were confined to circuits where they were encouraged to damage each other, but little else, to their hearts content.

The sport of driving like hell to get back to the spot from which you all started gradually adapted itself to the differing styles of mayhem the participants were most comfortable inflicting on each other. At the same time, as well heeled Europeans were strapping themselves to thin tubes and careening around paved circuits meant to resemble the country roads from which they were banned, Americans were throwing dirt at each other in powerful Champ Cars on unpaved ovals in every small town that owned a fair ground.

Tracks evolve in response to the evolution of the cars that run on them. No one track suits multiple racing disciplines, though many try. And, not by accident, the most successful tracks in each discipline are those that can limit the performance parameters of the vehicles using them. For instance, each year a small group of parochial Frenchmen convene to concoct a new set of rules that will encourage ambitious foreigners to spend fortunes building cars that will survive a 24 hour beating on their public roads. Historically French cars dominated something entitled the Index of Performance class. It was essentially an economy run in the middle of the fastest race in the world. Oddly, the rules always favored cars built by French manufacturers. It was eventually phased out. Today’s Prototype II class, a less powerful version of the exciting lead cars, is dominated by French chassis manufacturers. Our point here is that Le Mans dominates the WEC series and their rules dictate rules for all the other races in the WEC series.

IndyCar rules are made to best suit the Indianapolis Speedway and their premier event, the Indy 500. NASCAR is owned and governed by the family that owns and governs the Daytona Speedway. The most closely regulated, least consistent and most political set of rules is Formula 1. And the quality of the races reflect it. Owned by an investment company and operated by a brilliant manipulator, the governing rules of F1 are set by the FIA, a world motorsport sanctioning body based in Paris. Rules are made in consultation with committees appointed by the race teams. F1’s iconic track is a street circuit in a hilly tax refuge beside a sunny bay filled with 100+ foot long boats and on which passing is virtually impossible.

In the 21st Century a new landscape is emerging. The growth of vintage race car usage and the evolution of street cars suitable for track use are making possible the development of interesting private club road circuits. Spurred by the success of club venues, declining enrollment in driving schools, and independent track days, established road circuits are offering club memberships. They also offer the added cachet of history.

This plethora of options has given rise to a new phenomenon: club shopping. Drivers now have options that allow them to optimize their track experience by matching their abilities and their car capabilities with a track configuration that best suits them.

We have come a long way from WWII runways and hay bales. And then again… there is always Sebring.

Have a great Fourth!

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


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


Sandy on Assignment: Great Friends and Great Cars ... The Amelia Island Concours Car Week

Posted on March 19, 2015 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Taking final bows, Best in Show Concours de Sport (L), David Sydorick’s 1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and Concours d’Elegance winner from the Ed and Judy Schoenthaler Collection, the 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster.

Heading into a repeat event, I am always a bit anxious, wondering what on earth am I going to discover that is new to write about. This year I tried to stay calm, knowing that something would eventually hit me and make the weekend simply magical … and it did!

There is no other way for me to describe the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend than ... precious. Even after 20 years, it sparkles and is one of those events where, no matter who you are, you feel welcomed and a part of the excitement.

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE was this years Concours honoree.

1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

It was a thrill watching Andreas Mohringer from Salzburg, Austria take Best in Class, Race Cars (1960-1990), with his 1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, recently restored by Paul Russell and Company.

Last year, at 9:30 Sunday morning, I blinked my eyes and a mass of spectators ascended onto the show field. It was all over for me. I couldn’t even take pictures. This year was another story; even with over 32,000 spectators mingling among 315 show cars and motorcycles. The entire weekend seemed to stretch, giving everyone in attendance more time, more space and even more events to really get into everything auto!

When I head to Amelia, I’m Buddy Palumbo on the open road. I leave Clearwater before sunrise, driving north, top down and wind blowing in my face. For those flying into Jacksonville, it’s a very convenient airport to maneuver. My first year of lodging at Amelia was at the Day’s Inn. I graduated up from there and thanks to VRBO return annually to a fabulous villa within walking distance to the Ritz, joined by equally fabulous housemates… for less than the current Day’s Inn rate. It’s all about planning ahead!

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The ex-Marlene Dietrich, multiple best in show winner, the 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton (L) brought a final $742,500 at Bonhams.

1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Selling for a final $1,738,000 at Bonhams, I remembered this 1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster on the 2014 Amelia show field.

1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

With impeccable provenance, this 1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, a featured marque at this year’s Amelia Concours, brought a final $1,012,000 at the Bonhams auction.

As part of the stretchy weekend, Bonhams debuted their Amelia auction, with previews on Wednesday and the auction Thursday midday - the reason to arrive on Wednesday. I managed to work my way through a crowd gathering around Wayne Carini to speak with a woman who for some reason looked familiar. We started to chat about the Austin-Healey she was selling ... then bingo, it hit me. I had seen the episode on Chasing Classic Cars when Wayne visited her home. I felt like I knew her! The coveted 1956 Austin-Healey 100M BN2 Le Mans belonged to her late husband, shown in pristine preservation condition with only 37,000 miles from new. The car brought a final price of $206,800, as part of $13.95M in total sales for Bonhams.

For my own continuing education, I find auction previews an excellent opportunity to learn. As hard as it is, I keep my mouth shut and just lean in, snapping images of what’s wrong ... and what’s right ... especially of my own marque, Jaguar. At the RM auction in London last fall, I slipped and made a comment about the reflectors on a Jag. The gentleman who overheard me sparked up a conversation — he was the long-time owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which had recently sold! I was ecstatic since I had marveled over the transporter at Goodwood and also at the Mille Miglia! So sure enough at Bonhams, a gentleman asked me why I was taking so many pictures. We chatted, exchanged business cards and bingo ... my magical weekend was clicking into gear! This very low-key gentleman was none other than Formula 1 legend Howden Ganley. With strong ties to Bruce McLaren and 41 F1 Championship Grand Prix starts to his credit, I was thrilled to have the privilege of meeting him. Ganley was one of the featured authors during the weekend, autographing his new autobiography, The Road to Monaco, My Life in Motor Racing.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sitting pretty, this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet brought a premium sale of $2,090,000 at the Gooding auction.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A $10,862,500 picture! In front, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff sold for $2,337,500. On its pedestal in the rear, the stunning 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pinin Farina brought $6,380,000 and barely in sight is the Jaguar XJR-9.

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9

Auction sales were strong this year with RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction breaking records, garnering $60,328,550 in sales. Although catalogue estimates were aggressive, hammer prices reflected the market. Gooding & Company brought in $26,967,150 in sales, bringing the weekend take for all three major auction houses to over $101M!

Enjoying another thrill, I watched friend and racing legend Davy Jones slip into the familiar seat of the TWR Castrol Jaguar XJR-9 #388. Along with fellow drivers Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers, Jones took this winning race car to an overall first place win at the 1990, 24 hours of Daytona. With an aggressive catalogue estimate of $3-5,000,000, the hammer price on the Jaguar XJR-9 came in half the estimated range, at $1,950,000.

Along with celebrating my fifth Amelia Concours weekend came a comfort level with what’s what and where to find everything. Even though most of the off-site events can be reached by complimentary shuttles from the Ritz, having a car lets you venture into Fernandina Beach and over towards the Amelia Island Plantation to enjoy local restaurants ... Ciao Italian Bistro on Center Street and Plae at the Plantation are favorites.

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE.

A unique sanctioned Amelia Concours event, the duPont REGISTRY LIVE Aeroport Party Friday evening is a must, especially if you have never attended a hangar party. Graciously hosted by Tom and Ruth duPont, admission supports the Amelia Concours charities. Guests meander among classic and exotic cars in several airport hangars, while enjoying live music, unique entertainment and excellent food, orchestrated by Tim Webber and The Coordinator event company. It is my favorite evening of the weekend!

Youngest junior judge takes a break in the 1968 Lamborghini Miura, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

This year’s youngest junior judge takes a break in the Hagerty Children’s Award winner, the 1968 Lamborghini Miura.

The Amelia Island Cars and Coffee is definitely a family affair, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The Amelia Island Cars & Coffee is definitely a family affair!

The beauty of this Amelia Concours weekend is the ability to see it all. Auction preview times are generous, affording time to incorporate Friday’s Porsche Drive Experience, Saturday’s Cars & Coffee, test drives, and seminars with automobilia exhibits in between. The new MotorXpo offered a nice diversion on Sunday, stretching the crowds across a second venue. I was thrilled to see Tommy Kendall moderate the Car Guys of Television Seminar on Saturday. MMR readers followed his adventures as he drove the Viper at Le Mans in 2013. I had a chance to catch up with Tommy right after Sunday’s awards. I think we will be seeing more of him on television than on the track!

The most important rule for attending motorsports events and the one I consistently break is ... read the program first ... not on the ride home. The program should be your bible, when it comes to attending the concours.

What can I say, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

What can I say?

The Cars of the Cowboys seemed to be everywhere! What on earth were they thinking? Apparently, living their television screen lives through their daily drivers!

1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A class of their own, Forgotten Fiberglass, Best in Class went to the 1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II (R) with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona receiving the 2015 Amelia Award.

This year’s concours program featured articles written by individuals I know! Just over the pond from me in Tampa, Geoff Hacker is tenaciously resurrecting history along with Forgotten Fiberglass enthusiasts. The connections he has made with people and cars are fascinating.

1932 Ford Highboy Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A winner on the show field, Bruce Meyer’s 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster is featured on the Hot Rod commemorative U.S Postal Service stamp, marking the 20th anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

The more classic cars I see, the more I wonder what was going on in my life to have totally missed the automobiles’ contributions to history! I poured over the article written by Ken Gross about the origin of the hot rods, on the ride home. Hot rodding, as we know it, started on the West Coast in the early 1930s, most likely by mechanically minded servicemen looking for a way to combine their talents with their love of automobiles.

So what made this weekend magical? It was a weekend of admiring great cars and attending great auctions, but, most importantly, connecting with great friends! Friends all brought together, through a car connection.

There is nothing in the world like car friends!


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 12, 2015 Comments (0)

French Farm Yields Fantastic Crop

It is generally accepted that even on the same subject, “truth” and “fact” can differ substantially. MMR leans towards the truth as facts require an investment in staff and are not as entertaining. In the case of the Roger Baillon automobiles sold at Artcurial last week, the simple facts strain credulity and we present them as we know them.

The now-legendary Artcurial French Barn Find

The truth strains credulity but the facts are these. Roger Baillon was a successful trucker, truck manufacturer, and car collector in the 1950s. In the 1970s he suffered a financial reversal and sold 50 of his cars. The remaining 59 were stored on his estate farm where they remained contently rotting away until recently discovered and brought to the Artcurial Auction at Retromobile last week. The obvious questions about who, why, and what boggle the mind.

Artcurial Ferrari, French Barn Find

Alain DelonAnd the crowd went mad. Prices paid were hugely over the estimates and with the exception of the 250 GT California Ferrari formerly owned by French movie star Alain Delon (think France’s Rob Lowe) which was in at least recognizable shape, the remainder were in many cases mere shadows of their former selves, literally. Actually that’s not accurate; several of the units were missing important parts of their former selves and could not have therefore cast any shadow whatsoever.

The whole scrum reminds one of a line in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, The Mikado, where former executioner Ko-Ko has been informed that he must marry the unappealing Katisha. He quizzes her on the wisdom of the adventure and sings: There’s a fascination frantic with a ruin that’s romantic, do you fancy you are elderly enough? These Baillon neglects were indeed elderly enough and the bidding was both frantic and fascinating.

The message here: leave no rich old relative’s barn unturned. MMR faithful follower Keith Carlson attended the sessions in Paris and his images and report follow.

1957 Porsche 356A Speedster headlight, by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s image is a 1957 Porsche 356A Speedster headlight from Porsche Unexpected.

Speaking of Design, any comments on last week’s opening images of a 275 GTB Competition Ferrari? Our request for input regarding the Acura NSX produced the following from our community:

Kip Wasenko wrote, “The NSX was shown at the Detroit Auto Show for the past three years as a Concept Car. The production NSX unveiled this year retained the overall design shown in the past two Concepts. While the design is now familiar to those who closely watch the industry, I think the vehicle is conservatively handsome and will sell well to its target market. However, the design doesn’t have the styling impact of the Ford GT or the new Ferrari 488 GT.”

Kevin O’Leary wrote, “What CAD/CAM designer puked all over Nissan’s new Titan truck?”

Jim Earl wrote, “My daughter who is a real auto enthusiast made an interesting comment after seeing these two (Ford GT and NSX) ... ‘Maybe the toys such as the many transformers with their crazy shapes have influenced the current generation of designers’. As you may know, many of these articulated beings turn into transportation vehicles.”

Jane JetsonPaul Kalenian wrote, “I’m sure this new offering from Japan is well built and reliable but it’s as voluptuous as Jane Jetson. Bring back Norman Dewis.”

Tom Larsen wrote, “I had the first NSX and loved it. My vote goes to the Ford GT 40.”

Book Review

Dom Miliano has reviewed another in the series of Stance & Speed books about American built cars and we feature their ad in the recent MMR Goods & Services Directory #2. If you missed it, see our notice below.

Featured Classifieds

1950 Bentley Mk VI Park Ward Foursome Coupe

Our featured car model this week is Bentley. Here’s a marque that made its mark winning Le Mans four times consecutively between 1927 and 1930. The car and the “Bentley Boys” who financed it, built it, and raced it became motorsports legends. But the depression killed its market and saw it sold to Rolls-Royce in 1931. Bentley’s fortunes changed and for a period it became a poor sister in the Rolls Royce family. Then, Wafted by a favoring gale, As one sometimes is in trances, To a height that few can scale (sorry, The Mikado again) Bentley mercifully fell into the Audi camp and the name was rescued from ignominy. Today they have captured the imagination of those who want to be identified with dignified luxury and the hell-bent history of the Barnatos, Birkins, and Kidsons of yesteryear.

Have a great weekend, and please forward this to friends and encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter at this link.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 5, 2015 Comments (0)

Betwixt & Between

Early February is a little like being a teenager between girl friends. Nothing much goin’ on.

And then again ... On Design Courage

Cadillac CTS exterior grill

The Ford GT has prompted much discussion about design and the historical significance of design cues. As part of the Elegance by Design forum at the recent Arizona Concours d’Elegance, former Cadillac Chief Designer Kip Wasenko spoke of the difficulty he encountered trying to get acceptance for a design change involving the Cadillac grille. Despite the fact that his proposed “mesh” design performed significantly better and, even though it had roots in Cadillac’s historic 1931 V-16, he was still met with resistance. Yet like all good designers, he recognizes the value of history if it can be retained without sacrificing efficiency and performance. In a subsequent discussion about the Ford GT, he applauded Ford designers for maintaining the iconic design features of the classic GT40 in the front portion of the new Ford GT.

Acura NSX

Designers need the courage of their convictions and when the word “bold” is attached to a new car design, translate that into “courage” because someone risked to bring it past the expected, or, the status quo. The second big hit of the Detroit auto show was the new Acura NSX. Any thoughts?

And at F1

Honda Formula 1

First tests of the year for F1 cars at Jerez, Spain yielded surprising results. Usually an opportunity to run cars in and determine if everything works as designed these tests are also a clue as to where everyone is in their development program. From that point of view alone, Ferrari appear to have a car that is quick, reliable and satisfying to its drivers. Ferrari powered Sauber was quickest. The general consensus is that everyone must catch the Mercedes engine. Thus far both Honda and Renault have had troubled introductions. Ferrari has not. Early times but a sigh of relief from the tifosi.

Cavallino!

1965 Ferrari P206 SP Dino, Suixtil-USA

Suixtil-USA have been appointed US distributors for Suixtil vintage clothing for modern enthusiasts. Their handsome products were on display at Cavallino and Managing Partner Lisa Smith shot the eye candy we are using this week.

Somewhere in MMR History

Shelby GT350

We have always unabashedly supported those among us who use their toys, be they cars or motorcycles. Beyond that we encourage the use of newer technology and parts to improve the performance and reliability of older cars. Authentic, no. Better, probably. Our story this week is about a Shelby GT350 that has had an interesting life and as a result of it may be a better car than originally delivered. You judge.

BMW M5 Lives

Rahal, Gordon, Hendricks, BMW President

The BMW Car Club of America (CCA) Foundation announced today that the last unsold example of BMW’s most powerful production model ever – the 30th Anniversary Edition 2015 BMW M5 “30 JahreM5” - was auctioned at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 15, 2015 (Lot #3002) for a record setting $700,000. Famed NASCAR team owner and BMW dealer Rick Hendrick was the lucky bidder.

This Week

1958 BMW 507, by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s image is a 1958 BMW 507, shot for a private collector.

1957 Maserati 3500 GT Frua Spider

Our featured Classifieds are interesting Maserati 3500 GTs. When introduced, this car was more expensive than its Ferrari rival, the 275 GTB. It was considered a luxury touring car and was the first in its class to have power windows. It has a wonderful engine and is a joy to drive.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher