MMR Blog

Last Week We Wrote…

Posted on November 19, 2014 Comments (2)

Last week we wrote a piece about the troubles within F1. Alain de Cadenet chimed in with his thoughts about the genesis of today’s issues. We follow up this week with a few suggestions. What do you think?

Money in Formula 1

F1 has two issues but they both boil down to the same thing. Money. The cost of running a team in F1 is too high but for a few. Initially supported by racecar manufacturers, wealthy businessmen and sportsmen, the advent of tobacco company money and big advertising changed all that. Today there remain two self-funding car company teams, one is rich and the other is struggling. The remainder of the teams is dependent on sponsorship to survive. That brings us to the second issue. The price of staging a race is prohibitive. Organizers depend on ticket sales for the major portion of their revenue. It is judged that attendance was down 50% in Brazil and the numbers for Russia were not good and not publicly available. These are not the only places where the gate is down. All is not well in paradise.

Alain de Cadenet added…

Peter… take a look back into the history of all motorsport and you'll see that just as soon as additional funds became available through so called sponsorship, the whole aspect of that formula became contaminated. Everyone putting in wants something to take out. Traditionally it was a sportsman obtaining joy. Drivers obtaining glory. Spectators obtaining thrills and experiencing danger second hand. All real, tangible activities. Rather analogous to traditional investments in tangible substances like gold, silver, platinum, iron, corn, wheat etc. even pork bellies. Lo and behold along came derivatives, bank products, .com and other surreal ways to profit. And lose plenty when it goes wrong.

Isn't this the path that motorsport has followed? The show-business factor excels way more than the racing. When you have to invent ways to overtake and ways to conserve fuel then that's not really racing. Gold bars or certificates? No wonder the vintage-classic car market has gone ballistic. It's all gone wrong and we've lost plenty. Unless you still own the old banger you bought years ago.

Alain

What do you think?

In a few lines we have identified a few of the issues and some history; question is, what to do?

A quick view of open wheel racing would show that F1 eats money. The team that just collapsed had 200 employees. And they bought engines and transmissions. How many do you think Ferrari and Mercedes employ for their F1 effort? Competitive IndyCar teams consist of as few as 20 people. How about taking the best of both and making a 20 race series on both sides of the pond.

Who’s in?

IndyCar had 11 different winners. F1 had 3. The F1 engine manufacturers have made it plain that if the formula goes back to the previous V8 models preferred by fans, they are out. Say goodbye. Chevy and Honda are competitive and their engines don’t cost 10% of an F1 engine. Do you care who builds the engine? Do you care who builds the chassis?

Changes: IndyCar needs to stop racing in parking lots and get back to racetracks, even if they aren’t near a major shopping mall. F1 has to race where people who give a damn can see the race. And ovals can be part of the deal. Ten races in Europe and ten in America. Bernie and his greedy buddies have to be out. 

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let us know.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 14, 2014 Comments (1)

Art Direction and Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. Arizona Concours d'Elegance.

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.


Racing: Chess & Crisis in Brazil & Phoenix

F1

Kimi and Fernando

Chess

“Brazil was an interesting race”, that was Ferrari driver Fernando Alonzo’s take on the Brazil GP. And for him it was. For the remainder of us, other than the scrap Fernando had with his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen there was little to watch. This was a cerebral race. Like chess, the battle went on in the minds of Rosberg and Hamilton and Hamilton was the only one with something to lose. The highly touted Abu Dhabi will be no different. Another no-conflict second will bring him the Championship.

German stands

Crisis

F1 has two issues but both boil down to the same thing. Money. The cost of running a team in F1 is too high for but a few and they are becoming fewer. Initially supported by race car manufacturers and wealthy businessmen and sportsmen, the advent of tobacco money and big advertising, changed all that. Today there remain two self-funding car company teams, one is rich and the other is struggling. The remainder of the teams are dependent on outside sponsorship to survive. That brings us to the second issue. The price of staging a race is prohibitive and the organizers make money primarily on ticket sales. It is judged that attendance was down 50% in Brazil last weekend, the numbers for Russia were not available, and these are not the only places where the gate is down. All is not well in paradise. Incidentally this isn’t the only series where attendance is down.


Art Direction and Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. Arizona Concours d'Elegance.

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.


NASCAR

nascar chase grid final 2014

No fisticuffs this week but a war of quotes and the series winds down to its finale at Homestead, a typically dismal Florida track of cinderblock and former ocean bottom. The Chase has been whittled down to four potential winners. The irony is that none has to win the championship by winning the race. They simply must finish ahead of the other three. And one of them, Ryan Newman, hasn’t won a race this year. He got into the “final four” by intentionally pushing a competitor out of the way last weekend, something even he abhorred and for which he semi-apologized. This would all make for a hollow Championship indeed.

The racing season is in its dying moments. For those of us looking forward to the next one, January 11th in Scottsdale looks good. It may be hell in the summer, but it is definitely heaven in January.


Royce Rumsey photography, copyright 2014

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.

Our Resource Directory feature this week is the Arizona Concours d’Elegance at The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. The images are by Royce Rumsey of Auto-Focus and were taken at the Concours last year. They are a clue to the quality and diversity you can expect to see in January.


This week’s Michael Furman image is from his book Curves of Steel.

This week’s Michael Furman image is from his book Curves of Steel.


Please share this MMR Community Newsletter with a friend. See you all here next week.

Peter Bourassa

Art Direction and Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. Arizona Concours d'Elegance.

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 7, 2014 Comments (0)

F1

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

Noteworthy

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.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 31, 2014 Comments (0)

Actor David Niven’s excellent biography was entitled Bring on the Empty Horses. It was a quote from a European film director to the English speaking crew of a Western he was shooting. At this point in the season, I feel that is where we are in the remaining F1 races.

F1

Hamilton and Rossberg

The US GP is this weekend. It is hard to imagine that except for a handful of F1 drivers, most have no commitment to putting it all on the line for their team. Mercedes have won the championship but only the battle for the Drivers Championship is ongoing. Many have been critical of the “trick” double points final race in Abu Dhabi, but that is all that is keeping things interesting in the race for the Drivers Championship. Rosberg could finish second in the next two races and still win if Hamilton’s car failed in the final race. Stranger and far less pleasant things have happened in the final races for former Formula Drivers Championships.

On the Constructor Championship side Mercedes and Red bull are one-two and that will not change. The battle for third between Williams and Ferrari is still alive and with a little luck Williams could reap a massive payday.

Marussia Formula 1

Speaking of F1 and money, both Caterham and Marussia appear to be in financial difficulty and neither will make the grid for the US GP. Force India and Sauber appear to also have financial difficulties. Save Ferrari-Fiat, Mercedes, and Red Bull, who are not in it for the money, Williams are the inspiration of remaining small teams. They may actually do well financially this year. Keeping them all alive is Bernie Ecclestone’s job and credit where credit is due, he has been doing it for years.

NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Racing at Martinsville’s half-mile oval for NASCAR’s Sprint Cars was once likened to flying fighter jets in a gymnasium and the track never fails to produce a rash of hard feelings. Finishing unscathed is a miracle and winning is pure luck. Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first Martinsville Clock, the winner’s prize. Unfortunately he is no longer in the “Chase” for series Championship. He finished just ahead of teammate Jeff Gordon, who is one of the “Final Eight” in the Chase and would have been guaranteed to advance to the “Final Four” with a win. Other than the driver of the car that survives to win, few ever leave Martinsville happy.


Michael Furman photograph of a 1914 American Model 642 rear wheel

Our Michael Furman image this week is from his recent book Bespoke. Editor Dom Miliano reviews the book Michael wrote with Randy Leffingwell entitled Porsche Unexpected.


Denise McCluggage joins us again this week with an entertaining tale about the remarkable BMW i8.

Denise McCluggage My Word, BMW i8


COTA is a great track for F1 so enjoy the weekend.

Don’t forget to share us with a friend and encourage them to subscribe to the MMR Community Newsletter on our website.

Peter Bourassa