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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on July 2, 2015 Comments (1)

Porsche Parade by Dom Miliano

Porsche National Convention

IndyCar Amazing Race – Porsche Pics – Much More

We have an action packed issue this week. Editor Dom Miliano was in French Lick, IN for the Porsche National Convention and came back with some neat pictures. We also have some images from Thompson’s rain shortened Historic Vintage weekend and many good stories. (We at MMR often say there are only two things in life: good times and good stories.)

Michael Furman - Photographer

Michael Furman image of 1988 Porsche 911 club sport

Michael Furman’s image, in keeping with our theme this week, is Porsche from the book  Porsche Unexpected. Read our review.

Our Car’s Yeah! Podcast is with Tina Van Curren, owner of Autobooks-Aerobooks, the enthusiast’s bookstore in Burbank CA since 1951. A-A has recently moved seven blocks and is this issue’s featured supplier from our Resource Directory.

Classic Classifieds this week features some interesting Porsches.

Porsche National Convention

Boxster at the Porsche National Convention.

IMSA Tudor at Watkins Glen 6 Hours: Just Gets Better

The series is getting better with every race. Watkins Glen was amazing. The weather was the story. Dry, wet, rain, fog, it was all there. The Series leading Taylor Daytona Prototype Corvette dominated the race in the wet and the dry. With 45 minutes to go Ricky Taylor lost adhesion in the last turn before the pit straight and opened the door for the Westbrook Chevy to beat the Ganassi Ford. In Daytona GT, the non-factory Dodge Viper won with Marc Goosens. Astounding!  GT LM was won by Porsche.

Ford at Le Mans

WEC Ford GT

Ford released images of the race-prepared 2016 WEC Ford GT and it is beautiful. Ganassi will be running the effort and in a trackside interview, Scott Pruett confirmed that all is on schedule to introduce the car for the 2016 season. It will run the Ford six cylinder Eco-boost engine, which they ran at Watkins Glen and led much of the last part of the race, only to finish second when they needed a splash of fuel. Great racing and super coverage by Bob Varsha, Calvin Fish, and Tommy Kendall.

TK is our Hero

Congratulations Tommy Kendall on being inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame. Our home page video is of TK discussing his induction. Well done.

IndyCar: Amazing Race – How Rare Thou Art

Indy cars

Before a very small crowd, the IndyCar MTA-TV 500 at Fontana on Saturday took place at a horrible track and yet produced an incredible race.

The IndyCar race at Fontana was unquestionably the finest combination of bravery, skill, and foolhardiness seen in pro racing in decades. If the norms of our times prevail, someone will surely put an end to it. And some drivers will be torn as to whether it should be so.

Readers Warning: The following will ramble.

It began with Man’s beginning. The excitement of eliminating or evading the danger posed by animals or circumstances that might harm, was triggered by “fear”. Some would argue that, other than our fellow man, we have eliminated most of the natural sources that once prompted that fear. But we have retained the capacity to fear and modern man has found that overcoming danger can be both a challenge and a stimulant. Under stress, the body produces “adrenaline” which heightens the senses and sometimes allows the achievement of feats not ordinarily possible. It also produces a pleasant, and possibly addictive, “endogenous morphine” called “endorphins” which decrease the feelings of pain and lead to feelings of euphoria.

An aside: The entertainment industry has simulated and monetized our primal fears. Ferris Wheels at County Fairs stimulate our natural fear of heights and motion. Their modern cousins are the studio created “theme” rides. Here patrons strap themselves into pneumatically operated chairs for a predetermined, computer coordinated time. We are simultaneously bounced around, assaulted audibly and visually by loud noises, and all encompassing movie screens projecting the "fear" flavor of our choosing. Brilliant! The long and constant lines to experience these faux fears attest to our apparent craving to be so stimulated.

Again, in keeping with societal demands, racing has striven to eliminate any real fear of death and, like the studios with bouncing chairs, it simulates danger while tantalizing the viewer with morbid fears of possible disaster.

On June 30, 2013 nineteen firefighters were killed near Yarnell, Arizona when winds shifted, trapped, and killed them. It was the deadliest wildfire since 1991. 

It sticks in my mind because I was traveling home in my 308 from a visit with friends in Phoenix. They suggested I take this particular route because the road offered beautiful scenery and the opportunity to ignore the speed limit on sweeping and scarcely patrolled roads. They were correct. As I was enjoying my car at a comfortable 85 MPH I saw and smelled the smoke from the wildfires and listened to the stories on my radio about the local firefighters, most well trained locals, who were battling it.

We will return to the speed I was traveling later.

As I write this it is almost two years ago to the day that this tragedy occurred and in hindsight the death of these men has been considered, by some, avoidable. In December of that year the Industrial Commission of Arizona deemed that the State had “knowingly put the protection of property ahead of safety and should have pulled the crews out earlier”. Their commander had made a choice to send them from a burned out area, where they were safe, to save a nearby town which had been evacuated. I am certain that every man who died was fearful to different degrees. I am also certain that every man saw the risk as a challenge for which he was prepared and excited. The excitement was caused by “fear”.

Fear is instinctive and a part of each of us. Men, particularly young ones, and women, more today than ever before, thrill at risk.

Another aside: Thirty years ago I was on a 40 foot sailboat off St. Vincent in the British Virgin Islands. We were returning to St. Vincent to repair our non-functioning engine when we were hit by a force 4 gale. The boat was well equipped. We were seven people aboard and we were running just enough sail to allow us to control our general direction. I know nothing about sailing, but I can take direction, so I was helping our hired captain in any way I could. The atmosphere was tense and we were all excited. At some point I noticed that a mop, lashed alongside the cabin had come loose and was in danger of falling overboard. Holding tightly to the rails on the cabin and the lines that ran from stanchion to stanchion around the boat I moved from the safety of the cockpit to “rescue” the mop. “Foolhardy” is a kind word for what I did. "Stupid" is more accurate. In those seas, with no lifejacket and a boat with no motor, the chances of the boat turning around and finding me would have been slim. Why did I do it??? Well, the feeling of fear and the sense of accomplishment from that 25 foot walk was exhilarating. I wouldn’t compare my stupidity with the bravery of those firefighters. But, it had to have crossed at least one firefighter’s mind that his choices were to stay comparatively "safe" in the middle of a burned out area in the middle of the day, or take a chance and save a bunch of buildings. To a man they went. And I understand that.

In my late teens, I was participating in a club race meet at Mosport, near Bowmansville, Ontario. The spot next to me in the paddock was occupied by a well-known Formula Vee driver. Race weekends are always very busy and though we had met before at other races we were just like all the other guys parked next to each other. We weren’t together but we would have helped each other. That’s how it was. He was killed on Saturday when his car went off the back straight.

They parked the wreck next to our pit and Sunday, mid-morning, when I came in after my race, it and all his “stuff” were gone. Just like that. We all said the right things about him being a great guy and a really good driver and how he died doing what he wanted to do. Not one of us ever thought that it would happen to us. Yet the reason we raced, to some extent, was to see just how close we could come to disaster, the edge, the limit, or numerous other words that implied disaster, perhaps death. But not likely to happen.

Back to when I was doing 85 in Arizona. I was 68 years old. Had I been 38 years old, I would have been doing 90. And had I been 18 years old I would have been testing the limits of adhesion. Badly, and with adrenaline.

As one ages, whether or not one matures, one learns. Whether by accident or by design those “learnings” define our thoughts and actions going forward. If one is the slightest bit introspective, they explain many things that seemed puzzling in the past.

Many years ago I watched a TV show about marathoners. Runners were being scientifically analyzed and compared to other athletes who competed in sprints. Basically, it was determined that to compete successfully in these two disciplines required distinctly different muscle fibers structures. The sprinters had “fast" twitch muscles which were quick and powerful. “Slow" muscles enabled the low intensity required for marathon running.

While this information defines and separates us physically, our aspirations don't recognize the difference. Upon reflection, this physiological fact of our being might shed light on events in our lives that have defined who we are and what we believe ourselves capable of being. My father was a gifted athlete who played hockey and baseball and competed well into his fifties against much younger men. He had excellent eyesight and physical dexterity. We had little in common. He was very competitive in nature and sports were very important to him. I imagine now that I must have been a disappointment.

A 10 mile foot race, at age 39, was the first time I realized I could run distances comfortably and competitively for my age and running became a life-long love. The knowledge that we all possess either “fast” or “slow” twitch muscle fibers color how I view all sports and my personal ability to excel in them. Particularly, motorsports.

Denise McCluggage told me that Sir Stirling Moss could pick flies out of the air and read the fine print in a certificate mounted on a wall across the room. I have heard the same extraordinary qualities attributed to Juan Manuel Fangio. The protagonist of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, Test Pilot Chuck Yeager, is described as equally gifted. Defined by their natural abilities, these are special people who have found the occupation, niche, or sport which suits their set of particular physical attributes and allows them to succeed.

There is no doubt that today’s top drivers are all “fast” twitch equipped and gifted in additional complimentary ways such as size, eyesight, experience etc. Proof was on exhibit at the IndyCar race on June 27, 2015 at Fontana in California.

As we write this, Graham Rahal is the declared winner of the race. However, on lap 187 of 250, Rahal left the pits with a portion of the refueling rig attached to his car. It fell off at the track entrance and the race was yellow flagged. IndyCar did not assess a penalty immediately but allowed that they would review the incident after the race. Derek Walker, IndyCar’s competition manager, told the announce crew that the race stewards would definitely assess a penalty at race’s end. They fined him $5000. Not much in dollars but big in percentages when you calculate that the win paid $30,000.

The Race: Teams have complained to IndyCar that driving cars with similar aero packages and engine power creates an equality that results in what is called “pack” racing. The cars don’t have the power to get away from one another and are moved around on the track involuntarily as they pass and repass each other. The race was 250 laps on a two mile banked oval track with average race lap speeds of 215 mph and speed on the straights over 220 mph. From the drop of the flag “pack racing” was on. Official lead changes are measured once per lap at the start-finish line. There were a record 80 official lead changes. Certainly far more than twice that overall. The track is 75 feet wide with a 15 foot apron and the racing was often three and four cars wide with occasional moments of five wide racing. It was incredibly risky. All the leading drivers took part.

These are comment highlights from drivers and Team Managers after the race:

Will Power: What are we doing? What are we doing? As exciting as it is, it is insane. It is crazy! Crazy!

Tony Kanaan: It was a crazy race. It’s a great race for the fans but hopefully we get together and come up with a better solution.

Tim Cindric, Pres. Penske Racing: We talked about (putting an end to) this kind of racing. I am sure it is fun to watch but it is very difficult.

AJ Foyt: I enjoyed this kind of racing when I was doing it.

Marco Andretti: I enjoy it. It is definitely crazy. It was definitely great for the fans.

Juan Pablo Montoya: This was definitely crazy and sooner or later someone is going to get hurt.

Tony Brooks was a highly talented British driver who was the fourth winningest Grand Prix driver of the fifties behind Moss, Fangio, and Ascari. In a recent interview, Brooks, who retired early, said he felt that racing was too dangerous then. Three or four drivers per year were dying. It would be years and many more driver’s lives lost before track safety got us to where we are today. Ayrton Senna was the last F1 driver to die on a track. That was in 1994. In 1999, IndyCar's Greg Moore died at Fontana.

Overall, we take a couple of things away from the post race interviews. One, everyone interviewed said it was exciting. Most agreed it was dangerous. This is the best race we have seen in a long, long time. IT WAS EXCITING! We don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed but we do want to see more “exciting racing”. Don't change a thing.

Other Voices:

Gordon Kirby: IndyCar racing has issues. Venues and scheduling leading the pack. This week’s  Gordon Kirby column in MotorSport addresses these issues in detail. He feels that less downforce and more engines are the answer. Perhaps he is correct. In the meantime, while New Orleans was unquestionably a low point, since then Indy, Barber, and certainly Fontana, were a damn sight more entertaining. 

Robin Miller: Always controversial and seemingly never concerned about political correctness. You don’t want to dance with him, he steps on toes. Miller has a similar take on dates and venues but agrees with us about how good that race on Saturday really was and has a message for IndyCar management. Watch his video.

Tracks Access Grows

This story was prompted by our visit to the Vintage Motorsports Festival at Thompson Speedway on June 20th. We had the opportunity to watch good people having a good time.

First automobile race.

Automotive folklore tells us that the first auto race took place when the second car was built. That may be an exaggeration but it is likely true.

The first car races were point to point affairs, generally between towns along crazed-spectator-lined dirt roads. Once the cost to flora and fauna was calculated, the racing madmen and their equally mad followers were confined to circuits where they were encouraged to damage each other, but little else, to their hearts content.

The sport of driving like hell to get back to the spot from which you all started gradually adapted itself to the differing styles of mayhem the participants were most comfortable inflicting on each other. At the same time, as well heeled Europeans were strapping themselves to thin tubes and careening around paved circuits meant to resemble the country roads from which they were banned, Americans were throwing dirt at each other in powerful Champ Cars on unpaved ovals in every small town that owned a fair ground.

Tracks evolve in response to the evolution of the cars that run on them. No one track suits multiple racing disciplines, though many try. And, not by accident, the most successful tracks in each discipline are those that can limit the performance parameters of the vehicles using them. For instance, each year a small group of parochial Frenchmen convene to concoct a new set of rules that will encourage ambitious foreigners to spend fortunes building cars that will survive a 24 hour beating on their public roads. Historically French cars dominated something entitled the Index of Performance class. It was essentially an economy run in the middle of the fastest race in the world. Oddly, the rules always favored cars built by French manufacturers. It was eventually phased out. Today’s Prototype II class, a less powerful version of the exciting lead cars, is dominated by French chassis manufacturers. Our point here is that Le Mans dominates the WEC series and their rules dictate rules for all the other races in the WEC series.

IndyCar rules are made to best suit the Indianapolis Speedway and their premier event, the Indy 500. NASCAR is owned and governed by the family that owns and governs the Daytona Speedway. The most closely regulated, least consistent and most political set of rules is Formula 1. And the quality of the races reflect it. Owned by an investment company and operated by a brilliant manipulator, the governing rules of F1 are set by the FIA, a world motorsport sanctioning body based in Paris. Rules are made in consultation with committees appointed by the race teams. F1’s iconic track is a street circuit in a hilly tax refuge beside a sunny bay filled with 100+ foot long boats and on which passing is virtually impossible.

In the 21st Century a new landscape is emerging. The growth of vintage race car usage and the evolution of street cars suitable for track use are making possible the development of interesting private club road circuits. Spurred by the success of club venues, declining enrollment in driving schools, and independent track days, established road circuits are offering club memberships. They also offer the added cachet of history.

This plethora of options has given rise to a new phenomenon: club shopping. Drivers now have options that allow them to optimize their track experience by matching their abilities and their car capabilities with a track configuration that best suits them.

We have come a long way from WWII runways and hay bales. And then again… there is always Sebring.

Have a great Fourth!

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 24, 2014 Comments (0)

On behalf of all the people who put the MMR Community Newsletter together, Editor Dom Miliano, IT folks Lucy Iannotti and Garret Vreeland, Correctness Advisor Dianne Isaacson, Social Media editor Ashley Novack, our wonderful writers Denise McCluggage and Sandy Cotterman, and all the sponsors who make this possible and who we pray you support, Merry Christmas! For those among us who celebrate Christmas, we hope you have a day filled with good feelings towards family, friends and life. And to everyone else, this may be the only gift you will receive today, but comfort yourself, it is a labor of love and it ain’t shabby.

THE MMR Christmas Letter

Peter Bourassa, at his desk

The other day John Gallagher, good friend and MMR subscriber, sent me a joke about a man who asks the police to find his missing wife. As the police question him about her age, what she looks like and what she is wearing, he exhibits little knowledge. When asked about the car she might be driving, he describes his Corvette in infinite detail. Don’t worry, says the cop, we’ll find your car. Guys find that funny and women, often with good reason, do not.  The MMR Christmas Letter is about a similar person. I will only say that men generally find it funny.

Sandy on Assignment

In this issue we wind up the year with  the Sandy on Assignment review of the recent Winter Park Concours d’Elegance in Florida. Our images this week are all from that event. While Sandy took most of them, we thank longtime MMR subscriber Alex Dearborn and motorsports historian Bill Rothermel for helping us with additional images.

More Good Books

Troy Spencer, MotorBinder, and Harry Hurst, 12 Hours of Sebring

In last week’s issue we recommended some recently released books that would be at ease on your shelves. This week, I want to mention two books, one, Troy Spencer’s MotorBinder is an excellent book about SoCal’s racing scene in the fifties and sixties and the cars which his father owned and sponsored in the day, and Harry Hurst’s book 12 Hours of Sebring 1965 with pictures by Dave Friedman. Both great reads. So take a minute and tell us what great book you read this year and that we may have missed.

A Word about Words

If you are one of those people who is constantly pummeling your friends about the correct pronunciation of words belonging to foreign languages, you might enjoy this week’s short treatise on words.

Michael Furman, Photographer

Michael Furman, 1937 Dubonnet Hispano

Michael’s image this week is a 1937 Dubonnet Hispano from his book Curves of Steel.

Ad Wars

Fiat Environmentally Sexy video still

Nobody can be certain if Fiat or Chrysler will actually survive the next five years. But, and this is coming from a former GM and now Ford guy, if it comes down to who is making the best ads, Chrysler/Fiat wins. If I have to listen to one more deep voice intone the torque stats of a highly polished pickup truck that dominates a scene of scrub land, plaid shirts worn by the same middle-aged women who are waiting for “the right moment” and populate Cialis ads, baby lambs and distant mountains, I will be ill. Serve me information on a clever plate and I am your man. Check out this week’s video.

Help Us Have a Great Holiday

Support our  sponsors, Like us on Facebook and pass this on to a friend. Thanks and have a great holiday.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Merry Christmas from everyone at MMR

‘Tis the season to be gifting. In this, our last regular issue before the biggest gift day of the year we will suggest some affordable gifts that punch far above their weight in lasting value. The following are gifts that will be ecstatically received by any motorsports enthusiast. Uncertain that anyone close is knowledgeable enough to give you one or more of these fine gifts? Don’t take a chance, buy it yourself!

1961 Porsche 356 GTL Abarth, by Michael Furman

This week’s feature image is by  Michael Furman from his recent Porsche book entitled Porsche Unexpected. Editor Dom Miliano reviewed this book several weeks ago and you are invited read more about it here.


Ferrari Hypercars, Book by Winston GoodFellow

Ferrari Hypercars is Winston Goodfellow’s take on the very special cars Ferrari built to be the fastest, most beautiful, and most expensive cars of their period. And while this book accomplished the task of delineating those certain cars that qualify and more, it is what constitutes the “more” that you will find captivating


Lancia and De Virgilio: At the Center by Geoffrey Goldberg

Lancia and De Virgilio: at the Center by Geoffrey Goldberg. Published by David Bull Publishing. In the postwar era Lancia was the most innovative and design-driven automobile company in Italy, if not the world. Francesco De Virgilio was one of the company’s leading designer-engineers whose quiet drive for excellence reflected the company’s goals. De Virgilio worked with Gianni Lancia, founder’s son, and Vittorio Jano who had designed winning engines for Alfa Romeo. The book was reviewed in last week’s NY Times and we link you to that review.


Morgan Plus Four in Snow.

Our sixties lookback this week features the Morgan Plus 4, one of our favorite cars. Two weeks ago we featured the Sunbeam Tiger, another favorite. In conversation with Marshall Buck, MMR’s model maven, he suggested that readers might enjoy a brief review of the Tiger models available and his thoughts on them. Your comments are invited.

Porsche Speedster

Editor Dom Miliano has done yeoman work. This week’s eye candy is appropriately the color of the holidays and all the red cars are for sale, along with another 400 of the world’s most desirable and available cars in our online MMR Classifieds.

That’s it for this week. Please remember to support our advertisers and to invite friends to join our MMR Community by subscribing to our weekly Newsletter. Happy Holidays.

Peter Bourassa


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


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