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Posted on May 28, 2015 Comments (0)

Monaco – Indy – Villa d’Este Results

Ferrari 212 Europa

The Memorial Day weekend races dominated the TV screens of America but for New England enthusiasts a pair of happy events meant more. Internationally, at Italy's Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance, Essex Ma. based Paul Russell & Co presented a 212 Vignale Coupe and won the Trofeo BMW Group Classic award. The award is the jury’s choice for the most sensitive restoration. The 1952 212 Europa, Vignale Berlinetta is owned by Bradley Calkins of the USA. The car is stunning. Congratulations to all involved. The remainder of our eye candy also came from Villa d’Este. Thank you BMW for sponsoring this superb event. On the racing front, New Englanders were absorbing the news, announced on Thursday past, that Boston will host the final race of the 2016 IndyCar season. We have mixed feelings. Read on McDuff and tell us what you think.

F1 Monaco: Rosberg wins – Mad Max Steals Hearts!

Lewis trails at F1 Monaco

Lewis Trails in Third

When enthusiasts tire of the beautiful setting, the beautiful boats, and the beautiful people, there will no longer be a race in Monaco. Long recognized as the most exclusive tax haven in the world (rumor has it that citizenship applications require proven assets in excess of seven uninterrupted digits), its days of hosting a truly competitive F1 race are in its distant past. Its crowning achievement is its downfall. This is the only F1 track in the world where excellence is demanded because there is literally no room for error. Yet the entertainment of racing consists of high speeds and errors, forced and unforced, which allow pressing and passing and in a word, entertainment. Hamilton proved the rule; he qualified best and would have won but for an error by his pit which caused him to lose. Sad for him but good for racing. On purpose-built race courses such as Laguna Seca or Silverstone, or the long course at Nurburgring, or road courses such as Spa or Le Mans, where houses and harbors do not inhibit passing, Hamilton may have had to defend, take chances, make errors and oblige his fellow competitors to do the same. Not so at Monaco. He had the fastest car, and all he needed do was be in front and not make errors.

But even a parade needn’t always be a bore. A comparison could be made to the historic 1981 Spanish GP at the narrow and twisty Jarama circuit. Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve (See Villeneuve’s 5 greatest races) qualified seventh in the Ferrari 126CXK, a powerful car with atrocious handling. He dubbed it a “big red Cadillac”. He was third by the first corner. Villeneuve passed the second place car on the opening lap and later, when race leader John Watson made a mistake, he passed him to take the lead. For the remainder of the race, without blocking or weaving, he held off competitors by placing the car in situations that discouraged his competitors from passing. It was brilliant driving. The first five cars crossed the line within 1.24 seconds.

Lewis is still scratching his head - what happened?

Lewis Still Scratching His Head - What Happened?

Sunday’s race, which for television purposes focused primarily on the leaders, was simply another high speed parade. Two exceptions that kept it from being a complete bore were, one, the pass for the lead that took place while Hamilton was in the pits. As a result he came out of the pits with eight laps to go, superior tires, and a superior car to Vettel’s Ferrari but couldn’t pass him. Makes you wonder what Villeneuve might have done. And, two, Max Verstappen. His pass on Maldonado on lap 6 was brilliant, and gutsy. It reminded us of Villeneuve. Later on he crashed while trying to pass the other Lotus driver, Romain Grosjean. Verstappen said Grosjean eased off 10-15 meters early. The telemetry didn’t support that. Grosjean actually braked later. Max VerstappenBut young Max was caught short of room when he decided to pass on the right while sitting too far to the left of the Lotus. Prior to that, after in the process of allowing Vettel to lap him, Max tucked in behind the Ferrari and taking advantage of the blue flags that waved other drivers aside for the faster Vettel, he thus slipped past Sainz and Bottas. But it was a short lived tactic once word got back to the pits. Clever though. My guess is that the Montreal fans will love this “special” kid (Mad Max?) when he arrives at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian GP in two weeks. As for Hamilton, it had to be a huge disappointment. And there were probably several ways to handle it. He was perfunctorily correct. His teammate rival was also in an awkward, though happier, situation and acknowledged same. But grace under pressure continues to elude Hamilton.

IndyCar Indianapolis 500: Penske – Ganassi Driver Wins!

Montoya on podiumThe major difference between Monaco and Indy is striking. At Monaco, the leader into the first turn generally wins the race. At Indy, the car leading the last lap generally loses. On this Sunday, both proved untrue.

Fifteen years ago, 24-year-old Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 for Chip Ganassi’s Target Team. On Sunday, 15 years later, he won it again. This time for Ganassi’s arch rival, Roger Penske’s Verizon Team. In the meantime he has spent time with McLaren in F1 and struggled for seven years in NASCAR. When Ganassi cut him loose from the NASCAR team last year, it would have been easy to believe that at 38 years of age, he was done. And JPM, whose reputation could be considered mercurial at best, found little sympathy. But Roger Penske, against whom he has competed in both the old Champ Car days and currently in NASCAR, called him and offered an opportunity, not in NASCAR, but in IndyCar. He jumped at the opportunity to come back. It was a mellowed and thankful JPM, surrounded by family, who accepted tributes in the winner’s circle. A pleasant change from the combative and often surly demeanor he has presented over the years. The new Juan Pablo has been a strong addition to the Penske Team and this win for Montoya was validation of his worth. Possibly even in his own eyes.

An aside: The race was between these two major Chevy teams, and for the third IndyCar race in a row, the first single car team was the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda powered team with driver Graham Rahal who finished fifth, is fifth in the points standings, and the leading American driver.

The final five laps were frantic as Will Power, Montoya, and Scott Dixon swapped the lead 15 times in five laps. It was ballsy racing and damned dangerous too. But they trusted each other and each knew when to give up a little space and so it all worked out. This is what racing is all about.

Michael Furman – Photographer

Michael Furman, photo of 1995 Porsche Carrera RS

Our Michael Furman image is of a 1995 Porsche Carrera RS from his book, Porsche Unexpected.

Featured Video

This week's featured video is our interview with Hugh Ruthven from The Finish Line — importers of the Chapal line and other “best in class” vintage style driving gear. Enjoy!

Our featured Classified Cars

Spring time and the open road beckons. What better way is there to enjoy this most-special of seasons than in a new-to-you classic car. Maybe even a convertible. Check out our picks in the  MMR Classifieds.

The MMR featured product, from our  Goods & Services Directory, is the Classic Bell-Chapal helmet from The Finish Line.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


Racing | IndyCar: Ends on a Whimper Not a Bang

Posted on September 4, 2014 Comments (0)

The IndyCar season came to a fast speedy, but listless, end last Saturday night in Fontana CA. Will Power is the new IndyCar Champion.

Tony Kanaan

He didn’t win the race and he didn’t have to. The race itself was interesting and Tony Kanaan deserved the win. But after all the hype about the championship, it lacked drama. All Power had to do was survive and be close to Helio Castroneves to win. In the end he beat him.

Helio was far more gracious in losing than Power was in winning and that will not serve Power well. The “gosh all I want to do is win” thing has to go away. Now he needs to be a Champion and class up.

The most interesting part of the marathon show was the interview the previously reticent Roger Penske gave to his former and at times least favorite employee, the now quite entertaining color commentator Paul Tracy. When asked what he looked for in a young driver he said: Three things. He must have won a race, he needs to be able to communicate with his engineers and he needs to be a saleable product to the sponsors. A basic and excellent formula.

The Penske Team won the championship fair and square but the Ganassi Team finished strong and the Andretti team, which dominated early, simply faded.

Auto Club Speedway logo

Unfortunately, the track determined the outcome of the race. Auto Club Speedway, once the title of a sixties pin-ball game is a horrible place to race. Built in 1997 by Roger Penske ISC group, the concept was to build a track that would rival Indy… only bigger and better. But it never worked out. The track turns out huge speeds but the surface is in such poor condition, it hasn’t been repaved in almost twenty years, that changing lanes at high speed is life threatening. The track is divided into five lanes separated by tar-filled lips that are not even or of the same consistency as the pavement. The whole track is simply dangerous.

This is not good racing, it shouldn’t be on the schedule let alone the final double points paying race. It highlights the biggest problem that the series has—poor quality tracks.

They have the teams, the drivers and even the rules to be the best series in the world. What they lack is real racing venues. Instead they have opted for circus circuits where they can terrify downtown sewer rats and race between makeshift highway barriers separating them from and cotton candy vendors and T-shirt stalls. Mercifully the Houston Parking Lot Grand Prix has been dumped, only eight more to go. Unfortunately, almost one half of their venues are a joke and the sooner they dump them the sooner they will become the serious series they once were under CART and are capable of being again.

Our humble suggestions: First—Forget South America, go to Europe; Dump downtown Toronto for two days of racing at Mosport; Drop Florida and Long Beach entirely. Go to Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca; Drop Detroit and go to Road America; Cancel Auto Club Debacle go to Montreal or Mont Tremblant.

Add four races in Europe and assume Spa and Monza are unavailable: Goodwood in England; Paul Ricard in France; Nurburgring in Germany; Portimao in Portugal.

What do you think?