MMR Blog

Sandy On Assignment: The Bucket List

Posted on January 15, 2015 Comments (10)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

Sandy on Assignment

Yes, a glamour shot, but the suit (not the shoes) gets me into the hot pits!

No matter what your age, I bet you have a list of things you want to do ... someday. Since setting myself loose in this amazing world of motorsports, I realize my someday is now. A bit late to the motorsports party, I have come to peace with the fact that I am neither going to become a race car driver, nor am I going to trip upon a million dollar barn find. So instead, I have been knocking out my very own bucket list ... to get as close to everything motorsports as I possibly can.

Looking at my list got me thinking. Does every car guy have a bucket list? What’s on it? What are their plans? I started asking around and this is what I discovered. Generally speaking, there is no limit to what a car guy wants to do with cars, events they want to attend, and cars they lust over owning or re-owning. What did surprise me was the final hesitation ... someday.

My hope in sharing my adventures under Sandy on Assignment is to get you excited about building and actually tackling your own motorsports bucket list.

You are never too young to appreciate motorsports

It is never too soon to introduce children to motorsports.

I appreciate that this sport or hobby, depending upon your level of participation, requires resources. Although some are financial, many just need some time and planning. This may not be the year to hit Pebble Beach, but it may be the time to take your children or grandchildren to the races or a local car show. It may be the year to hop in your car and do a Club autocross or a road tour.

As for my motorsports adventures, here are my top ten recommendations. See where your dreams fit. Write them down.

Sandy’s Top Ten Favorites

1. Take a high performance sports driving course. My favorites are the 2-day Porsche Sports Driving School outside Birmingham, Alabama and Monticello Motor Club’s high performance courses, just 90 minutes north of New York City. Interestingly, most participants attend as a birthday present from their spouse! What I learned in both courses stays with me every second I am driving on the road.

Bruce Ledoux and Sandy Cotterman

Meeting driver Bruce Ledoux, founder of the  Guardian Angels of Motorsports, opened my eyes to the world of racing.

St. Petersburg Grand Prix

Smaller races, like the St. Pete Grand Prix let you get close to the cars and the drivers.

2. Go to the races. The Rolex 24 hours of Daytona was my first and got me hooked. Whether it’s local stock car racing or Formula 1, the electricity is always there. Splurge on a paddock pass. Meet the drivers. Le Mans can’t be beat. Formula 1 in Monaco is breathtaking. Vintage racing during the Lime Rock Historics and Monterey week at Laguna Seca are favorites. Watching the Elegance at Hershey hillclimb is a blast.

3. Get out and drive. Whether it’s a Club track day, family drive, or week-long rally, just get out and drive. Enjoy yourself in your car. After taking my performance courses, I realized you don’t need a Ferrari or a Porsche to get out and have fun!

Sandy Cotterman, judging a concours

Judging has gotten me closer to the pulse of a concours.

Sandy Cotterman and Norman Dewis, OBE

It is one thing to go to a concours like Villa d’Este, it’s another to meet a legend like Norman Dewis, OBE and the car that made history.

4. Attend a Concours d’Elegance or local car show. A concours can be a step back in history or a waltz down memory lane. It’s like a living history and a chance to meet the owners. The atmosphere is always fun, often lasting a weekend. You would be amazed at the classic cars entered in local car shows! There is nothing that beats the fun during the British Invasion in Stowe, Vermont. Sandy on Assignment has taken MMR readers from Pebble Beach to Amelia Island and across the pond to Villa d’Este and Hampton Court.

Max Girardo, RM Auctioneer and Managing Director

Max Girardo, RM’s auctioneer and Managing Director captivates his audiences.

5. Feel the excitement of an Auction. Whether you experience it live in person or on television, watching a car auction is a blast. I love to hear guys talk about prices as cars roll onto the auction block. What looks like their high school car or the car they almost bought, is now priced out of sight! You can get caught up in the bidding frenzy without even opening your wallet! Preview days are often free, and a great time to walk around and check out the cars. My favorite is RM with auctioneer Max Girardo. Also at the top of my list are Gooding, Bonham’s, and Artcurial auctions.

First Porsche sports car

The first sports car bearing the Porsche name. The 1948 Porsche Type 356, “No. 1” Roadster.

6. Check out your dream car. There is no harm in test driving your dream car. There is no harm in surfing the internet for your dream car. There is no harm in tracking down the car you once owned. Dream it and someday you may own it. I want a Porsche 911 in the worst way.

Goodwood is fun for everyone

The Goodwood Revival is magical and fun for everyone.

7. Head to the Goodwood Revival, Retromobile, or the Mille Miglia. These events are for everyone, from the vintage racing buff to the reluctant spouse. If looking through memorabilia at Retromobile gets boring, there is always shopping in Paris. There are enough trade-offs in Italy to spare a couple of hours watching the cars take off at the Mille Miglia. As for the Goodwood Revival, the entire family cannot help but have a fabulous time.

1902, the oldest Mercedes still in existence

The oldest Mercedes still in existence, the 1902 Mercedes-Simplex 40PS.

8. Tie an automotive museum into your vacation. Automobile museums are everywhere. Admission is often nominal. In the States, favorites on the west coast, besides Jay Leno’s Garage, include the Blackhawk Museum, Mullen and Nethercutt Collections, Peterson and LeMay Museums. Heading east, the Seal Cove Museum in Maine and Simeon and AACA Museums in Pennsylvania are fantastic. Heading to Europe? Take the train from Paris to Mulhouse for a treat — the Schlumph Collection in the Cité de l’Automobile National Museum. If you are flying into Milan, the Museo dell’Automobile in Torino and Museo Mille Miglia in Brescia are unique. Once in Stuttgart, Germany, the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums were phenomenal. The crème de la crème was The Collier Collection in Naples, Florida.

Katies, on a Saturday Morning

With over 300 cars on a Saturday morning, at Katie’s, you can always find something to talk about.

9. Get to a Cars and Coffee. If it’s 7am, Saturday morning, you will find me sipping coffee with hundreds of car guys and gals, at the local cars and coffee. I love being around other like-minded motorsports enthusiasts. Classics to exotics, you’ll see everything and just talk cars. My favorites — Katie’s in Great Falls, Virginia and the duPont Registry in Clearwater, Florida.

Sandy's dream come true

My dream come true.

10. Don’t stop at 10 ... keep dreaming. On my bucket list for decades was to own a convertible, something sporty. I never let up on that dream and I’m glad I didn’t. Who would have guessed that dream would change my life.

Rallies enough to last a lifetime

There are enough rallies on my list to last a lifetime.

So what is still on my bucket list? My dreams span the gamut, from tinkering under the hood of an E-Type to navigating in the Peking to Paris Rally. And, of course, there’s the 911.

Donald Osborne at the Mille Miglia

It is just as much about the people as it is about the cars. Donald Osborne at the start of the Mille Miglia.

I hope I have sparked your interest. Get out and have fun with your own bucket list. Sandy on Assignment, under the MMR Blog, gives you a glimpse into many adventures, with specific suggestions on how to go about planning. When it comes to motorsports adventures, it’s all about the cars, the people, and having fun.

Please keep me posted on your bucket list ... and I promise to write about mine.


Sandy on Assignment: London’s Concours of Elegance…

Posted on November 19, 2014 Comments (1)

A weekend with a Prince!

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring -- Flying Star -- takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

To walk among sixty of the world’s rarest historic cars, exclusively invited to participate in London’s Concours of Elegance was magnificent. To be in the presence of a Prince while doing so was extraordinary!

I was planning a trip to Germany; right about the time RM’s London auction was to take place. Without a moment’s hesitation, I adjusted my plans for a two-day stop over in London and a chance to attend RM’s eighth annual London auction. It was a great opportunity to watch my favorite auctioneer and RM’s European Managing Director, Max Girardo. Just as exciting, was discovering a new motorsports gem… London’s Concours of Elegance.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

Now in its third year, the UK’s budding international concours, uniquely held at a different Royal Palace each year, is definitely making its mark… not only among the motorsports elite, but with the public, as well. Held the first weekend of September, this event is the ultimate motorsports English garden party.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

On Sunday, I attended the gardens of one of London’s spectacular palaces, Hampton Court, home to not only the sixty concours cars but cars from many UK car clubs and specialty car tours, as well as something unique… the “Talking Concours”, a staged area featuring interviews with greats from the car world.

The inaugural event of the Concours took place in 2012 within the private grounds of Windsor Castle to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee of reign. The second Concours of Elegance was held at the Royal Palace of St. James, last year.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Although Hampton Court Palace has not been home to the British Royal Family since the 18th century, its grandeur stands out among world Royal Palaces. It is best remembered as Henry the VIII’s favorite royal residence. Nearly 200 years later, William III and Mary II embarked on a massive expansion of the Palace, which included the grounds enjoyed during this year’s Concours.

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone and Webb Coupe

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone & Webb Coupe

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

Much like Villa d’Este, the Concours of Elegance differs from traditional concours where a ‘winning’ car is selected by a panel of judges. The Concours of Elegance organizers maintain that if a car has been invited to participate in the Concours, it is already a winner. On Saturday, each of the sixty Concours participants casts their vote for the vehicle they consider the most elegant, thus Best of Show. During an exclusive dinner Saturday evening in King Henry VIII’s Great Dining Hall at Hampton Court Palace, Concours Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent presented this year’s Best of Show to the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo made its concours debut in 1931 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where, accompanied by the model Josette Pozzo, it won the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este trophy. It has been winning accolades and trophies ever since.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

Spectators to the Concours of Elegance, reached well over 10,000 this year. Voting for a first time award… the Public Choice winner was awarded to a rare alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe, number 19 of only 29 alloy Gullwings built.

First owned by Italian gentleman racer Dottore Alberico Cacciari, this car was the only alloy-bodied 300 SL to compete in the 1956 and 1957 Mille Miglias, with Cacciari driving. The car appeared at Hampton Court, just as it raced in 1956, with its 452 racing numbers, and original tool kit and factory-fitted luggage.

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

So there I was, wandering among the beautiful cars and beautiful gardens in awe of the Palace when the Patron of the Concours of Elegance drove by. His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent accompanied by his lovely wife, the Princess, was admiring the cars and speaking with owners and vendors throughout the day.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

So which palace is up next for this prestigious concours? With the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, the 2015 Concours of Elegance will be held at the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

Moved last year to coincide with the Concours of Elegance, RM Auctions concluded its European auction calendar on Monday, with its London auction at Battersea Evolution. While pouring over one of the Jaguars during the preview just prior to the start of the auction, I started talking with a gentleman and his son. You just never know who you’ll meet at a RM auction! To my astonishment, he introduced himself as the previous owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which I had seen a year ago at the Goodwood Revival and this year at the Mille Miglia. To know me, is to know I adore transporters. I was tickled!

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting in the second row, right in front of Max was definitely the highlight of the weekend! The crowd was very international with 35 countries represented in the room. We watched as the hammer went down on the final bid of $8,119,188 for the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ and $3,266,340 for the rare 1966 Ferrari GTB Alloy, and $1,959,804 for the highly original 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra. We were in awe watching the sales sore to $36,348,733 US dollars. Another whirlwind motorsports weekend was over… as the final hammer went down.


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


Sandy on Assignment: At the start... of the Mille Miglia

Posted on June 19, 2014 Comments (4)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

The 2014 Mille Miglia winners at the start to reclaim their 2011 title, Giordano Mozzi and Stefania Biacca driving an original Mille Miglia car, the 1928 Lancia Lambda tipo 221 spider Ca.Sa.Ro.

The 2014 Mille Miglia winners at the start to reclaim their 2011 title, Giordano Mozzi and Stefania Biacca driving an original Mille Miglia car, the 1928 Lancia Lambda tipo 221 spider Ca.Sa.Ro.

Who wouldn’t want to go to Italy… to watch the start of the Mille Miglia? When the opportunity presented itself to rendezvous with my daughter, I was thrilled with the timing. I was about to repeat last year’s adventure concept… motorsports bookends... the Mille Miglia on one end and Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the other.

Today’s Mille Miglia is on many a bucket list. As a spectator verses entrant, there are huge differences in approaching this event, as one would expect. All the same, it was still exciting and a thrill to watch the field of this year’s 435 official entries go through the scrutineering and start day fanfare, before they actually took off on their four day adventure, the third weekend in May.

Brescia’s Piazza della Vittoria maintains its historical significance to the Mille Miglia.

Brescia’s Piazza della Vittoria maintains its historical significance to the Mille Miglia.

It all starts in Brescia, about an hours drive east of Milan, Malpensa being the airport of choice. Everyone discouraged me from renting a car in Italy, including my native Italian friends. Forget it! I had a blast driving the narrow hilltop roads and autostrade, during our two-week stay.

Brescia has a rich motorsports history starting at the beginning of the 19th century, as a hub for auto manufacturing and its Brescia Motoring Week and Florio Cup. Originally, hometown to the first Grand Prix of Italy in 1921, it was that event‘s organizer who pulled the rug out from under Brescia, quickly moving the event the very next year to a newly built circuit in Monza, establishing the Italian Grand Prix, as we know it today. The betrayal is what ignited the imagination of a small group of young sportsmen referred to in the history books as the Four Musketeers, Giovanni Canestrini, Aymo Maggi, Franco Mazzotti and Renzo Castagneto, to put together the Mille Miglia, in less than three months time.

Overlooking scrutineering at the Fiera di Brescia.

Overlooking scrutineering at the Fiera di Brescia.

First, for those of you who want to check this off your bucket list, here are a few travel tips. Arrive Wednesday morning, before Thursday’s start, and head directly to scrutineering at the Brixia Expo-Fiera di Brescia, a large exhibition venue, on the outskirts of Brescia. Bring, and I emphasize, bring your GPS from home, downloading Italy’s roads beforehand. A GPS is invaluable and costly, if you rent it at the airport, as we did. We walked right into the Expo and there before us were many of the classic and historic cars, plus a section of newer cars, all going through the paces of registration and technical inspection. I found it fascinating, a sort of history lesson, as all the cars were examples of those raced during the span of the event from 1927-1957.

A walk back in time, during registration and tech checks.

A walk back in time, during registration and tech checks.

Moving through scrutineering.

Moving through scrutineering.

This year’s official registration list noted 71 cars that had participated in the original races. Sixty four different marques would be arriving from 34 countries around the world, with the most, 113, from Italy. From the total 435 teams, 62 were composed of members of the same family, father and sons mostly. Thirteen female teams were listed, in addition to quite a few husband and wife teams counted in the family total.

Jay Leno and Ian Cullum at the start in a 1951 XK120 Sports Ecurie Ecosse

Jay Leno and Ian Callum at the start in a 1951 XK120 Sports “Ecurie Ecosse”.

We got to meet and talk with a few owners; otherwise most of the cars were unattended. This was the best opportunity to take time and look over the cars without competing crowds. Outside the hall, Jaguar Heritage Racing with their ten celebrated 1950s models and celebrity drivers were milling around. Jay Leno, who commented that he favors the XK120 era and his co-driver, Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design director, would drive one of the Ecurie Ecosse race cars. Andy Wallace, ex-Jaguar Le Mans winner, whom I cheered on at Goodwood last fall, was there to drive a famed 1952 C-type. The celebrity list of Jaguar drivers was impressive.

This first early afternoon, at the Expo, was also an excellent time to make souvenir purchases, without crowds. At this point, I will mention that the Mille Miglia, like my recommendation for the Goodwood Revival, is an excellent trip for spouses. There are so many opportunities for shopping, eating, sightseeing, and wine tasting… after the car enthusiast gets his or her fix of the cars.

The Bentley Driver’s Club in Sirmione, a favorite stop for car club rallies during the Mille Miglia.

The Bentley Driver’s Club in Sirmione, a favorite stop for car club rallies during the Mille Miglia.

Accommodations for the Mille Miglia were tricky, yet they need not be. I asked friends who had participated in prior years and got an excellent recommendation to stay at the Best Western Master in Brescia. Jaguar thought so too, as the Jaguar Heritage team was also staying there! Unfortunately, the prices are so inflated that it’s hard to recommend actually staying in Brescia. Like the original races, promotion and tourism are still key objectives of the event.

Following the start and a spin through the streets of Brescia, the cars work their way up to Lake Garda and the quaint touristy town of Sirmione, no more than 45 minutes north. They drive through the entire town and historic section. It would be my recommendation to find a hotel in Sirmione. We followed our two-night stay in Brescia with another two in Sirmione with rates about two thirds less, and directly on the lake.

Thursday morning, we noticed cars beginning to park near the race start, so heading back into Brescia from Sirmione for the entire day may be just as realistic as staying in town. You may not even feel the need to be at the start, which for spectators means lining the streets and watching the cars zoom by. Heading back to Sirmione around 3pm, in time to line its streets, might be just as exciting.

We were told that Thursday before the start, the museum, Museo Mille Miglia, hosts a pre-race diner for competitors. Knowing this, we adjusted our Thursday itinerary to arrive at the museum shortly after it opened at 10am and took our time. If you are driving to the museum you will have to be creative in parking. We saw a line of newish Ferraris parked along a chain link fence across the street from the museum and tucked right in. In hindsight, they were probably part of the Ferraris doing drives as a Tribute to the Mille Miglia!

The museum is situated inside the Monastery of Saint Eufemia, a beautiful building with historical significance itself, built in 1008. Opened to the public in 2004, you step back in time, not only into the history of the original Mille Miglia but the entire Italian social and political culture of those years, with multi-media displays and historic cars creating a sense of being there. Written in Italian with English translations, the museum book is an excellent walk through each individual year with a concise summary of the road infrastructure challenges and petrol and tyre rationing, facing the 1947 start up after the war and seven year pause of the event, as well as the final demise due to a tragic accident and unsuccessful attempts to sustain itself afterwards.

Italians Francesca Grimaldi and Lucia Fanti in their XK120 OTS Jaguar maneuvering the narrow streets off the Piazza, before they take off to victory in the female team division.

Italians Francesca Grimaldi and Lucia Fanti in their XK120 OTS Jaguar maneuvering the narrow streets off the Piazza, before they take off to victory in the female team division.

German’s Peter and Dr. Claus-Peter Amberger in their 1928 4.5 Bentley fight the crowds out of the Piazza towards the start.

German’s Peter and Dr. Claus-Peter Amberger in their 1928 4.5 Bentley fight the crowds out of the Piazza towards the start.

I find the tidbits of history fascinating for this event. Initially it was meant to be a one-time race. More of a shot in the arm for the Italian people, especially Brescians. A sporting event on local roads which would not only capture the spirit of sports car enthusiasts, but would hopefully inspire technological innovation from the auto industry and road improvements. The route was determined to be half of Italy, Brescia to Rome and back… 1600km, or 1000 miles, thus the title, Mille Miglia.

This event spawned the pleasures of grand sports motor touring that many of us enjoy today.

At high noon on Thursday, the itinerary calls for the cars to congregate in the Piazza della Vittoria, the location where pre-checks were moved to in 1932. One must keep in mind, the original Mille Miglia was continuous. Stopping only for fuel and repairs. The 1927 first place winner, in a hometown manufactured O.M. (Officine Meccaniche), clocked in at a total time of 21 hrs, 04 mins, 48 secs. Today’s event is actually a four day regularity run.

At the Piazza, you get the same sense of these cars as you do when the Pebble Beach cars end their road tour in Carmel… pandemonium. When you think about it, like Pebble Beach, these are million dollar cars, just parked for mobs of onlookers to see… and admire. That is another very nice thing about this event. It’s approachable for the public at no cost other than getting there.

Another recommendation is to make lunch reservations at one of the local restaurants just off the Piazza when you arrive race day. It takes the edge off things, when everything gets crazy at lunchtime. We actually didn’t do that, but there was a silver lining. While walking out of the city towards Viale Venezia, the start, we remembered friends mentioning they sat at a cafe on the street and watched the cars go by. We caught a late lunch and got to watch them, presumably en route the Museum tour and dinner.

American co-driver Mark Gessler, president of the Heritage Vehicle Association, in an original Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 GS Zagato accompanies Manuel Elicabe to a stellar 11th place finish!

American co-driver Mark Gessler, president of the Heritage Vehicle Association, in an original Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 GS Zagato accompanies Manuel Elicabe to a stellar 11th place finish!

About an hour and a half before the 6pm start, we were front and center, a coveted location we were thankful to secure as media guests. We made friends with our media mates on either side of us. Everyone was staking out territory for the perfect shots. To be honest with you, the most interesting shots are more likely back at that little café along the roadside. Every inch of road is a good spectator spot to watch the Mille Miglia, so don’t worry... you’re so close you can do a high five with the drivers if you want!

We admired every driving team for undertaking the journey. It was fun to have spotted the winning teams when they were driving in the Piazza before the start and to have caught a glimpse of most of the cars as they rolled up onto the start stage.

On the lawn at Pebble Beach in 2013 to the start of the 2014 Mille Miglia, Tony Shooshani is all smiles in his 1921 Alfa Romeo G1 with driver Craig Calder.

On the lawn at Pebble Beach in 2013 to the start of the 2014 Mille Miglia, Tony Shooshani is all smiles in his 1921 Alfa Romeo G1 with driver Craig Calder.

And off they all go…

And off they all go…

Mille Miglia logo

When I see the red arrow, a logo they say has been around from the beginning, it will forever draw me in because there has to be a fantastic story behind who’s wearing it or sporting it on their vehicle, even if they were like me… a spectator. It was magical just being there.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on April 25, 2014 Comments (0)

An Apology

Constant Contact is our MMR Newsletter distributor. Last Friday, a power outage affected their ability to supply images for our newsletter for over six hours. We apologize to our subscribers for this inconvenience.

F1 China

It has become clear that the new F1 cars come pre-sorted with a set of characteristics that cannot be tuned out. Drivers have to adapt to them or perish. The drivers for the Mercedes team seem quite equal in talent and also seem to have adapted to the car’s idiosyncrasies equally. That doesn’t mean that another driver might not do better, but we would never know until one tries. The Red Bull Team on the other hand is a different situation. Sebastian Vettel was the master of the previous chassis and his then teammate Mark Webber never got it to the same extent. But Vettel definitely hasn’t come to terms with the new chassis. The problem for him is that his new Red Bull teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, has. To the team, this means that the issues to be overcome are not so much the car, though it does need improvement, it is helping their #1 driver adapt to it. And to his credit, Vettel admits he is the problem. If he can resolve this problem he will come out of this not just a better driver but a different person.

Our lead image this week is from Denise McCluggage's column. Her story this week compares today’s cars with a time when a racing driver’s input was necessary to maximize the car's potential. You can also visit her website where you can see more Denise McCluggage images for sale. The remainder of the eye-candy on this page is from this year's Amelia Concours event. Enjoy!

Blue Highways

America is blessed with some wonderful and sometimes little used back roads. As more and better freeways are built for our transportation needs, these blue highways, as they are defined on most maps, are becoming the purview of car enthusiasts exercising cars that were probably built in the same time period. In Europe, the historic Mille Miglia is a huge affair for both spectators and participants and in America the Colorado Grand, the New England 1000 and the Copperstate are rallies giving drivers an opportunity to celebrate and exercise their vintage vehicles in the company of like minded individuals in beautiful settings. In the coming weeks we will have a report on the Mille Miglia from participant and MMR Newsletter subscriber Bruce Male. We will further explore this expanding form of motorsports entertainment and whether it can fit in your plans. So stay tuned.

At the Track and on TV

The Mitty (as in Walter Mitty) is fast establishing itself as the premier event of the vintage racing scene in America and it is this weekend at Road Atlanta. While not quite ready for prime time TV yet, if you are in that area, make the time to refresh your memories of great cars of our past. On the more contemporary front, IndyCar is at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama this weekend. This is the first race of this year on a proper road racing circuit and it will be interesting.

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

Peter Bourassa