MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 29, 2014 Comments (4)

The entire MMR team, Dom, Lucy, Ashley, Dianne, Sandy, Denise, and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day yesterday and welcome you to Black Friday. MMR is but words and pictures and we work hard to bring you the best of both. Our Black Friday edition reflects this as we present a number of interesting classified cars and some new books we know you will want in your collection! Buy Something!

The 2014 F1 Season Ends with a Whimper

Nico Rosberg’s race and season ended when the red lights went out. His otherwise moderately reliable Mercedes had an issue with its electronic launch control system. Do you remember when launch control was a left foot and a pedal? It is somehow fitting that a race series that generates so much money and is discussing how that money could be more equally shared should end in Abu Dhabi at a marina in a desert country where the best seats are on multi-million dollar yachts. No disconnect here. The best car won. It was the combination of two excellent drivers with different strengths. The constant reliability concerns supplied the tension and entertainment for the season.

The following is our 2015 winners & losers list.

Sam Posey

#1 Winner: NBCSN

Thanks for making the Fox “bargain basement” coverage a thing of the past. Pre and Post race programs are appreciated. Thanks especially for keeping Sam Posey in the transition. His insights do make a difference. A class act all around.


Williams Racing

#2 Winner: Williams Racing

Not the most money but they kicked ass. Thank You Martini for believing. Next time we are shopping we will buy a bottle of your product.


Massa and Bottas

#3 Winners: Bottas...

Finished fourth in the Championship. Fast, a good racer, self-deprecating, and a future World Champion. 

and Massa

Kicked out by Ferrari, did better than Raikkonen by far.


Vettel and Ricciardo

#1 Loser: Vettel

Four times World Champion and wonder boy, to a distant second to Ricciardo, and now on to Ferrari.


Ferrari off-track

#2 Loser: Ferrari

No engine, chassis, or aero package. Moving forward with new management and the possibility of uncertain funding.


McLaren F1

#3 Loser: McLaren

Under new management they had the same engine as Mercedes and Williams and did nothing about their chassis. Next year they have a new Honda engine. And Alonso?


Alonso

Who were your winners and losers? Tell us in the comments below.

Have a great weekend and please remember to encourage friends to subscribe.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 21, 2014 Comments (0)

NASCAR: Harvick is Worthy Champion

Harvick and Tony Stewart

Let’s get something straight from the beginning. These guys are good. It is too easy to overlook their talent and skills in what week after week looks like a high speed crash fest. But those cars are fast and finicky. They are always skating on the edge of control and the winning drivers are those who can best balance the changes to track and tire conditions and pick their spots to pass and avoid wrecks. Their two road races at Watkins Glen and Sears Point are easily among the best races on TV every year. These guys are very good.

Harvick is a worthy Champion! He has paid his dues. And he won the championship by winning the race. He came into the sport with Childress Racing as a replacement for Earnhardt senior in 2001. He was expected to become the “new” intimidator. But the sport was changing and the days of the brawny brawlers were over. Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson were the new style of champion and, though Harvick was edgy, he wasn’t winning championships. This year he joined Stewart–Haas Racing and with a new team and a new crew chief things came together.

Nascar Harvick Edwards fight

NASCAR ratings are up! NASCAR brass is taking a bow! Yes, it was their genius new format that did it, and the drivers agree. It must be so. Mainstream TV news which seemingly ignores anything but stick and ball games all year, but never misses a fire, a car crash or a baby falling out of a window, actually showed the pushing and shoving in two of the final four races and called it a “brawl”. THAT boosted ratings. As for the contenders appearing more motivated, eh, it’s possible that was merely frustration at having to contend for a title in a format that favors luck as much as skill.

F1: Finale will only be mildly interesting, then again…

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

After a long season of drama based as much on personality clashes as good racing, it boils down to this: If Hamilton’s car doesn’t fail or crash, he will be World Champion. And Rosberg will be second and Ricciardo will be third. But who will be fourth? Only four points separate Vettel, Alonso and Bottas and while everyone will be cheering on their favorite driver, the pressure from the teams will be enormous as each point earned represents huge dollars at year end.


MMR Classifieds

Jaguar XK150

We only list the top 500 Classified cars for sale by dealers around the world. This week's featured marque is Jaguar.


MMR Goods & Services Directory

Pete Lyons Photographs of Can-Am

Every week we feature one company from the MMR Goods and Services Directory. This week’s featured supplier is Pete Lyons – Photographer. MMR is lucky to have this Can-Am image and this one too in our World Headquarters and they are a source of endless pleasure.


Michael Furman Photography

Michael Furman's image this week is from his book, The Art and Colour of General Motors and shows the detailed beauty of a 1934 LaSalle.

Michael Furman's image this week is from his book, The Art and Colour of General Motors and shows the detailed beauty of a 1934 LaSalle.


Sandy on Assignment

Sandy Cotterman, London Concours de Elegance 2014

This week’s story and images are by Sandy Cotterman and are from the London Concours of Elegance. Held on the grounds of the Hampton Court Palace on the September 5-7 weekend, the setting is in many ways reminiscent of Villa d’Este in Italy.

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


My Word: Like a Child

Posted on July 24, 2014 Comments (2)

By Denise McCluggage

When Niki Lauda berated Sebastian Vettel for “screaming like a child” while on the radio to his pits I had an aha moment. Seb was grousing to his pits about the way Fernando Alonso was conducting himself in the pair's remarkable dice at Silverstone.

“Child,” Lauda said. That was the key.

This Formula 1 season, one of the best for some serious racing never mind the obvious dominance of Mercedes-Benz, keeps scratching at something in my memory. And the remark by one three-time champion (Lauda) about a four-time champion (Vettel) and his extraordinary mid-pack 14-lap set-to with a two-time champion (Alonso) put me—zap!—with my big sister in the backseat of a 1936 Oldsmobile on a hot Kansas highway headed for Colorado’s mountains. (“Mama, make her move her foot. She stuck her foot on my side on purpose!” “You touched my arm!” “You touched mine first!”)

Sebastian Vettel    Niki Lauda

Both the champions were complaining to their pits. “Screaming like a child” Lauda said. We were children screaming at a beleaguered Mom in the front passenger’s seat. So “child” fits the scene. But still that wasn’t the element that had been bothering me a few weeks before as I watched a petulant Lewis Hamilton snub a suddenly luckier-than-he Nico Rosberg. “Child” covered that, too.

But Lauda’s remarks swirled it all into focus. These grown men treat competition like children. Just read a few articles by child psychologists on childhood and competition. Some have written books on the destructive effect competition has on little developing egos. You’ve probably seen protectors of self-esteem introduce prizes-for-everyone at kiddy parties—which I certainly don’t object to. Parties are parties. And if you’ve seen kids you’ve seen tears when losing a game is something they can’t quite handle.

Today’s drivers started racing as tots, with helmeted heads barely balanced on reedy necks. Probably their hand-eye coordination developed faster than the neighbor kid’s did. And probably they had the sort of parents who noticed who had greener grass or played more holes of golf on a given weekend. Not competitively really, just noticing.

Kids just notice, too. Particularly how doing something better or earlier or faster or more often can put that special look on Dad’s face. Competition seems to produce the most varied reactions in similar people as anything I can think of. Kids learn early and easily what’s important to parents and that is a guidepost to behavior. Even parents who don’t overtly push their kids in competitive situations (my sister when she was a director of a children’s theater group in California called those parents “Dancing Mothers”) can communicate crushing disappointment to a child. Some kids can handle it, some can’t.

I had two nephews, brothers, who responded as differently as possible to competition. One was blithely oblivious to the pressure. He swam as well as he could that day and sometimes did better than most, but he always had a great time. The water got them equally wet but his older brother would brood the rest of the day if he didn’t win. Yet both as young adults and in different years won a title setting them apart as the best trombonist in all of California. Guess which one—retired from a marketing career now—still plays his horn. And owns a sweatshirt that reads “I may be old but I heard all the great bands.”

The little brother of a friend of mine was a star Little League pitcher. Made the newspapers and local TV. He loved the acclaim. Then he outgrew Little League. The new baseball program he was eligible for found him at the bottom of the heap starting over. Not for him. He simply quit playing baseball. The son of another friend, after he finished second in his first ski race, announced he didn’t like it and would never do it again. And he didn’t.

My own childhood competition was a lot of ping pong with my Dad. And we both were serious. Bright-eyed and eager. When Daddy won he shouted: “Game. Set. Championship of the Wor-r-ld!” That didn’t seem extreme to me. So I’d do the same thing. Girls were not supposed to be competitive and the rules for women’s basketball then allowed only one bounce per dribble. Yes! We could use only half the court (lest we perspire in an unladylike fashion) so we played either defense or offense. Stupid dumb game. Driveway backboards were common enough so after school I played HORSE with the boys. New kids might have to get used to playing with a girl but the regulars were fine with it.

I think I had a healthy attitude toward competition.

Briggs Cunningham Time Magazine cover

But the most unique, and I think healthiest approach to competition I ever encountered was that of Briggs Cunningham, a Corinthian in the original sense of sportsmanship, particularly of yachtsmen. On the water is where Briggs first excelled and he was the skipper of the Columbia when the America’s Cup competition was revived in 1958 after the prewar era of the huge 12 Metre boats.

I was racing some of Briggs’ cars at that time—OSCAs, Formula Juniors and Porsche Spyders. The Columbia was taking on the British yacht in Long Island Sound. And was beating it all hollow. This bothered Briggs terribly. “It’s no fun if the competition isn’t close.”

It was said that the British boat was confounded by the light air; all would be different if there was some serious weather. Yet came a big blow and the Columbia beat the Brits as badly as ever. Now here was Briggs in all seriousness suggesting that to shake things up the American and British teams should swap boats. Maybe the results would be different.

Can you imagine Ted Turner, an American team captain a few years later, suggesting that? His idea of competition was to leave the opponent bloody and pleading for mercy. Nor could Dennis Connor, long an America’s Cup skipper, be called a “sportsman” in the sense Briggs exemplified. Yes, he wanted to win, but mostly he wanted to compete. A challenge.

Here were Vettel and Alonso at Silverstone competing tooth and nail. And complaining to their pits about the driving tactics of the other. Or at least Vettel was “screaming like a child.” What I had felt through this season was an unpleasant tension that made me wonder if these people were actually having any fun. Were they hating what they were doing and who they were doing it with? Is racing only about the boundless money they are pulling in, the rewards, the accolades. I recall falling in love with everyone I had close dices with. At Meadowdale near Chicago Don Yenko (Corvette) and I (250 GT Ferrari) had a terrific go. The race was red-flagged because of some serious incidents among smaller cars also in the race, and we had to stop on the course. Don and I jumped out of our cars and grabbed each other like bears and danced about in what might best be described as glee. That was maybe the most fun I’ve ever had in a race.

Denise McCluggage    Don Yenko

I know racing stopped being a sport and became a costly business when Bernie and his moneymoneymoney culture took over. I was trying to pinpoint just how racing differs today from the days when I was following the scene more intimately and indulging in it myself. Lauda’s “child” remark gave me the answer.

As I said, most of today's drivers started their careers as children—Vettel began his astonishing collection of helmets especially designed for him when he was just eight and already a star. Children like attention, like being told they are wonderful, but they rarely really like competition.

The Formula 1 drivers I was watching weren’t enjoying themselves. Nor were they loving each other. They were doing hard work, displaying great skill. But experiencing pleasure? Not until the flag dropped and they—yippee—won. Children.

Fernando Alonso

But then I had a glimmer. Was Alonso having something of a good time? Even in that Vettel scream fest. And then in the next race, the German Grand Prix, I swear Alonso downright enjoyed himself. And drove fantastically well. 

He and Daniel Ricciardo, the Red Bull rookie from Australia, gave a workshop in tight competition, the art of dicing. And the delight—yes, delight—showed. In both of them. Actual smiles. Maybe a little love.

Now I know who to watch. And enjoy.


My Word:
Driving a dilemma, …or driven by one

Posted on April 24, 2014 Comments (0)

By Denise McCluggage

A new race car is a compendium of promise and problems. Only the real world can reveal which predominates and chart the hoped-for realization of the designers’ vision. That route is either complicated or simplified by the other element now introduced to the mix: the driver.

The driver may, while simply standing there in his billboard suit, have the sort of talent and driving style that meshes neatly with the chance characteristics of this race car. Out of the box the car may fit the driver remarkably well or the driver is the sort that can overwhelm mismatches. Anyway the 2014 Renault RB10 and R­­­­ed Bull’s rookie Australian are off to a dancing start that delights almost everyone wearing the same logo—the designer, the engineers, the tire-changers, the crew chief. All…

Unless. Unless standing nearby in matching gear is a four-time world champion, the obvious Number One of the team. But his face is clouded by a puzzled frown, his jaw works slightly. The dance he and his all-but identical car are experiencing involves misheard melodies, trod on toes and a hitch in the rhythm.

You might recognize an imagined sketch of the Red Bull Formula 1 team with Sebastian Vettel and his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo. You might even think you know what has happened in 2014, like those posting their certitude on the internet. “I knew Vettel wasn’t that good. It was the car all those years.” “Ricciardo is making Vettel look silly!” “It wasn’t Vettel, it was the car.” ”It was the car.” Echoing off in the distance—“itwasthecar.” Oh, how Vettel’s non-fans are gloating!

My observations: at the least these people are premature in their judgment. Oh, they could be right, but most likely for the wrong reasons. And only a scant few of them have any real understanding of racing.

Ah, I am claiming more understanding than these ardent folk? Yes, I am. Long ago before there was a known Internet and Formula 1 racing was accessible to the few journalists frequenting the scene I was there. Close up. Watching, listening and talking to the principals over dinner.

First, I’ll tell you one thing I learned from that experience and from my own time racing sports cars. It is never “the car” or “the driver.” It is both. And before you brush it off with a brusque “of course” let me add: it is the car and the driver in a more interwoven manner than many are likely to imagine.

As illustration let me relate a story about when Dan Gurney came to Europe to drive a factory Ferrari. The photograph alongside these words shows Dan at a practice session at the Nurburgring. Phil Hill is interpreting to him what Team Manager Tavoni—blocked from view by Phil—is saying. Dan has just taken a few laps of the ‘Ring—it was Dan so they were impressively fast laps. But Tavoni is frustrated. He has asked Dan what would he like done to the car, what would he like changed. Dan has said, in effect: “Nothing. I like it. It’s fine.”

Phil Hill and Dan Gurney at Nurburgring

Dan had come bursting out of California, loaded with as much native talent as anyone was ever likely to see. He could climb into anything with wheels and drive it as well or better than anyone else could dream of. He was beating internationally experienced drivers. He was making headlines and it was clear he was going places. I later wrote in my paper Competition Press that obviously he would be America’s next champion. (I got it right; it was history that goofed.)

But here he was brand new to Europe and was in some odd way disappointing Ferrari’s team manager because he liked the factory’s car. What was going on?

Phil later told me that Dan was in effect too good for his own good. ”He can adjust to work with a car’s quirks and get a great performance. “That’s fine for the level at which he has been racing, but not on the international scene.” At the top, drivers were expected to work with the mechanics and engineers to adjust the car to compliment the driver’s style, augment his strong points and thus reach a performance level of car and driver in synergy.

Phil had come quickly to that understanding but had made a different mistake, “I’d tell the mechanics what they needed to do to fix a problem.” He laughed. That had broken some code of each to his own specialty. “I learned to tell them exactly what the car would do when I did this or that and what I wished it would do instead. It was like playing charades, but they came to see in their own way what it was I wanted. They did it and we were all happy.” Especially after Phil learned to do that not only in Italian but in Modenese, the local patois. They loved that.

Dan soon realized that as good as he was he was even better getting his race cars tweaked to suit his better self rather than dealing with what the car presented to him. He became so good at that he built his own race cars with admirable successes. (He even learned to adapt champagne to his unique preferences. It was Dan that began the now universal habit for race winners to spray the world with bubbly instead of ingesting it.)

Sebastian Vettel

But back to Red Bull and this year’s trials of a champion. Sebastian Vettel perhaps is less inclined, or perhaps even less able than his competitors, to adapt to a car’s flukes and foibles. (Clearly Ricciardo has had a smoother time of it this year than Vettel.) Historically Vettel has been extremely sensitive to characteristics of his race cars. Some will recall the struggle he had when blown diffusers were banned for 2012. (Thus, in brief, decreasing the downforce.) Mark Webber, the then Aussie teammate, had an easier time adapting than did Seb. But then something else came along and once again the downforce was more to Vettel’s liking and he was driving happy again.

The new V6 turbo cars are as short on downforce as they are on ear-punishing sound. I was wondering which drivers would have trouble with that. I was surprised that Vettel was one of them because I had watched in awe a truly supernatural performance of his in the rain last season. But maybe a general absence of grip, a friction-free swim in effect, is a different coping problem than rather sudden changes in slip angle front and rear can be.

RB10

Whatever it is about the RB10 that makes Vettel uncomfortable and makes him drive in such a way that tire wear becomes a problem etc. it is something he is aware of, unhappy about and is trying hard to figure out. As is the entire team. (Except maybe a clam-happy Daniel Ricciardo.)

Does being so dependent on getting your car to match your driving style make you less a driver than one who can adapt easily to whatever he is driving? If that adaptability makes you collect more points then the answer is yes. But it’s the season-end point-count that matters. Let’s wait for that.

No doubt the process of reworking a car to mesh with the driver takes time, precise communication between the driver and engineers and real-world testing. At this point though testing is racing so time is tight. But the result in the long run is more dependable and more successful. Four championships mean something.

It will be exciting if the Red Bull team can tailor the RB10 to Vettel. It may be character-building for Vettel if they can’t. And he has to change his style or flounder. Can he do that? Either way it behooves us all to watch the process and not jump to judgments too soon.

In the meantime are you not enjoying Hamilton and Rosberg, those “star” teammates, as well? Formula 1 this year, in spite of its goofy green notions, is mighty entertaining though I will be glad when it gets back to a time zone more compatible to my Mountain Time. (I refuse to watch racing in anything but real time.)

Am I, after all, as intransigent as Vettel?