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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 June 6, 2014 Comments (0)

June! Glorious June!

Our June calendar lists a favorite racing city party and Le Mans.

Our images this week are from the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, taken by Editor Dom Miliano and me. Michael Furman’s feature image is that of a 1933 Squire front.

1933 Squire photo by Michael Furman

IndyCar and Detroit Both Survive

In the recent past, images of Detroit have been anything but pretty. But news from the Motor City has been much better of late. People who care about the city, including Roger Penske, have contributed energy and money to make things happen. The American never say die and we can do this attitudes are prevailing. Property values are rising, and neighborhood by neighborhood there is a resurgence of small businesses and community spirit. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are doing well and doing good by investing in their own local infrastructure. Ironically, the same word applies to this turnaround as to the iconic downtown development that was once heralded as its salvation and later criticized as the reason for its ruin. Renaissance. 

Penske Racing is based in Detroit and The Captain has been the driving force and sponsor behind the two day IndyCar races held on Belle Isle, a park island just off Detroit’s downtown. This is another barrier bound street course and its physical condition mirrors Detroit’s finances. It is to be hoped that both will improve. Penske cars won both bumpy races and as bumpy races go it was entertaining. The talented Will Power drove to a solid win on Saturday and the equally talented Helio Castroneves won on Sunday. The close racing on a tight bumpy course made for the inevitable contact and bad feelings and the soap opera is now part of the IndyCar show.

F1 in Montreal this Weekend

The Grand Prix of Canada takes place in Montreal this weekend. Montreal is a great party city and the F1 team sponsors decorate the town squares with product and race car displays. The race track itself is both simple and boring. The F1 community has a speak no evil policy to which all adhere. A boring track is called technical by drivers. This infers that they don’t think it is as boring we do. Named after native son Gilles Villeneuve, it is essentially a park service road on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River and in full view of downtown Montreal. Coming off the tight Monaco circuit, this track allows for more passing. It is one of Hamilton’s favorite circuits and he has won here several times. That insures that the Mercedes drama will continue.

Greenwich Concours d’Elegance

Dom and I attended the Greenwich Concours this past weekend. The setting, a wooded park on the Long Island Sound is magnificent. Sadly, the view of the water is blocked by the huge Bonham’s Auction tent installation. The show cars are set out in circular compounds among the trees and while I had heard complaints about this, I found it interesting and not at all a negative issue. The actual selection of cars on display was eclectic and interesting. The whole atmosphere is casual and owners of cars on display seemed more accessible and engaging. 

Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

The Bonhams Auction was a huge success and the pricing on market leading cars did not disappoint. An early Flat Floor E-Type Jaguar sold for $335K and an XK-150S did $203,500. The crowd cheered a local bidder who purchased John Fitch’s Phoenix in part to keep it in Connecticut. This is a good thing. No bubble burst here.

Uncommon Ferraris

A Connecticut resident brought his Carbon Fiber race car to the Greenwich Concours. We thought you might be interested in seeing its pretty sister and the Forghieri-designed original.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this newsletter with a friend. It’s how we grow.

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


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 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