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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 22, 2013 Comments (0)

This week’s images are from Michael Furman’s excellent new book Automotive JewelryRead our review.

Fixing F1 – Step Three - Bring Back Risk

Let’s face it, the risks in today’s F1 races are hardly commensurate with the rewards. The danger and often deadly aspects of older tracks, long gone road courses, and races such as the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio were inherent and impossible to eliminate. Huge trees, narrow roads and stone bridges, were all part of the perils of racing and everyone, drivers and spectators, recognized them. For drivers, the risks were always high and the monetary rewards comparatively low.

However, other than being a fighter pilot during war, there are few opportunities to compete with like individuals at a potentially lethal level and earn both adulation and great sums of money for doing it.

Keeping It on the Island

Keeping it on the island.

Today, what commentators call a brave move is more likely to be an unanticipated maneuver. The risk is now limited to a damaged car and/or loss of championship points. Is it admirable? Unquestionably. Is it brave? Not the way it once was. Is it exciting? Well that’s the question isn’t it? Lawyers and insurance companies have successfully eliminated risk from but a few corners at a few tracks. And if we are not pleased that racing is now safe, what does it say about us? Are we the new old Romans?

F1 – US GP

A boring race. See above. There was an opportunity for drama. Lotus borrowed former F1 driver and now Caterham test driver Heikki Kovalainen to replace the Never Leave ‘em Laughin’ Kimi. The Kimster had back surgery so that he could be healed in time to race for Ferrari next year. True to form, Kovalainen, once again, didn’t fail to disappoint. Surprisingly quick in practice, only 8th in qualifying, he finished 14th. There is a reason this driver has a test contract with the worst team on the grid. To his credit, he doesn’t blame the machinery.

Snooze Fest

Snooze Fest in Texas

So now on to Brazil and more of the same.

NASCAR – Johnson Wins Again

The 2103 NASCAR marathon is over. A talented driver, who works hard, has a great pit crew and races clean, Jimmy Johnson won the championship. I gave up watching when the challenge became the re-engineering of the tire pressures and suspension setups through their far-too-long oval Sunday afternoon marathons. Like other forms of high level racing, the battle now is among the engineers. The saving grace for NASCAR may be its road races. NASCAR drivers are not recognized for just how good they are. If NASCAR dropped Sears Point, added Laguna Seca, Lime Rock, Road America, and Road Atlanta and two more tight tracks, they would have an exciting new series.  


Welcome NASCAR Fans?

Denise McCluggage

Denise McCluggage: The Centered Driver Workshop

Mark your Calendars. January 28, 2014. Denise will hold an interactive drivers workshop at European Motorsports in Lawrence MA. The class is for a maximum of 60 participants. Order your tickets here.

Burt Levy

Our Buddy Burt – Holiday Offerings

Vintage Racer and Author, Burt Levy, has forwarded his Holiday gift suggestions and a teaser about delivering his second Ford/Ferrari/Le Mans book entitled Assault on Four O’clock. Check out the pricing on Holiday cards on Burt's website.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa

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.

James Dean as Friend

Posted on July 18, 2013 Comments (0)

Denise McCluggage

From the July 8, 2013 Issue of Autoweek
By Denise McCluggage

Lew Bracker is a first-time author who swore he would never write about what he now writes about—his friendship with James Dean, the talented young American actor and Porsche enthusiast who starred in three movies, raced in three races and died on a California highway driving his new Porsche 550 on the way to run another race. Lew Bracker had met the rising young star through his cousin’s husband, Leonard Rosenman, who wrote the scores for the first two Dean movies. Covering the last 16 months of James Dean’s life, Jimmy & Me: A Personal Memoir of James Dean is a moving story of two young men with a mutual respect for cars and each other. The direct simplicity and honesty in the telling of this developing friendship and its tragic interruption is a sincerely moving story.

Jimmy and Me a Personal Memoir of James Dean by Lew Bracker

While the October 2011 Rennsport was going on at Laguna Seca, nearby at The Quail was another gathering of old Porsches, some rare ones from the factory museum. Present, too, was a clutch of old Porsche drivers who either raced those cars in their shared freshness of youth or others like them.

But the true importance of that gathering turned out to be a dinner at a hilltop golf course and the guy seated at my right elbow. It was Lew Bracker whom I had not met before because he’d done his racing mostly in Southern California and I in the East. Elkhart Lake was the Pacific to me.

Seems someone Lew referred to as “my friend Jimmy” was responsible for getting him out of his gaudy American road cars, into meager little German sports cars, onto Mulholland Drive and eventually into a race. Jimmy himself had three races to his credit but his participation was on hold. Seems Jimmy’s more formal name was James Dean and he was making his first three movies one on top of the other. Studios frowned on fun mobility like motorcycles and race cars. Instead, he was crew chief at Lew’s inaugural race.

Jimmy and Me a Personal Memoir of James Dean by Lew Bracker

Lew’s personal story of the last 16 months of James Dean’s life from the day the two met is now a book by Fulcorte Press, the eBook Publisher to the Car World and readable on any device with a Kindle app. And soon available as a print-on-demand paperback.

The Le Mans Start by Denise McCluggage

Posted on June 29, 2012 Comments (1)

The LeMans start made great sense when it began. Engines that wouldn’t fire, or worse, started and died shortly after underway leaving the cars perched for collection by dozens of machines bearing down on them at full song. A poor beginning for any event.

Le Mans Start

But angle the cars in readiness just off the course, have the drivers run across the track, leap in, fire up and take off. Each step spread the cars like spilled jelly beans.

Le Mans Start

Any stalled car sat safely out of the way. It worked. Particularly since early on in racing it was the rare driver who had belts in his car. Even much later only seat belts were common, simple enough to fasten a few laps later while steering with the knees down the Mulsanne straight. The belting/harnessing system grew more complicated (not to mention effective) and by 1972 the LeMans start made its last appearance.

I chose to shoot the opening of the race from across the course up in the spectators’ stand to take in the pits and the crowded stands above them.

Le Mans Start

I had been at LeMans in 1958 for Phil Hill's first LeMans victory. June again in 1959 he and co-driver Olivier Gendebien were back (#14 Ferrari) eager to chalk up another. They were on their way to doing just that—if leading by two laps in the 19th hour of 24 counts. But their TestaRossa, perhaps over-taxed by copying the early fast running of the Aston Martin team, simply gave out. (But then so did 41 other cars out of the cast of 54.) Aston DBR1s, led by the American-Brit team of Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori (#5), took the first two places.

Roy was driving the closing minutes with a lap in hand when I spotted Carroll entering the back door of the Aston pits. He had gone to change out of his blue driver's suit for his signature striped bib overalls. I chided him: "A change of costume for the curtain calls?" He grinned his wide-as-Texas grin. The good ole boy image was a great success in Europe as well as at home.

Carroll Shelby, aged 89 and the recipient of a heart and a kidney transplant, died May 10. Then 23 days later the man with whom he shared the1959 LeMans victory, Roy Salvadori, died at age 90.