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Posted on November 7, 2014 Comments (0)

F1

COTA track diagram

If ever there was an argument for road courses over street sources, the US grand Prix at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) made it. Here, in a race where the finishes of the first two cars was pretty much determined in qualifying, an entertaining race took place largely due to the race track on which it was held. The two Mercedes are not identical in set up and Hamilton made the right setting decisions and Rosberg did not. Bravo Hamilton. Behind the two of them, some fantastic scraps took place, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many moons. Ricciardo cleverly drove the fifth best car to third place and the Williams cars both finished ahead of the top Ferraris of Alonso in 6th and Raikkonen in 13th.

Lewis Hamilton COTA Voctor

But it was the track that was the star. It is the most interesting F1 track on the circuit and we predict, where Spa has held that unofficial title for decades, given not too much more time, COTA will be just as highly regarded. Why? Well, for one thing it is wide enough to encourage three abreast driving and for the same reason makes blocking difficult. The straights are long enough to allow trimming and tuning for high speeds and that hurts grip in the twisty bits. And, most important, it rewards aggressive driving and good set-up decisions. Strictly from a spectator’s viewpoint, this may have been the best race of the year. Bravo COTA!

Lewis Parc Ferme COTA

Noteworthy

Sergio Perez Force India

“The Force India driver (Sergio Perez) was involved in a collision on Lap 2 at the Circuit of the Americas that forced him and Adrian Sutil into retirement.” He ruined both their days and was penalized by the stewards. In questioning immediately after the incident, Sutil, was asked if he was going to go over to the Force India pit and confront Perez. No, he said that he expected Sergio to come to him. With an apology? He was asked. Well, at least an explanation, he said. (Read NASCAR below for comparison.)

Adrian Sutil COTA

Caterham and Marussia, who both missed the race, were hardly missed on TV because they are so uncompetitive that they are rarely seen on TV anyway unless someone who is really racing is passing them. Proving F1 doesn’t need a full grid to be entertaining, it needs competitive cars.

Ferrari Factory

Fiat announced that they will sell Ferrari. From an F1 viewpoint, an independent Ferrari company can only afford to compete in F1 if they are winning. The Manufacturers Championship purse is huge. The winners share can finance the F1 racing program with some left over. A future independent Ferrari could not afford to race in F1 if they finish fourth, as they will this year. And some argue, with reason, that F1 without Ferrari has a huge problem.

NASCAR: Another Battle in Texas

Ferrari Factory

Hollywood has set an absurdly high standard for how fist-fighting should look! The staged fistfights in early cowboy movies were humorous by today’s standards. Good guys and villains absorbed haymakers that should have disfigured them for life, yet never lost their hats. Let alone a tooth. Current movie fights are more graphic but equally unreal. In the real life NASCAR fight we featured last week, tough looking Cale Yarborough actually hit Allison with his helmet, not his fists. It’s not up to Hollywood standards but it is far smarter. Head bones are thicker than hand bones.

Jeff Gordon

Sunday’s brawl after the Texas 500 race involved gentleman Jeff Gordon, annoying but talented Brad Keselowski and the proud inheritor of Dale Sr’s less admirable traits, Kevin Harvick. Gordon knows better and Harvick hit Keselowski in the back. But again, lots of hugging but no real punches thrown. And the film shows that Gordon had every right to be disappointed but no more than that. He gave Keselowski an opening and the kid took it. For his troubles, Keselowski got his face scuffed a little but he probably won thousands of fans that Gordon and Harvick lost. Next week’s second to last race in Phoenix will determine which four drivers will be eligible to win the Championship in the final race at Homestead. This is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Kevin Harvock


 Michael Furman image is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One

Our Michael Furman image this week is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One.


Artist Chris Osborne painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix.

Talented artist Chris Osborne sent us this image of a recently completed painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix. I think you will agree that Chris has captured the essence of both.


The next chapter of Marshall Buck’s story about building a model of a Ferrari 250 SWB is now available.

In My Word:Tread Lightly, Denise McCluggage suggested that readers may want to join her on a Tin Cup Trek. Several of you have mentioned an interest to me. If you keep in touch with Denise, we will keep everyone updated on progress.

This weekend the F1 circus goes to Brazil and, as mentioned, NASCAR is at Phoenix. Please share us with your friends and have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 31, 2014 Comments (0)

Actor David Niven’s excellent biography was entitled Bring on the Empty Horses. It was a quote from a European film director to the English speaking crew of a Western he was shooting. At this point in the season, I feel that is where we are in the remaining F1 races.

F1

Hamilton and Rossberg

The US GP is this weekend. It is hard to imagine that except for a handful of F1 drivers, most have no commitment to putting it all on the line for their team. Mercedes have won the championship but only the battle for the Drivers Championship is ongoing. Many have been critical of the “trick” double points final race in Abu Dhabi, but that is all that is keeping things interesting in the race for the Drivers Championship. Rosberg could finish second in the next two races and still win if Hamilton’s car failed in the final race. Stranger and far less pleasant things have happened in the final races for former Formula Drivers Championships.

On the Constructor Championship side Mercedes and Red bull are one-two and that will not change. The battle for third between Williams and Ferrari is still alive and with a little luck Williams could reap a massive payday.

Marussia Formula 1

Speaking of F1 and money, both Caterham and Marussia appear to be in financial difficulty and neither will make the grid for the US GP. Force India and Sauber appear to also have financial difficulties. Save Ferrari-Fiat, Mercedes, and Red Bull, who are not in it for the money, Williams are the inspiration of remaining small teams. They may actually do well financially this year. Keeping them all alive is Bernie Ecclestone’s job and credit where credit is due, he has been doing it for years.

NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Racing at Martinsville’s half-mile oval for NASCAR’s Sprint Cars was once likened to flying fighter jets in a gymnasium and the track never fails to produce a rash of hard feelings. Finishing unscathed is a miracle and winning is pure luck. Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first Martinsville Clock, the winner’s prize. Unfortunately he is no longer in the “Chase” for series Championship. He finished just ahead of teammate Jeff Gordon, who is one of the “Final Eight” in the Chase and would have been guaranteed to advance to the “Final Four” with a win. Other than the driver of the car that survives to win, few ever leave Martinsville happy.


Michael Furman photograph of a 1914 American Model 642 rear wheel

Our Michael Furman image this week is from his recent book Bespoke. Editor Dom Miliano reviews the book Michael wrote with Randy Leffingwell entitled Porsche Unexpected.


Denise McCluggage joins us again this week with an entertaining tale about the remarkable BMW i8.

Denise McCluggage My Word, BMW i8


COTA is a great track for F1 so enjoy the weekend.

Don’t forget to share us with a friend and encourage them to subscribe to the MMR Community Newsletter on our website.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 24, 2014 Comments (0)

It happens every year but it still feels funny. An October weekend with no F1 race, or a Tudor Sports Car race, or an IndyCar race. But wait, there is always NASCAR!

Racing

NASCAR drivers are competing to continue into their playoff season and stakes are high. My curiosity was peeked last week when mainstream media got excited over a murky video of a driver running/scuffling/whatever between NASCAR transports and the news that Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, and Denny Hamlin had exchanged paint with Penske driver Brad Keselowski on and off the track and Kenseth, in the video, was chasing him with a view to possibly harming him. As it happens he reportedly got him in a headlock. But the real news for fans was the fact that mild mannered Kenseth was involved at all. NASCAR must have felt the same way as they fined Keselowski $50K, Tony Stewart $25K, and Kenseth not a dime. In subsequent interviews with Kenseth and Hamlin, financial correctness prevailed. Each driver mentioned the name of his sponsors and their team and their car manufacturer and then described his part in the affair. All quite different.

Matt Kensenth with daughter

In a pre-“NASCAR American Family” era, before drivers stood on the grid with all their living relatives and we got to watch their wives agonize over whether husbands would win the Duck Commander 500, when drivers and pit crews fought, punches got thrown and people fell down, NASCAR projected a far different image. They appear to have forgotten the impact that the fight Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison had on ratings when they tangled on the cool down lap of the 1979 Daytona 500. . “An estimated 16 million people watched the race, a number that jumped to nearly 20 million over the closing laps. CBS won an Emmy for the broadcast, televised the Daytona 500 until 2000 and showed a fledgling cable network called ESPN the value of the racing business.”

A driver’s reputation counted for something then. Fast fists and a feisty disposition were prized driver attributes. Among many others in NASCAR’s history, a hot tempered AJ Foyt and humorless Parnelli Jones were not men to be trifled with on the track because eventually you would meet them in the pits. The aforementioned drivers were the American alpha males of their age and, not surprisingly, they never tangled. Veteran pit people also thought that Foyt was very wise. Parnelli and the angelic looking Mark Donahue, an equally fierce competitor, did their fighting on the track in Mustangs and Camaros. Jones introduced overt revenge wrecking to road racing. It shocked the sporty-car crowd establishment organizers but it thrilled the fans.

Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison fight

The difference in the times? Today, Tony Stewart is the only driver in the pits who still reacts in the old fashioned way. And his recent troubles in a modified race probably have an effect on that also. One week after the blow-up and fines, Keselowski won the Geico Talladega 500 with Kenseth pushing him across the line to finishing second. Despite Roger Penske’s endorsement of his actions, the fact remains that had this happened 40 years ago someone would have insured that he met the wall in Talladega early, unintentionally, of course.

Denise McCluggage

The Great Divide

Denise McCluggage joins us again this week and writes a follow-up to her recent Range Rover trek to her ancestral home of Tin Cup, Colorado. 

Denise is currently recovering nicely from surgery to replace a poorly performing hip. This is her second such restoration and we know you join us in wishing her a hearty “Hip! Hip! Hooray!” She is in good company as she is recovering in Albuquerque, tribal home of the Unsers and the Unser Racing Museum.

Concorso Images

Please visit our Photo Gallery for more images from The Santa Fe Concorso.

Feedback: Sochi Sucks!

Alonso, Russia GP

We were correct and so was Alonso. The Russian race was boring and it turns out there was a technical reason why. All the drivers were running out of their allotted fuel ration and dialed back the engine performance in order to finish. Brilliant! And boring.

Also on the Sochi post we suggested that perhaps Bob Varsha, Tommy Kendall, and Justin Bell would add a more American (We know Bell is British, but he is funnier than hell and we want him anyway) flavor to US F1 coverage. WHAT THINK YOU?


Michael Furman’s image is of an unrestored body badge on a T-57 Bugatti.

Michael Furman’s image this week is of an unrestored body badge on a T-57 Bugatti.


Have a great weekend and please don’t forget to share this newsletter with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 17, 2014 Comments (0)

MG Grill

I was recently perusing a very old (1930s?) magazine in which a sports car was defined as “a small, two passenger car intended for short spirited rides”. One of the first cars I owned in the sixties was a 1957 MGA. It was a small sports car. Years later, I remember sitting on the false grid of a Ferrari track event and in front of me was a Ferrari F355. I remember thinking how much higher, wider and fatter it was than my “little” 308.

Black Ferrari 308

A recent article in Automobile Magazine compared a Bentley Continental with a New Ferrari FF. I was struck by how big these 2+2 Touring Cars appeared. The Bentley is 189 inches long, the FF is 193, and my 308 is 172. The MG was a mere 155 inches long. The Bentley is 55 inches high, the Ferrari is 54, and the 308 is 44. Strangely, the MGA was 50 inches high. So the MGA was “little” compared to the “308” and the 308 is “little” compared to the FF. A Ford GT 40 is 183 inches long and, of course, 40 inches tall.

Ford GT 40


Marshall Buck brings us the second installment of his construction of the miniature Ferrari 250 SWB.

Marshall Buck brings us the second installment of his construction of the miniature Ferrari 250 SWB.


Michael Furman’s photograph of the 1916 Simplex-Crane headlight.

This week we feature Michael Furman’s image of the 1916 Simplex-Crane headlight.


F1

Sochi F! Track

Sochi Sucks! Designer Hermann Tilke has done it again! Though his name was never mentioned (I wonder why?), the longish track is simply more of the same. This event was a triple threat come true. The track is boring, the race was boring (and Alonso agrees) and the coverage was abysmal. Our sympathies to the talking trio who sit in Connecticut trying to make an entertaining contribution without any control of the broadcast feed or the ability to review images.

Having said that, their consistent braying “the drivers love it!” about absolutely every venue sounds like a directive from F1 management. They and F1 appear to have forgotten who it is that they are meant to be entertaining.

On the Pricing Bubble!

Alain de Cadenet

Last week’s article by Winston Goodfellow drew many comments from our readers. It brought to mind a recent article in Classic & Sports Car’s 2014 Market Review. Alain de Cadenet, who writes a great monthly column sponsored by Credit Suisse entitled de Cad’s Heroes, explored an aspect of collecting vintage cars which we think you might appreciate. Our thanks to him for permission to reprint his thoughts here.

That’s it for this week.

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Car stuff can be very funny. For your enjoyment:


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 10, 2014 Comments (0)

With a slight bump and a bound, the midsize commuter jet lands in Santa Fe and disgorges twenty passengers. It is early evening Wednesday and 24 hours from now we begin our Santa Fe Concorso adventure.

My companion is a fellow Bostonian and motorsports friend who owns a place in the northwest quadrant of the city and has generously offered me lodging and transportation. He is a former Brit and an admirer of all things BRG. It’s genetic. Concurrent with the Concorso, a local British Car Club is also having a conclave and he anticipates attending a few of their functions.

Santa Fe Concorso 2014

This week’s issue is populated with images from our Santa Fe Friday gathering at the airport, the Saturday Mountain Tour, and the Sunday Concorso. Read about our adventures and view more photos in our gallery.

Santa Fe Concorso 2014


Michael Furman’s photograph is an image of the c-pillar vents on a 275GTB Ferrari.

Michael Furman’s contribution this week is an image of the c-pillar vents on a 275GTB Ferrari. Beautiful.


Classic Car Pricing “Bubble”

The Goodfellow Perspective

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name… Ah, but Shakespeare was wrong! There is much more in a name. Consider that few of us choose our own. Roughly half of us change one part of it at some point, and others ascribe to us, often wrongly, an ethnicity, heritage, and a financial value based solely upon hearing it. So names can hugely influence our lives. To wit, several years ago an excellent and now defunct magazine called Sports Car International had on its masthead the name of a contributing writer named Winston Goodfellow.

What better beginning to a writer’s name than “Winston”, a name synonymous with the capacity to inspired with words the English speaking world. What fitter ending for the name of a writer than “Goodfellow”. The OED says a good fellow is “an agreeable or jovial companion; a reliable or true friend”. In sum, a true friend of words. In the ensuing years I have read his thoughtful pieces and his measured prose in numerous magazines and books and have never been disappointed. He lives up to his name. Imagine my elation therefore when I was introduced to him in Santa Fe by a mutual friend. Over the weekend we chatted on several occasions and during one such conversation about the current vintage car “pricing bubble”, Winston offered to share with you, our MMR community, his thoughts on that subject which he had recently published on his website.


F1

Lewis Hamilton F1 Grand Prix Japan

The Japanese GP was a disaster. Uncommonly bad weather conditions and scheduling commitments elsewhere that narrowed the time frame in which the event could be run put organizers in a position where they either gambled on running the race or losing a fortune. In one way, organizers are not different from the drivers; neither believes that anyone will be seriously hurt racing in an F1 car. Both are wrong.

As for the race, we have come to recognize at this stage of the year that the main competitions on the track are within, not against, each team.  Mercedes has won the Manufacturers Championship and one of the Mercedes drivers will win the Drivers Championship. The question and the entertainment factor is which one? In third and fourth place are Ricciardo and Vettel. The latter has picked up his socks and may still catch and beat his young teammate before going to Ferrari next year. Alonso has solidly trounced Raikkonen at Ferrari and Bottas has beaten Massa at Williams. Button won’t be caught by Magnussen but Perez could catch Hulkenberg. No one cares about the remainder.

Vettel leaving Red Bull to drive for Ferrari could be a triumph of hope over history. Schumacher didn’t work those miracles alone. He had Todt, Brawn, and Montezemolo experience right there beside, behind, and in front of him. Vettel brings more F1 experience to Ferrari than both Marchionne and Mattiachi combined.

Alonso should think twice before committing to McLaren. This will be Honda’s first year with a new engine. Renault and Ferrari have both suffered through a humiliating engine building program but have learned a lot. Red Bull will have a new Renault engine, so will Lotus-Renault, if they survive. Alsonso is in fifth place in the Drivers Championship behind the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. McLaren is in sixth place behind five other teams. He should stay with Ferrari because his options are worse elsewhere.

The inaugural Russian GP, at Sochi, is this weekend.

Have a great one.
Peter Bourassa