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Posted on November 7, 2014 Comments (0)


COTA track diagram

If ever there was an argument for road courses over street sources, the US grand Prix at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) made it. Here, in a race where the finishes of the first two cars was pretty much determined in qualifying, an entertaining race took place largely due to the race track on which it was held. The two Mercedes are not identical in set up and Hamilton made the right setting decisions and Rosberg did not. Bravo Hamilton. Behind the two of them, some fantastic scraps took place, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many moons. Ricciardo cleverly drove the fifth best car to third place and the Williams cars both finished ahead of the top Ferraris of Alonso in 6th and Raikkonen in 13th.

Lewis Hamilton COTA Voctor

But it was the track that was the star. It is the most interesting F1 track on the circuit and we predict, where Spa has held that unofficial title for decades, given not too much more time, COTA will be just as highly regarded. Why? Well, for one thing it is wide enough to encourage three abreast driving and for the same reason makes blocking difficult. The straights are long enough to allow trimming and tuning for high speeds and that hurts grip in the twisty bits. And, most important, it rewards aggressive driving and good set-up decisions. Strictly from a spectator’s viewpoint, this may have been the best race of the year. Bravo COTA!

Lewis Parc Ferme COTA


Sergio Perez Force India

“The Force India driver (Sergio Perez) was involved in a collision on Lap 2 at the Circuit of the Americas that forced him and Adrian Sutil into retirement.” He ruined both their days and was penalized by the stewards. In questioning immediately after the incident, Sutil, was asked if he was going to go over to the Force India pit and confront Perez. No, he said that he expected Sergio to come to him. With an apology? He was asked. Well, at least an explanation, he said. (Read NASCAR below for comparison.)

Adrian Sutil COTA

Caterham and Marussia, who both missed the race, were hardly missed on TV because they are so uncompetitive that they are rarely seen on TV anyway unless someone who is really racing is passing them. Proving F1 doesn’t need a full grid to be entertaining, it needs competitive cars.

Ferrari Factory

Fiat announced that they will sell Ferrari. From an F1 viewpoint, an independent Ferrari company can only afford to compete in F1 if they are winning. The Manufacturers Championship purse is huge. The winners share can finance the F1 racing program with some left over. A future independent Ferrari could not afford to race in F1 if they finish fourth, as they will this year. And some argue, with reason, that F1 without Ferrari has a huge problem.

NASCAR: Another Battle in Texas

Ferrari Factory

Hollywood has set an absurdly high standard for how fist-fighting should look! The staged fistfights in early cowboy movies were humorous by today’s standards. Good guys and villains absorbed haymakers that should have disfigured them for life, yet never lost their hats. Let alone a tooth. Current movie fights are more graphic but equally unreal. In the real life NASCAR fight we featured last week, tough looking Cale Yarborough actually hit Allison with his helmet, not his fists. It’s not up to Hollywood standards but it is far smarter. Head bones are thicker than hand bones.

Jeff Gordon

Sunday’s brawl after the Texas 500 race involved gentleman Jeff Gordon, annoying but talented Brad Keselowski and the proud inheritor of Dale Sr’s less admirable traits, Kevin Harvick. Gordon knows better and Harvick hit Keselowski in the back. But again, lots of hugging but no real punches thrown. And the film shows that Gordon had every right to be disappointed but no more than that. He gave Keselowski an opening and the kid took it. For his troubles, Keselowski got his face scuffed a little but he probably won thousands of fans that Gordon and Harvick lost. Next week’s second to last race in Phoenix will determine which four drivers will be eligible to win the Championship in the final race at Homestead. This is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Kevin Harvock

 Michael Furman image is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One

Our Michael Furman image this week is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One.

Artist Chris Osborne painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix.

Talented artist Chris Osborne sent us this image of a recently completed painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix. I think you will agree that Chris has captured the essence of both.

The next chapter of Marshall Buck’s story about building a model of a Ferrari 250 SWB is now available.

In My Word:Tread Lightly, Denise McCluggage suggested that readers may want to join her on a Tin Cup Trek. Several of you have mentioned an interest to me. If you keep in touch with Denise, we will keep everyone updated on progress.

This weekend the F1 circus goes to Brazil and, as mentioned, NASCAR is at Phoenix. Please share us with your friends and have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa

Models, Chapter 2: Just Another Mystery

Posted on November 5, 2014 Comments (0)

By Marshall Buck

I’m sure that if I ever had to plan out all the steps from start to finish, or even attempt to do so, I would be as solidly frozen in my tracks as “Ötzi the Iceman”. So, I compartmentalize all the steps, focusing on one at a time, and create many sub steps as I go along, starting with the main big basics, which everything else must fit to and work with. Each model build is unique and has numerous differing requirements. In this instance I started with (1) the body, (2) chassis, (3) interior, (4) main area of the engine bay, and (5) trunk. However, mixed in with those majors are many little bits; very many little parts affect the fit of the big ones, and the big ones affect the little ones… It’s just one vicious circle, and sometimes enough to drive me to watch reruns of American Chopper to see what size hammer they’ll use to fit everything with—I always feel better after watching how they attempt to finesse their builds.

With any scale model that is extensively detailed, and then has opening panels too, you have to walk a very fine line between exacting detail, scale accuracy, and actual functionality and strength of the model. This is especially critical with regard to wall thickness of panels, all major attachment points, and any working features. I have nightmares about making hinges so true to the real ones that they disintegrate after their first use by the customer. Therefore, I make mine to look the part, but build them to last for at least a week after the check clears.

Once the chassis was made and fitted to the body and various attachment points made, and the main interior tub was made… more headaches began. Cue the theme music from JAWS. Yes, just when I thought it was safe… That’s when, once again (you’d think I would have learned already), trying to make dimensionally and visually accurate parts collided with tolerances of thickness, strength, and how the damn thing was going to fit and stay together. Problems easily solved; I took a lesson from the boys at American Chopper and just used a bigger hammer to make it all fit… well… not really, but some ‘adjustments’ were required. The result is it all looks correct, and great if I do say so myself.

With a model like this 250 SWB, which has to be so accurate, I have to continuously make countless detail decisions and factor in what will eventually be seen or buried once it is all complete. I don’t like to cut corners, but I also don’t like to waste time with something that will just not be seen or appreciated. A perfect example of that is the radiator. The top portion will be very visible, but sides front and back will not—so I went to town on what will be seen and appreciated, which now brings me back to why the hell did I go so far with making the chassis? Just another mystery of life.

Having progressed with many parts and additional body work such as cutting and fitting opening panels, adding of lips/channels along the inside edges of the engine bay and trunk openings, framework added to lids of engine and trunk… It was time to make all the hinges. I thought the doors and hood would be the most difficult—that however was not the case, they went well, and the trunk hinges which I thought would be easy were anything but. I still get the shakes when I think about it for too long. Multiple hinges and attachment points were made and thrown out over the course of a few days until I finally gave in to making appropriate scale placement adjustments. JAWS music is on a continuous loop in my workshop.

Next time… Chrome plating, detail parts, wheels & tires, and JAWS part twelve!

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

All open, and some of the files used for fine tuning to finish shaping of all openings.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

The beginning of fabricating lips/channels inside trunk edges.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

The beginning of making the sculpted raised side vent openings. Draw on body, trace over, transfer tracing to material for vent, cut rough shape, sculpt-form-shape with files and sand papers, test fit, add raised layer, sculpt & sand more, test fit again, spray primer, fix any imperfections, send out with body to painter. This is done for each of the four vents.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Finished primed vent edge openings, ready for final paint.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Trunk lid prop rod and support - 6 little parts.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

The finished and installed prop rod. Yes, it pivots.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

One of numerous fittings of interior in midst of fabrication.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Various major and other parts being made & fitted.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

JAWS continues. Making the trunk hinges starts.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Some of the discarded trunk hinges.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Success, JAWS is dead. Final trunk hinges and attachment points determined.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Vent edge openings installed as well as inner portions with cutouts, each one specific to each of the four side vents. These were all painted separately. I attached each after body was painted & polished.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Roughed out radiator on mini mill. Measured markings drawn on top for indents to be milled.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Finished radiator ready to install, though cap still needs to be made, and hoses will of course be fitted.