MMR Blog

Epic Track Battles

Posted on December 19, 2013 Comments (0)

At the highest levels, the nature of racing doesn’t allow competitors to physically war with each other. Psychologically, of course, it goes on at all times.

The recent film RUSH prompted thought about what attracted the producers to the story. Was the story simply about a man’s willingness to endure any amount of pain to win a race? Was it about two dissimilar but equally talented men, battling to win a race. Or was it about a handsome neurotic man and his clever but unattractive friend battling to win a race in the visually dramatic and brutal world of F1. Having been around at the time, I recall my incredulity at Lauda’s willingness to endure incredible pain to win a car race. I didn’t think it was normal or brave and if I had been a driver on that grid I would have been very upset about driving at high speed around a man in that condition. It seemed more self-indulgent than brave at the time.


Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda in the movie RUSH.

The on-track driving battles and off track contempt between rivals rarely matched the animosity Prost and Senna exhibited towards each other. That was visible and palpable and dramatic. It was a good story. In American racing, A.J. Foyt and Parnelli Jones, both great drivers, appeared to have little time for each other but there were never fisticuffs in the pits.

The one exception was Villeneuve-Pironi. Teammates on the Ferrari Team in 1982, both were quick but Villeneuve was quicker. In equal cars at Imola they battled thru a diminished field to the last lap. Villeneuve believing that team orders were in place and that the leader was not to be passed by his teammate, saw the pit signal and eased off to save fuel. Pironi did not. He passed Villeneuve and stole his second Grand Prix victory. Villeneuve saw this as a betrayal of friendship and honor and swore he would never speak to Pironi again. Ferrari management did nothing. In the final moments of qualifying for the following race, with Pironi on pole, Villeneuve, on used tires, was doing a banzai lap when he came upon the car of Jochen Mass who was on a cool down lap. Mass saw him and moved off the racing line to let him by. But Villeneuve had already made his move to that space and went over Mass’s rear wheel. Villeneuve died. Later that year, at the then recently renamed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Pironi was on the pole. His car stalled, he raised his arm and was avoided by all behind him but one. Ricardo Paletti hit Pironi’s car and died. Pironi’s legs were badly crushed. Five years later he died in a boat race.

Pironi Enzo Gilles

Didier Pironi, Enzo Ferrari, Gilles Villeneuve


A young Gilles Villeneuve

Now that is a story.

RUSH Results

Posted on October 18, 2013 Comments (0)

We have refrained from comment about the movie RUSH until everyone has had an opportunity to see it. We haven’t seen the movie yet but the general consensus appears to be very favorable.


Specifically, it is considered a good story and entertaining. As one might expect, some of the more critical comments came from people who have either raced or are very familiar with the racing environment. They criticized the actual racing scenes as being less accurate than expected. It also bothered some that the only other racing name mentioned in the movie was Mario Andretti’s. Several mentioned that the best racing scenes were the final ones which used actual footage of Hunt and Lauda racing. But nobody felt the movie wasn’t worthwhile.


A reminder to all that for a refreshing take on this epic battle, we recommend Hunt vs. Lauda the David Bull Publishing book that dwells on the racing and the rivalry.


Regular readers will remember an article we published last September by vintage racer Kevin Fitzgerald. Kevin is the proprietor of the Jacob Wirth Tavern in Boston. He suffered horrific burns in a highway accident on the way home from work. He wrote an excellent cautionary piece about what happened to him and what we should do if ever we are faced with a similar situation. If you didn’t read it last year, we recommend you read it this time and copy it for family members who also drive.

This is Kevin’s take on the movie and how New England area enthusiasts can take part in a worthwhile event to help future burn victims:

Last night I saw the movie "RUSH" with a friend. I could not get any of my family to go. Now I am glad they did not. I didn't have a problem watching Niki Lauda burning in the Ferrari. I did not get squeamish at the hospital scenes. I did relate greatly to watching Niki's wife suffer through this, because I got to see what it was like for my own wife.

Having been burned, it is not relevant how you were burned or where and how much. The damage both hidden and apparent is huge. It is well portrayed.

I am thrilled to say the changes in technology for burn patients are huge. Which is in part why I am writing. I recommend "RUSH" it is an excellent film. I would also ask that anyone in the New England area that can make a fund raising event on November 7, 2013 for the Fraser Burn Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, attend the event being held at Jacob Wirth restaurant. Attached is the open invitation. Whether your burns happen on the track like Lauda's or driving home from work like mine, there is a great need for this facility to be there for you.
Thanks, Kevin

No. Thank you, Kevin.