MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 4, 2015 Comments (0)

British Beauties at the 2015 Greenwich Concours, by Dom Miliano

Welcome to June! The month named after the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, who gives the Northern Hemisphere its last gasp of spring and first taste of uninterrupted warmth. This is the month of 24 Hours of Le Mans. Depending on which you favor, our multi-disciplined sport has several “Greatest Race of the Year” designations: Indy, Monaco, Daytona 500, and 24 Hours of ..., all qualify to someone. We believe that from a historical viewpoint alone, Le Mans is the best. Check our MMR calendar below and reserve a spot on your couch. This year promises an interesting battle between Porsche, Audi, and Toyota.

2015 Le Mans Test

Our lead image this week comes from a class winning Lancia Aurelia at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance last weekend in Greenwich, CT. It was shot by editor Dom Miliano as were the bulk of the images in this issue. You can view more images by clicking here.

A reminder that Father’s Day is not far away and we will be making not-so-subtle suggestions to be passed on to the appropriate members in your family.

F1 in Montreal

Canada GP

An exciting and excited city will have another wonderful party to support a race at a boring track. Another, “track of convenience”, the service roads of Île Notre-Dame are again pressed into service for Bernie’s Boys. Unlike the truly challenging sections on other public roadways turned temporary racetrack such as Eau Rouge and the Mulsanne Kink, Montreal features the Wall of Champions. Yes, a concrete barrier parked perilously close to an exit on the last corner before the start finish line, and where a number of drivers have crashed, is its main feature. Brilliant! 

The truly exciting “feature” of the Canadian GP is Montreal itself. The women are beautiful, the old city is historic and charming, the restaurants are wonderful, and the city goes nuts for F1.

Tips: Access to the track is via an excellent Metro system. Though organizers graciously sell “open” tickets, there are no “open” viewing areas and assigned seating at the track is a must. “Open” tickets are only good for access to the vendor area and for “hearing” race cars go by. Consider buying tickets for Friday’s practice and Saturday’s qualifying. On Friday you can move from grandstand to grandstand as they are hardly full. Qualifying is different, as it is well attended.

What do Detroit and Boston Have in Common?

IndyCar logo

At the moment, not much. But in 2016 they will both offer an IndyCar race in parts of their city which are little cared for at any other time. Belle Isle is a lovely green island park straddling the cities of Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON in the middle of the Detroit River. The track is a combination of concrete slabs and asphalt on what are essentially the service roads of a public park. Last year’s race, in the dry, showed the track to be a bumpy mess and the race became the poster child, along with Baltimore, of where not to run a race.

This year, the two races in two days, was far better. Despite the rain, which shortened the Saturday race and precipitated crashes in the Sunday event, the racing was very good and neither the Penske nor Ganassi teams exerted their usual dominance. In point of fact, Roger Penske, who is the guiding light of this event had a horrible Sunday when two of his cars, with help, collided, and Indy winner JP Montoya ran out of gas on the last lap. Andretti Motorsports had a good weekend, finishing 1-2 on Saturday and 5th on Sunday. This was also a good weekend for Graham Rahal, who crashed on Saturday and finished third on Sunday. And also for Honda who finished 1-2 in the first race and 2 thru 9 on Sunday. Carlos Munoz won the rain shortened Saturday event and Sebastien Bordais won the Sunday race.

Pardon Our Lack of Enthusiasm

Boston, despite its global image of an old ship, Harvard Yard, and uptight Yankees, possesses a varied and active motorsports community. The advent of very successful Boston Cup and the continued efforts of the very active lawn show season at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum have proven that it can support a major motorsport event, and it would appear that its time has come. 

In many ways, New England motorsports fans are blessed. We have the aforementioned Boston Cup on Boston Common, NH has the NHMS oval and road course in Louden and now has a NHRA sanctioned track, CT has Lime Rock Park and all its rich history of major races, and the CT/MA borders share Thompson Speedway with its 75-year-old oval and its newly reconstituted road course. Tamworth NH is home to what will shortly be a beautiful mountain track called Club Motorsport, and Palmer MA has recently opened a track that has been very highly rated.

So let’s talk about the Seaport District of South Boston. Across the Boston main Channel from Logan Airport, it is an inhospitable piece of flat land that the city and private developers have been trying to promote as a modern living space (on the water and close to downtown) for a number of years. In an effort to bring activity to the area, it is now the home to the Boston Convention Center, the Institute for Contemporary Art and a number of high rise hotels and restaurants. Now it has an IndyCar race.

Our feelings about street races are known and, were there no options, we might even be mildly supportive of this effort. But so far the hype has all been about how much money this will garner and how many hotel rooms will be sold. Strictly from a racing point of view, which is what enthusiasts tend to want, not much is being offered. If the history of street racing in North America is a guide, our expectations are very low.

Michael Furman – Photographer

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo, by Michael Furman

Our Michael Furman Image this week is a detail from a 1928 Mercedes Benz 680S Torpedo from his book, Automotive Jewelry.

Our Classic Classifieds Feature Lamborghinis

Lamborghini Muira SV

The Markets continue to rise and while current owners of every older car are presently looking satisfied with themselves for owning an investment of seemingly unstinted growth; some are growing faster than others. For Lamborghini, this is boom time. The new Huracan is a huge success and has a long waiting list. Older, previously less appreciated models are also growing but not as quickly as Ferraris. Is this an opportunity. Perhaps.  Check out this week’s offerings. With Audi backing and engineering behind it, Lamborghini looks to have a bright future that will reflect well on its past models. These are worthy of consideration while they are relatively affordable.

This Week’s Video is a Message from the Henry Ford Museum

Lotus-Ford

One car and one race changed Indy car racing in America forever. The car was a rear engine Lotus 38, the motor was by Ford and the race was the 1965 Indy 500 won by Jim Clark. But the death knell for front engine roadsters was sounded four years earlier when Jack Brabham introduced his rear engine F1 Cooper with a modified F1 engine to the Indy 500. By the time Clark won, there were only six roadsters that qualified for the race. But Clark’s win was huge for European chassis manufacturers and for Ford who had backed the project. Watch this video and learn which other driver, an American, was instrumental in making it happen:

Vintage Racing at Thompson: June 18 thru 21

Three days of VRG and VSCCA racing at Thompson Speedway, 45 minutes from Boston.  Drop us a line if you have an interest in going. If enough of you want to go on Saturday, we will speak to the track about parking together. Check them out online at thompsonspeedway.com

Next week is our Father’s Day Gift Guide Edition. Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 13, 2014 Comments (0)

In keeping with MMR’s tradition of supporting readers who indulge themselves at every given opportunity, we remind all that this Sunday is Father’s Day. A word to the wise man; if your plans include treating yourself to a good book, good food, and affordable wine in copious amounts in the name of Fatherhood, we urge you to consider that in itself, fathering is not so much an accomplishment. The achievement lies in surviving its byproduct, the children from whom you are expecting a thoughtful gift. Don’t expect them to buy you a good motorsports book. It isn’t going to happen. So take care of yourself. This week’s highlighted resources from our Goods and Services Directory feature some interesting reads. And here is where you can really shine. After you have purchased the book and just before you plunk down a C note for that box of backyard cigars, see that some flowers are delivered to the Memsahib. She probably made Father’s Day possible for you.

We review the Canadian GP in Montreal and preview Le Mans which is this weekend. Several short weeks ago we changed over our winter tires to summer and we were trying to figure out just how to read the code on the tires that indicate when they were hatched. Denise McCluggage’s story about tires is a timely review about an important and expensive part of our drive that some of us take for granted and most drivers completely neglect. 

Silver Arrows

Our featured photographer this week is MMR’s old friend Royce Rumsey’s Study in Silver. 

Our Michael Furman image for this issue is the cockpit of a 1936 Delahaye 135 GP race car. It is probably not your resident mental image of a Delahaye, but you won’t be disappointed in this basic racer version. See more of his work in his Gallery or at MichaelFurman.com.

Michael Furman photograph of the cockpit of a 1936 Delahaye 135 GP race car.

F1: Canadian GP – Montreal

By all accounts, neither the City of Montreal nor the F1 race disappointed. We didn’t attend and regret missing the parties but we did watch it on TV and everyone seemed to agree it was an interesting race. Despite their massive support in Montreal, Ferrari didn’t really have an impact and neither did McLaren. But, Red Bull and Mercedes did. It is too easy to say that the race was competitive because of the failure of technology at Mercedes. As enthusiasts we learned a few new interesting aspects of these cars and drivers. For one, we learned that the mighty Mercedes team were vulnerable, not only to hardware failure but also from an engineering point of view. Everyone knew that this track, with its long straight and relatively slow corners was tough on brakes. The new hybrid power system calls on the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) to slow the car through the drivetrain. Like downshifting. Mercedes felt that would be sufficient and ran smaller than permitted rear brake discs to save weight. When the KERS system failed, they ran out of brakes in the rear. Larger discs would not have solved the problem but they would have helped. 

Brake problems

Full credit to Rosberg who out qualified his teammate, and then, from the moment he had car problems ran hard and smart to salvage a second place. Vettel, who finished third to Ricciardo and Rosberg also showed grace and maturity in his post race interview. Next, we knew that drivers sometimes were obliged to reboot the computers, or more likely reprogram the drive settings, while they were racing. And we learned that some of them are better at it than others. Force India’s driver Sergio Perez, for instance, is not particularly good at it and it took him longer than others to change the necessary settings, costing him time and positions on the track and possibly contributing to his ill advised block on Massa that cost them both points-paying positions in the race. And it could be a clue as to why McLaren dumped him. Who says F1 is boring?

Le Mans: le 24 Heures du Mans

Stake out the couch, pile up the heart arresting, life shortening goodies, and a sleeping bag and tell everyone to close the doors to their room. Coverage begins Saturday at 6:30PM ET and Sunday at 1:00 AM. WOW! Will you be popular!

Le Mans: 24 Heures du Mans is the European equivalent of the Indy 500. Both get weeks of hype and special days to introduce the cars and the teams to the public. In the end, what was once an endurance race, as in will this bloody thing last is now a 24 hour sprint, as in foot to the floor for 24 race. Audi have dominated it in recent years with only a few Peugeot interruptions, to the disappointment of the French. Porsche had a stranglehold on it for years before they did.

The evolution of new engine and aerodynamic technology has presented an opportunity for car manufacturers to showcase their engineering talents and this year both Porsche and Toyota have joined the fray. Audi are there but hardly mentioned. Toyota have won the first two races of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship and they are looking strong for Le Mans where they qualified 1-2. Now begins the race of tactics.

Around the Newsstands

Classic and Sports Car did an interesting three-way comparison between a ′66 327 Corvette, a ′63 Jaguar XKE and a Toyota 2000 from the ′66 to ′70 period. Thought provoking read.

The June issue of Sports Car Market surveys some of the better known participants in the auction/collection game expounding on current market pricing and whether it is a justified trend or merely a bubble and when/if Chicken Little Syndrome will kick in. As you know, we don’t cover auctions here because so many people, like SCM, do it so much better. But because our MMR Goods & Services Directory deals daily with sales and repair outlets, (we have 2800 suppliers in the Directory) we can tell you that these quickly rising prices are affecting several sectors. For dealers, buying cars is getting tougher and tougher as nobody who can afford to wants to sell a car today that could be worth appreciably more in several months from now. Correspondingly, major used parts for older cars are also rising in price and being withheld from the repair shops for the same reason. As with everything else, where you stand on this issue depends on where you sit. For the average enthusiast, this is a game being played way beyond their ability to compete. While there is some comfort in seeing appreciation for the car you have been maintaining and enjoying for several years, if you are not planning to sell it, you are simply a spectator.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 6, 2014 Comments (0)

June! Glorious June!

Our June calendar lists a favorite racing city party and Le Mans.

Our images this week are from the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, taken by Editor Dom Miliano and me. Michael Furman’s feature image is that of a 1933 Squire front.

1933 Squire photo by Michael Furman

IndyCar and Detroit Both Survive

In the recent past, images of Detroit have been anything but pretty. But news from the Motor City has been much better of late. People who care about the city, including Roger Penske, have contributed energy and money to make things happen. The American never say die and we can do this attitudes are prevailing. Property values are rising, and neighborhood by neighborhood there is a resurgence of small businesses and community spirit. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are doing well and doing good by investing in their own local infrastructure. Ironically, the same word applies to this turnaround as to the iconic downtown development that was once heralded as its salvation and later criticized as the reason for its ruin. Renaissance. 

Penske Racing is based in Detroit and The Captain has been the driving force and sponsor behind the two day IndyCar races held on Belle Isle, a park island just off Detroit’s downtown. This is another barrier bound street course and its physical condition mirrors Detroit’s finances. It is to be hoped that both will improve. Penske cars won both bumpy races and as bumpy races go it was entertaining. The talented Will Power drove to a solid win on Saturday and the equally talented Helio Castroneves won on Sunday. The close racing on a tight bumpy course made for the inevitable contact and bad feelings and the soap opera is now part of the IndyCar show.

F1 in Montreal this Weekend

The Grand Prix of Canada takes place in Montreal this weekend. Montreal is a great party city and the F1 team sponsors decorate the town squares with product and race car displays. The race track itself is both simple and boring. The F1 community has a speak no evil policy to which all adhere. A boring track is called technical by drivers. This infers that they don’t think it is as boring we do. Named after native son Gilles Villeneuve, it is essentially a park service road on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River and in full view of downtown Montreal. Coming off the tight Monaco circuit, this track allows for more passing. It is one of Hamilton’s favorite circuits and he has won here several times. That insures that the Mercedes drama will continue.

Greenwich Concours d’Elegance

Dom and I attended the Greenwich Concours this past weekend. The setting, a wooded park on the Long Island Sound is magnificent. Sadly, the view of the water is blocked by the huge Bonham’s Auction tent installation. The show cars are set out in circular compounds among the trees and while I had heard complaints about this, I found it interesting and not at all a negative issue. The actual selection of cars on display was eclectic and interesting. The whole atmosphere is casual and owners of cars on display seemed more accessible and engaging. 

Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

The Bonhams Auction was a huge success and the pricing on market leading cars did not disappoint. An early Flat Floor E-Type Jaguar sold for $335K and an XK-150S did $203,500. The crowd cheered a local bidder who purchased John Fitch’s Phoenix in part to keep it in Connecticut. This is a good thing. No bubble burst here.

Uncommon Ferraris

A Connecticut resident brought his Carbon Fiber race car to the Greenwich Concours. We thought you might be interested in seeing its pretty sister and the Forghieri-designed original.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this newsletter with a friend. It’s how we grow.

Peter Bourassa