MMR Blog

Seminars at Amelia

Posted on March 19, 2013 Comments (0)

Part of the Amelia joy has to be the multiple seminars. This year’s Corvette, Porsche, and the feature GT40 seminars were all outstanding.

The Corvette seminar celebrated the 50th ground breaking design of the 63 Corvette Split-Window Stingray. In context, before its advent, the 61/62 Jaguar XKE had taken all the air out of the room. Corvette’s exciting new design offered new technical and design features that got Corvette back in the game. Members of the original design team dominated the panel and happily described the evolution of the new model. On the field, significant iterations of it were also celebrated.

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at the Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Ed Welburn, International Director of Design at GM introduced the C7 and shared the thinking behind the design. The significant question from the audience related to its most controversial aspect, the seeming design steal from the Camaro back end. Welburn explained that this was Corvette’s response to the fact that its sales were dropping, as its base was aging, and that it needed to find a way of appealing to a younger demographic. In surveys, the new Corvette’s edgier design was apparently very popular with younger buyers. (See our article on the C7 Corvette for our take on the new car and GM’s dilemma.)

The Porsche seminar was another genuflection to the brilliance of the 911 by the people most closely identified with its success. This rear view tribute to a long in the tooth design ignores the elephant in the room. More and more, the street is saying the Cayman is a far better car.

The Porsche Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40 seminar was billed as the top event and it didn’t disappoint. The beloved native hero, Dan Gurney was the unquestionable crowd favorite. Age and his recent accident made his accession to the speaker’s platform painful to watch. Once in place however, his cogent observations and pithy comments put lie to the thought that Dan Gurney is mentally less than he ever was.

GT40s at Amelia 2013

To me, one of the more interesting interchanges was cleverly engineered by moderator Tim Considine. After several less than positive comments about absent fellow driver Jacky Ickx, the moderator asked Gulf/ Wyer Team Manager and Engineer, John Horsman, who he believed was the best driver he ever managed and Horsman replied, without hesitation, Jacky Ickx. Putting point to his comment he cited the numbers at the end of the first lap of a rainy GT race at Spa when Ickx established a 38-second lead on the second place car. An incredible feat! When you think of that in terms of distance it is unbelievable.

The GT40 Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40, like all success stories had many fathers. Primarily, Wyer, Shelby and Holman-Moody.

Representatives from each team were on the podium and their stories of corporate infighting, conflicting instructions and the struggle at the highest levels of Ford management made for fascinating listening. If you haven’t yet, you must read John Horsman’s Racing in the Rain, recently reprinted by Bull Publishing with a new soft cover, it is not available on Amazon and sells for $29.95 from Bull Publishing. It is the GT40 book to own! Read about it in our Racemaker Book Reviews.


Largo Ocean Reef Club Vintage Showcase

Posted on January 8, 2013 Comments (1)

Photos by Jim Blumenfeld

Jim Blumenfeld is more than just a motorsports enthusiast. A former SCCA and IMSA road racer, kart racer, rally driver and co-driver, he currently is the SCCA pace car driver at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and a Stage Captain at the N.E. Forest Rally. As he says, he keeps busy.

But not too busy to take these car shots of the Key Largo Ocean Reef Club’s recent Vintage Weekend showcase of cars, boats, and airplanes. He shot these with his point and shoot Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20.

54 55 56 Corvettes

356 Porsches

1911 Rolls Royce

1938 MG TA

1952 Packard

1956 Jaguar XK 140 FHC

1960 Bentley S2

1962 Corvette

AMRC

AMRC

Bentley Speed Six

Devin Jag Engine

Dual Ghia

Jaguar SS Coupe

Jaguar XK 140 Devin Spl

Jaguar XKE

Mystery Car


Urban Outlaw from Tamir Moscovici

Posted on October 19, 2012 Comments (0)

URBAN OUTLAW is a portrait of Magnus Walker, the rebel Porsche customizer who turned a hobby into an obsession, and an obsession into a successful business. From a workshop in downtown Los Angeles, Magnus obsessively harvests fragments from donor 911s, grafting them onto vintage frames to create one-off automobiles with the spirit of Ferdinand Porsche but an ethos entirely his own.

Watch the full-length film from Tamir Moscovici on Reelhouse.


Sandy on Assignment:
Conversations with Vic Elford

Posted on September 22, 2012 Comments (1)

Last April, clutching my Amelia Island program with the dreamy race car driver on the cover, I hung onto every word at the Great Endurance Drivers seminar. In August, at the RM auction in Monterey, I was blown away at the $10M hammer price for the Le Mans’ camera car, the Ford GT40 Gulf racing car, used for the high-speed close-up action driving in Steve McQueen’s epic racing film. The other day, I came across the Porsche High Performance Driving School brochure and added it to my bucket list.

Vic Elford

When the call came from Miss Amy inviting me to the Porsche Club’s Concours at Larz Anderson and dinner with the guest speaker, I was honored. When she said it was Vic Elford, I was ecstatic. It was a young Vic Elford on the program cover being honored at Amelia this year. It was Vic driving the camera car and it was Vic who started the Porsche High Performance Driving School. I was about to be treated to an experience of a lifetime…conversations with Vic Elford.

It’s easy to Google someone famous like Vic Elford and get his race stats. I was curious to learn what was between the lines. What inspired him to race? Why did he start so late in life? Was his goal to race Porsches? Was racing stressful? What was the secret to his rally success? What makes a great driver? Vic was most gracious, sharing his racing career and personal life stories over his two-day visit to Boston.

“Kids today are in go-carts at six. People forget there was a war going on when I was growing up in Britain. My father was away much of the time”, related Vic, when comparing his exposure to racing and today’s generation of racecar drivers. Then his face lit up, as he shared the single event that shaped his life. In 1949, already 14, his father took him to the races at Silverstone. “I was passionate from the moment I saw the drivers racing on the track and knew that’s what I wanted to do”, recounts Vic.

Vic Elford joins Sandy Cotterman for kickoff dinner to Northeast Porsche Club weekend Boston

Despite his strong passion, Vic said he knew he needed to make a living, so he took his keen interest in math and pursued a degree in civil engineering. How he applied that analytical side shines through in all you read about his accomplished rally and race career. With a “trust me” attitude, he pushed through design changes on the cars he raced.  He capitalized on his photographic memory, giving himself an edge in strategizing both rally and track courses. During his early rally driving, he mastered dictating pace notes, rally shorthand used to document everything and anything, yard by yard, during a practice rally run…shadows, fallen limbs, curves...anything. Sounding like a Jay Leno monologue, he recounted the scene with his team navigator shouting back the notes during the rally, to the point where he could almost anticipate the course with his eyes closed!

Vic’s stories on and off the track held me spellbound. I couldn’t help but think: How stressful. When I finally asked if it was, both Vic and Amy exclaimed, in unison, “No, not at all!”  Like anything, when you know what you’re doing, you’re in control. Vic went on to share what the moments were like before a race, waiting for his turn to drive. “Some drivers liked to talk to reporters and fans, but I would go off to a corner, not even noticing a person walking by, and relax and have a smoke.”  

Vic Elford's Top Favorite 1965 Porsche 911

So why Porsches? Vic said he actually asked Porsche if he could rally with the 911 in the Tour de Corse at the very beginning of his rally career. Vic was confident in what he could do with the car. Rallying was a new experience for the 911, and driving the narrow streets in the 911 was a challenge for Vic. As for the other Porsches in his life, as the opportunities to race came, he just accepted them. I guess it’s no surprise that Vic was asked to develop the High Performance Driving School after he retired from racing and moved to the States. Quick to tell me, Vic said I would learn everything I needed to know from his Handbook, now in its second edition, when I take the course!

On the grounds of Larz Anderson that sunny afternoon, Vic Elford was walking among the Porsche Concours cars, looking for his “favorite”. Starting to dabble a little in judging myself, I was curious what criteria Vic was using. “I’ll know it when I see it. I’ll just like it”, commented Vic. When he announced his favorite over the loudspeaker, I was thrilled.  It was mine too! The shiny red 1965 911 in the back row had caught my eye. Milling around the car at the time I walked by was the owner’s daughter. I asked her to tell me about the car. She said her Dad bought it before she was born, 32 years ago, when they lived in Colorado. Originally an “awful green color”, her Dad had it painted red. The black and white plaid seats are the original design. So how many miles on the car?”, I asked.  She laughed and said, “A gazillion”. Up at the winners stand, Vic was presenting Rob Nadleman, the owner of the 911, with the poster he had commissioned by Nicholas Watts of his 1970 Le Mans victory in the 917. Before Rob could slip away, I asked him how many miles on the car. “Somewhere over 400”.  “400,000?” I asked. He nodded.

Vic presents the Nicholas Watts print of his 1970 LeMans victory

So what does it take to be a great racecar driver? Balance in the control of the car and excellent eyesight, per Vic. I knew it, at least on the eyesight. There’s hope for me yet!  Vic headed back home to Florida the day after the Concours. I hope I can tell him I checked another item off my “bucket list” and have read his Handbook, cover to cover, the next time we meet. 

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast


Day Dreaming

Posted on June 15, 2012 Comments (3)

We received another interesting e-mail the other day from Michael Keyser of Autosport Marketing Associates, Ltd. He wrote us saying:

Le Mans 1974

Here's a shot of me and Milt Minter with the car at Le Mans in 1974… and after I smacked a guardrail in the Porsche Curves on Sunday morning… day dreaming again.

The car in the picture is a 1974 Porsche 911 RSR 3.0 running in the “Toad Hall” livery.

VIN: 911 460 9049
Production No. 104 0078
Engine No. 684 3215
Gearbox No. 0534

It was first delivered to Michael Keyser at Toad Hall Racing but it has lived an interesting life with extensive IMSA and European racing history. As seen in the picture, it competed at Le Mans but it also ran at Daytona and Sebring.

Le Mans 1974

It was the third '74 RSR 3.0 built and it would become one of the most successful and visible '74 RSRs to be raced in the US. With it's bright yellow paint with distinctive black trim, Keyser and Milt Minter raced it throughout the 1974 IMSA series, achieving several top three finishes (including 2nd at Road Atlanta, 3rd at Ontario, 3rd at Mid-Ohio, 2nd at Talladega, and a heat win at Lime Rock). It also ran at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1974, where it finished 20th overall.

In 1975, co-driving with Billy Sprowls, 9040 was 2nd overall at the Daytona 24 Hours and 13th overall at the Sebring 12 Hours. It would also continue to be very successful in the IMSA series, with high finishes at Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, and Riverside.

Subsequent owners continued to race the car successfully from 1977 to 1979 in Trans Am and IMSA races, along with additional entries at the Daytona 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 Hours.

More recently, Canepa Design comprehensively restored 9049 and it is ready to race or show. It is certainly one of the RSRs with the best US racing history, with several entries at Daytona and Sebring. It is also among only a handful of RSRs to have completed the Le Mans 24 Hours.

1974 Porsche 911

It remains as one of the best-restored 1974 3.0 RSRs and has its correct, highly recognizable, and distinctive Toad Hall livery.

I suppose, every June, it's only natural to day dream about your LeMans exploits. I know I would.

Michael did add one more comment: Not much to say. It was a wonderful car. Handled great. Reliable. I wish I still owned it.