MMR Blog

Santa Fe Concorso
The Future May Be Here

Posted on September 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Santa Fe Concorso

Each of the past two Septembers we have enjoyed a distinctly different automotive experience in what we termed last year as “America’s Shangri-La”, Santa Fe. This September 26-28, the portal swings open again to this magical place in America. A quick glance at any map confirms that Santa Fe is not on any beaten path. With a city population of just 70,000, and a thriving art community, Santa Fe presents visitors an upscale version of Southwest culture. The schedule of events allows sufficient time for visitors to explore Santa Fe and get a feel for this unique community. The resident car enthusiast population is not large but very active and all appear to be involved in the weekend’s events.

Santa Fe Concorso

Like many other events that for various and good reasons can never be a Pebble Beach or Villa d’Este, the organizers of the Santa Fe Concorso, former Michiganders Dennis and Beverly Little with help from the doyen of all things motorized, Denise McCluggage, have produced what may well be the prototype for this kind of event. An opportunity to participate in a broad selection of reasonably priced activities with like people in interesting settings.

Santa Fe Concorso

Imagine, if you will, a motorsports oriented weekend in a small welcoming community with very reasonable hotel rates, which features, cheek by jowl: A thriving arts community, a fine and always interesting concorso, Southwestern cuisine and the best bakery/café in America, a fun tour through the high desert on wonderful roads, a world class opera facility, and an opportunity to personally interact with famous race car drivers, affordable native silver/turquoise jewelry on the Plaza, a Steve McQueen movie shown in a theatre named after a famous French writer/film director. And, there is much more.

Santa Fe Concorso


An Interview with David Hobbs

Posted on September 17, 2014 Comments (0)

By Adrianne Ross, Editor, PCA-NER The Nor’Easter Magazine

David Hobbs

I was so honored to meet David Hobbs. I’ve been a fan for a few years now, and enjoy his commentary on racing and racers.

David was born in June 1939 in Royal Leamington Spa, England. In 1969 he was included in the FIA list of graded drivers—an élite group of 27 drivers who, by their achievements, were rated the best in the world—and he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2009. Originally employed as a commentator for the Speed Channel, he currently works as a commentator for NBC and NBC Sports Network.

David Hobbs

David currently lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Margaret. They “putter” around the garden in their spare time, and enjoy winter in Florida. David has two sons, Gregory and Guy. His youngest son, Guy, worked for Speed as a pit reporter on their sports car coverage.

David was kind and patient with me, even though he had been running a bit behind, and had the Hockenheim race the next day. I dragged him into the basement of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, and what follows is our conversation. I’ve left it largely unedited, so that you can get a sense of the man himself.

AR: Take me from 0 to your first race.

DH: My dad was always into cars, but at the beginning of WWII petrol was heavily rationed. He was from Australia and the English government asked him to stay to develop his transmissions, and help with technical innovations in the automotive business.

I wasn't good at school so I went to Jaguar cars as an apprentice. They had a great system; a great apprenticeship scheme in England. It was a full-scale apprenticeship, where you essentially earned a technical degree.

David Hobbs

While there, I got keen on cars and there was a Jaguar apprentice’s motor club which I joined. I would take my Mum’s car, a Morris Oxford, and would rally cross and the like. But I drove like a mad man on the road and so I decided I should race. Back then it was cheap to get a license. You would join a motor club, any car club, and then pay the entry fees; the whole thing would have been about £15.
It was my Mum’s car with my dad's automatic gearbox. I raced a few times and then I finally won a sprint in it. The following year I convinced my dad to let me race his Jaguar XK140, it also had his gearbox (David’s father designed transmissions and automotive technology). Unfortunately I rolled it in the very first race, and did a little damage. (David smiled broadly at this, indicating that he’d damaged the car quite badly.)

He said I had to fix it, so it didn't get fixed very well. Then he got a big injection of capital from BSA, and we decided that a good form of advertising would be for me to race in a proper car. We bought a Lotus Elite, which I campaigned in 1961 very successfully. Won 14 out of 18 starts at the small tracks, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, the ‘Ring.

AR: Who inspired you?

Sir Stirling Moss

DH: My hero was Sir Stirling Moss. But it wasn't like it is today with videos and TV. You had to go to races, read the papers and magazines to keep up, or follow a driver.

I did go to the very first Grand Prix, the British Grand Prix with my mom and dad, and my brother. But even then it wasn't like a bolt of lightning, you know, it was not what I wanted to do. But I did drive fast on the road. I did like going fast and I was good at it.

AR: What do you drive now?

DH: I don't have any exotic cars, I don't have any car at all, and I never seem to have enough cash to get one (laughing).

AR: And when you're not racing, what does a typical day look like for David Hobbs?

David Hobbs Honda Dealership

DH: I go to the dealership most days, although my son Greg really runs it now. We have quite a few customers who don't believe I really come in every day.

AR: What do you do for fun?

DH: We like to putter around the garden and we have a house in Florida, because I don't like the winter. We go back to England two to three times a year. But not in the summer because it's racing season. I like soccer and tennis. I used to play when I was a kid, until I discovered Motorsport.

AR: You’ve had 20 Le Mans starts, what are the best and worst parts of that race?

DH: The worst is the rain, and night can be tricky. It's a long circuit, eight miles. It's not like Daytona, when you're there for hours running around a fishbowl. In my day, there weren't all those chicanes, which is very hard on the car, and hard on the drivers. In my day we did the race with just two drivers. Now they use three or sometimes four.

AR: …about [your] grandson, and his working his way into a racing career…

DH: It's so expensive to start racing unless you find a fairy godfather. Four or five of the F1 drivers pay to be there. In my day there was a lot of stepping into a dead man’s shoes. That seems grizzly, but it was really how it worked.

But I've never raced anywhere when I didn't get paid for it. Even NASCAR.

AR: How was NASCAR?

DH: It's harder than it looks. Massively talented drivers come into NASCAR and they can't do it. Juan Pablo was a good example of that.

AR: What do you think of Senna, and RUSH (the movies)?

DH: I thought Senna was very good. Well put together. To be a world champion you have to be selfish, and greedy, and solely, solely concerned with yourself. He was the epitome of that for sure. RUSH was a good story of human conflict. But the drama and partying was a bit overblown. Grand Prix and Le Mans are my favorites. They did a great job considering the time and standards.

AR: Who's the funniest person in F1 ever?

DH: I wouldn't say anyone in F1 is really funny; it’s not a funny place, the paddock of Formula 1. Everyone is just focused on the race and the cars but Graham Hill was an amazing storyteller. Very good at making jokes at other peoples expense but not good when the shoe was on the other foot. Jackie and Jimmy Clark were not particularly jokey guys. The guy that's really pretty funny, and probably pretty good fun to be with is Daniel Ricciardo. He likes to sort of dance in front of his mechanics.

AR: What’s your favorite track?

DH: The ‘Ring, the Glen, Road America, Phillipston; I've never found a track I don't like, really.

DAvid Hobbs at Indy


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 12, 2014 Comments (0)

We have turned the corner on summer and many of our favorite viewing activities are either in the final events in their series or already shutting down for the season.

IndyCar is done. NASCAR begins its 10 race Chase to choose a Champion. The Tudor United Sportscar Championship has two weekends remaining. The finale is a 10 hour Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta on October 4-5.


The Boston Cup

The Car Show season winds up in the Northeast with The Boston Cup event on the Boston Common on September 21st. See you there.


In this issue of The Weekly LeekStreaming the Finest in Pale Yellow Journalism, Professor Prosser has scooped the poop on the latest Papal pronouncement. In the best Rocky & Bullwinkle tradition: Don’t miss the next exciting episode of Lewis Whines a New Title! or Papal Palace Promotes Pals!


Sandy (on Assignment) Cotterman visited the Hershey Concourse and her images and story inform this week’s Newsletter.


Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.

Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.


F1

In short, the Tifosi (Ferrari fanatics) were disappointed, again. Mercedes dominated, again. The Nico/Lewis battle for hearts and minds continues and many hopes for the future are pinned on the return of Honda engines. As everyone knows by now, Hamilton won and Rosberg appeared to have given it to him. Conspiracy theories abound.

Mark Hughes of MotorSport magazine credits the win more to a difference in driving styles and car set-ups than to a huge driver error under pressure. The podium ceremony was very interesting (who was that animated interviewer?) as were the post race interviews. Hamilton still has a hill to climb and the next six races will be fun for viewers.

Monza in both its original configuration, which included a high banked oval, and its modern configurations of long straights and fast curves has always advantaged the most powerful cars and the bravest drivers. A list of the talented and experienced drivers who lost their lives at Monza says it all: Ascari, von Trips, Rindt, Peterson, and on motorcycles, Saarinen and Pasolini. All among the very best of their times.

At one point, a portion of the banked oval was part of the course. In its later days, it was quite bumpy; its depiction in the film Grand Prix was quite accurate.

Today’s course, even with the new formula’s dumbed down engines, it is still amazingly fast but its challenge to drivers has changed to a challenge for engineers. Where a strong motor and a brave driver were requisites in the sixties, downforce packages, engine mapping, brake systems, brake balance settings and tire management all come in to play now and the engineer’s role dominates the outcome. That is not to denigrate today’s cars or their drivers. Quite the contrary. The Italian GP was a brilliant example of how different teams, dealing with different technical strengths and weaknesses and driver preferences, managed a fast and complex 90 minute race. An analysis of each car’s technical package would go a long way to explain the driver’s finishing position. It is possible to believe that the Monza results, two Mercedes followed by two Williams and two Red Bulls would be the same if those six driver’s names were put into a hat to choose who would drive which car. Could you seriously question the fact that Vettel, who finished sixth would have finished first, had he been driving a Mercedes?

It has been rumored that Ron Dennis is making the rounds of top talent agents to see if he can convince them that their charges can win the Driver’s Championship in a McLaren-Honda next year or the year after. For those of you unfamiliar, only Mercedes and Ferrari enter their own chassis-engine combo. Most teams design, build and develop their own chassis and purchase engines from either Mercedes or Ferrari or Renault. Each component is equally important and to believe that any team (McLaren) will be stronger next year with the advent of a new Honda engine says that engines are their current problem. The reality is that Mercedes (454 Points) Williams (177 points) McLaren (110 points) and Force India (109 points) all have Mercedes engines. What they don’t have is a Mercedes chassis. On the other hand, Red Bull (272 points) is second in the series and has a Renault engine reputed to be 90 horsepower down on the Mercedes and its own Adrian Newey designed chassis. It shares a Renault engine with the Lotus (8 points) and Caterham (0 points). Red Bull, second in the points is well ahead of the Mercedes powered Williams. It has the second best chassis after the Mercedes team and Williams has the next best chassis after Red Bull. For any driver to jump from Mercedes or Red Bull, or even Williams, to any other F1 team with a currently uncompetitive chassis and an unproven engine would be asking him to make a huge leap of faith. McLaren is a great team with great resources but so is Ferrari and both have a long way to go.

If we were building for the future, Bottas and Magnussen would be an interesting base.

Have a great weekend. Please share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


Sandy on Assignment: The Elegance at Hershey

Posted on September 11, 2014 Comments (0)

…America’s Automotive Garden Party

by Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

Imagine receiving a huge candy kiss as a trophy! It happens the second weekend in June in Hershey, Pennsylvania at The Elegance at Hershey. More than just a car show, The Elegance is an event wrapped around the motivation to bring the best of the best together; from the automotive arena, benefiting the determination to cure Juvenile Diabetes and also preserve our automotive heritage through the Antique Automobile Club of America Library and Research Center. Before this year’s event tally, The Elegance had raised over a half-million dollars to support these causes, in just four years.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

Although an ocean apart, The Elegance is similar in many respects to what I would consider its European counterpart, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. An elegant, rather intimate automotive garden party, if you will, both events invite an exclusive small number of significant and historic cars. Many of the cars bring with them accolades and class wins from other esteemed show fields like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. At The Elegance, each car stands on its own merits the day of the event, to be judged using French judging criteria by a cadre of twenty-eight esteemed judges under the leadership of Dr. Paul Sable.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Renound Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Renowned Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Like Villa d’Este, the setting is magnificent. Sixty-four automobiles were judged, with the Hershey Hotel and its elegant English gardens, beautiful porticos and fountain ponds, as their backdrop. This year’s winner of the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este, collector Corrado Lopresto, sent over from Milan, Italy the most desirable of the Alfa Romeo 1900s… the 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato. Made specifically for racing, only 39 were made and this one had been left in a garage for 40 years until purchased by Lopresto in 2013. Awarded the Worn but not Forgotten award at The Elegance, the car remains in it’s unrestored state.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

The weekend at Hershey is very much steeped in motorsports tradition with The Grand Ascent, a revival of the historic Hershey hillclimb. In post World War II America, Pennsylvania was a hotbed for auto-racing and the concept of a hillclimb was the perfect event for the sports car enthusiast. One of the oldest forms of motorsports, with the first-known event taking place in France in 1897, the Hershey Hillclimb began in 1958 on the road to the rear of the Hershey Hotel. Held both Friday and Saturday during The Elegance weekend, I was mesmerized watching these vintage race cars traverse the heavily wooded hillside to set their individual times. At this year’s hillclimb, there were 36 registered entrants. Bring your camera and hiking shoes and walk the course, if it’s not too muddy! Daily admission is $10 with free parking. If you are up for one of those priceless experiences, for $50 you can get strapped in, helmet and all, as a passenger in one of the vintage race cars on the hillclimb!

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

After dodging the raindrops watching Friday’s hillclimb, an evening reception at the Antique Automobile Club of American Museum and its Library and Research Center was a wonderful opportunity to view another slice of Americana. I was particularly fascinated with the display of the “Alphabet Ford Collection”… and many exhibits of American automobilia. The AACC Museum is open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and highly recommended during The Elegance weekend.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

Saturday morning, we were treated to a private tour of the Rolls Royce Foundation and home to the historic display of Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars by Rubin Verdes, an officer of the Foundation, and Board Member Bill Rothermel. The small museum in Mechanicsburg, PA and restoration facilities are open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 am until 4 pm. In the afternoon, we decided to take in a bit of Hershey history. Coined the Sweetest City on Earth, the Hershey museum offered an amazing glimpse into the history of Hershey, Pennsylvania and visionary Milton S. Hershey. Next stop before heading back to the afternoon hillclimb, were the Hershey Gardens… a must.

Saturday morning, a 5K, Elegance Challenge takes place up the road of the hill climb. In the evening the fund-raiser dinner and charity auction takes place inside the Hershey Hotel, with this year’s Honorary Chairman, Robert Lutz, as guest speaker. There are also several other dinner opportunities within the Hershey Hotel, and surrounding area.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The atmosphere generated mostly by volunteers, during the entire Elegance weekend, is very welcoming to the public, as well as the esteemed owners and their guests. Beginning at 7 am Sunday morning, the vehicles begin moving onto the show gardens and by 9 am the vision founder John (Jack) Rich, Sr. had for the event is created… a car show that brings back the days of the original Concours held in Europe. Unique to The Elegance this year was an informative walking tour personalized to just about every show car, prior to the award presentations, by Master of Ceremonies and automotive historian, Bill Rothermel.

In addition to the candy-kiss trophies every entrant receives, thirty-six awards were presented representing excellence for their time period, as well as spirited and historic awards. Among many worthy American cars, there was an equal display of Italian, British, and French beauties.

Since The Elegance weekend offers much for spectators to enjoy, spouses and families included, I would bump this event up towards the top of the motorsports enthusiasts’ bucket list. It’s another gem in the world of Concours events.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 5, 2014 Comments (0)

Alfas

Jonathan Williams

Labor Day weekend produced a most successful Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park and yet was tinged with sadness as a long time participant was killed in a fatal accident, and Jonathan Williams, gracious and talented MMR contributor passed away in Spain.

We pay tribute to Jonathan and reprise one of our favorite JW pieces.

We thank his long time friend Michael Keyser for his help and additional images. 


In this issue’s The Weekly Leek – The Finest in Pale Yellow Journalism, European Correspondent Oofy Prosser reveals that Unilever, recently announced sponsor of the Ben & Jerry USA F1 Team, will fit right in to the F1 scene.


Michael Furman’s Image is entitled La Lance by Francois Bazin and is from his recently released book, Bespoke Mascots with Nicholas Dawes.

Michael Furman’s Image this week is entitled La Lance by Francois Bazin and is from his recently released book, Bespoke Mascots with Nicholas Dawes. It is Volume Two in the Automotive Jewelry series. We will have a review of it for you in the near future.


The Lime Rock Park images this week are by MMR Editor Dom Miliano and will be featured with many others in a forthcoming MMR gallery. As ever, your patience as we process all this wonderful material is greatly appreciated.

Denise McCluggage informs MMR readers about her family history and the perks automotive publication writers once enjoyed, in her story The Re-Discovery of Tin Cup.


Monza logo

This weekend the F1 saga continues at Monza. Always a temple of drama, the high speed track will bring us another chapter in the Lewis/Nico saga. The freshly reconciled duo have been instructed to race hard and play nice. There will be no team orders. Rosberg’s lead in the driver’s Championship points standing, while considerable, is not insurmountable and with seven races to go, there is much drama ahead.


The Boston Cup

A reminder to circle Sunday, September 21st on your calendar as The Boston Cup, New England’s premier concours event, will take place on the Boston Common. This event is free and a wonderful opportunity to introduce the whole family to a rare slice of automotive history.

Have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa