MMR Blog

The Last Supper

Posted on May 29, 2014 Comments (0)

by Denise McCluggage

The Brits call it a recce, short for the pre-rally reconnaissance run teams do to make the pace notes that the navigator reads to the driver—“crest, straight, max; 30 yards blind-left, max.” etc. (I once had a look at Timo Makinen’s pace notes. Everything was “max.”)

After their recce for the Liege-Sofia-Liege several rally duos met by chance at a restaurant near the Yugoslav border and joined for dinner. As one of the group told me later the intent of all was to spend as much of the local cash they could. It turned worthless at the border and they were forbidden to take it out of the country anyway.

Eat up, everyone. And they did. But they still had wads of the currency left after the bill was paid. Everyone cleaned out his pockets. They called the waiter over and presented it all to him as his eyes widened. He left and came back with his boss. The rally guys assured the proprietor that it was all for the waiter, they were leaving the country and could not take it.

As they were finishing their coffee one nudged another and all followed his look. Their waiter was removing his apron, took his jacket off the hook and shrugged his way into it as he headed for the door. My informant told me there was even a spring in the old guy’s normal waiter’s shuffle and a prideful finality in the way the door closed behind him. One of the rally guys whispered: “Cor. How much do you suppose that lot was worth?”

Liege Sofia Liege


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 23, 2014 Comments (0)

Reading Ferrari Concours d’Elegance

Indianapolis 500

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the first big motorsports weekend of the season. On this side of the pond, the Month of May Marathon known as Indianapolis 500 dominates the news and the Charlotte 600 will occupy NASCAR fans who can stay awake that long. Something to look for at Indy: All the race cars have identical Dallara chassis. The differences are the drivers and the engines. The engines are by Honda and Chevy and each has five cars in the top ten starting spots. As in multiple pit stop races, this one will come down to which engine and driver combo gets the best mileage and makes the fewest, shortest stops. It should be a great race.

F1: GP of Monaco

AMG Mercedes F1

On the very same day, F1 celebrates its crown jewel, the Grand Prix de Monaco . Tickets are still available for Saturday and Sunday at just over $1K US per seat. Paddock Club Seats, with free refreshments, are $6.3K US each. Perhaps they call it the Crown Jewel of F1 because you almost have to hock yours to get a seat. If all goes to form, the winner may actually be chosen on Saturday at the end of qualifying. If you recall last year’s winner, Nico Rosberg, led from pole with a slow car that no one could pass. That is the nature of this track and that’s why this is the most important qualifying session of the season. Don’t miss it.

Monaco Video

This week’s video is a fascinating side-by-side look at Michael Schumacher’s lap of Monaco to win the F1 GP pole in 2012 and Nico Rosberg's 2013 Monaco pole. It is really quite remarkable just how devoid of imagination one needs to be to drive an F1 car there.

Monaco Books

Speaking of Monaco, check out David Bull Publishing who have a special offer on their signed copies of Hunt vs. Lauda and Chris Amon’s book A Year of Living Dangerously. The latter is reviewed in our Racemaker Press Book Reviews.

The Lotus-Etc I Left Behind

Denise McCluggage’s story about rallying a Ford Cortina in the sixties is the kind of adventure that just couldn’t happen today. Dammit.

In Praise of Older Cars, Part 2

Those of you who loved the ‘60s and ‘70s will enjoy it. Those of you who missed them will yawn or think me daft. Or both. We welcome your thoughts.

Passings

Sir Jack

An apt title for this paragraph as the death of Australian Sir Jack Brabham, three time F1 Champion, engineer, and car constructor reminds us of a winning driver who was hard to pass and difficult to keep passed. Putting aside stories of his driving style, Brabham’s accomplishments are not inconsiderable. He introduced rear engine cars to the Indianapolis 500 with Cooper in 1961. He is the only person to ever win an F1 World Championship with a car of his own construction. In 1966, he saw the potential of the Buick 215 CID aluminum engine which, with Australian parts company Repco’s help, he turned into a championship winning Repco V8 engine. He is survived by sons Geoff, Gary, and David. All successful racers.

Reading Concours. Pietro Castiglioni

Last weekend, Editor Dom Miliano attended the Reading Ferrari Concours d’Elegance where he shot this week’s eye candy. The event celebrated the life and Ferrari times of its founder Pietro Castiglioni. He is featured in this painting.

The Furman Image

Michael Furman photography. Side view of a Bugatti Type 35

This week’s Michael Furman image is a side view of a Bugatti Type 35.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa

Reading Ferrari Concours d’Elegance

Reading Ferrari Concours d’Elegance


In Praise of Older Cars – Part 2

Posted on May 22, 2014 Comments (4)

I awoke on Saturday morning at 4:00AM. I knew I had a hell of a day ahead of me. By 5:00AM I had pushed the 308 out of the garage and far enough away from the house that I would not startle the people and animals in the house when it fired up, I had topped off the gas tank and was on the Mass Pike headed for Trenton New Jersey.

The sun was up and, being a Saturday, the traffic was light. I was going to a photo demonstration by Michael Furman. He was shooting a collector car and invited interested and would-be photographers to attend. I was in the latter category. The location was a small aircraft hanger at the Trenton-Mercer Airport in New Jersey. Being a man, I didn’t look it up but I estimated the trip was about 230 to 250 miles. I had driven by the Trenton exit on the Jersey Turnpike a hundred times and I had 4½ hours to make it. Michael said it was right off exit 3A on 95. Easy peasey.

According to the manual, the WASRED 308 was originally equipped with 14” wheels and 205x70 TWX tires all round. It currently has 205x55x16s at the front and 225X50X16s at the back. And it looks better that way. The car does not have power steering and at low speed and around town it is definitely an upper body builder. Once past 40mph the steering is comfortable and once past 60mph it is pure joy. The speedometer on this car has an optimistic bent and despite the fact that it read 90mph I was running somewhere between 75-80 and some traffic was still passing me. Now for breakfast! A bottle of water and a PRO BAR meal in my favorite flavor, Koka Moka! This is unquestionably how the rich and famous live!

After three hours I crossed the George Washington Bridge and pulled over at the first rest stop on the NJ Turnpike to look at the map. It was now eight o’clock and (Surprise! Surprise!) Trenton was another 100 miles away and 95 was NOT the NJ Turnpike at Exit 3A. So I pedaled like hell and with the help of my cell phone arrived at the designated hanger at exactly 9:30AM. The odometer read exactly 300.1 miles. Cool.

Michael’s subject car for the day was a silver Ferrari 275 GTB. A lovely car. It sat on a dolly about 18 inches off the floor and for the next four hours the car was positioned and lit and highlighted in multiple fashions. Michael’s work is what a friend described as a study in the control of space and light. Just when you thought it was perfect. He made it better.

The clinic was excellent. Michael was very open about everything going on and took the time to explain both the physical aspect, the draping of the windows, the covering of the floor, the positioning of the car in relation to the light bank but also all the details of the camera and the software he uses to capture the image and then manipulate it to the finished product.

Sometime after noon, Michael took a break and ordered pizza. Things were getting down to the technical details about which I know little, or more precisely nothing, and so I bid everyone farewell and fell back into the Ferrari for the ride home.

In anticipation of the forecasted bad weather I had tucked a hand towel behind the passenger seat to block or mop up the inevitable rivers of rain that occur whenever heavy rain and the WASRED 308 meet. I filled up at the earliest opportunity and got back on the turnpike headed for the George Washington Bridge. About 50 miles from my goal, it began to rain heavily and rain dripped from the joint where the top, windshield and window meet. It dripped onto the window control switch located on the driver’s side armrest. Oh Joy! So I found the hand towel and put it over the switch. We were still maintaining a steady 50mph. As I passed the Newark exits and approached the end of the turnpike, the road became a series of very high bridges over the NJ wetlands and the wind gusts picked up considerably in intensity. This terrified drivers of the slab-sided SUVs surrounding me and they all slowed down to 15mph. The wind gusts also gave the gods of wind and rain attacking the 308 more impetus to find a way inside the car and, being determined as they were, they did. My poor little hand towel didn’t have a chance. I felt like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice for twenty or so miles. The wind and rain abated as we approached the GW Bridge and then the cheerful overhead signs indicated that there would be a delay of 45 minutes to cross the bridge. This proved a very optimistic forecast.

This delay and three subsequent ones in Connecticut, caused by various accidents, turned what was a one way 4½ hour journey into a 7 hour return trip. During these delays, other than the constant manipulation of the very heavy clutch, watching the coolant temperature needle rise and fall, and an excellent view of the hubcaps of the surrounding SUVs, I had little left to do but think. So, to the sound of the engine and little else, I began a review of my situation and what had brought me to it. I opened another bottle of water and another Koka Moka PRO BAR (my favorite drive ‘n drink road lunch).

As I sat in traffic inching along, I felt that the French expression “etre bien dans ca peau” to be “well in one’s skin” seemed to apply to my state of mind and that I should share that with you because I often feel that way when I am driving my 308. Like a number of our readers, I am well past the “poring over the latest auto magazine to see which new vehicle I should purchase next” stage. I frankly don’t see enough difference between them all. But I still get excited at a car show when I see certain cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s period. While it is true that today’s cars are far more reliable, comfortable, faster, safer, and unquestionably drier, the cars of the sixties and seventies, which is 50 plus years ago, were probably more fun and certainly more of a treat for the senses. Dealing with the visual first. It is difficult to find a car today as elegant as the 1961 XKE Coupe or the Ferrari 250SWB or the 275GTB. Or for that matter as muscularly attractive as the ‘62 and ‘66-‘67 Corvettes. And there are dozens more. You can fill in your own favorites here, but consider that these were Street Cars. Here at MMR World Headquarters, I am surrounded by images and models of beautiful race cars that I have collected for the past 30 years. Among the models, a recently arrived Ferrari 250LM, a Ferrari 250SWB and a 330/P4, a Chaparral 2A, a Maserati Birdcage, and two Ford GT40s. I’d love a Porsche 904. I also have a model of a Shelby GT350R that a friend once owned and poster size pictures of a Corvette Grand Sport and a McLaren F1. Today’s wing and winglet bedecked racers are a tribute to efficiency and down force but, all day long, I’d rather be looking at a lightweight Jaguar racer of the ‘60s.

Sound is very important to enthusiasts. The exhaust sound of a sixties Ferrari V12 street or race car is unmatched. Small block V8s with dual exhausts and glasspacks are also sweet. But my favorite engine sound is that of a big block Chevy. Bear with me here as I try my best to describe what is happening in the engine and exhaust systems. Exhaust sounds are pulses of air and burned fuel being expelled from the engine and channeled through metal pipes, sound modifiers (mufflers etc.), and away from the car. Eight cylinders being channeled through a single exhaust pipe forces the pulses together and the sound is rather homogeneous. The same eight cylinders divided into two tubes allows for spacing between the pulses and the different timing sequences for different engines gives each exhaust a distinctive sound pattern. Engine sounds, not exhaust notes, are affected by gearing. Much like a bicycle, the engine (you) needs to first turn the easiest gear to gather enough momentum to power the second gear and so on. The engine changes sound as it stresses to reach its optimum power band where, due in part to momentum, things become easier and faster and sounds different again as it reaches its maximum capacity to breath in and exhaust out. The more gears the easier the load on the engine. The driver of a 427 street Corvette with side pipes hears primarily the four cylinders exhausting on his side of the car and the passenger side exhaust is background. The engine itself has so much torque and power that when mated to the optional close ratio gearboxes, it provides the driver with consistently equal power and sound through all four gears. Every time you shift this car under power the engine virtually sounds like it is in first gear again. That is quite a thrill. And in the sixties this amazing package came from the factory at an affordable price. Today’s laws don’t allow those sounds on street cars. Score one more for the sixties and seventies.

I don’t like the musty smell of old, but I like the smell of the sixties cars. Leather seats were “all” leather, not simply the part you sat on. Door panels also were leather covered and all this leather imparted a certain odor which when mixed with the woolen rugs was very comforting and home like. For some reason the Brits were best at this possibly because they were the last manufacturers to abandon wood in the passenger cabin. Actually, I think that Morgans still use ash chassis frames. We use metal, plastic and carbon fiber these days. As I consider it, perhaps I do like the smell of old. I certainly miss the smell of Castrol R engine oil. And one became familiar with it because many engines leaked oil.

Today’s tires, stiffer chassis and suspension options make today’s cars clear winners in the turning a corner without leaning category. And in that respect the cars are also safer. Driving down a slightly bumpy road, the comfortably soft sixties-seventies suspension might be viewed quite favorably in comparison. My recent trip to the Delmarva Peninsula in a Ferrari 365GTC/4 and subsequent brief ride in an Iso Grifo reminded me that performance cars needn’t be skateboards with big engines.

It is important to note that within that twenty year window of 1960 to 1979, huge advances were made. Many of the cars discussed were virtually obsolete by then and much of their charm was sacrificed on the altar of progress. The early sixties 250SWB Ferrari whose praises we have been singing was, by the mid-seventies, supplanted by mid-engine V12s and V8s powered Ferraris like the one in which I was sitting. Think of the technical changes between the SWB and the first 308. Gone was the worm and sector steering, V12 - 3 liter 240HP front engine, 4 speed with overdrive transmission and solid rear axle, all replaced by a more sensitive rack and pinion, a slightly more horsepower V8 – 3 liter 250HP mid engine with a 5 speed transaxle, and an independent suspension. Completely different cars whose price points never met. But it exemplifies the technical changes which even a change-resistant Enzo Ferrari was capable of making in less than 15 years. Ask me which I would rather own if I had to keep it for life and given how I use a car, the choice would be difficult.

In our final traffic interruption of the day as we all crawled towards Hartford, a man in a big white SUV looked down at me and took a picture of the car with his sunglasses.

When I pulled into the driveway at home it was 9:30PM and the odometer read 593.

I need another long drive to figure out why I really want one of those big old touring beasts of the thirties. Huge engines and plenty of room for people and food and wine. Now that’s touring in style… unless, of course, they leak.

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My Word: The Lotus-Etc I Left Behind

Posted on May 22, 2014 Comments (2)

By Denise McCluggage

There were two of them on a recent cover of the British magazine Octane. I smiled. Two mid-‘60s two-door sedans, simple and appealing, with narrow racing green stripes leaking from the side of the headlights to fill a little channel in their swelling sweep—door-handle high—aft to the taillights. Surely you’ve seen pictures. Imagine a wheel in the air, maybe two, with Jimmy Clark placidly sweeping his way to a saloon car championship (to go with his Formula 1 pair).

Jim Clark

Three names involved—Ford, Lotus, Cortina—used variously in differing order. My smile was in memory of these toothpaste-fresh cars and the fact that I walked off and left one in Yugoslavia. That was in 1963. It’s still in Titograd as far as I know except that Titograd is gone. They call it Podgorica now. As they had for centuries before.

I was one of few American drivers who got involved in rallies at the works-team level in the 1960s. Mixing rallies and races was common in Europe but American rallies were then, as the saying went, run by watchmakers and mathematicians. Racing folk were not drawn to them. European rallies were races with check points. I was to drive a number of them for BMC, Rover, Ford America, Ford of England and a few privateers.

In 1963 I was asked to share a Ford Cortina in the incredible Liege-Sofia-Liege with Anne Hall, one of England’s great rally drivers. The event really started at Spa, the race course, near Liege, aimed generally eastward over various routes including some famous rally sections and thence into the Balkans and on to Bulgaria’s capital—Sofia. There we had our first official rest stop.

En route we slept while the other driver was at the wheel or grabbed clumps of minutes if we managed to be early at a check point. But in Sofia we were each provided a hotel room in a grand but weary old hotel for a lie-down sleep of one full hour. You think Edison was a proponent of sleep-deprivation, try rallies. Then it was back toward the west, out of Iron Curtain countries, headed “home” to Belgium. Or so ran the plan.

The Cortina Lotus, Ford Cortina or even ‘Tina—call it what you will—arose out of cooperation between Colin Chapman of Lotus and Walter Hayes, a British journalist brought into the Ford public relations department to perk things up. He did. Delightful guy. The car with its assorted quirks—Chapman was involved after all—proved to be a newsworthy project and the various manifestations of the car made their mark on race courses and rally routes wherever they appeared. One of those chance happenings in car development that enliven the sidebars to history.

The rally had once been the Liege-Rome-Liege but the increasing traffic in Europe on roads straining to meet post-war demands was making it clear that open-road rallies were in for some restrictions. The destination was switched from Rome to Sofia to use the less-trafficked Eastern Europe.

Switzerland had already banned many such events from crossing its borders or imposed strictly enforced limitations. The organizers of the Liege-Sofia-Liege had placated the Swiss authorities by showing them the rules and route book which specified truly moderate average speeds in the high 20s at most. Ah, but there was a hidden catch, as we drivers were to discover. Maybe 20-something mph was the average called for on a certain leg, but not so obvious was another rule: the specification of a time range for each car in which each check point would be considered “open” for that car. As progress was made eastward those time ranges constricted like a boa until there was one “open” moment to check in. And that demanded the fastest motoring you were capable of. It was “whew” time in spades. Sorry Switzerland. (They must have caught on. The rally lasted just one more year.)

Anne and I had a great time pushing the Cortina to its max and getting a willing response. We made all the check-points in time, the car’s sides heaving appropriately as were our own. We pulled into Sofia for our lie-down rest still error-free. Maybe ten others were similarly clean.

Back across Yugoslavia. It is said when God made the universe He dumped all the leftover rocks in the mountains there. I’m sure of it. We laced our way up and over in long slightly tilted traverses with hairpins at the end. Children were at roadside selling fist-clumped flowers and waving. Many minutes later was another bunch of grinning kids. It took three such clusters before we realized they were the same damn kids! They climbed up the steep, rocky but short way and easily beat us to the next level.

Titograd, capital of Montenegro, was a major service spot for us. The station wagons loaded with parts, tires, oil and whatever else a rally car or crew might need took shorter routes when they existed or started earlier and drove like the clappers. Whatever, they were always parked and ready for us near the check point. We had a latish starting time out of Titograd and watched the service guys pack up and sweep off northward toward Dubrovnik on the Adriatic coast. We would catch up with them beyond that. Ha!

Why our start time was so late I don’t know but we began our climb out of Montenegro following the crowd and feeling great. “Anne,” I said, “We’re going to win this.” She was horrified. As though I had uttered a forbidden name in a sacred place. “Don’t say that! You’ll jinx us!” Maybe I had gone through childhood carefully avoiding putting a foot on a sidewalk crack thus protecting my mother’s back from a break, but superstitions did not plague me. I shrugged and shut up.

Was it five or fifteen minutes later that the engine quit? Not a rarity among early Cortinas particularly, but a brutal shock to this rally team. Anne, to her credit, never even cast an accusing look in my direction. I flagged down a motorcyclist heading back toward Titograd and hopped on behind in the buddy seat. Maybe a Ford service vehicle was taking a late start. I’d look. Or I’d send a tow truck for Anne and the Cortina.

Nothing is so ended as a motor competition when the car dies. It’s as if it never existed. Zap. Total erasure. Passing-through becomes stuck here. And were we ever stuck. Nothing related to Ford was left. Nothing connected to the rally was in evidence.

Yugoslavia had several religions, a handful of languages and two quite different alphabets but somehow through all this I got someone to fetch Anne and the car. I also found a place to stay the night (plus plus plus as it turned out) and started looking for a way to get out of there.

Yugoslavia had strict rules as one might expect for a Communist country, particularly for one which wasn’t trusted any more by the Soviet Union than it was by the western nations. Tito was sui generis and I admired him for that. We were allowed to come in but we were expected to get out. And we signed promises to take everything—cars, jewelry, art, fur coats—we brought in with us out with us. Everything except money. We had to leave any unspent Yugoslav currency behind.

So how do you get a disabled Cortina, struck into immobility while as far from a permissible border as possible out to the world known as free?

Hire a tow car? Put it on a boat? Order a new engine? All costly and beyond our pay level to authorize. Remember, too, the world was technologically deprived in the early ‘60s. No computers or internet. No cell phones. Even land lines were sparse, particularly where we were. The fact that we didn’t show up for the next check point was the first indication that we had met with something untoward.

I don’t remember how we communicated with the folks on their way back to Belgium. Maybe Anne did that some way. Some moments are very clear from those Stranded in Titograd days. More have eddied away outside of memory.

I recall we had only the clothes on our backs so mine were dunked in a sudsy bathroom basin nightly. Fast-drying nylon was with us and my bright blue pants, styled in the then fashionable manner of ski pants complete with elastic stirrup that hooked under one’s heel, were of that fabric. Rinsed and dripping, I hung them in my open window to hasten drying until one morning I found them whipping in the wind about to take flight at tree top height. I hated to think what the crisis of being pant-less as well as car-less would be like so I took to completing the drying cycle with body warmth.

And, happily, we did have some great good luck as well: two Brits had suffered the same fate de la route we had. Their car, a Reliant Sabre 6, had also been towed lifeless into Titograd but they did not seem as concerned as I did that our names had been scrawled on a piece of paper with a wax seal that we had come with a car and would take one with us. Their Reliant was already in someone’s home garage as he rubbed his hands in glee.

The driver of the Reliant was no less than Raymond Baxter, former RAF pilot who now had one of the best and best known voices on the BBC. I had met him several times before and liked him a lot. His co-driver was Douglass Wilson-Spratt. Can one get more British? They were delightful companions and Titograd became almost a resort. We watched the nightly courting scene around the plaza as the young men strolled in one direction and the young women in the other in that universal manner of ignoring with rapt attention. It was good theater if rather plotless.

I don’t know why the task fell to me but on the first morning I went to see a state official about the car and how we could repatriate it. I had little experience conferring with officials of Communist states in their lair. What to expect? Most certainly not what I got. Immediately as I entered the office a thought simply presented itself as the most sensible thing to do: I should stay in Titograd with the car until Ford figured out some plan. And maybe with luck they never would. This guy who stood, smiled and gestured me to a chair was the singularly most attractive man I had ever seen. I did a quick check to make sure my mouth was not hanging open, smiled, nodded and sat.

I’m not sure what language carried our ensuing conversation. Maybe the Cyrillic alphabet was involved. But I got a quick impression this lovely man was less interested in what happened to the car than I was. Or rather than I had been. We did discuss the wounded car and the important signed papers but the sub-text was airier, more important and more fun. It was charming. But it ended.

I did leave with a decision about the car which could be summed up with so what? The Brits weren’t concerned about their Reliant, and as I later discovered lots of rally cars were left behind in strange garages in distant countries. And given the cost of recovery, why not?

I can’t say for sure how the now-four-of-us stranded rally drivers left Titograd except for a brief scene in the Zagreb airport involving not enough seats. Worked itself out I suspect because we were soon in London. I was more drifting in my recently richened fantasy life than paying attention.

Cortina

No one said much about the lost Cortina. Eugen Bohringer, a Stuttgart innkeeper who really knew what roads were for and how to direct a Pagoda Mercedes 230 SL over them, won the rally. Indeed, he did it twice.

The next January—1964—Anne and I kept a Ford Falcon running (and I never uttered the word “win”) and won the Ladies Cup in the Monte Carlo. We left the Falcon in Monte Carlo but with the Ford America people.

Speaking of fantasies, which I was somewhere, I like to imagine that the darling Communist in Titograd and the Ford-Lotus-Cortina we left there somehow found each other.

Well, it’s something.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 16, 2014 Comments (0)

It’s Alive! You open the garage door on a sunny warm day and suddenly your heart stirs as you see that car or bike that has been a mere sculpture for months. It’s time for the sun to warm that paint and leather and bring your friend to life. That is what May means to Motorheads. I recently drove the 308 600 miles in one day and I want to share with you my thoughts about older cars further in this post. See In Praise of Older Cars.

Michael Furman Photography, 1937 BMW 328 speedometer

Michael Furman’s image this week is the speedo of a vintage 328 BMW.

May in American motorsports has always been dominated by the pageant of the Indianapolis 500. Indy, like the Masters, the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 dominates the sports media. In Europe the brilliant Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este shares the stage this month with F1’s crown jewel, Monaco, and the Mille Miglia. Look for stories from Sandy on Assignment in next week’s issue as our intrepid reporter Sandy Cotterman reports from the 1000 Miglia.

In Boston, as in other cities across America, car shows and dealership Open Houses abound. This weekend is the annual Waltham Auto Enthusiasts Tour at Aston Martin of New England and European Auto Solutions. Details.

F1 Spanish GP – Race Between Equals

As Grand Prix events go, this race was rather dull. The Mercedes cars ran away again and everyone else was there to measure their progress. The race between teammates however was dramatic and very entertaining. Hamilton once again bested his only competition, Nico Rosberg, who in finishing second appeared more content with his day than did the man who bested him and now has the driver’s championship points lead.

Ricciardo started from third and finished there. His teammate Vettel started from 15th place and finished fourth. This was a good race for him. He passed aggressively everywhere and showed why he is a champion. Valtteri Bottas was a brilliant fifth in a resuscitated Williams. His teammate, Massa, had problems and didn’t fare as well, again. The Williams team is really quite chuffed about the team’s turnaround. Ferrari finished sixth and seventh with Alonso once again beating Raikkonen at home GP of both Alonso and Ferrari sponsor Santander. Kimi, never a team player, appeared disgruntled that team strategies meant that Alonso had fresher tires at the end of the race and therefore passed him with ease. Romain Grosjean and Lotus were eighth and probably thrilled with that result. His teammate Maldonado was 15th. Force India took the final points in ninth and tenth with Perez and Hulkenberg. McLaren drivers Button and Magnussen took the next two spots.

Points to ponder. McLaren’s strong early season performance has faded and the Williams is now the Ferrari of England as one of the bio lines about the team stated during the TV broadcast. That must sting McLaren’s team principal, the dour Ron Dennis, who came back at the beginning of this year to take charge at McLaren Racing. Staying with “stinging” and Williams, it is rumored that Pastor Maldonado’s sponsor gave Williams $25M to release him from his 2014 contract to go to Lotus. That little windfall probably financed a good deal of the R&D on the new 2014 Williams car that is performing so well. Despite that, Maldonado’s gamble may yet come good. It is a little early to discount the Renault engine and the Lotus chassis. Renault will solve their engine issues eventually because Red Bull will hold their feet to the fire until they do, and Lotus does have a good chassis. If they put it all together, they can still salvage something this year.

IndyCar – Grand Prix of Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway introduced its new road course with an inaugural race entitled, rather grandly, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, from the small Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports team, emerged the winner and is now a force in the championship. Andretti team’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was second and Penske’s Castroneves was third. Penske’s Will Power continues to lead the driver standings and Pagenaud is fourth, a mere six points off the lead.

Points to Ponder. The race had plenty of action. A crash at the start took out the pole sitter and two other cars. History teaches us that the Speedway has difficulty with just about everything it does for the first time. This new road course is actually their second design. Last year, at the Indy 500, in the name of security they banned large customer coolers. When the back-ups at the entrances threatened to make patrons miss the start, they relented and let everyone and their coolers in. Also, in the name of security, they rerouted traffic and ticketholders who could not get to the track in time, turned around and went home. For this race on a new track they introduced a new starting format and in keeping with everything else they do for the first time, they screwed up.

Peter Bourassa