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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 24, 2014 Comments (0)

It happens every year but it still feels funny. An October weekend with no F1 race, or a Tudor Sports Car race, or an IndyCar race. But wait, there is always NASCAR!

Racing

NASCAR drivers are competing to continue into their playoff season and stakes are high. My curiosity was peeked last week when mainstream media got excited over a murky video of a driver running/scuffling/whatever between NASCAR transports and the news that Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, and Denny Hamlin had exchanged paint with Penske driver Brad Keselowski on and off the track and Kenseth, in the video, was chasing him with a view to possibly harming him. As it happens he reportedly got him in a headlock. But the real news for fans was the fact that mild mannered Kenseth was involved at all. NASCAR must have felt the same way as they fined Keselowski $50K, Tony Stewart $25K, and Kenseth not a dime. In subsequent interviews with Kenseth and Hamlin, financial correctness prevailed. Each driver mentioned the name of his sponsors and their team and their car manufacturer and then described his part in the affair. All quite different.

Matt Kensenth with daughter

In a pre-“NASCAR American Family” era, before drivers stood on the grid with all their living relatives and we got to watch their wives agonize over whether husbands would win the Duck Commander 500, when drivers and pit crews fought, punches got thrown and people fell down, NASCAR projected a far different image. They appear to have forgotten the impact that the fight Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison had on ratings when they tangled on the cool down lap of the 1979 Daytona 500. . “An estimated 16 million people watched the race, a number that jumped to nearly 20 million over the closing laps. CBS won an Emmy for the broadcast, televised the Daytona 500 until 2000 and showed a fledgling cable network called ESPN the value of the racing business.”

A driver’s reputation counted for something then. Fast fists and a feisty disposition were prized driver attributes. Among many others in NASCAR’s history, a hot tempered AJ Foyt and humorless Parnelli Jones were not men to be trifled with on the track because eventually you would meet them in the pits. The aforementioned drivers were the American alpha males of their age and, not surprisingly, they never tangled. Veteran pit people also thought that Foyt was very wise. Parnelli and the angelic looking Mark Donahue, an equally fierce competitor, did their fighting on the track in Mustangs and Camaros. Jones introduced overt revenge wrecking to road racing. It shocked the sporty-car crowd establishment organizers but it thrilled the fans.

Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison fight

The difference in the times? Today, Tony Stewart is the only driver in the pits who still reacts in the old fashioned way. And his recent troubles in a modified race probably have an effect on that also. One week after the blow-up and fines, Keselowski won the Geico Talladega 500 with Kenseth pushing him across the line to finishing second. Despite Roger Penske’s endorsement of his actions, the fact remains that had this happened 40 years ago someone would have insured that he met the wall in Talladega early, unintentionally, of course.

Denise McCluggage

The Great Divide

Denise McCluggage joins us again this week and writes a follow-up to her recent Range Rover trek to her ancestral home of Tin Cup, Colorado. 

Denise is currently recovering nicely from surgery to replace a poorly performing hip. This is her second such restoration and we know you join us in wishing her a hearty “Hip! Hip! Hooray!” She is in good company as she is recovering in Albuquerque, tribal home of the Unsers and the Unser Racing Museum.

Concorso Images

Please visit our Photo Gallery for more images from The Santa Fe Concorso.

Feedback: Sochi Sucks!

Alonso, Russia GP

We were correct and so was Alonso. The Russian race was boring and it turns out there was a technical reason why. All the drivers were running out of their allotted fuel ration and dialed back the engine performance in order to finish. Brilliant! And boring.

Also on the Sochi post we suggested that perhaps Bob Varsha, Tommy Kendall, and Justin Bell would add a more American (We know Bell is British, but he is funnier than hell and we want him anyway) flavor to US F1 coverage. WHAT THINK YOU?


Michael Furman’s image is of an unrestored body badge on a T-57 Bugatti.

Michael Furman’s image this week is of an unrestored body badge on a T-57 Bugatti.


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

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 10, 2014 Comments (0)

With a slight bump and a bound, the midsize commuter jet lands in Santa Fe and disgorges twenty passengers. It is early evening Wednesday and 24 hours from now we begin our Santa Fe Concorso adventure.

My companion is a fellow Bostonian and motorsports friend who owns a place in the northwest quadrant of the city and has generously offered me lodging and transportation. He is a former Brit and an admirer of all things BRG. It’s genetic. Concurrent with the Concorso, a local British Car Club is also having a conclave and he anticipates attending a few of their functions.

Santa Fe Concorso 2014

This week’s issue is populated with images from our Santa Fe Friday gathering at the airport, the Saturday Mountain Tour, and the Sunday Concorso. Read about our adventures and view more photos in our gallery.

Santa Fe Concorso 2014


Michael Furman’s photograph is an image of the c-pillar vents on a 275GTB Ferrari.

Michael Furman’s contribution this week is an image of the c-pillar vents on a 275GTB Ferrari. Beautiful.


Classic Car Pricing “Bubble”

The Goodfellow Perspective

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name… Ah, but Shakespeare was wrong! There is much more in a name. Consider that few of us choose our own. Roughly half of us change one part of it at some point, and others ascribe to us, often wrongly, an ethnicity, heritage, and a financial value based solely upon hearing it. So names can hugely influence our lives. To wit, several years ago an excellent and now defunct magazine called Sports Car International had on its masthead the name of a contributing writer named Winston Goodfellow.

What better beginning to a writer’s name than “Winston”, a name synonymous with the capacity to inspired with words the English speaking world. What fitter ending for the name of a writer than “Goodfellow”. The OED says a good fellow is “an agreeable or jovial companion; a reliable or true friend”. In sum, a true friend of words. In the ensuing years I have read his thoughtful pieces and his measured prose in numerous magazines and books and have never been disappointed. He lives up to his name. Imagine my elation therefore when I was introduced to him in Santa Fe by a mutual friend. Over the weekend we chatted on several occasions and during one such conversation about the current vintage car “pricing bubble”, Winston offered to share with you, our MMR community, his thoughts on that subject which he had recently published on his website.


F1

Lewis Hamilton F1 Grand Prix Japan

The Japanese GP was a disaster. Uncommonly bad weather conditions and scheduling commitments elsewhere that narrowed the time frame in which the event could be run put organizers in a position where they either gambled on running the race or losing a fortune. In one way, organizers are not different from the drivers; neither believes that anyone will be seriously hurt racing in an F1 car. Both are wrong.

As for the race, we have come to recognize at this stage of the year that the main competitions on the track are within, not against, each team.  Mercedes has won the Manufacturers Championship and one of the Mercedes drivers will win the Drivers Championship. The question and the entertainment factor is which one? In third and fourth place are Ricciardo and Vettel. The latter has picked up his socks and may still catch and beat his young teammate before going to Ferrari next year. Alonso has solidly trounced Raikkonen at Ferrari and Bottas has beaten Massa at Williams. Button won’t be caught by Magnussen but Perez could catch Hulkenberg. No one cares about the remainder.

Vettel leaving Red Bull to drive for Ferrari could be a triumph of hope over history. Schumacher didn’t work those miracles alone. He had Todt, Brawn, and Montezemolo experience right there beside, behind, and in front of him. Vettel brings more F1 experience to Ferrari than both Marchionne and Mattiachi combined.

Alonso should think twice before committing to McLaren. This will be Honda’s first year with a new engine. Renault and Ferrari have both suffered through a humiliating engine building program but have learned a lot. Red Bull will have a new Renault engine, so will Lotus-Renault, if they survive. Alsonso is in fifth place in the Drivers Championship behind the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. McLaren is in sixth place behind five other teams. He should stay with Ferrari because his options are worse elsewhere.

The inaugural Russian GP, at Sochi, is this weekend.

Have a great one.
Peter Bourassa


Santa Fe Concorso 2014

Posted on October 8, 2014 Comments (1)

With a slight bump and a bound the midsize commuter jet lands in Santa Fe and disgorges twenty passengers. It is early evening Wednesday and 24 hours from now we begin our Santa Fe Concorso Adventure. My companion is a fellow Bostonian and motorsports friend who owns a place in the Southeast quadrant of the city and has generously offered me lodging and transportation. He is a former Brit and an admirer of all things BRG. It’s genetic. Concurrent with the Concorso, a local British Car Club is also having a conclave and he anticipates att­ending a few of their functions.

First, a Quick Overview of Santa Fe

Conde Nast calls it the Best Small City to Visit and the #2 Travel Destination in the Country. Travel & Leisure have named it the #1 Cultural Getaway. With a relatively small population of 70,000 people and with growth physically limited by the surrounding state and Indian lands, Santa Fe may become more dense, but not larger. That is part of its charm.

Tourism and state government are the major industries In Santa Fe. In the past two years we have attended the Concorso event, “automobiles” have shared the city’s facilities with other major events, often food conventions. We never noticed them. Santa Fe thrives on tourism and they are geared for it. Happily, unlike Fernandina Beach at Amelia and Monterey during Monterey week, accommodation prices don’t skyrocket when the car money comes to town. Quite refreshing really. One last Chamber of Commerce note. Check out the prices to get there from wherever you are. From Boston, which is a fair distance we found the pricing very reasonable, particularly when booked far enough in advance.

Thursday: A Fine Beginning

Thursday evening marked first night of official Concorso happenings with a showing of the Steve McQueen’s film Bullitt at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Downtown area. It was introduced by Santa Fe resident and Concorso advisor, Denise McCluggage, who was friends with McQueen when they both lived in NYC and he was a struggling actor. The small, newly restored theater is the property of George RR Martin, creator of the King of Thrones book and movie series and this was a test run to see if there would be interest in an Automobile Film Festival as part of the Concorso weekend. The cost of attendance was $10. (Find that elsewhere!) And it was good fun to watch the chase scene on the big screen and count the five hubcaps that came off the big black Dodge. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and afterwards, as it was still relatively early, participants dispersed throughout the downtown area to sample various eateries and bars, many with live bands. The MMR Goods & Services Directory lists some of our favorite Santa Fe Restaurants under Haunts & Cafes in the Destinations and Events sections.

Friday: Indy Seminar and Gala at Santa Fe Airport

The Santa Fe airport facility is the nicest on the continent! Period. The administration building contains stunning artwork by local artisans. Art is, after all, Santa Fe’s major claim to fame. The airport terminal itself is small; it only has one gate. It also is decorated with local artwork, has a friendly staff, and boasts a very good reasonably priced family restaurant with a view of the tarmac from which one can watch the plane land and take off. It is serviced by United and American Airlines. No big planes land here and to give you a flavor of the place, our departure was delayed because the Flight Attendant called in sick and another had to be called in to replace him or her. Amazing. There is also an active private plane and glider population centered here. The afternoon event was a seminar of veteran IndyCar drivers moderated by writer/actor/photographer Tim Considine. The participating drivers were Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr., Johnny Rutherford, Parnelli Jones, Lyn St. James, Eddie Cheever, and Indy Historian Donald Davidson. In the presence of some significant Indy racecars, all told interesting and/or amusing stories about racing in the day and at Indy in particular. They also expressed strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong with today’s racing. They then happily sat at a long table and signed autographs for their audience.

Santa Fe Concorso

That evening, in the same location, a fine buffet was presented and more cars were exhibited both in the hanger and outside on the tarmac. The juxtaposition of smaller high performance planes and small high performance cars is always an interesting one. Typical of the weekend, from the first event to the last, each is well attended yet participants are never crowded or herded.

private plane in Santa Fe airport

Saturday: Mountain Tour and Unser Museum Fundraiser

Unser Museum Fundraiser

The plan called for the Mountain Tour cars to gather on the Santa Fe Town Plaza between 8:00 AM and 10:00AM then drive through the scenic parts of town and along the local highways to the post card perfect vintage town of Cerrillos, NM—film locale for the movie Young Guns. There to enjoy an excellent lunch (“imported” because the town’s café was destroyed in an insurance scam fire decades ago) and then a spirited drive back to town.

In the past, we have shot pictures of cars on tours, primarily at Pebble Beach, by attending the early morning gatherings, then setting up somewhere along the route and again at the destination. This tour was different in one significant respect. Through the good graces of the organizers, we sat in the press car, a supercharged Range Rover with a sun roof. While official photographer Garret Vreeland stood up in the back and shot through the roof, we sat in the extremely comfortable and far less exposed front passenger seat and shot out the side window. Our driver was automotive writer and former racecar driver Denise McCluggage.

The plan was to shoot in the plaza, then set up along a scenic city street and shoot the cars in motion as they went by. Once we had shot them, Garret would give the command to Denise to pass them all and hurry to the next stop along the road he had previously scouted. That would provide a different backdrop for the images. Once completed there he would ask Denise to once again pass them all and we could catch them as they arrived in Cerrillos. The task seemed daunting in my mind but seemingly simple to Denise. Forgive the unflattering simile, but she seemed like a dog being thrown a stick to fetch, she saw her duty and attacked the task with relish.

Tours are not in any way meant to be races, but no matter the age of the driver or his ride, a powerful car on a smooth winding road is a form of narcotic for those of us weak of will. In the midst of this add a former racing driver convinced she is possessed of a relevant mission and driving a supercharged Range Rover which she doesn’t own. This might be a recipe designed to alarm an amateur passenger. I assure you it alarmed me at first. But once my life had flashed before my eyes a dozen times, I tired of it and simply focused on not wetting myself.

To fully credit her consistency, the driver of the supercharged Range Rover rarely strayed below double the posted speed limit. For my part, other than prayer I pinned my hopes on the fact that drivers who used their mirrors would see that white behemoth with half a body sticking out of the roof and bearing down on them and simply pucker up, back off, make room and wait for their stomachs to settle. Oncoming traffic? Perish the thought. “Perish” is the operative word.

Range Rover press car Santa Fe Concorso

Feeling somewhat older, I arrived in Cerrillos and we all took pictures of the cars parked where horses might once have been tied. Fitting, in a way, since they did replace them. After a delicious lunch we climbed back into the Range Rover and “headed for the barn”, as we cowpokers say out here. The pace back to town was noticeably more sedate and once back on the Town Plaza, colors, smells and life itself appeared more … important … for lack of a better term. Add the word “thankfully” is somewhere in there.

The Indy 500 Winners

The Saturday evening event took place at the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, 45 miles to the south, and was a reprise of the previous day’s IndyCar Seminar, this time moderated by the aforementioned Donald Davidson. The event was a fundraiser for the Museum and like its Santa Fe counterpart, it was very well attended. Unlike the Concorso crowd, most of the attendees were supporters of the Unser Racing Museum and long-time friends of the Unser family. Seated at our table were several gentlemen who had crewed for Al Sr. and his brother Bobby when they ran Midgets in the early days. They had wonderful stories about dirt track racing in the area with the local greats of the day. Many of the cars they mentioned were in the museum along with other cars, images, engines, and memorabilia from the racing eras in which the Unser family competed.

Racing enthusiasts finding themselves in Albuquerque would really enjoy a visit to this first class facility. Find it and more similar locations in our Goods & Services Directory under Destination and Events – Museums.

Unser Museum Midget Racer

Sunday: The Concorso

It was cool in the morning and even rained at little at some point, but it warmed up in the afternoon and by prize-awarding time in the late afternoon, the weather was perfect. As mentioned, Santa Fe is a small city and in light of that the Santa Fe Concorso has always punched way above its weight in terms of quality of cars on the field. Of necessity, the mix on the field is eclectic. Despite that, each class has some exceptional cars and the difficulty in picking a winner is testament to this.

Early rain at the Santa Fe Concorso 2014

Santa Fe Concorso 2014 Show Winners

Organizers have worked hard to bring quality judging to the event and it appears owners have responded. The winning Packard, with body by Graber, is the epitome of the name of the class. It rightly won, Elegance. And a 1956 Maserati 300S, devoid of fancy winglets or added body parts that characterize sports cars today, is the essence of a racing “sports” car.

Other notable cars on the field included a huge white 1930 Isotta Frachini. What a presence the big car had all weekend. It dominated the smaller cars in town and on the Mountain Tour.

In keeping with the weekend theme of IndyCars, a separate display highlighted them at the entrance to the event and the 1938 Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special” which won Indy in 1939 and 1940 driven by Wilbur Shaw was on the field. The car was driven to the Award area by Al Unser Sr. who was presented with the Lee Iacocca Award for “Dedication to Excellence in Perpetuating an American Automotive Tradition”.

A 1930 Packard Roadster, regularly driven by its owner, 104-year-old Margaret Dunning, also attended and both made a strong impression. Norman Dewis, of Jaguar fame, supported a brace of C-types and D-types on the field.

It was an excellent show and a wonderful weekend. The organizers and volunteers worked very hard and their results reflect their effort. Please go to our Photo Gallery for more images of the Concorso. And, incidentally, do make a note to join us next year. This is an event enthusiasts should not miss.

Santa Fe Concorso 2014


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 3, 2014 Comments (0)

Garret Vreeland’s shot of the winning classic Graber-bodied Packard and the Sports Maserati 350S

We write this on the Monday morning after enjoying an excellent motorsports weekend in Santa Fe. Our lead image is Garret Vreeland’s shot of the winning classic Graber-bodied Packard and the Sports Maserati 350S.

The Santa Fe Concorso is now five years old and we have watched it grow in quality and breadth for the three year we have attended. This is truly a wonderful Thursday evening through Sunday motorsports event. Look for more stories and images of the SF Concorso IndyCar Drivers Seminar, The Mountain Tour, and other events in coming issues.

F1

Alonso

The circus moves to Suzuka this weekend. Alonso obliquely supported our criticism of the Singapore-racing-through-dark-garages-in-the-heat-of- the-night GP by declaring that it will be nice to be at Suzuka, a “real race circuit”. In the wake of the eulogies for the departing Montezemolo, the Italian PR departments are cranking up the ‘Marchionne as Saviour” Machine. F1 is never boring.

Denise McCluggage Reigns over Barren Lands

Cadillac Escalade

Several readers commented how much they enjoyed Denise McCluggage’s recent story about her Range Rover off-road excursion to her family’s ancestral home in Tin Cup, Colorado. If you haven’t read it yet, do—it will prepare you for this week’s story about another large vehicle that dominates its native landscape, the Cadillac Escalade.


Michael Furman photo 1937 Peugeot Darlmat Roadster

Our featured image is by Michael Furman and the car is a 1937 Peugeot Darl’mat Roadster.


Have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 26, 2014 Comments (0)

Ferrari 250 SWB

We are busy winding down September. We attended The Boston Cup last weekend, a maturing event, and this weekend we will be at Santa Fe for their Concorso. 

Ferrari GTO Boston Cup

Several weeks ago we shared an image of our model car collection. We thought it quite typical of what most people have and your responses confirmed that. But several also expressed an interest in knowing what else is available. This week’s lead image kicks off a new series of stories all about model cars entitled Build a Small Collection. Our expert guide for this adventure into the world of building and buying miniatures is constructor Marshall Buck.

Michael Furman image of the hood and mascot of a 1932 Bugatti Royale Type-41

This Michael Furman image is the hood and mascot of a 1932 Bugatti Royale Type-41.

This video of a cluster of Jaguar D-Types racing at the most recent Goodwood Revival graces our homepage. What a sight!

The Weekly Leek European Correspondent, Oofy Prosser, reports on changes to the 2015 schedule. As a result of the recent German High Court decision to turn two blind eyes to B. Ecclestone’s “bribery” and “breach of trust” indictments in exchange for $100M US, a cash flow issue exists at Castle Ecclestone. F1 has announced a new sponsor for the United States GP in 2015.

Singapore GP

The F1 Save the Tires/Save the Fuel GP at Singapore’s $4.5B Marina Bay street and parking garage complex proved two things: First, that Mercedes can be counted on to build the fastest car but fails to consistently field two; Second, nighttime is meant for sleeping. This, the only nighttime event on the F1 schedule, makes sleeping an attractive option. Despite what F1 announcers sitting in an air conditioned studio in Connecticut may say about really wanting to be there, sitting trackside in 100+ degree heat and high humidity is singularly unappealing. The mere existence of this race is galling when one considers the challenging racetracks in Europe and America that could present real tests to F1 drivers and teams before knowledgeable enthusiasts.

No matter what one thinks of the individuals involved or the media hype surrounding their battle for the Championship, Hamilton/Rosberg is the only battle for the title and race after race it is consistently engaging. When one is missing, particularly in this grey-black catacomb of a track, so is the race.

Tudor United Sportscar Championship logo

Tudor United Sports Car Series: Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is arguably the best, and unquestionably the most modern road course in America.

Yet, again, from the only viewpoint that we represent—the spectators—the races at Virginia International Raceway two weeks ago were far more entertaining. The fast and wide Texas track simply didn’t deliver the door handle to door handle competition we saw at the narrower, twisty VIR. As with F1, it matters not a whit to us whether a particular track is the favorite of every driver. Our goal, which may or may not be shared by drivers, is to enjoy close competition. Period. We will have more details next week on this event and the upcoming finale at Road Atlanta.

Tudor racing Porsche

If you are anywhere near Santa Fe this weekend, make the effort to attend their Concorso and say hello.

Remember, if you enjoyed this, please share with a friend.

Peter Bourassa