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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 13, 2014 Comments (0)

In keeping with MMR’s tradition of supporting readers who indulge themselves at every given opportunity, we remind all that this Sunday is Father’s Day. A word to the wise man; if your plans include treating yourself to a good book, good food, and affordable wine in copious amounts in the name of Fatherhood, we urge you to consider that in itself, fathering is not so much an accomplishment. The achievement lies in surviving its byproduct, the children from whom you are expecting a thoughtful gift. Don’t expect them to buy you a good motorsports book. It isn’t going to happen. So take care of yourself. This week’s highlighted resources from our Goods and Services Directory feature some interesting reads. And here is where you can really shine. After you have purchased the book and just before you plunk down a C note for that box of backyard cigars, see that some flowers are delivered to the Memsahib. She probably made Father’s Day possible for you.

We review the Canadian GP in Montreal and preview Le Mans which is this weekend. Several short weeks ago we changed over our winter tires to summer and we were trying to figure out just how to read the code on the tires that indicate when they were hatched. Denise McCluggage’s story about tires is a timely review about an important and expensive part of our drive that some of us take for granted and most drivers completely neglect. 

Silver Arrows

Our featured photographer this week is MMR’s old friend Royce Rumsey’s Study in Silver. 

Our Michael Furman image for this issue is the cockpit of a 1936 Delahaye 135 GP race car. It is probably not your resident mental image of a Delahaye, but you won’t be disappointed in this basic racer version. See more of his work in his Gallery or at MichaelFurman.com.

Michael Furman photograph of the cockpit of a 1936 Delahaye 135 GP race car.

F1: Canadian GP – Montreal

By all accounts, neither the City of Montreal nor the F1 race disappointed. We didn’t attend and regret missing the parties but we did watch it on TV and everyone seemed to agree it was an interesting race. Despite their massive support in Montreal, Ferrari didn’t really have an impact and neither did McLaren. But, Red Bull and Mercedes did. It is too easy to say that the race was competitive because of the failure of technology at Mercedes. As enthusiasts we learned a few new interesting aspects of these cars and drivers. For one, we learned that the mighty Mercedes team were vulnerable, not only to hardware failure but also from an engineering point of view. Everyone knew that this track, with its long straight and relatively slow corners was tough on brakes. The new hybrid power system calls on the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) to slow the car through the drivetrain. Like downshifting. Mercedes felt that would be sufficient and ran smaller than permitted rear brake discs to save weight. When the KERS system failed, they ran out of brakes in the rear. Larger discs would not have solved the problem but they would have helped. 

Brake problems

Full credit to Rosberg who out qualified his teammate, and then, from the moment he had car problems ran hard and smart to salvage a second place. Vettel, who finished third to Ricciardo and Rosberg also showed grace and maturity in his post race interview. Next, we knew that drivers sometimes were obliged to reboot the computers, or more likely reprogram the drive settings, while they were racing. And we learned that some of them are better at it than others. Force India’s driver Sergio Perez, for instance, is not particularly good at it and it took him longer than others to change the necessary settings, costing him time and positions on the track and possibly contributing to his ill advised block on Massa that cost them both points-paying positions in the race. And it could be a clue as to why McLaren dumped him. Who says F1 is boring?

Le Mans: le 24 Heures du Mans

Stake out the couch, pile up the heart arresting, life shortening goodies, and a sleeping bag and tell everyone to close the doors to their room. Coverage begins Saturday at 6:30PM ET and Sunday at 1:00 AM. WOW! Will you be popular!

Le Mans: 24 Heures du Mans is the European equivalent of the Indy 500. Both get weeks of hype and special days to introduce the cars and the teams to the public. In the end, what was once an endurance race, as in will this bloody thing last is now a 24 hour sprint, as in foot to the floor for 24 race. Audi have dominated it in recent years with only a few Peugeot interruptions, to the disappointment of the French. Porsche had a stranglehold on it for years before they did.

The evolution of new engine and aerodynamic technology has presented an opportunity for car manufacturers to showcase their engineering talents and this year both Porsche and Toyota have joined the fray. Audi are there but hardly mentioned. Toyota have won the first two races of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship and they are looking strong for Le Mans where they qualified 1-2. Now begins the race of tactics.

Around the Newsstands

Classic and Sports Car did an interesting three-way comparison between a ′66 327 Corvette, a ′63 Jaguar XKE and a Toyota 2000 from the ′66 to ′70 period. Thought provoking read.

The June issue of Sports Car Market surveys some of the better known participants in the auction/collection game expounding on current market pricing and whether it is a justified trend or merely a bubble and when/if Chicken Little Syndrome will kick in. As you know, we don’t cover auctions here because so many people, like SCM, do it so much better. But because our MMR Goods & Services Directory deals daily with sales and repair outlets, (we have 2800 suppliers in the Directory) we can tell you that these quickly rising prices are affecting several sectors. For dealers, buying cars is getting tougher and tougher as nobody who can afford to wants to sell a car today that could be worth appreciably more in several months from now. Correspondingly, major used parts for older cars are also rising in price and being withheld from the repair shops for the same reason. As with everything else, where you stand on this issue depends on where you sit. For the average enthusiast, this is a game being played way beyond their ability to compete. While there is some comfort in seeing appreciation for the car you have been maintaining and enjoying for several years, if you are not planning to sell it, you are simply a spectator.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 30, 2014 Comments (0)

Last week’s newsletter prompted interesting responses. A sidebar to Denise McCluggage’s story about rallying behind the Iron Curtain is a precious vignette entitled The Last Supper. An image of a racing Ferrari Daytona prompted Michael Keyser to send us some images he shot of the same car at Le Mans in 1971. And, we received a note from its former owner Dave Gunn. You will be interested in both their comments. The #31 Porsche catching air on the uphill at Lime Rock last Saturday is by editor Dom Miliano. 

Catching air at Lime Rock. Photo by Dom Miliano

Michael Furman’s image this week is a Bugatti 57SC Atlantic from his book, The Art of Bugatti. You can look at this for a long time.

Photo by Michael Furman

F1 - Monaco. Shifting Ethos

As predicted here and almost everywhere else, the pole winner also won the race. Despite the absence of passing, the battle, both in and out of the cars, between the Mercedes drivers, though childish in spots, is entertaining. In the final qualifying session, with Rosberg holding the fastest time, he went off track in a safe spot and that brought out a yellow flag which obliged his teammate and everyone else on a final flying lap to abort their effort and thereby insure the pole for Rosberg.

On several occasions in the past F1 drivers have purposely crashed at the end of the qualifying to ensure that their time could not be bettered. In 2006, Michael Schumacher was penalized for doing just that on this very track. Rosberg was not penalized and rumors flew all weekend that Mercedes telemetry showed his off track excursion was deliberate. Hamilton’s demeanor certainly intimated that he knew his teammate had stolen the race from him and he is quoted as saying that he was two tenths quicker when the yellow flag flew and would have taken the pole. A subsequent interview with Derek Warwick, the designated forth member of the race stewards panel, a veteran F1 driver who participated in 146 races and current President of the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club), stated that the stewards had access to independent film, overhead shots, and all the Mercedes data. After a lengthy interview, they “could find no evidence of any offence”.

In F1, the drama of the actual racing struggles to equal the theatre provided by the teams, drivers, and locations, not to mention national rivalries that have existed for decades. Hamilton, for all his talent, is a walking soap opera. In Rosberg, he has a teammate so completely different, that it is impossible to believe that they could compete in the supercharged atmosphere of F1 with equal equipment and also get along. And for some, that is part of the entertainment.

Monaco

My only issue with the controversy is more a sad measure of the times. When it was assumed, and even stated on air by a prominent former driver, that only a minority believed Rosberg’s story, one article commended him for knowing that this is what is expected of a driver fighting for the Championship. It was reminiscent of those who commended Vettel for disobeying team orders and passing his unsuspecting teammate Mark Webber in the dying moments of the Malaysian GP last year. If that is the new standard of a Champion, drivers like Fangio, Clark, Graham and Phil Hill, and so many, many others would not be comfortable in their company. And neither should we.

IndyCar: The Double H Win Indy

It was an entertaining battle and in the end, Honda beat Chevy and Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Indianapolis 500. It was a good race and Hunter-Reay’s Honda-powered car was faster when it counted most. His comment I’m a proud American Boy, that’s for sure brought a huge cheer from the crowd.

With this win, Hunter-Reay, a former IndyCar Series Champion, took a giant step forward in the eyes of race fans and he brought Andretti-Green racing and Honda along with him. He is now first in the IndyCar points standings and has displaced Team Penske’s Will Power who finished eighth. Both the Penske and Ganassi Teams took a back seat to Andretti-Green who finished first, third, fourth, and sixth. Andretti-Green must now be considered their equals. Should they win the championship, even better.

Of interest, NASCAR Driver Kurt Busch finished sixth in his first IndyCar race. Nineteen-year-old Sage Karam finished ninth, and former race winner, series champion, and Fi Champion Jacques Villeneuve finished 14th.

This weekend IndyCar is in Detroit and for a two race weekend. Check out our MMR Motorsports Calendar for it and other options.

Editor Dom Miliano and I will be at the Greenwich Concours on Sunday. We hope to see you there.

Have a great weekend,

Peter Bourassa


Le Mans 1971

Posted on May 29, 2014 Comments (1)

by Michael Keyser

Here are a few more [photographs of the Daytona]. One is just after the race with people crawling on the car. Not sure if you know the story, but the car was driven by Luigi Chinetti, Jr. and Bob Grossman. They finished 5th and thought they’d won the GT class … until the French did some slight of hand. Somehow, the ACO decided the Ferrari wasn’t a GT car and awarded the class win to the 911S that finished 6th and was driven by … guess … two Frenchmen.

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser

Le Mans 1971 - Photo by Michael Keyser


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 30, 2013 Comments (0)

Our opening image is from Michael Furman’s book Curves of Steel. Classic & Sports Car is making it possible for MMR subscribers to receive this book in an offer detailed here.

Curves of Steel by Michael Furman

Penske Wins Race and Loses Championship

Will Power, aptly named Penske driver, won the finale of the 2013 Izod IndyCar Series at Auto Club Speedway in California on Sunday. Fellow New Zealander Scott Dixon finished fifth and one place ahead of Helio Castroneves, the driver who led the series for most of the season. Dixon and his Ganassi team are the deserved champions. A race management mistake by Roger Penske, who called Castroneves in while the pits were closed, didn’t help but this was a very odd race at a very odd place. It was a race with 28 lead changes and 11 different leaders and, as with so many other IndyCar races this year, the poor quality of the track was a factor. The 2-mile D-Shaped Oval was so dirty that radiators were plugging and face shields were being sandblasted all day. It is a dull track and will make a dull housing development. Hopefully soon.

TK’s Take on Final Petit Le Mans

Our hero, the brilliant and perceptive Tommy Kendall, and his Viper SRT Team, at one point led the GT class of the Petit Le Mans at a real race track, Road Atlanta, and finished fifth in Class. Tommy writes:

While it was a good finish, after the strength we showed all week and clearly having the fastest two cars there, to leave with a 5th and a 7th was definitely a disappointment. But, as I am fond of saying, if it was easy everyone would do it! That said, to be disappointed with a fifth shows how far this team has come so quickly. The progress by all involved in SRT Motorsports is truly remarkable.

He adds:

I appreciate the MMR Community’s support, as you are an esteemed, knowledgeable, and passionate group clearly possessing extraordinary taste! :-)

We did mention his perceptiveness?

F1 Then and Now: 1955 Belgian Grand Prix – Spa Video

Nigel Roebuck’s Reflections in the November issue of Motor Sport magazine mentions this video and it is on our home page for you. If only to give you an appreciation of how far F1 has come, view this video and compare it with what you will see in this weekend’s F1 Indian GP. It is also a study in bravery and talent.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

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