MMR Blog

Bernie Debates Going to Hell…
the Green One

Posted on January 23, 2014 Comments (0)

Nurburgring

There was a time in the sixties when the original Nurburgring was 17.6 miles long and still on the F1 calendar. That is when the iconic image of Jim Clark cresting one of its many steep hills and flying his Lotus a foot off the ground was taken. The place was tough on cars and on drivers and, considering the safety standards of the day, exceptionally dangerous. Niki Lauda’s accident, as recently recreated in the film RUSH, put an end to F1 on that circuit.

Jim Clark

Map

Jackie Stewart gave the circuit the name that stuck. The track was bankrupt in 2012. Locals were divided over rescue plans; the amusement park and shopping mall built to revitalize the area failed miserably. In 2013, it was put up for sale and last week Bernie Ecclestone was reportedly negotiating to buy it. This is not his first attempt to purchase the Nurburgring. Tough to negotiate with a man who has the time to wait, the power to make it successful, and the money to make it all happen. Time will tell if they can come to an agreement but either way, the thought of Bernie Ecclestone being in a position to own his own hell, green or otherwise, is amusing.

Nurburgring 600

Nurburgring-nordschleife

We’ll follow that. Meanwhile, this week’s video is a promotional piece by McLaren Cars. It is another in a long line of manufacturer made in-car and overhead shots of their cars breaking mythical lap records. This one, as you might expect from McLaren, is both high quality and slightly different. Tell us what you think.


New From David Bull Publishing
McLaren From The Inside: Photographs by Tyler Alexander

Posted on July 2, 2013 Comments (0)

McLaren From The Inside: Photographs By Tyler Alexander offers a vivid and uniquely personal perspective on two eras at one of racing’s greatest teams. After joining Bruce McLaren’s new team as a mechanic in 1964, Tyler Alexander played a critical role in creating its earliest cars, which quickly scored wins in Formula 1 and dominated the Can-Am sports-car series. At the same time, Tyler was also recording the team’s progress through hundreds of vivid photographs taken during spare moments at the track and behind the scenes at the McLaren factory.

Tyler Alexander with Timmy Mayer on the grid at Teretonga, New Zealand, during the 1964 Tasman Series.

Tyler Alexander with Timmy Mayer on the grid at Teretonga, New Zealand,
during the 1964 Tasman Series.

Lotus founder Colin Chapman and his wife Hazel during practice for the Monaco Grand Prix in 1964.

Lotus founder Colin Chapman and his wife Hazel during practice for the Monaco Grand Prix in 1964.

Mark Donohue is congratulated for his victory in the 1966 Nassau Trophy race as Roger Penske looks on.

Mark Donohue is congratulated for his victory in the 1966 Nassau Trophy race
as Roger Penske looks on.

Bruce McLaren liked to test a new car without the bodywork in order to get a sense of how it performed without any aerodynamic effects. One result seen here is the M6A’s front tire lifting off the surface at Goodwood.

Bruce McLaren liked to test a new car without the bodywork in order to get a sense of how it performed without any aerodynamic effects. One result seen here is the M6A’s front tire lifting off the surface at Goodwood.

A well-armed Bruce McLaren emerges from a tarpaulin covering the M7 Formula One car during a rainy testing session at Brands Hatch in 1968.

A well-armed Bruce McLaren emerges from a tarpaulin covering the M7 Formula One car during a rainy testing session at Brands Hatch in 1968.

Bruce McLaren on the track at Brands Hatch in early 1968, in Denny Hulme’s M6A Can-Am car. In 1967 Bruce and Denny drove the M6A to victory in five out of six Can-Am races.

Bruce McLaren on the track at Brands Hatch in early 1968, in Denny Hulme’s M6A Can-Am car. In 1967 Bruce and Denny drove the M6A to victory in five out of six Can-Am races.

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis with that “We’ve just won” look on his face after Heikki Kovalainen’s victory at the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix.

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis with that “We’ve just won” look on his face after Heikki Kovalainen’s victory at the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Flanked by engineers in the McLaren garage, Jenson Button stares at a monitor showing his results from a practice session at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2010.

Flanked by engineers in the McLaren garage, Jenson Button stares at a monitor showing his results from a practice session at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2010.

McLaren From The Inside collects Tyler’s best photographs from two very different eras. Part I covers the team’s formative years in the 1960s through black-and-white shots of Bruce McLaren and company building, testing, and racing cars in England and around the world. Friends and competitors are also included, among them such great drivers as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, and Jackie Stewart, as well as team leaders John Cooper, Carroll Shelby, and Colin Chapman. In Part II, Alexander captures the high-tech, hypercompetitive atmosphere of today’s Formula 1 with images taken during the first decade of the 21st century. Along with a new generation of driving talent—Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen—Alexander’s lens also focuses on the designers, engineers, mechanics, and other team members who continue to make McLaren so successful today.

Book Details
McLaren From The Inside: Photographs by Tyler Alexander
By Tyler Alexander
Hardcover, 11” by 11”, 144 pages, 115 black-and-white and 10 color photographs
Retail price: $49.95
ISBN: 978 1 935007 18 0
Available July, 2013

Ordering Information: McLaren From The Inside is available through specialty motoring booksellers and directly from the publisher. Orders can be made by calling 602-852-9500 or by visiting David Bull Publishing. For orders in the United Kingdom please contact Chris Lloyd Sales & Marketing Services, which distributes David Bull Publishing books, at (0) 1202 649930.

Contact Information:
DAVID BULL PUBLISHING

4250 E. Camelback Road, Suite K.150, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Phone: (602) 852-9500 Fax: (602) 852-9503
E-mail: tmoore@bullpublishing.com


The Senna Film

Posted on June 28, 2011 Comments (0)

There is an aspect of human nature that tends to forgive shortcomings if they walk arm in arm with redeeming charm. People so fortunately possessed are called ‘rascals’ or ‘clever devils’. It can be the most hopeful aspect of our beings that we forgive transgressions committed with humor or style.

Ayrton Senna 1989

Ayrton Senna 1989

Film works best when celebrating that conflict. Famous movies such as To Catch a Thief, Dirty Harry, The Magnificent Seven, all pit unorthodox, even disreputable characters against the bad guys and the establishment, and we love it. A very successful feature film about two loveable train robbers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was based on real-life characters. The originals robbed and killed innocent people and were not quite as lovable, handsome or funny. When news of their violent death in South America reached the good folks back home, most breathed a sigh of relief.

Seventeen years after his death, a compelling new feature film celebrating the life of Aryton Senna, is about to reach the theatres. It has been released in Brazil and Europe and exceptionally well received. Based on rare archival film and interviews with those close to him in the sport, the filmmakers bring us their portrait of a brilliant racer who loved God, his family, his country and winning motor races.

To say that Ayrton Senna was a complex person would be an understatement. His ruthless intensity behind the wheel, his overt love of God and family, his generosity to those less fortunate, his combative relationships all made him the stuff of legend.

Formula 1 is a car vs. car, team vs. team, and at times in its history has been a country vs. country competition. Set in glamorous locations around the world, during the season these intense rivalries are renewed every two weeks. For a brief period, at its center was where Ayrton Senna needed to be. In a world where time is measured in 1000ths of a second, winners are those most often on the edge of perfection and disaster.

Not all teams or cars are equal, so winning in Formula 1 racing means having the best equipment matched to the best drivers. Each team has two cars. Theoretically the difference between them is the drivers. For a driver to lose to a competitor in a better car is no shame. However to lose to a teammate in an identical car requires explanation. Drivers generally begin their careers in lesser cars, prove their worth against other proven drivers, and if they are judged qualified they move up the ladder of better cars. Senna was exceptional and was soon paired with the then World Champion, the Frenchman Alain Prost, at McLaren Cars.

The elements of a classic tragedy were thus set. The passionate Senna’s belief in self was total. He had dominated previous teammates and intended to dominate Prost. The cerebral Prost’s proven worth and ego could not allow anyone else to win. Racing for the same team in the equal cars meant that between these two men, someone had to lose. The argument would be settled at speed.

Every sport has what participants consider sporting rules. Motorsports first competitors were generally men of means: sportsmen. Winning honorably was as important as winning. Senna and Prost did not so much race as war. In doing so, they obliged the rules keepers to either ban them or rewrite the rules. So compelling was their battle that the governing body of the sport, the FIA, changed the rules and thereby changed F1 racing forever.

Many could argue that it was not for the better.

Just as Senna’s death was mourned by his many fans, it could be argued that many fans of Formula 1 breathed a sigh of relief.

pb


From Ugly Duckling to Somewhat Attractive Swan

Posted on May 23, 2011 Comments (1)

Several posts ago we said some “less than pleasing” things about the new McLaren MP4-12 street car.

McLaren MP4-12C

In summary, we said that while it may be technically brilliant, it was terribly plain and had a stupid name. In an effort to help, we re-christened it the “Britannia”. We thought that even though that wouldn’t make it any prettier, it might sound less like they forgot to name it and are still using the engineering code number.

The recently revealed MP4-12C version is almost double the cost of the street car, far more attractive and with a limited production run of 20, it is also quite exclusive. Labeling it a “gentleman racer” rather than a “factory racer” puts less pressure on the factory to re-produce the highly successful racing introduction of the McLaren F1.

McLaren MP4-12C

At just a hair over a half a million (US) dollars, the car is being first marketed in Europe and then Asia and Australia. We can understand why Europe should be first, after all that is where they are made and offering them to immediate neighbors is good politics. America should have been the next logical market. McLaren instead are going next to Asia and then Australia? How far down in the pecking order have we fallen and why? We can all guess, but it would be nice to hear it from them.


Through the Looking Glass

Posted on March 31, 2011 Comments (0)

I dub thee “McLaren 388 Britannia”

McLaren MP4-12C

Borrowing the Ferrari nomenclature to rename it the “388 Britannia” won’t make it prettier but this car needs help to make it memorable.

The folks, sans Gordon Murray, who gave us the timeless beauty of the McLaren F1 have delivered the MP4-12C, a technically brilliant disappointment. If ever a car looked like it was designed by a committee and named by a chemist, this is it. Sadly, after reading all the accolades in the traditional media, someone has to shout it, "the Emperor has dull clothes!"

McLaren are constantly reminding us that they are an engineering company. From an engineering viewpoint their MP4-12C must make their hearts sing. And if you are the kind of person who revels in advanced engineering features, join their chorus. If you aren’t, like me, you will be left standing on the sidewalk and asking one question; Why? Who needs a car that goes 205 MPH, and would you pay 200 large for 500HP and an ingenious suspension system?

So far the new McLaren has won the technology battle of this model year. In significant ways it is deemed more advanced than its competitors the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Lamborghini LP-560-4. Unfortunately it has lost the war for the hearts of its target market because while definitely not ugly, it is definitely plain.

The F1 was a success because out of the box it was a striking looking car. Then the factory took three to LeMans and finished 1st, 3rd and 4th first time out. That’s gravitas. And that sells cars. The only car that ever sold due to its suspension system was the first car that had one. After that it was all subjective.

Go to an auction and you will find that the most desirable sports cars in the world are not of this or even the last decade. By today’s standards, they are certainly not engineering marvels. Most don’t have a computer and some don’t even have power windows. They are known not so much by manufacturer name and designation but by the titles we, the fans, have bestowed upon them: In no particular order this is our short list: Atlantique, 250SWB, 275, P4, Dino, Testa Rosa, Muira, GTO, Shelby, Grand Sport, Carrera, C-type, D-Type, SS, E-Type, Speed 8, 6C, SS, 8C, DB-4 and of course the incomparable F1.

On the other side of town the 458 is simply stunning and the Lambo is edgy-scary. Sitting still, both look like live rockets. They reach emotions. They say “Don’t you want to sit in something beautiful that gets your heart rate up to the max your cardiologist will allow?” Be honest, if you had to have someone drive you home and you had a choice between Pamela Anderson and Sebastian Vettel, who would you give the keys to?

The sad truth is that the majority of Ferrari and Lambo owners will never drive their cars anywhere near their potential. It’s illegal and they’re neither interested nor capable. And that is OK because that is not why they bought them. They didn’t buy a Ferrari or Lambo to stop, go and turn better than any other car. They bought them because they are beautiful and make beautiful sounds. And that makes them feel very, very good. Plus, they hope that some of that magic will rub off and that they will be envied. And they are.

So, if the car love of your life is an MGB, TR-3, a Sunbeam Tiger, a Miata, a Z-car, an Elise, a Morgan, or an XK-120, or so many other fun cars, you are a hell of a lot closer to getting it than the committee that delivered this baby.