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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


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 8, 2013 Comments (0)

Fixing F1 – Step 1

It has always amazed that the F1 circus would travel half way round the world to perform before crowds that know little and care even less about F1. France, home of several fine circuits, great automakers, the world’s greatest tire maker, the greatest endurance race, and knowledgeable fans has no Grand Prix. It should have two, so should Germany, Italy, England, and Spain. The US should have two. Drop Malaysia, Bahrain, Singapore, Korea, and Abu Dhabi.

Abudabi

Remember that at one time some European countries had more than one F1 race per year. There once existed non-championship F1 races in Europe that also served as testing sessions. Thoughts?

Kimi Doesn’t Buy “Team” Concept

In the football book, North Dallas Forty, the quarterback, Phil Elliott, utters words that could easily apply to F1 or any other kind of professional racing. In a discussion about the team, he points out that ownership and management are the team, the players, like helmets and jockstraps, are the equipment.

As we mentioned last week, the Constructors Championship year end pot is about $700M. Red Bull has won the top prize of about $100M. Mercedes, Ferrari, and Lotus are fighting for second spot. Renault reportedly owes Kimi Raikkonen $15M in salary. They are in fourth place in the championship and it is reasonable to believe that when they began the year they believed that they would do better than fourth and could count on that Constructors Championship payout to defray Kimi’s salary. They will unquestionably pay him, but it will hurt like hell to do it if he doesn’t help them garner more points between now and year end. And if he does… he will be taking money away from Ferrari.

Raikkonen left the Abu Dhabi GP track early on Sunday. His car was damaged on the first lap and he couldn’t go on. He didn’t stick around to tell people how disappointed he was, or how badly he felt for the team that had worked so hard etc. Kimi is not a team player. Ferrari once bought him out of his three year contract after two years. He drove a Citroen in the WRC. He was not competitive and his departure was not mourned. He now leaves Lotus under a cloud to return to Ferrari who once paid him handsomely to make him go away.

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi is a fantastic natural driving talent. He is not a student of the game, hates the PR work, and doesn’t take direction well at all. But give him a good car and he can be a winner… when so motivated. For the teams, the stakes are high and history shows that winning teams throw personal driver attachments out the window when a quicker driver walks through the door. The beloved Michael Schumacher was “promoted” when Ferrari felt they had a better team with Massa and Kimi. Kimi knows this and as long as he is capable of winning races he will be forgiven past transgressions and whatever shortcomings he may dream up in the future. But the minute he reaches his “sell by” date he will be gone. Kimi knows the difference between the team and the equipment.

Michael Keyser Returns to the Targa

Racing Demons

Michael Keyser raced his 911 in the Targa Florio in 1972. Subsequently, he featured the race in his excellent racing movie, The Speed Merchants. As featured in our MMR Newsletter, he has now published Racing Demons, an excellent history of Porsche at the Targa Florio. In our Short Stories he tells us about his trip to Sicily to launch his book. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend,

Peter Bourassa


Nigel Snowden – Pacem

Posted on June 14, 2013 Comments (1)

Steve McQueen

Our lead image is probably the most recognized image of a racing driver in the world. It is the picture of Porsche driver Michael Delaney indicating to his Ferrari nemesis that, like the longbow man on the winning side centuries ago, his two fingers remain intact. Odd that this image, known universally as the two finger salute so representative of racing, is of a fictional race driver in a fictional race.

The image is, of course, of Steve McQueen, talented actor and driver, and the movie is Le Mans. We share the image today because the man who took it, Nigel Snowden, recently died.

As often happens, the real story behind the fiction is more interesting than what was created.

Nigel Snowden was a successful F1 photographer in the early sixties through the eighties and supplied images for top motorsports books and magazines of the time. This image, was not only his shot, it was his idea.

Steve McQueen’s film production company, Solar Productions, raced in a Porsche 908, equipped with cameras front and rear, in the 1970 Le Mans race to gather footage for their upcoming film. The car was driven by Herbert Linge and Jonathan Williams. (Jonathan’s shorts stories of the day are here in MMR Short Stories.) Driving and working the cameras whenever good opportunities presented themselves, they finished eighth overall. Since Snowden was part of the race day pit action which Solar wanted to replicate, they offered to pay him to do the same thing for their movie. He was delighted. At the end of the movie when Michael Delaney wanted to offer the single digit salute, it was Nigel Snowden who suggested that this might be viewed as vulgar by Europeans and suggested the alternative.

Juan Fangio visits

Nigel Snowden at work

Camera Crew

Steve McQueen and friend say hello

Movie star cars at rest

You can see the images which Snowden shot on that film in Michael Keyser’s excellent book, Behind LeMans, the Film in Photographs.

Nigel Snowden