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Posted on October 18, 2013 Comments (3)

F1 - The Japanese GP

Webber out-qualified Vettel and started on pole. Vettel never passed Webber because he didn’t have to. The team changed Webber to a three stop strategy, one more than Vettel, and he finished second. It should be very clear to Ricciardo that he will be the new Webber. The deck gets reshuffled next year and based on past history it would be foolish to believe that Renault will not have a competitive engine for the Lotus and Red Bull chassis. Kimi is quick but he is also impatient. If Ferrari doesn’t supply a winning package for Kimi they may learn to dread his après race interviews.

IndyCar Fontana Finale Saturday @ 8:00PM ET

The Auto Club Speedway two-mile oval at Fontana will be the site of the final race of this year. It should be an interesting cap to a season that has seen exciting races and the emergence of a number of competitive teams and attractive drivers. The organization is still young and some of the tracks they use are less than ideal, but they do race and ten different drivers have won.

Petit Le Mans – ALMS Series Finale at Road Atlanta Saturday @ 11:00AM

The final race of the year and the final race in its history. Our man Tommy Kendall is 23 on the grid in the fastest Viper. Next year the ALMS and Grand-Am series will combine. The ungainly titled TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will hopefully bring together two organizations that have struggled for years to bring sports car racing to North America. Good luck.

Memories: Racing in the Sixties

With my meager savings and different sponsors every year, I managed to race little English sports cars for the first three years of my twenties. When I went for a loan to finance the fourth, my bank manager pointed out that, among other things, like collateral, I lacked talent. That was the end of a racing career full of promises. But I wasn’t through with racing.

From Monday morning thru Thursday at 5:00PM every week, I was a regular Champion Spark Plug Co. Sales Representative calling on service stations throughout the Province of Quebec and sticking Champion decals on doors and windows. On weekends, I put Champion decals on the cars, motorcycles, and boats of racers that carried our products. My task was to help the real Champion Spark Plug techs who, with their diagnostic tools and years of experience, were occupied with potential winners. If you were not a potential winner, (read: poor) I helped you. And god helped you too.

Fortunately we blew up very few engines. Please keep in mind that blowing up engines was not a rare occurrence in those days and melted plugs weren’t either.

At the time, I shared a ski house with a good bunch of people near the Mont Tremblant race track so I was in that area almost every weekend of the year. When the F1 teams came to Canada, because some of them spoke better French than English, I was their liaison with the Champion professional tech reps that were sent from the US to help them. In 1968 when they raced at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, I was translating with the teams and recommending fine restaurants and arranging fancy box lunches. I was a 24-year-old kid! What did I know?

The real techs went to dinner with the teams and I took visiting race reps to my favorite restaurants and bars. I introduced them to young women friends and Canadian high-alcohol beer. Because the roads in the Laurentian Mountains are neither straight nor smooth, the ride back in my Champion Spark Plug Co. supplied 318 V8 Plymouth 4-door also introduced them to a new level of anxiety. All vaguely memorable to me now.

But it all worked out and at the end of that F1 weekend at Mont Tremblant, Ferrari’s Team Manager, Mauro Forghieri, gave me a Ferrari pin for my efforts. That was very cool. The next day I went back to putting Champion decals on doors and windows. It was good to be young in the sixties.

This week’s great images were taken by Chuck Schwager who recently co-drove Jim Taylor’s C-Type on this year’s Colorado Grand. Brave soul, he shot several of these from the passenger seat at speed.

Peter Bourassa

RUSH Results

Posted on October 18, 2013 Comments (0)

We have refrained from comment about the movie RUSH until everyone has had an opportunity to see it. We haven’t seen the movie yet but the general consensus appears to be very favorable.


Specifically, it is considered a good story and entertaining. As one might expect, some of the more critical comments came from people who have either raced or are very familiar with the racing environment. They criticized the actual racing scenes as being less accurate than expected. It also bothered some that the only other racing name mentioned in the movie was Mario Andretti’s. Several mentioned that the best racing scenes were the final ones which used actual footage of Hunt and Lauda racing. But nobody felt the movie wasn’t worthwhile.


A reminder to all that for a refreshing take on this epic battle, we recommend Hunt vs. Lauda the David Bull Publishing book that dwells on the racing and the rivalry.


Regular readers will remember an article we published last September by vintage racer Kevin Fitzgerald. Kevin is the proprietor of the Jacob Wirth Tavern in Boston. He suffered horrific burns in a highway accident on the way home from work. He wrote an excellent cautionary piece about what happened to him and what we should do if ever we are faced with a similar situation. If you didn’t read it last year, we recommend you read it this time and copy it for family members who also drive.

This is Kevin’s take on the movie and how New England area enthusiasts can take part in a worthwhile event to help future burn victims:

Last night I saw the movie "RUSH" with a friend. I could not get any of my family to go. Now I am glad they did not. I didn't have a problem watching Niki Lauda burning in the Ferrari. I did not get squeamish at the hospital scenes. I did relate greatly to watching Niki's wife suffer through this, because I got to see what it was like for my own wife.

Having been burned, it is not relevant how you were burned or where and how much. The damage both hidden and apparent is huge. It is well portrayed.

I am thrilled to say the changes in technology for burn patients are huge. Which is in part why I am writing. I recommend "RUSH" it is an excellent film. I would also ask that anyone in the New England area that can make a fund raising event on November 7, 2013 for the Fraser Burn Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, attend the event being held at Jacob Wirth restaurant. Attached is the open invitation. Whether your burns happen on the track like Lauda's or driving home from work like mine, there is a great need for this facility to be there for you.
Thanks, Kevin

No. Thank you, Kevin.





MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 12, 2013 Comments (0)

Santa Fe Concorso Continues…

Until Thursday, we had a note at the bottom of the editorial suggesting readers advise us on whether a move to a Saturday launch instead of Friday would be acceptable. Fate intervened and made the Friday launch impossible so here we are in your mailbox on a Saturday. We would nonetheless greatly appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

In last week’s MMR Newsletter we mentioned, in error, that the Santa Fe Concorso’s winning NART Ferrari car was one of 17 made. Our thanks to diligent readers who pointed out that it is one of only ten built. This may have been the second potential heart stopper in recent days for owners of the other nine NART 275s who may read the MMR Newsletter. The first had to be waking up on the morning after the Monterey sale of another of that litter and learning that it had just sold for $27.5 million! That had to be a pleasant surprise. (Then again… think of the folks who had owned these cars and sold them over the years for considerably less.)

F1 in Korea

The Race of the Degrading Tires went again to Vettel. The ever exuberant Kimi finished second. Was it just my imagination or did the crowd not cheer him as lustily as it did before he announced he would be once again a Ferrari man? Fighting Ferrari and Red Bull with a Lotus is like being David against two Goliaths. Fighting against Red Bull with a Ferrari is hardly as heroic. But the pay is steady.

Tires in F1

I find the F1 tire issues both annoying and totally unnecessary. In the past you had two types of tires, wet and dry. You also had at least two tire manufacturers involved in each race. The competitor who was fastest and stopped least times would win. The winning tire was the best compromise of longevity and speed. That is what racing is about in every aspect. Fast, soft tires shed themselves into what are called marbles and eliminate safe passing areas. Passing is exciting. So how did we get here? Again, in the old days, manufacturers signed one or more of the top teams to use their tires. They paid the teams to develop cars and tire tested with them throughout the season. Tire wars were a part of the competition. At some point series organizers, or perhaps even a manufacturer, determined that all this money was going to the racers and that if the series mandated only one tire, a slice of that money could go to the series management. The tire manufacturer saved on the testing process, no longer negotiated with individual teams and at times even had the series named after itself. Even better, they always won and were never forced to develop a better tire than the competitor for the obvious reason… there wasn’t one. The fans hardly noticed or cared. Differing tire performance, fixed fuel consumption, and increasingly quick pit stops are all a part of manufactured drama for the F1 show. This is not as exciting as passing on the track. Some of us would rather just watch racing. On the track!

IndyCar in Houston has a Problem

We were wrong! Again! We mentioned last week that Castroneves had the series locked up with a 49 point lead and three races to go. Houston is another of those concrete canyon parking lot tracks and so bumpy that it was breaking cars. In the two races in Houston, held on consecutive days and both paying full points, Castroneves’s normally reliable Penske broke. His arch rival, Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon finished first and second and now leads his Penske rival by 25 points, going into the final race on October 19th at Fontana. A spectacular last lap accident injured Dario Franchitti and several spectators. None fatally, thank goodness. Viewing that accident makes you realize how far race safety has come. No one should ever be critically injured or die in a car race.

This week’s issue features more images and stories from the Santa Fe Concorso. Thank you to Royce Rumsey and Tim Considine for their wonderful images.

Have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa

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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Nigel Snowden – Pacem

Posted on June 14, 2013 Comments (1)

Steve McQueen

Our lead image is probably the most recognized image of a racing driver in the world. It is the picture of Porsche driver Michael Delaney indicating to his Ferrari nemesis that, like the longbow man on the winning side centuries ago, his two fingers remain intact. Odd that this image, known universally as the two finger salute so representative of racing, is of a fictional race driver in a fictional race.

The image is, of course, of Steve McQueen, talented actor and driver, and the movie is Le Mans. We share the image today because the man who took it, Nigel Snowden, recently died.

As often happens, the real story behind the fiction is more interesting than what was created.

Nigel Snowden was a successful F1 photographer in the early sixties through the eighties and supplied images for top motorsports books and magazines of the time. This image, was not only his shot, it was his idea.

Steve McQueen’s film production company, Solar Productions, raced in a Porsche 908, equipped with cameras front and rear, in the 1970 Le Mans race to gather footage for their upcoming film. The car was driven by Herbert Linge and Jonathan Williams. (Jonathan’s shorts stories of the day are here in MMR Short Stories.) Driving and working the cameras whenever good opportunities presented themselves, they finished eighth overall. Since Snowden was part of the race day pit action which Solar wanted to replicate, they offered to pay him to do the same thing for their movie. He was delighted. At the end of the movie when Michael Delaney wanted to offer the single digit salute, it was Nigel Snowden who suggested that this might be viewed as vulgar by Europeans and suggested the alternative.

Juan Fangio visits

Nigel Snowden at work

Camera Crew

Steve McQueen and friend say hello

Movie star cars at rest

You can see the images which Snowden shot on that film in Michael Keyser’s excellent book, Behind LeMans, the Film in Photographs.

Nigel Snowden