MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on January 10, 2014 Comments (0)

Our images this week are by Sandy Cotterman. And so is the main story!

Cadillac! Oh Cadillac! – Where Art Thou?

Thank you all for your candid remarks about the new Cadillac. One is lead to believe that, by and large, most people WANT Caddy to be competitive with the Euro cars but feel that although they have made excellent progress, they are not yet there.

Going Once!... Going Twice!... Yawn…

Things are about to start happening. The Daytona 24 Hours is on for the end of the month. Check the MMR Motorsports Calendar for details of other events. Friends in Scottsdale are looking forward to a new show next week and, of course, the auctions. The Arizona Concours d’Elegance has limited its field of entrants to 77 for its inaugural event. Good beginning and good luck. The absence of agreeable weather and car events for over two months is what draws people to Arizona now. The world of auctions has split into two camps: Bonhams, Gooding, and RM on the snooty Sports and Classic side; and, Barratt-Jackson, Russo & Steele, Mecom and the remainder on the old American iron team.

Auctions, once held in barns and parking lots are now TV entertainment. To his profit and credit, if that is what you take for this, Craig Jackson has made buying or selling a car in front of thousands of strangers entertaining… to a degree. I freely confess that in the beginning I was as glued to it as everyone else. Initially it was all about looking at real cars and the anticipation of the next car on the ramp that I hadn’t seen in 40 years or more. But when, not many years later, the hammer fell signaling the sale of the 20th “rotisseried” Camaro SS of the weekend, or a similar amount of ‘64 Ford Galaxy 500 convertibles with 390 Automatics and chromed undercarriages, I plain lost interest. To me it is about the cars and when all the cars are all the same and all better than perfect, there is little appeal. The only intriguing cars remaining in that show are the hot rods and even they are beginning to look “assembly line”. The Bonhams, Gooding and RM side will sell vehicles that were interesting from birth. Theirs, not ours, and sadly, they won’t be televised. What’s wrong with this picture?

Sandy on Assignment!

This week we feature a story and pictures we saved for just this issue. Sandy (as in: on Assignment) Cotterman, our intrepid globetrotting reporter attended the 2013 Goodwood Revival last fall and shares her story and pictures with us. Read the story and tell us if you would like to go next September. If there is enough interest, perhaps we can put something together with one of the touring companies listed in the MMR Goods and Services Directory under Specialty Services.

Sandy Cotterman

Screaming Down the Years

Check out this week’s video. We haven’t featured it in a little while. Thank you Shell.

From the If we waited any longer they would be reports not predictions! Department

Some folks take longer to think than others. So, at long last, some thoughts on F1, IndyCar, and the Tudor Sports Car Racing series. Take your time, share your thoughts and have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


2014 Predictions - Confusion Reigns

Posted on January 9, 2014 Comments (3)

As 2014 begins, F1 is praying that the decisions it made regarding engine and chassis will allow more teams to be competitive. Sports cars are struggling to find a formula that will be entertaining and also doesn’t exclude good racecars, and IndyCar is timorously emerging from its own stretch in the wilderness.

The business of racing is business. The public, that’s us, seeks entertainment. The racers, that’s them, seek fair competition and money. Between us and them is each series management. If management can satisfy both camps, everyone will be happy and they also will make money. History tells us that the only management style that has thus far satisfied both camps is one that is intelligent and autocratic with the ability to withstand pressure from teams, advertisers, suppliers, broadcasters and fans. No mean feat.

Bill France

Bernie Ecclestone

Only two people have managed to do that for a prolonged period and only one is alive. Big Bill France and Small Bernie Ecclestone ran/run their operations to suit their visions and the bottom line. Like them or not, both have made wealthy men of themselves and those who chose to follow them.

Here are some thoughts about three major series for 2014.

F1 – Difficult to Predict

If you believe that the four major components of a race team are engine, chassis, driver and management, the fact that two of them are in flux for everyone this year has created a level of excitement and anticipation for followers of F1. The advent of new engine and aero packages could wreak havoc with the current order. As we left them, Renault had the top engines and Red Bull had the top chassis.

Beginning with a clean sheet, it is theoretically anyone’s game. But if you believe that people win because they are experienced winners and appear to have the most talent, you have to give the nod to the Renault-Red Bull package. The fight for second could favor the Renault- Lotus package. Lotus arguably had the second best chassis last year and the same winning engine as Red Bull. But in the driver department, Grosjean has yet to mature to the Vettel/Alonso/Raikkonen/Hamilton level. Maldonado, despite his experience, is an unknown factor at this level.

The most solid one-two driver line-up belongs to Ferrari. Like their drivers, their management is solid and experienced. The engine-chassis portion of their package, we will learn about at the first race. And so will they.

McLaren, considered the engineering team, have proven to be weak in engineering. Plus, half their driver line-up is on a learning curve and their engine fate will be in the hands of Mercedes until next year.

Mercedes are the enigma and the enigma is fascinating. They have two strong drivers, and like everyone else, an unknown chassis/engine package. What makes them particularly interesting to follow is their management structure. Having recently fired Ross Brawn, the canniest racer in the paddock, they have new management which is unproven at this level. At the top sits Niki Lauda, the non-executive Chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, and who, undoubtedly, at the very least, agreed to the Brawn dismissal. Totto Wolff, who has a racing history with Mercedes in the DTM series, is the Business Manager and Paddy Lowe, formerly Technical Director for McLaren will, be Sporting Director with responsibility for building the cars and running the team. They all report to the board.

Time will tell if firing Ross Brawn was a bright move. Last year when Mercedes appeared to be having a high level of tire degradation, it was Ross Braun who engineered a secret tire test that solved the problem and also contravened what many considered to be strict rules against such actions. Not many people in F1 could have done that. Fewer still could have come out of it with so few negative consequences. New Mercedes Business Director Toto Wolff will be benefitting from Brawn’s 2014 planning and efforts for the first part of this year but after that Toto will discover that, as Dorothy said, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Brawn has said he will take six months to review his options. Here’s a prediction: Don’t be too surprised if someone has suggested he not commit to anyone until the board sees how the new management team does. His track record in F1 management is considerably better than Niki’s, Toto’s, and Paddy’s put together. At the very least Mercedes should keep Brawn on retainer not simply for what he can add but to keep him from adding it to someone else’s pit box.

Toto Wolff’s interview with Fox sports regarding Lotus Renault’s delayed payment of their drivers was at best tactless and equally ill informed historically. If this is accurate reporting, it would indicate that Mr. Wolff will be exciting to watch, if only briefly.

Sadly, the remainder of the F1 field will continue to soldier on at the back of the grid.

Tudor Sports Car Series  A Shotgun Marriage

Two series, ALMS (American Le Mans Series) and Rolex Grand-Am, have struggled with confusing classes, hopeless schedules, and lack of the necessary funding to properly establish distinct products. They have now merged to form a new series, the Tudor Sports Car Series, that will allow cars from both series to be competitive.

Tudor, I recently was informed by a watch aficionado, is Rolex’s second line, just as Tissot is Omega’s. A fine watch, to be sure, but still an acknowledged cut below the top level. And it does pose a simple question: Why a second level product?

They face challenges. Merging at the second level will be difficult but made easier because major car manufacturers are involved. They see a link with sales in showrooms and they will find a way, with time, to accommodate the new rules. The Ferrari, Corvette, Porsche, and Viper people all want a system that will allow them to be competitive. They want the series to have value in the eyes of the consumers and if it does that, they can afford to build the cars and the teams to make it work.

The biggest problem is at the top of the ticket. The Grand Am Daytona Prototype was initially a France family product designed to impose on sports car racing what they imposed on NASCAR. They introduced it as the Car of Tomorrow (COTA). The fans didn’t buy the homogenization and it is now, happily, the Car of Yesterday. The initial Daytona Prototypes were ugly slugs and still remain hugely different from the ALMS FIA derived Prototypes that run at Le Mans and in the remainder of Europe. The difficulty is that both sides have huge investments in these cars and nobody wants to, and many can’t, make obsolete their equipment and start from scratch. Management is struggling to find a way to make them even without destroying the cars or the racing.

Now is the time for IndyCar to anoint a strong leader and to find either a much higher profile title sponsor or co-sponsor who can invest the needed funds to help the teams through the expensive transition they will need to make to stay in the game. Like NASCAR, their biggest event is also their first. The Daytona 24 hours will be held at the end of this month and we will learn then what progress has been made.

IndyCar: Chasing the Carrot – Getting the Stick

The four major components required for a successful IndyCar program differ somewhat from the four determined for F1. These are IndyCar's requirements for a strong series: Strong teams, affordable car/engine packages, decent venues, and strong visionary leadership.

They have the first two. Randy Barnard rescued open wheel racing in America from the inept stewardship of the Hulman family and in the process learned that no matter how bright or right you are, when you are beholding to the folks who created the mess you are cleaning up, the likelihood of them being clever enough to let you take a bow and a buck, is highly unlikely.

IndyCar management believe their destiny is bringing their races to downtown streets all over downtown America and obscure racetracks in the hinterlands. F1, by contrast, have enough confidence in their product to believe that people will pay a lot of money to see good racing on real race tracks no matter where in hell they are. Their problem is supplying a consistently good race.

IndyCar finally has good racing and a deep field of driver talent, but their venue lineup is a joke. Other than the Indy 500, Birmingham and Mid-Ohio, the remainder are second rate and hard to watch. Long Beach, the most celebrated, tries hard, but it isn’t Monaco. Monaco has movie stars, Long Beach has TV stars. Bumpy city streets between ugly cement walls and 20’ catch fences is hardly glamorous. Inexplicably, they persist in believing that Laguna Seca, Elkhart Lake, Lime Rock Park, and countless other interesting tracks couldn’t fill their coffers.

They have a great product that has the potential of someday rivaling F1 as they once almost did. But history has demonstrated that as long as the France family control the major venue and the series, it will continue to fumble on!


Sandy on Assignment:
My Favorite...The Goodwood Revival

Posted on January 9, 2014 Comments (5)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Adventure Begins - Goodwood House

Another adventure begins…in front of the Goodwood House.

Although it never made my motorsports bucket list, everyone I know who has attended the Goodwood Revival says it’s a must, so I felt compelled to check it out. It was fantastic - my all-time favorite adventure for the year! This is an event for everyone… from the vintage racing buff to the reluctant spouse. You can’t help but have a fabulous time... even in the rain!

Stepping Back in Time

Stepping back in time.

Mods and Rockers

A friendly group of mods and rockers.

Close your eyes and take yourself back in time... England, post war ‘40s and ‘50s, through the early ‘60s… and you have the setting for the Revival. Everyone is dressed to play the part from the golden era of motorsports. Tight skirts and silk stockings, British military uniforms, fedora hats, mechanics’ overalls, biker garb and bell bottoms… if it’s vintage, you’ll see it. Even the concessions are in period, selling absolutely everything to get you into the mood for this three-day event.

West Sussex County, the 2.4-mile circuit sits on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate. During WWII, this area was a key British airfield and home to several Spitfire squadrons. When the RAF closed the base after the war, the landowner, Freddie March, grandfather of the current Earl of March, turned the perimeter road into a racing circuit. Britain’s first post-war motor racing took place here on September 18, 1948. The track was closed to racing in 1966, then re-opened in 1998. In its 16th year, the Revival features 15 races and special tributes over the mid-September weekend. I’ll give you the how-to’s for this event. But first, if you ever think you’ll attend annually, get on the list for membership into the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC). Membership perks are outstanding. I’m on a 24 month wait list!

GTs

The GT’s from the Woodcote grandstands.

Taste of Victory

A taste of victory.

This year, celebrating 50 years of Ford’s GT40 history, an exciting one-make race for GT40s and related models took place. The career of legendary racecar driver Jim Clark was celebrated with 36 of the actual cars he raced, on parade. The Settrington Cup saw younger racers pedaling their way to glory in Austin J40s! Bonham’s auctioned over $23M in cars on Saturday. Tour de France cyclists, celebrating the 100th year running of the world’s greatest bicycle race, were also on parade. One hundred years of Aston Martin was celebrated in the Earl’s Court Motor Show exhibit and spectacular air shows went on overhead daily.... all just for starters!

Air shows and races

Air shows and races … all day long at the Revival.

Since I’m not a costume type person, I was a little apprehensive going into this adventure… easing in slowly. Outfitted in a black turtleneck, white jeans and big square sunglasses, I headed off to the Tampa airport feeling like Jackie O. By Day 3 at the track, I was so into dressing up that I didn’t think twice about wearing my red satin evening coat, long gloves and big sunglasses… in the pouring rain.

Before sharing my adventure, let me say that getting to Chichester, England, which is just up the road from Goodwood, was a snap! British Airways flies direct to Gatwick from Tampa, in eight hours, leaving at 6:15pm and arriving the next morning around 8am. Since tickets for this event go on sale mid-November, I was able to book a flight at a ridiculously low fare. Once in Gatwick, I hopped the train (right inside the airport) into Chichester. I personally didn’t want to hassle with a rental car and succumb to driving on the wrong side of the road. Lucky for me, I booked lodging in town and could take a five minute taxi ride to the Goodwood grounds after the gates opened at 7:30am and catch the official shuttle bus back into Chichester at the end of the day. Friends Keith Carlson and Bruce Murray were meeting up with Brits locally, and drove directly to the Estate in classic cars. The parking lots are a show in themselves!

Sandy in the Paddock

E2A and Sandy in the Paddock.

Paddock - rows of racing

The Paddock…rows of racing history.

It was a given, I would be seeing a lot of British cars, but, I was curious as to what else was in the Paddock. I was also on a mission to track down a Ferrari or two. To my surprise, there was a paddock full of these stallions! Speaking of the Paddock, a special pass, and of course vintage attire, is required to enter. Getting a Paddock pass is difficult, as you cannot buy them. That’s where the GRRC membership comes in handy. Again, I lucked out. After stopping to take photos with a group of bikers, they handed me a pass!

For me, my motorsports adventures sparkle because of the people I meet. Whether it’s a famous race car driver, classic car collector, or just another motorsports enthusiast, like me, each person adds to my adventure. The Goodwood Revival was all sparkles!

Flurry of excitement

A flurry of excitement around Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass.

I checked out the racing line-up and was thrilled to be able to watch legends Derek Bell, Brian Redman, and Andy Wallace, and also Oliver Gavin and Tom Kristensen – whom I had just seen race at Le Mans, all take the wheel of some pretty cool vintage race cars. Stirling Moss was on hand signing autographs, but more special than that, I was able to witness Stirling and Jochen Mass prepare a race history time capsule. It was a treat to run into Garth Hammers from Gooding Auctions and Steve Serio from Aston Martin of New England, who, like me, were there enjoying the weekend festivities.

Max - race car driver

Max… the race car driver.

What made this entire adventure spectacular was following one very special racecar driver through every pace of the weekend. Right off the bat, I thought I recognized a familiar face from the automotive auction world, as I was snooping around the Paddock. No, it couldn’t be, I thought. But on Day 2, while again roaming the Paddock, I ran into my very favorite auctioneer, Max Girado, from RM Auctions. It really was Max whom I thought I recognized the day before. You’ve read my praises of Max, as an auctioneer in previous articles, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find out he was racing… the Ferraris!!

Derek Bell

Derek Bell up second in the Corvette Sting Ray.

Besides being offered a Paddock pass at the start of the Revival, I was graciously offered another pass from the mechanic of the 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, which Derek Bell would race on Sunday… a team armband. I hope that gentleman goes straight to heaven when the time comes, as doing such a good deed was amazing. I could maneuver anywhere inside the pits and team areas, wearing the armband.

Ready to race

Ready to race.

Following Max though the paces connected me with the excitement of the races. The owners of both cars he was driving, the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France and 1956 Ferrari 860 Monza, told me they had heard Max was a great auctioneer, but obviously admired him for his skills as a race car driver. Max slipped into the cars with ease, all smiles, and graciously took the time to wave before taking off. Watching Max finish third on Sunday, in the No. 22, 250 GT during the Fordwater Trophy race, was a thrill. I even watched him go through the post scrutineering checks. He definitely made my weekend!

Similar to Le Mans, you really have to watch the website (www.goodwood.com) to jump on board for early ticket sales, as they sell out quickly. Tickets are mailed after the first of the year. Here is what my website shopping cart included: A 3-day required roving grandstand general admission ticket, for $206; and, Saturday and Sunday reserved grandstand tickets at $122 each, in the Woodcote grandstands. The grandstands offer a fantastic viewing advantage.

I signed up for lunches at the Goodwood Hotel in the Cedar Suite. Dinners were back in Chichester at a fabulous Italian restaurant, Carluccio’s. Lodging at the Goodwood Hotel is reserved exclusively for guests of Lord March, but you can make reservations, on–line, for the three-course buffet lunch. Hostesses seat guests together, filling up tables for scheduled seatings. The Hotel ended up being my go to place for everything… relaxing, bathroom breaks and all other meals. There was even a fleet of complimentary vintage Jowett taxis and roadsters to take me back and forth to the track. The Hotel experience is definitely my MMR secret find!

Revival

Everyone has fun at the Revival.

Forever one of my favorite adventures, I hope the Goodwood Revival makes everyone’s motorsports bucket list. It’s no wonder Veuve Clicquot is sparkling everywhere during this weekend of excitement!


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on January 3, 2014 Comments (0)

Welcome to the New Year!

Our images this week are some of our favorite leads of MMR Newsletters past. If you are reading this on the MMR blog and want to see more images, simply subscribe to our MMR Newsletter and we will forward this issue. For subscribers, simply click on the images below to be taken to the issue that featured them and learn more about the photographers and what they were shooting.

While this is unquestionably the first MMR Newsletter of 2014, it somehow still feels like the final MMR Newsletter of 2013. In keeping with that, we will follow up on stories recently begun and cast a prescient eye on the horizon of events to come.

Sadly, as we write this, Michael Schumacher is in an induced coma in a hospital in France. The most recent news is more hopeful and we wish him well.

Cleaning up some of the leftovers from 2013, we offer a sampling of your responses from the query about purchasing a Cadillac vs. a Euro sedan.

Looking Forward…

Stay tuned, while this issue has no room for our 2014 predictions. As threatened, we will share them with you next week. Meanwhile check out this week’s video, a Porsche 908 cockpit view of one lap of the Targa Florio. Thanks to Michael Keyser, co-author of Racing Demons.

Going to Scottsdale? Tony Singer, founder of Automobilia Monterey is launching a similar event, Automobilia Scottsdale, with the same excellent vendors. Most are listed as suppliers in the MMR Goods and Services Directory. See poster below for details.

Also in January, Denise McCluggage comes to New England for dinner and The Centered Driver Workshop  at European Motorsports Exhibit Center in Lawrence MA. Tickets are still available, but not many.

Here’s wishing you all good health and a wonderful 2014!

Peter and the MMR Team


Cadillac Responses

Posted on January 2, 2014 Comments (3)

Our recent article on Euro drivers prompted us to ask, why not Cadillacs?

These were some of the responses:

Peter: The big response to the Bronson article proves the demographic, herein. ;) The good folks trying to follow "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" have a long way to go in trying to beat the social stigma generated by others; be it film, local behavior or the racket they make. I like the new Cadillacs a lot. They're good looking, plus handling and power are very impressive. That level of ostentation is not for me. There's nothing subtle about them either. But a manual trans. with all that power! Good fortune, B~

Cadillacs. It's a fookin' Cadillac. My father-in-law used to drive Cadillacs. It now has the same problem of perception Volkswagen had with the Phaeton. Great luxury car, that. But it's a Volkswagen. We're not buying a luxury car with that brand name on it. So the new Cadillac is a high performance driver's car? That's just too bad. You know, BMW got around this issue... their front wheel drive turbo small car is called a Mini Cooper S!

For me, there is more to this question than handling. Of course, in the end, that is the best reason to buy any car, but image is also important. Cadillac is not what I want to be identified with. As a woman of a certain age, the brand has a long-standing repugnance for me. Too big, too lumbering, too glitzy, too aged-Florida-resident (sorry) who needs a lot of metal for protection.

Thank you Peter. I'll never forget the moment that Eldorado puked its headbolts (all 10 bolts on the rear head). I was in the middle of the Howard Frankland Bridge east bound over Tampa Bay at 90 mph plus and saw the temp. gauge spike to the red zone. I said to myself "you gotta be s****in* me!" All ten bolts in the rear head. I was able to pull the six center bolts out with my fingers! A fine world class engine design cheapened by poor quality, porous block castings. Do like the new Cadillacs very much but it would take a lot to get me to give up my two Jaguars.

God man! Think what you just wrote! You’ll have people peeing their pants all over America! (Peter)

About the Cadillac ATS: They'd sell more, at least to idjits like me, if they would get rid of the bling. Dump the phony Cadillac crest on the grille and trunk, soften and shrink the hey-look-at-me sea-of-chrome grille, itself. Hang big banners in the styling department proclaiming; AFTER 1938 HARLEY EARL LOST HIS WAY.

You could get an argument on that date. If gas was still .40 per gallon I would kill for a 1958 Cadillac Biarritz.

Cadillac El Dorado

Cadillac's new offerings are superb automobiles. I own a CTS V coupe which is fantastic, and I'm now deciding between the new CTS V sport or the upcoming ATS V as a replacement. Cadillac is definitely working its way back to the top, but admittedly does have a lot of baggage to overcome. I do get tired of the unenlightened looking incredulous when I tell them I drive one......they stare downwards looking for the SansaBelt and white patent leather shoes. However, I love to promote American design and technology in the process of explaining my choices.