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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 August 8, 2014 Comments (0)

Monterey Draws Nigh

Monterey

This week’s eye candy is from Monterey’s Concorso Italiano in 2010. As I look back at them I am not certain I actually took these pictures. One clue is that I appear in one of them. If these images look familiar to you, dear reader, please drop me a note and we will happily give you full credit anon. 

An 11-minute Alfa video feast from Pebble Beach Concourse (turn the sound way up), was shot by Bill Leatherman for MMR in 2010. They are Grand! And the final minute is worth the wait.

Michael Furman Photography - Porsche 356 dashboard

Michael Furman’s image this week is of a Porsche 356 dashboard.

The Weekly Leek: European Correspondent Oofy Prosser Reveals Stunning News from Ferrari’s Past!

Evans Coolant

Evans Coolant

Last week’s Goods & Services directory link to Evans Coolant drew an interesting response from MMR Newsletter reader John Gallagher and it is reprinted in part here. Your thoughts on this topic, particularly if you have specific knowledge or experience with the subject, are welcomed.

Strategy, the Intellectual Aspect of Racing

It is generally recognized that while most top race drivers, with some notable exceptions, are equally gifted regarding the physical parts of driving, not all are good strategists and few, if any, are when beginning their careers. The concept of saving fuel or tires or, the engine itself, is not natural to people who simply want to go fast. In my sports car racing days when races were 20 laps, at most, my sponsor’s strategy was simple. “Go fast” he would say, but quite intensely, and that seemed uncomplicated and plenty good enough direction for me. It also occurred to me that as a strategy, it was probably universal among my competitors and not likely to provide me much of an edge.

Scott Dixon

Last Sunday’s IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio was a race determined by strategy. Last place starter Scott Dixon was the first finisher. And that happened for three reasons: one, he had a fast car; two, he is a very good driver who knows better than most how to go fast and save fuel; and three, someone in the pits put the first two together and figured out a fueling strategy that allowed him to continue on the track while others were refueling and then stretch what little fuel he had to the end. Actually, the end plus 300 yards, which is as far as he got before running out of fuel. This was a great race on a beautiful road (not street) course, with people sitting on the grass of the hills overlooking the circuit. Perfect. The competition was good and the race entertaining.

But the winning was the result of racecraft, something we referred to last week in relation to F1. There was a time when racecraft in IndyCar appeared to be owned only by the Penske squad. That stemmed from Roger’s early racing years when his interpretation of rules often gave his cars, particularly in Trans-Am, an unfair advantage. Truth is that his real advantage was his ability to interpret the rules, prepare meticulously, demand excellence from all around him, including suppliers, and seemingly always have top drivers who followed orders. Plus the simple fact that he was and is basically smarter and more experienced than most of his competitors.

Chip Ganassi Team Racing

That sounds like a simple strategy but many of Penske’s competitors didn’t or couldn’t employ it and he won. Not that he wouldn’t take advantage of the rules if he could, but in today’s spec engines and chassis racing series, there are fewer opportunities. He doesn’t go through the we learned a lot today stuff. He learned it a long time ago and prepared for it yesterday. 

Michael Andretti

Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti have learned how to be the same way and the Penske advantage has been somewhat neutered.

The sports cars from the Tudor United series are at Road America this weekend. Locally, the BMW people take over the lawn at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline.

Peter Bourassa

Monterey Field

Monterey

Monterey

Monterey

Monterey


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Le Mans is done! The world Cup is settled! The Tour de France is moist and shambling and so now a young man’s fancy turns to Monterey! This week we whet your appetite for the upcoming feast by sharing images from Pebbles past. 

Michael Furman’s image this week is a 1927 Bugatti 35C racer

Michael Furman’s image this week is a 1927 Bugatti 35C racer. Stunning! And fitting too!

Last week’s descent into the tabloid world via The Weekly Leek was great fun and enjoyed by most of you who wrote. We also received several suggestions for The Weekly Leek motto but nothing struck a chord; several were funny but too ribald for print. Keep trying team! Of greater import is the offer to write The Weekly Leek from British Motorsports writer Rockford Cantwell-Beech. In his day, Rocky was a hot Formula Ford driver with a bright future until a shunt, as the Brits call it, put paid to his career. I met Rocky at Monza three years ago where he was helping a British team organize their vintage Alfa effort. He is funnier than hell, much closer to F1 than anyone on our team, and I think he will bring credibility to The Weekly Leek. We have separated his column from the editorial and have created a spot for it Short Stories.

Andretti Autosports Stuns the Clever Ones

Masters of the 7/8 mile oval, The Andretti Autosports team won its fifth consecutive IndyCar 300 race and they did it by racing smarter than the Penske and Ganassi teams. Regular readers know that oval races are not our favorites. Indy is redeemed by its history, just as Fontana is condemned by its. In between, the remainder are what they are. But the last two races, at Pocono and Iowa, were interesting and far more entertaining than expected. In the end, with 15 laps to go, the Andretti Autosports team put on new rubber and when the race went green with 10 laps left they beat the cars that had been faster all night. Historically, that is a Penske kind of win. Ganassi driver Scott Dixon, who led 17 laps and was fighting teammate Tony Kanaan for the win, finished fourth. The TV camera caught a none-too-pleased Dixon sharing his disappointment with Ganassi team manager Mike Hull. He said the one-word expletive that said it all for everyone else.

Weekend Reminders:

David Hobbs speaks at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum tomorrow afternoon. Ticket are not for sale at the door and can be purchased via the New England Region Porsche Club of America.

We hope to see you there.

F1’s German GP is this weekend and the IndyCars are once again bouncing between the concrete barriers for a Saturday and a Sunday race in Toronto.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa

Pebble Beach - Alfa 7011

Pebble Beach Mascot

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach - The American


Tutto Italiano Rained On But Not Out

Posted on August 10, 2011 Comments (0)

At times it poured buckets and at times it just drizzled, but it never didn't rain. Tutto Italiano is the largest Italian vehicle and lifestyle event in the Northeast. Although far less than one hundred cars and motorcycles displayed, the surprisingly large crowd remained damp and joyful throughout. Stay tuned for more Tutto 2011 news.


An Electric Car in Your Future… Now

Posted on June 7, 2010 Comments (0)

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport at Larz Anderson Auto Museum (photo credit: Greg PC)

It’s no longer a question of whether or not you’ll have an electric car.  The question now is:  When? and what color will it be?

A small company in California has made the strongest effort yet to end your recurring nightmare about battery operated cars:  It’s a dark rainy night and you’re muttering bleakly to yourself as you guide the slowing little electric “econobox” to the side of a dimly lit highway.  The battery is dying, the lights are dimming, and the wipers are slowing. And your heart is sinking because you know there are no electrical outlets or clean bathrooms for miles.  Not a pretty picture.

Tesla Motors, maker of a new breed of high performance electric cars, has addressed your three major concerns. One, Tesla calms I'll-never-make-it-home fears with a mileage range of between 240 and 300 miles per charge.  Far beyond the mileage required for the average daily commute. Two, Teslas perform exceptionally well against what are considered current standards of comfort, safety and speed. And three, rather than looking like mobile meat lockers, both sport and sedan Teslas are unquestionably among the most handsome of cars.

So how does this happen?  Well, for one thing the evolution of the current modern car has laid the groundwork for Tesla’s acceptance.  Cars have changed dramatically from the finned behemoths of the ‘50’s. But our continued demand for greater efficiency in transportation, combined with the volatile politics of fossil fuels and the myriad finicky computers that control every aspect of the modern car, have created a huge opportunity for a simple and innovative solution. Mass transit systems, high speed rail, even bicycles, hold little appeal in this huge country as they are often deemed transport for students, the poor, or the environmentally awestruck.

Enter the Tesla. Forgetting for a moment that coal fired generators supply the electrical charge, this car is attractive, comfortable and environmentally friendly. Surprisingly, the Tesla Roadster Sport model, the only flavor available at this point, can trace its roots to the innovative Lotus Car Company of the Sixties and their popular Elan model. When the Lotus Elan first hit the roads and tracks of America, it had as disruptive an impact on the dinosaurs of its day as the Tesla is having on accepted technology today. At that time, the Elan’s nimble handling, great brakes and Ford Cosworth 1.55 liter twin cam engine pitted it against the likes of Corvettes, M-B 300Sl's, Porsche Carreras, anf Ferrari 250Gt's in SCCA B-Production racing.  It proved to be a very competitive car, setting a standard for small car speed and agility for years to come.

Today, the Tesla’s rolling chassis is built in the original Lotus Cars plant in Hethel, England.  The body is 4” longer than today’s Lotus Elise model, successor in spirit to the Elan. The Tesla is styled after the Elise but its body is made of carbon fiber rather than fiberglass. This adds great structural rigidity and lightens the car by 200 lbs. The “glider”, as it is called at that point, is then shipped to California where battery power components are added and the car is finished to the customer’s specifications.  Customers spec their car on the Tesla website.

That’s right, no local dealerships. This transaction is all done online and you are always a single keystroke from canceling the whole deal. But if you don’t, your local UPS delivery truck will bring your brand new Tesla to your doorstep in somewhere between 90 and 120 days. And your neighbors will all deem you to be either an eco-weenie or a visionary.  Comfort yourself, at some point, whether in reality or in their dreams, you will silently glide by them all at the local Mobil, a spot you wont have visited in months.

While Tesla is currently assembled in the United States from parts made elsewhere, a government subsidy to encourage further electric vehicle development will change all that.  But Tesla Motors’ fate will not be determined by politics and environmental demands alone. This company will also need to succeed on the merits of its products, and its first offerings bode very well indeed for that to happen.