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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


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


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


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 9, 2014 Comments (0)

Tweaking Makes the Difference

Anyone who switched on the Tudor Sports Car Racing Series mid race last weekend must have thought they were in a time warp. Tremendous racing! The race was at Laguna Seca which is a great track with all kinds of turn radii and elevation changes, and a perpetually slippery surface. Perfect. The biggest difficultly in putting the two series together was insuring that there would be competitive racing for each class in both series. The most difficult to satisfy would be the Prototypes. The American Le Mans and Daytona Prototypes are simply very different beasts. The first races were not real road race courses. Daytona with its huge banking and Mickey Mouse infield section, Sebring, the forlorn airfield that has for decades seen historic races but little resurfacing, and Long Beach, one of the more interesting street circuits but none-the-less bumpy, have all favored the Daytona Prototypes and this was expected.

At the first real race course, the ALMS Prototypes came into their own. Thanks to minor rule tweaks and a format that split the field because the pit area couldn’t accommodate all the entrants, they made it a fight and eventually beat the DP cars to win. It worked! Huge sighs all around and great for them and great for American road racing!

The sports car racing was spectacular and it was fun watching Bill Auberlen drive through the pack in his BMW to catch, bump, and pass the factory Porsche to finish second behind the Corvette of Magnussen/Garcia. Want to catch up? Check out Mr. Energy Justin Bell’s pre-race program and year-to-date summary. Instructive and entertaining. 

Alfa Addendum

Last week we wrote (cynically) about how Fiat was setting Alfa Romeo up as a stand-alone company. We further assumed that the move was made to position the company to be sold. Yesterday Fiat announced that it will spend $7 Billion dollars to produce eight new models that will be designed and built in Italy and on the market in 2018. After years of feeling like Charlie Brown, we don’t want to believe that Sergio Marchionne and Fiat will pull the football away again. And once again we will live in hope. And wait. Again.

Toyota to Texas

Last week Toyota announced they would be moving their US headquarters to Texas from California. This week Denise McCluggage writes about pickup trucks in general and Toyota pickup trucks in particular and “Texas”. Enjoy.

Michael Furman News

Michael Furman's photograph of a 1927 Bugatti 35C and is from his book The Art of Bugatti – Mullin Automotive Museum

This week’s image is of a 1927 Bugatti 35C and is from his book The Art of BugattiMullin Automotive Museum. You can learn how he does his magic this Saturday. Michael is doing a photography demo at the Trenton-Mercer Airport in Trenton, NJ, from 9:30AM to 2:30PM. Learn more at the MMR Calendar.

F1 from Spain this weekend. Have a great one.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 2, 2014 Comments (0)

Alfas

Alfa: A Glorious Past—An Unpredictable Future

Regular subscribers may have noticed that mention of Alfa Romeo occurs frequently in our weekly screeds. The history of this glorious brand provides excellent fodder for our constant railings against the plastic look-alike offerings of Maserati, Jaguar and Buick.

Alfa Romeo has had two lives; a full rich one in Europe where its successful racing and fine street cars engendered a passion which endures around the world today. And another in America where its European accomplishments were generally unknown but where Alfa race cars soared sporadically in the sixties and seventies. Truth be told, it is best remembered in America for being Dustin Hoffmann’s ride in The Graduate.

Alfa

This week it was announced that Fiat would be removing Alfa from under the Ferrari–Maserati umbrella and making it a stand-alone company. In fact, Ferrari is the premium performance brand, and a struggling Maserati is not a close second. Porsche has that. Glorious as its past unquestionably is, today there is no room for Alfa Romeo in the Fiat garage. This week’s announcement is not accompanied by a hopeful plan or an encouraging narrative. Rather it has fueled speculation that Alfa Romeo is being positioned for sale. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it found a loving home.

Alfa 3 wheel

Alfa: History Flash

In keeping with the Alfa theme, contributor S. Scott Callan has provided us a reminder of Alfa’s glorious past from his book, Alfa Romeo: View from The Mouth of the Dragon.

Ferrari 250 GTO in Motion

Ferrari 250 GTO 1964

University of Rhode Island Film Professor, one time actor, and MMR subscriber Hal Hamilton forwarded a great video of Derek Hill narrating the history of and driving the Ferrari 250 GTO that his father drove to victory in several major races. This is about as close as many of us will ever get to the view from the passenger seat of this most beautiful of the 36 GTOs ever made.

Senna and RUSH

Motorsports magazines are reminding Ayrton Senna fans that this month marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna at Imola. Autoweek carried Alain Prost’s fairly brief remembrance of their relationship in the most recent issue. As it happens, I saw RUSH last week and read the Prost piece shortly afterward. It occurred to me that the rivalry between Senna and Prost would have made a far better film.

Images

Our lead image and Alfa images this week are from Michael Keyser’s excellent book Racing Demons – Porsche and the Targa Florio.

And Michael Furman’s image this week is a great shot of the long tail 917 that lives at the Simeone in Philadelphia. Isn’t it stunning?

photo by Michael Furman, Porsche Long Tail 917

If you haven’t visited our Uncommon Classifieds recently, click here. There are a number of rare and interesting cars on offer at this time. Take a moment to dream, it’s good for you.

Have a great weekend and please share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa