MMR Blog

The Santa Fe Experience

Posted on October 11, 2013 Comments (0)

I have enough Frequent Flyer Miles now that when I board a flight the stewardesses salute me, kick some rich soul out of first class and tell me when the Captain is “looking peaked” so that I can be aware that they may soon ask me to take over. If they only realized that I suffer from a rare and merciful disease called Flightus Dormantis. I am generally asleep before takeoff and  awaken only when the cleaning crew shakes me as they are rifling through my pockets in search of the unopened peanut packs.

The Santa Fe Experience

photo credit ©Tim Considine

But landing in Santa Fe is different. Due to thermal updrafts, Santa Fe is heaven for glider operators but hell for commercial pilots.

But landing in Santa Fe is different. Have I said that already? Well here is why. Upon deplaning one walks to the terminal (the choice of that particular word to describe the building from which one launches oneself into thin air, shows a lack of consideration) and two things become immediately apparent, first this place feels like 1960. I assume the TSA have been too busy elsewhere to lobotomize and surly-ize the good people of the Santa Fe airport. And once inside the doors, guess what? You are in a museum! And a fine one at that! True, it isn’t a large collection but anyone who has visited the Dutch Painters Collection at the Met in NYC knows that the long dead burgher in the twentieth Rembrandt in the row isn’t the only one that is glassy eyed. These pieces, though few in number are exquisite and oddly, they are not behind glass or being guarded. Is it possible that they are not being stolen because you could never leave Shangri Fe. Oops! And that is a clue to your Santa Fe Experience.

In the 1937 Frank Capra movie, Lost Horizons, the hero, played by Ronald Coleman, (my mother’s favorite actor) is kidnapped. His plane crashes in the Himalayan Mountains and he is taken to Shangri La, a small village on no existing map whose inhabitants are very happy and seemingly live forever.

All that Santa Fe and Shangri la have in common, other than the fact that you virtually have to be kidnapped to end up there, is that all the people seem very happy to be there and in the one year since I first met them, none appear to have aged, or very little. Natives chat it up incessantly.

Though unquestionably a city, it plays more like a town, and is nestled close to what appear to be friendly mountains and a friendly sage colored desert. (I was once in a friendly harbor side bar in friendly Annapolis with a business friend, we were both on the wrong side of several scotches and he was chatting up the girl next to him. He was telling her about his 40' Sea Ray boat and she seemed rightly skeptical. She asked about the interior and the color of the interior. He said “sage” and turned to me for confirmation. I nodded. It was the most I could handle.) I remembered that color and story as I looked out the plane window as we approached the landing. Friendly mountains, sage colored desert, a Whole Foods Market and a Traders Joe’s, oh, and one more thing, by law every house in town is done in the Spanish Pueblo style and painted an approved color. Perfect.

The Spanish and native Indian influence is everywhere and not at all hard on the eyes.

Santa Fe is best known for its artist colony and more recently its Santa Fe Opera. Similar in concept to the Baths at Caracalla, patrons enjoy Santa Fe Opera performances outside, framed by the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains. In town, galleries and antique shops are everywhere.

But locals feel, quite rightly, that Santa Fe should be equally recognized for its food. From a humble place like Back Street Pizza, to the Chocolate Maven bakery, both in an industrial section, to Café Pasqual’s, a breakfast delight, to Harry’s Roadhouse, a busy highway café where I had one of the finest salads of my life, Santa Fe is Food . And like many other aspects of Santa Fe, rooms etc, it is reasonably priced. The local merchants have yet to learn what Monterey and Amelia now celebrate as flexible pricing.

But we are here for the 2013 Santa Fe Concorso. Purportedly hatched at the kitchen table of transplanted Michiganites Dennis and Beverly Little in conjunction with Denise McCluggage and Phil Hill, it is ahead of itself in many ways. In this, its fourth year, it drew several spectacular cars and those that weren’t, were not shabby at all.

The roads surrounding Santa Fe run out in all directions. The Concorso Tour, held the day before the Concorso offers participants an opportunity to drive their treasures in the company of fellow enthusiasts on roads that are in excellent condition and sparsely populated. Our friend Royce Rumsey has provided us with some excellent shots of the tour participants in motion.

This year, world famous glass sculpture artist Dale Chihuly installed a sculpture of slim red reeds on the field near his black 100/4 Healey marrying the art of glass and metal sculpture to the manicured green fairway and a nearby sand trap. A brilliant display, the depth of which was really quite difficult to convey as an image.

Along with the Honoree, Denise McCluggage, other celebrities in attendance included artist Dale Chihuly, Sir Stirling and Lady Moss, Al Unser Sr. and Jr., Norman Dewis of Jaguar fame, photographer/publisher Michael Furman and actor/author Tim Considine, whose image of the RS Porsche is shown in our Newsletter.

The class winners were all worthy, particularly a 1907 Renault racer which participated in the previous day’s rally and the 1928 Chrysler Dual Cowl Phaeton. The current owner’s grandfather won it in the New York Stock Exchange raffle and toured Europe from 1929 to 1935 with it and his family. A great story!

The winners, as reported last week, were a 1933 Delage Sport Coupe and a 1967 275 NART Spyder. The latter raced to a second in class finish at Sebring in 1967 by Honoree Denise McCluggage. Both rare and spectacular cars.

The organizers have rightly seized the opportunity, provided by their location, to not only field a broad array of noteworthy vehicles, but also provide participants and spectators with a Santa Fe Experience. Tough to find...other than in the Himalayas of course.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 3, 2013 Comments (0)

Santa Fe Concorso

The fourth iteration of the Santa Fe Concorso was like a coming of age party. Each year it has gotten better. There were enough significant cars on the field this year to insure that an invitation to next year’s event should be taken seriously by collectors.

The organizers are fully aware that hosting a Concorso in Santa Fe is a double edged sword. Santa Fe is hardly on the main road to anywhere and neither is it densely populated. This means fewer qualified local cars and a smaller base from which to draw spectators. On the other hand, Santa Fe is a deliciously manageable city with a unique style and character in one of nature’s more gently beautiful settings. This year’s event was very well attended yet, mercifully, it hasn’t reached the crowd sizes we saw at Amelia and Pebble Beach this year. The Sunday show was a culmination of two days of road tours and tasteful parties. Think, Pebble Beach writ small.

Best of Show – Elegance: John Hayden Groendyke’s imposing 1933 Delage D8S Sports Coupe. The Best of Show – Sport: Lawrence Auriana’s rare 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder. This important car, one of only 17 built, was driven to a Second in Class by this year’s Santa Fe Concorso’s honoree Denise McCluggage and co-driver Pinkie Rollo in 1967.

A full gallery of our Santa Fe Concorso images will be posted to our website next week.

Racing Over the Age Limit

We received numerous interesting responses to our commentary about aging drivers and we share some with you. As ever with these issues, where you stand often depends on where you sit. Motorcycle collector, lawyer, and racer, Ken McGuire even shared his thoughts and an exciting image of four beautiful Bultacos lined up at the beginning of a race.

In F1 and IndyCar the Race for Second Remains Close

In F1, Vettel has won but the battle for second and third is still interesting with only 38 points separating them. In Indy Car, Castroneves will be difficult to unseat. The next four places are only 25 points apart. Both series run this weekend. F1 in South Korea and IndyCar runs a two race weekend, Saturday and Sunday in Houston.

MMR Fall/Winter Garage Tours

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming garage tours. Our calendar for these events is firming up as you read. These are Bring a Camera tours, which means that each visit will feature a special car to be photographed by you with instruction from a professional photographer. Tours will be limited in size.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa

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Responses to Last Week’s Editorial

Posted on October 3, 2013 Comments (1)

We had a significant number of responses to last week's commentary about Driving over the Age Limit. Most agreed that some sort of testing or other qualifier was needed. Several people felt that racing was a dangerous game and that everybody involved, including photographers, knew that going in and had no right to complain if they were killed, or even just maimed.

Let me be perfectly clear. I have no issue with people going fast, rich or poor. But when a driver is going door to door at high speeds with strangers, he has a right to expect that whoever let him out there knew they both could handle it. Physically and mentally.

Peter:

We have the same problem in vintage motorcycle racing. In the day, if you weren’t good enough you couldn’t get a fast ride…now the only pre-requisite is a checkbook. The sanctioning bodies need to establish a licensing program (like regular professional racing) and stick to it. The “strong medicine” is that it is better to lose one rich cry-baby, than to kill someone. Most owners of fast vintage equipment would rather see competent drivers realize the potential of their machines than to putt around in the way. See attached pic of me (#6A) coming of the line with Three-time AMA Grand National Champ Jay Springsteen (#9) at a vintage race last month in Indy. He was way faster (and riding one of my bikes) but at least I wasn’t a moving chicane!

~Ken McGuire

Ken Springer


Dear Peter ..... old crocks racing powerful cars and coming to grief is nothing new. Experience is actually more important than age in my opinion. Surtees, Moss and many other serious drivers from the past were well up to the task in their early seventies. There were some very near misses and a few actual coming togethers at the Revival this year from young drivers who haven’t yet worked out that F1 scouts do not abound at vintage races. There is no need to carve up a slower car that’s entering the chicane and risk damage for the .1 of a second it will cost you. There’s no need to dart inside a car turning on to the apex of Fordwater flat out and risk pushing him off onto the grass and thence into the immovable barriers.

Apart from the risk to life and limb that sort of behaviour may cause an entrant to no longer want to enter a great original car with a very high value if it’s going to get punted off by a virtual replica with a goon behind the wheel.

I know what I’m talking about. It happened to me this year as indeed it seems to happen most years. Slowly but surely these goons are getting weeded out by race organisers. It’s never going to be too late to do it either. There are plenty of formulae for rock-apes to strut their stuff in cheap cars. Imagine a bunch of oldies in combat with young Kamikaze drivers in Formula Fords. Great sport and the best way possible to prove as the older guy that you can still hack it.

~Alain de Cadenet

I have to comment on your vintage racing article. After driving some faster cars with different clubs, I decided to return to the VSCCA. While I’ve driven race cars since I was 19, I recognized during my first Skip Barber race school that I was not in it to someday start at the Indy 500. Now that I am in my 60s and semi-retired, I have “downsized” to a very original Formcar Formula Vee (the first iteration). There are two other old Formula Vees in the club driven by guys my age or older who have also had much faster cars “back in the day.”

Vintage racing, at least as I’ve experienced in the VSCCA, is a place where the cars are the stars. We get to drive them fast, which is what they were built for. However, the attitude of the drivers is pretty consistent; we don’t think we’re in Formula 1 and we believe it’s way more important to bring the cars home from the event in one piece than to bring home some misplaced bragging rights about how we beat the field.

I remember walking through the paddock at an SVRA race a few years ago at the Glen and spotting more than one “retired” Formula One car. At the time I thought, “Affording it isn’t the same as being able to handle it.” I think it was at the same event I remember having a “dive bomb” pass executed upon me at a very dicey spot with a bad mix of faster and slower cars. What was the point, I thought? Well, it was about winning the race, regardless of the “cost/benefit” or “risk/benefit.”

Your point is well made, but there are options out there for anyone who is willing to honestly consider what their ability and commitment is and to act accordingly. Luckily, there are some really great clubs and options today.

~Tom Monti

You are right.

How do you tell an 80 year old that it’s time to retire? Especially when he just won a monster race at Road America running a sportsracer over 170mph to beat the “young studs” in their Lister Chevys or their Lola MkII coupes?

If there are no preconceived age restrictions, we need enforced annual physicals, stress tests, EKGs and up to date medical histories with the governing bodies not afraid to lose an entry or two.

But the real test is organizers (like Earl) with the backbone to tell bad drivers they can’t race.

We face a growing problem of aging drivers regardless of whether they drive an MGTC or a 312pb Ferrari.

The VSCCA is woefully behind in dealing with this issue.

~OOTAD (one of the aging drivers)

Hi Peter

Interesting comments about Vintage Racing. As you know I participated in both SVRA and SCCA with my GT1 X Trans Am Vette. Both series have their share of “More Money” than “Ability”. Your comments on the increased age of the drivers in both series is very true. Even more so in the big bore very fast formula, vintage and GT1 cars. I have been wrecked twice. Once at the Glen at the entrance to the bus stop in practice no less by cup car in the hands of a bone head. Second time at NHIS with an attempt to pass me on the inside of the south chicane. Very fast GT1 Mustang in hands of less than capable guy who had the “Red Mist” in his eyes. He had two wheels in the dirt on the inside just as I was turning left onto the back straight. Nearly put me into the wall at the exit, Porsche slammed into my nose and Sunbeam Tiger into the rear of the Porsche. 3 Cars with significant damage and done for the weekend. Both SCCA and SVRA are trying to control both ability and equally the Red Mist but it is difficult. Ultimately it is the driver who must recognize he is not Paul Newman and there is a time to hang up the helmet. I did last year even though I likely never put The Red Car past 85% of what it was capable of doing. Result was a wonderful 10 years of racing with only 3 DNF’s including the two wrecks noted. As a side note one does not see much on this subject and end of the day money and ego are tough to overcome! Nice piece by the way!

~Fred Myers

Please respond and have your say in the comments section below.


Sandy on Assignment: On the Road to Monterey

Posted on September 16, 2013 Comments (0)

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Three times is a charm and that’s how I felt returning from my third year at Monterey and Pebble Beach. Never claiming to be an expert, but having hit most of the major events and attractions over the past three years, I am both thrilled and eager to share what I know. Like all of my motorsports adventures, the key is to plan ahead, especially if you want to kick Pebble off your bucket list.

Always a winner, this 1912 Packard 307 Passenger Touring still enjoyed by Phil Hill’s family, is a wonderful tribute to a great legend.

Always a winner, this 1912 Packard 307 Passenger Touring still enjoyed by Phil Hill’s family, is a wonderful tribute to a great legend.

What excites me most in sharing is the breadth of activities and experiences one really can comfortably pack into a week. That’s the key, a full week - Monday to Monday.

Some may remember how my motorsports adventures started… a query into Peter on how to approach, or should I say attack, Pebble Beach, a sort of Olympics with classic cars and the Grammy for automobiles. After four hours of discussion, clutching a year old copy of Sports Car Market’s, Insider’s Guide to Monterey, I walked away with two pieces of advice, one you already have - go Monday to Monday. The second was to discover what it is about motorsports that interests you… then build your week around those activities.

Yes, the color is original on this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe caught rolling off the transporter.

Yes, the color is original on this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe caught rolling off the transporter.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I love it all! This year, I grabbed for the gusto, taking time to mingle with people and hear their stories. I also crave the intellectual side, so seeking out the premier automotive museums on the west coast and taking in a SCM seminar satisfies my appetite. My love for sports car racing definitely shines through in my adventures, so meeting the racers and following them on the track at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a must. Living the week vicariously is exhilarating… especially during the auctions! And then there are the concours cars; so spectacular each receives a personal invitation to Pebble Beach. Over the course of the week, watching them evolve from their vulnerable position early Thursday, to full maturity on the concours field Sunday morning, is magical… for me.

So, let’s get started. This year I flew into LAX and departed out of San Francisco. Call it luck, but I was able to rent a car through Enterprise with no drop off fees. What tickled me most was being asked, “What are you driving?” “The least expensive, fuel economy, compact car available”, was my response. My first year at Pebble, I rented a fancy convertible for the same cost as my lodging for the week... forget that! All you need are wheels, especially those that can squeeze into tight parking spaces.

The real Jay Leno in his garage!

The real Jay Leno in his garage!

My personal 2013 motorsports plan includes museums, so the Petersen, Nethercutt and Mullin Automotive Museums, in the Los Angles area, were a must. All three are doable, using Monday as your travel day. I cheated, flying in Sunday evening so I could visit family. Around 10am Monday morning, the phone rang and the caller said, “This is Jay Leno, is Sandy there?” Yes, I admit it… it just slipped out. “Is this the real Jay Leno?” I asked. Within 45 minutes I was one-on-one with Mr. Leno, walking through his collection and restoration shop. It’s still a blur. I was in seventh heaven and forever grateful to Keith Carlson who recently sold Jay his Bristol 403 and orchestrated my meeting.

Tuesday I enjoyed the Petersen and Nethercutt Museums. Just up from Beverly Hills, where I was staying, is the multi-story, soon to receive a face-lift, Petersen Museum with streetscapes taking you back in time. Open, at no charge to the public, the Nethercutt Museum is just north in the San Fernando Valley, showcasing more than 100 vehicles. Like the Mullins collection, there are several cars that won top awards at Pebble Beach. Wednesday, prior to Monterey week, the Mullins graciously opens its doors to guests. I was extremely grateful, as the collection was superb and one I would have missed otherwise. Where to stay in order to take in these treasures? The Crescent Hotel with only 35 rooms is quite a find, nestled a couple of blocks up from Rodeo drive.

Only two or three of these French roadsters left in the world – the1930 Gar Type B5 from the Mullins collection.

Only two or three of these French roadsters left in the world – the1930 Gar Type B5 from the Mullins collection.

I went on-line to reserve my entrance to the Mullins Collection, as reserved times are both required and limited. Located in Oxnard, less than an hour north of Los Angeles, you’re ready to jump back on 101 after your visit and head north to Monterey or Carmel, both about a 5-hour drive if you switch over to scenic Route 1 at San Luis Obispo. If you like to drive, and why wouldn’t a car person, you’re in for a treat!

What you miss, by visiting the museums, is Tuesday in Carmel for the Concours-on-the-Avenue, a casual jaunt through town, viewing over 175 multi-marque cars lining the streets. Then again, you just saw three magnificent collections! Also, be willing to cut short shopping and browsing at Automobilia Monterey, held only Tuesday and Wednesday, in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Seaside. Keep in mind a much smaller version of Automobilia takes place just inside the main pedestrian entrance to the Pebble Beach Concours called Pebble Beach RetroAuto, the rest of the week.

Speaking of shopping… buy all the Pebble Beach Concours clothing you want the first few days you arrive… or it will likely be sold out on Sunday. Shopping is definitely something to entice the non-motorsports enthusiast to attend! Between Beverly Hills, Carmel and the Concours art galleries and boutiques, everyone’s happy.

I haven’t mentioned where to stay in the greater Monterey area. Anyone already on the list probably won’t! Again, start looking now. If you get in a bind, email and I’ll put you in touch with our 17-room boutique hotel to check for an opening. The advice I received my first year was to stay in a place you enjoy… for me, it was Carmel. This year I joined friends, staying in Monterey, and it worked out beautifully. Getting to the track, auctions, and Pacific Grove was a breeze. If deciding to attend at the last minute, just knowing that 60 days out most B&Bs require confirmation and full payment may help you snatch up someone’s cancellation.

Owners are only too happy to chat with the Hagerty Youth Judges… and anyone else who’s interested, at Pacific Grove.

Owners are only too happy to chat with the Hagerty Youth Judges… and anyone else who’s interested, at Pacific Grove.

I mentioned friends. No surprise that everything in life is more fun when enjoyed with friends, and that is especially true for Monterey week. We are fortunate to have Keith Carlson, a Monterey week aficionado, in our Jag Club. Peter and I took Keith’s advice, discovering the Thursday street show put on by the Rotary Club of Pacific Grove. Don’t be surprised if you see some of the same cars Sunday on the lawn at Pebble Beach! Pacific Grove is one of those places the crowds haven’t fully discovered… yet. We met up with Denise McCluggage for dinner at Aliotti’s and Favaloro’s - two fabulous Italian restaurants on the main street, Lighthouse Avenue.

Up and ready to go.

Up and ready to go.

I hope you’ve found some of the information helpful so far… now for the good stuff! I’m an early bird and for Thursday, you should be as well! Beginning between 5:30-6:00 am, with the fog and the mist, I get to watch the heavy doors of the transporters open and the magic of Pebble Beach commence, as the cars are lowered from their beds and roll down the ramps to make their first debut of the week - the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. I just love this adventure. Often, it’s not until the cars are off the transports that the owners appear, some seeing their cars for the first time after restoration! It’s a time when the cars are rather naïve, polished but not primped for Sunday’s big day. The same goes for owners. Some are a bit nervous and unassuming, especially if this is their first invitation to Pebble.

Bought new by the current owner’s grandfather, the 1921 Duesenberg A Bender Coup (chassis 601) is a car of many firsts.

Bought new by the current owner’s grandfather, the 1921 Duesenberg A Bender Coup (chassis 601) is a car of many firsts.

What are the chances of watching the very first Duesenberg ever built, roll out of a small single trailer tucked at the end of the transporter row… next to the porta potties, no less? With no crowds, close to 100 cars leave their transporter guardians and prepare to line up for the Tour… a find, as far as I’m concerned. The cars line up around 7am, leaving in waves with the first section departing at 8am from the equestrian center area across from the Gooding Auction tent. Gradually the spectators fill in around the cars, but nothing like the mobs you’ll experience once the cars roll into Carmel at noon following the Tour.

Onward… leaving at 8am, the Tour ends at noon in Carmel.

Onward… leaving at 8am, the Tour ends at noon in Carmel.

Between watching the cars wake up and a late lunch in Carmel once most of the crowds subside, you have some time for auction previewing. A reservation at Casanova, Keith’s favorite and now mine, on 5th Avenue between Mission and San Carlos, is a terrific choice. You’ll still have time to swing through more auction previews afterwards before heading out Carmel Valley Road for a down home evening at the Baja Cantina Grill and Filling Station. We had a blast at the Baja Cantina during their weekly Thursday car night! An eclectic mix of cars and people was enough to keep us and several hundred others entertained for hours. We got there later than I would recommend… I think 6:30pm would be better, next time.

I love this car! Estimated to go between $125-150,00, the 1972 Porsche 911 “STR II” design by Magnus Walker went for a surprising $302,500 at Gooding.

I love this car! Estimated to go between $125-150,00, the 1972 Porsche 911 “STR II” design by Magnus Walker went for a surprising $302,500 at Gooding.

This year, I focused on the RM, Gooding, and Russo and Steele auctions. Previewing sometimes has a nominal fee while attending the auction is a bit more. I consider auctions a not to be missed attraction. RM with auctioneer Max Girardo is a must for at least Saturday night and Gooding is a nice way to wrap up the week on Sunday evening after the Concours. Besides gaining an appreciation of market values, there are historical moments. Being in the audience when the hammer went down for the highly desirable 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider auctioned off by the Smith family, in honor of their father, was amazing. All funds from this $27,500,000 sale, and supposedly second highest car ever sold at auction, will go to charity.

I’ve attended two sought after, what I would call lifestyle, events in the past and decided to pass this year, unless someone had kindly offered me a ticket. My first year, I was advised to get into the lottery for a coveted Quail ticket. Three years ago, that ticket was $400. I saved the receipt. This year, I’m told it’s more. Another event I sought out that first year was the McCaw Motorworks Revival. At the time, the ticket was about half that of the Quail for this hanger party - now it’s up to $325. If you are going with a group of friends, where the price of admission doesn’t matter, both are rather interesting events… the people are just as famous as the cars!

So this is how it all starts… the car guy of tomorrow, at the Legends of the Autobahn.

So this is how it all starts… the car guy of tomorrow, at the Legends of the Autobahn.

A first for me this year was the Friday Legends of the Autobahn not far off Route 1 on Carmel Valley Road at Rancho Canada. We went early, around 9:30am, thinking we would stay for about an hour. Six hours later, seriously, we headed out. This free, yes free, event was more of a car show, not a concours-styled event. You saw a little bit of everything German, several historically significant cars, race cars, and a lot of fantastic people. I’m not suggesting spending this much time, but it’s a great change of pace and a stop I would highly recommend.

Last year I waltzed among the red cars at the Concorso Italiano on Friday. If you don’t have the luxury of seeing 800-1,000 Ferraris and other Italian cars back home, this is another one of those events to catch, at least once. For 2014, Concorso will move to Saturday, so it won’t conflict with the Quail, also on Friday. The show moves to Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside. I personally wouldn’t sacrifice a day at the track for a lifestyle event. Heck, racing is the best lifestyle event I know!

What I would recommend is splitting Friday between the track and the Autobahn event. Taking in the track Friday, would be a good opportunity to get a lay of the land, so to speak. Walking up and down the paddock, you meet the owners who are most likely the racers of these pretty cool vintage cars. Me being me, I asked someone looking official in a golf cart if there was a tour of the paddock area. I thought that would be a great idea. He agreed, yet said there wasn’t such a thing. No problem, he invited me to jump on board and off we went for a personal tour!

These must be the car girls of tomorrow!

These must be the car girls of tomorrow!

Yes, I was really there…perched up in the Starter’s Box!

Yes, I was really there…perched up in the Starter’s Box!

I picked up some tips to share. Start your explorations of the paddock on the periphery and work inwards. Be patient, stay on course, and go up and down the aisles. I jumped around, which meant I missed a lot. Hike up the hill to the corkscrew for a panoramic view of the track. Bring chairs in a bag, if you want to watch for awhile. It’s breathtaking! Visit the car corrals and witness the featured marque for as far as you can see. Most important, watch the races! No kidding! You would be surprised how many people are distracted by the eating and shopping.

This year I high-tailed it to the track Saturday morning, which meant I missed the SCM (Sports Car Marketing) seminar held up at the Gooding Tent. I found the seminars (by paid reservation) very informative the two years prior and was a little sad to miss it this year. Had I split up my track days, it would have been worth arriving a little late on Saturday. The only drawback to arriving after 10am at the track is parking… and that’s a big drawback.

George Wingard, collector of prewar racing cars, heading out to the awards stand on Sunday!

George Wingard, collector of prewar racing cars, heading out to the awards stand on Sunday!

Finally, it’s Sunday and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Be prepared, you’ll be joined by a throng of spectators, also working Pebble off their bucket list. What I strongly recommend, and something I need to do myself, is come up with your own tour of the Concours cars on the field. Everyone gets a handy pocket guide listing all the cars by class location. I arrived late on the field, around 8:30am, once parked and settled. The field was already pretty crowded, to my surprise, even though the general public isn’t allowed in until 10am. The Hagerty Dawn Patrol is early, sometime before 5am, yet a great opportunity for spectators to watch the fog and the cars roll out before the crowds roll in… if you don’t mind getting up around 4:00am!

Watching the judging is a show in itself…and yes, all the lights and signals must work.

Watching the judging is a show in itself…and yes, all the lights and signals must work.

Years past, I’ve been pretty much finished looking at the cars by 10am. This year, I wanted to watch another layer of the show… the judging. It’s fascinating to watch the judges move seamlessly around the cars looking at their particular specialty to judge.

Enjoying the moment.

Enjoying the moment.

This year, I also stayed on the field until the end, walking around just soaking in the cars and their proud owners as they drove by. I’m thinking next year I may even bring a couple of chairs and a picnic to enjoy more of the atmosphere of the day. My suggestion is to enjoy the moment. Yes, it’s all about the cars at Pebble, but as you can see, it’s also about taking away great memories from the week.

And if this isn’t enough car excitement, the Blackhawk Museum graciously hosts Monday after Pebble to attendees wanting to make the short detour on the way to the San Francisco airport. Admission is waved and refreshments are served, but the real prize… another exquisite automobile collection. Just when I thought the week couldn’t get any better… it got better, at Blackhawk.


Sandy on Assignment: Northwest Classic Rally… The Perfect First

Posted on August 8, 2013 Comments (0)

by Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

There could not have been a more perfect rally to be my first… the Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally. All I can say to every classic car enthusiast is, “Get out and rally!”

Flagged on by the March of Dimes family, the rally started in downtown Portland. Photo courtesy of Joe Cantrell

Flagged on by the March of Dimes family, the rally started in downtown Portland.
Photo courtesy of Joe Cantrell

Organized by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Oregon with the Monte Shelton Motor Company as its long standing presenting sponsor, this is the oldest, still running, classic rally in America. Celebrating its 25th year, this true time, speed, distance rally (TSD) drew a record 102 entries for the four day event, starting out of Portland, Oregon the last weekend in July.

Never far behind, the Healey joins the Benz for a pit stop.

Never far behind, the Healey joins the Benz for a pit stop. 
Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer

I was to be the navigator for veteran ralliest, Ralf Berthiez, so I knew I would be in good hands. Having done the NW Classic twice before with his Dad, Ralf graciously agreed to drive his beautiful light blue metallic 1975 Mercedes 450 SL down from Anacortes, Washington to Portland, before shipping it back home to Virginia.

Entered as vintage we were one of three classes; touring, vintage, and standard. The distinction—special interest cars manufactured before 1981 were within the vintage and standard classes with vintage restricted to the use of original equipment—speedometer and odometer. Touring vehicles, without any age restrictions, simply ran the route without time restraints in a follow-the-leader scenic tour, leaving before the other two classes.

Thursday evening street gathering the night before take off.

Thursday evening street gathering the night before take off.

The weekend started Thursday evening in downtown Portland, with a mix of classic cars lining the streets in front of the Monte Shelton Jaguar dealership. We picked up our registration packets then gathered around Rally Chairman Reid Trummel, and Rally Master Simon Levear for instructions. A show of hands for number of years in attendance was impressive—many 5, 10, 15 year veterans with two having rallied the Classic for 25 years!

This year, participants were given their spiral bound general instructions and rally route books, the night before. Rally book in hand, I headed off to rally school—yes, there is such a thing! The first priority for participants, we were told, is to always remain on course. Sounds simple enough, yet I discovered there is an art to reading the instructions, which are in a sort of rally code. Just one slip-up throws everything off.

I shot my hand up during the Q & A, asking, “How does the navigator communicate all the instructions to the driver, at once?” A fair question, since there were often five pieces of information per route instruction—keeping in mind the TSD format—along with an average of 12 instructions per timed section, or regularity, as it’s called. I knew if I were driving, I would probably forget what was said in a nanosecond. “It’s up to the driver and navigator to get in sync”, was the short answer. After school, I asked Ralf how he would call out the instructions, if he was the navigator—he rattled off the pieces of information he needed to drive the rally… not everything at once… almost like repeating verses in a song… bingo, I knew we would be in sync!

Under the watchful eye of the BOSS, the Benz is ready for an early morning start. Photo courtesy of Bring- A- Trailer

Under the watchful eye of the BOSS, the Benz is ready for an early morning start.
Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer

We tucked the Benz into the Westin Hotel garage for the night. The next morning we discovered a sharp looking orange 1970 Mustang BOSS 302 with a front window sticker, Bring-A-Trailer, behind the Benz almost watching over it. How cool was that, I thought!

Ready and poised for my first rally!

Ready and poised for my first rally!

We all headed off to the Monte Shelton dealership, the start line of the rally. I had my post-its on the dash for quick rally lingo translation! Being car #52, we left at 8:26am the first day, using the rally time formula, although our rally start time was 8:00am in the rally book. Needless to say, we had two watches to keep everything straight! Cars left in 30-second increments at the start, then one minute apart for the rest of the rally… enough space so we didn’t pile up on each other, if we got ourselves into a timing jam!

The Drive Away Cancer Car #51 was our beacon, stealing the hearts of everyone.

The Drive Away Cancer Car #51 was our beacon, stealing the hearts of everyone.

I was so excited! We were off… sandwiched in between a strange looking 1965 Triumph TR4A in front, with names written all over the car in Sharpie and a coordinating sleek blue 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 MKIII behind us. It wasn’t until the final dinner on Saturday evening that I learned the touching story behind John Nikas and his Drive Away Cancer cars… teary eyed, I took the Sharpie and added my parents’ names to the car.

Day 2, the touring group sets off from the Oregon Garden Resort.

Day 2, the touring group sets off from the Oregon Garden Resort.

Sandy joins friends Cindy Banzer and Sue Halton of Portland, for a photo next to their 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider 2000.

Sandy joins friends Cindy Banzer and Sue Halton of Portland, for a photo next to their 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider 2000.

Much of both rally days was spent driving, with a stop for lunch, which gave us a chance to begin meeting the enthusiasts and their cars. The eclectic mix of cars included a 1935 Bentley, 1953 Allard J2X, 1958 Peerless GT and a plethora of Jaguar E-Types, 356 Porsches and of course many Alfas from the 60s and 70s.

Ralf and Sandy join rally chairman Reid Trummel and guest speakers John Nikas and Denise McCluggage.

Ralf and Sandy join rally chairman Reid Trummel and guest speakers John Nikas and Denise McCluggage.

Friday evening, we heard from Tom Kreger about setting land-speed records in his Saab on the Bonneville Salt Flats… quite a venue, to say the least! Ever entertaining, Denise McCluggage shared her competitive rally stories with us Saturday evening, making me think we were on track when it came to getting ourselves out of our own rally jams!

What a beautiful setting to run out of gas.

What a beautiful setting to run out of gas.

This was my first trip to Oregon, another reason why rallies are the perfect vacation for classic car enthusiasts. If it hadn’t been for the rally, I doubt I would have ventured into this beautiful state. The rally, culminating at our final destination only 45 miles out of Portland at the Oregon Garden Resort, took us over a contrast of farmlands and vineyards onto the fringes of the breathtaking Cascade mountain range.

Even though we passed the B-A-T team at this point, they managed to make up time with a fantastic 23rd place finish in the vintage class. Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer.

Even though we passed the B-A-T team at this point, they managed to make up time with a fantastic 23rd place finish in the vintage class. Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer.

The rally book gave the exact time (to the second) and mileage that we should be at every designated turn, sign or landmark. Every timed stage had a mystery check point where two volunteers would record the exact time we passed a certain location. The idea is not to be early or late, to the second. Early on, we missed the SOL (sign on left) for a turn. We circled and circled, looking for it. Finally finding it, we floored the Benz, Denise style, and got back on track. We stumped ourselves again, this time trying to figure out what, “Observe Stop OR Right @ 105th” meant. What it did not mean was to make a right at the stop sign! Thank goodness for the Benz, again. As we were flooring it, we noticed other cars doubling back, with a feeling of relief we weren’t the only ones off course! Day 2 found us in a slight dilemma. After a quick right then left turn from the instructions, we high tailed it down a street that looked like the next instruction, except for an additional word inserted onto the street sign… again, we put the Benz to the test to get us back on course! Fun? You bet!

Teams and cars celebrated with a beer wash at the end of the rally. Photo courtesy of Jim Cantrell

Teams and cars celebrated with a beer wash at the end of the rally.
Photo courtesy of Jim Cantrell

With 80 registrants already signed up for 2014, it’s easy to see why participants look forward to returning year after year. Registration is reasonable, $650 per car which includes the Thursday Welcome Reception, two days of rallying and meals, Saturday Afternoon Beer Wash, along with a Sunday Awards Brunch… all for two! Lodging, gas and travel to the event are additional. I would say there were a handful of participants, from other parts of the country, mostly there because they had a reason to be in the area. All others were from Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Not to say that this should deter anyone from attending. Supporting the March of Dimes, this rally is another motorsports gem I highly recommend.

The Duster! NW Classics first American car rally winner.

The Duster! NW Classics first American car rally winner. 
Photo courtesy of Jim Cantrell

Both in sync after two days of fun and rallying!

Both in sync after two days of fun and rallying!

The overall winning rally car was a 1974 Plymouth Duster, with a score of only 42 penalty seconds… compared to over 40 penalty minutes for the last car! It goes to show it takes three to win a rally—driver, navigator and car… all in sync! Just how I felt after two full days on the road… all in sync, having had a blast on my first rally!