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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 1, 2014 Comments (2)

The market for vintage classics continues to climb from week to week; there is much speculation that this year’s Monterey auctions will top the season. Oophy Prosser handed in his Weekly Leek story early this week and ever, we are in total disbelief. Amazing! This week’s eye candy and main story is Sandy on Assignment: Initiation to the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance.

Michael Furman image is posed at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia and is of a Porsche 917LH which ran at LeMans in 1970 and was driven by Gerard Larrousse & Willi Kauhsen and finished second.

This week’s Michael Furman image is posed at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia and is of a Porsche 917LH which ran at LeMans in 1970 and was driven by Gerard Larrousse & Willi Kauhsen and finished second. Images and story are available in The Spirit of Competition.

F1’s Mid-Term Review

As we reach that point in the F1 season when all the teams take a one month hiatus we take a quick look back at the Teams and the Drivers. Overall, based on how the first half ended, the second should be far more competitive.

Teams:

Despite management changes at all but Red Bull, the major teams have not fared as well as expected. The final race at the Hungaroring only highlighted their shortcomings. Mercedes “let them race” policy reverted briefly to a more typical, “let them race as long as they do what I say” policy and they are in disarray. Ferrari have fired people back home in an effort to shake things up but trackside they are only mildly better. McLaren brought back “Big Ron” and stole Eric Bouillon from Lotus-Renault. Despite early signs of promise, the car is no better, possibly worse. Mercedes coasted through the first half with a better aero and engine package. All remnants of the Brawn era. Toto will own the second half and the jury is out on him. Lotus-Renault is a disaster, as is Sauber. The only positive hope in the second tier is Williams who have an excellent aero package and the Mercedes engine that dominated the first half. Based on Hungary, that advantage is not what it was originally and given a month to work on it Ferrari and Renault engines are likely to be stronger beginning the second half. Red Bull have won two races with Renault and their aero package is coming together. They are simply too good not to be a force in the second half.

Drivers:

More than the racing, Rosberg and Hamilton have provided the entertainment in the first half. Their soap opera will continue but they will face far greater opposition at the sharp end of the grid and their green management team will be severely tested. At Red Bull, Vettel is getting a better grip on the new car and has been very impressive of late. He will be heard from sooner rather than later. Alonso is still the class of the pack and deserves far better than his ride. Kimi continues to be governed by the cycles of the moon. The McLaren duo are okay but have to be disappointed that after a brilliant beginning in Australia, and the strongest engine in the paddock, their chassis is dirt. Button isn’t going anywhere but home and can still race. Magnusson has shown he can race but still needs seasoning. At Williams, Massa has been severely out paced by his team mate Bottas and hasn’t helped his cause by regularly making stupid mistakes. Bottas has proven to Williams that they can do better and they will. Bottas is destined for better things but if Williams can hang on to him for another year, improve their racecraft, and replace Massa, they will be a force. Grosjean and Maldonado at Lotus-Renault are better than their rides. J.E. Verne, Danil Kvyat, and Bianci deserve better and with Raikkonen, Button, Massa approaching their “sell by” dates, they will get better rides.

Alonso Real Winner of Hungarian GP. Hamilton More Lucky Than Good

There is a thin line between adulation and admiration. Nationalistic race announcers everywhere cross it with abandon. The British-Australian trio that give America its F1 commentary are no exception.

Weather and luck were the major factors in determining the winner of the Hungarian GP and some had more of the latter than others.

Starting from the pit lane should be an insurmountable handicap and prior to the safety car era, it was. Before Sir Jackie came along and mercifully put an end to the carnage, there were no safety cars and races were only stopped if the entire track was blocked. The advent of the safety car and the frequency with which it is deployed, (think of the last race when there was not a safety car) pretty much means that you could start from the parking garage and still be competitive once it has come out and closed up the field. Plus, unlike every other car on the real grid, cars beginning in pit lane can change parts and more importantly suspension settings up to the start of the race, while those on the grid are obliged to race with their qualifying set-ups. So starting from the pits is perhaps not as bad as Lewis makes it sound. Particularly if you have one of the two fastest cars.

Once the safety car is deployed nobody is more than 20 seconds from the lead and if you have one of the two fastest cars and sixty laps left, moving up is not genius. And if you have the fastest car, finishing third might be considered failure. In this case the first safety car came out just in front of Rosberg, forcing him and three others to slow and follow it around at a reduced speed. All the cars that were further behind the front four, if they hadn’t passed the pit lane entrance, had an opportunity to dive into the pits and change their tires to slicks. By the time Rosberg pitted to get slick tires his 10.5 second lead over the field had been wiped out, plus he was balked getting into his pit box and got back into the race in 11th place. Hamilton’s 33 second initial pit lane penalty was wiped out.

In our opinion, probably shared by Spanish commentators, Alonso really won that race. In reality, at the end, Ricciardo had fresher tires and was lucky. Alonso was second in a car that was possibly fourth best on the grid, on tires that had twenty laps more on them than Hamilton’s and was being hounded by a better car with fresher tires. If Alonso was ecstatic on the podium and Hamilton wasn’t, that’s why. Alonso had just given him a driving lesson.

We have mentioned elsewhere that the Mercedes team began the year taking bows as a result of the departed Ross Brawn’s effort. It was his car then, and unfortunately, it appears to be his car now. With the edge that they had at the beginning of the season they had considerably less incentive to improve it. Others, with their backs to the wall have been burning the midnight oil and they definitely have improved. All but McLaren.

Racecraft is the art or science of how to race. Preparation, strategy, and execution are all elements of racecraft. Ferrari racecraft is what failed Kimi Raikkonen during qualifying for Ferrari in Hungary. When Mercedes and Brawn parted, the Mercedes board was happy to promote home boy Toto Wolff to the position and then appointed former World Champion Niki Lauda to oversee the racecraft portion at which Brawn was a master. The Hamilton-Rosberg cock-up on Sunday demonstrated a lack of racecraft and Toto Wolff’s comments afterward demonstrated for the remainder of the paddock the chink in Mercedes’ armor. The engineers gave Hamilton and Rosberg conflicting messages and as a result, a race that might have been won by either, wasn’t. Later, Wolff admitted to the team’s error and said “If Lewis had let Nico go, he could have won the race, but as a racer, a driver, I can understand why Lewis didn’t obey. I could have gone on the radio, but we didn’t. I don’t want to play the vicious general and demand they obey the rules.” Bad news Toto. You aren’t in Kansas anymore and you just lost control of your team and probably your job. Race team management is not democracy. In case you didn’t read your contract, your job is to see that the team wins races, whether your drivers like it or not.

Spa on August 22-24 weekend should be interesting indeed.

TV: Check our MMR Motorsports Calendar. IndyCar racing this weekend from Mid-Ohio. The Tudor-United Sports Cars (which is fabulous racing) is at Mid-Ohio.

In New England the Vintage Racing Celebration is on at Loudon, NH and Tutto Italiano is on at Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline MA. See you there!

Peter Bourassa


Sandy on Assignment: Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este…

Posted on July 31, 2014 Comments (2)

…It’s the Arrival that Counts

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Corrado Lopresto with his Alfa, hands off the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este in front of Villa Erba.

Corrado Lopresto with his Alfa, hands off the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este in front of Villa Erba.

Before starting to write this article, something sparked my curiosity. I began scrolling down past Sandy on Assignments and there they were… images of the very same cars I had just seen in Italy! It got me thinking. Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is not so much about winning… it’s about having arrived.

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este from Lake Como.

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este from Lake Como.

Going into this event, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Although hovering at the top of many enthusiasts bucket list, this event is private… a tribute to the world’s most celebrated automobiles and their owners and guests. I am speaking of Saturday at Villa d’Este, the ultimate motorsports garden party… an elegant affair for Concours level collectors, many of whom have already defined their success at Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Cavallino, and other European Concours, prior to gathering on the luxurious grounds of the Hotel Villa d’Este located in the quaint city of Cernobbio, northern Italy, on the shores of Lake Como. It is a weekend to enjoy themselves with their guests and mingle among their motorsports peers.

Friday afternoon scrutineering check-in at Villa d’Este.

Friday afternoon scrutineering check-in at Villa d’Este.

Friday check-in. The Trofeo Auto & Design prize for the most exciting design will go to this 1953 Maserati, A6GCS, Berlinetta, Pinin Farina.

Friday check-in. The Trofeo Auto & Design prize for the most exciting design will go to this 1953 Maserati, A6GCS, Berlinetta, Pinin Farina.

We wandered the grounds of Villa d’Este Friday afternoon, as the 51 exceptional and historic automobiles were arriving for the weekend and going through their initial check-in, a sort of scrutineering before heading down into the Hotel’s parking garage. We were excited to see several of the cars from this year’s Mille Miglia. So where were we on Saturday when this beauty pageant of automobiles, as the organizers define it, was taking place? On the ferry crisscrossing Lake Como, soaking in the breathtaking scenery of this beautiful lake with its seaside Villas… getting a glimpse of the event from a different vantage point!

The cars leave Villa d’Este early Sunday morning to line up here, on the lawn at Villa Erba.

The cars leave Villa d’Este early Sunday morning to line up here, on the lawn at Villa Erba.

Sunday, we attended the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, same name and same cars but the ‘sister’ event as I call it, which is open to the general public, on the grounds of neighboring Villa Erba. Also referred to as the Concours of Historic Cars, Sunday’s event, still lovely, is definitely not to be confused with… the real thing.

Open to the general public, Sunday’s Concorso at Villa Erba.

Open to the general public, Sunday’s Concorso at Villa Erba.

The Concorso was the other bookend to our two week stay in Italy and a wonderful opportunity to tie in a car event if you are anywhere in Italy the fourth weekend in May. After the start of the Mille Miglia, we headed out of Brescia to Sirmione on Lake Garda then down to Portofino and on to the Cinque Terra villages for several days, before visiting friends outside of Torino, another motorsports mecca and home to the Museo Nazionale Dell’Automobile in Turin. Going into our trip, I knew we would not be able to attend the private Concorso on Saturday, so it wasn’t a surprise, yet it may be to others heading off to this adventure. Plan accordingly.

The Concorso is steeped in Italian history. It was back on September 1, 1929 that over eighty entries from Italian and foreign car and coach builders and private owners were invited to Villa d’Este to take part in a contest to judge the beauty of what had become the most common means of transportation and leisure of the time. The publication, La Gazzetta dello Sport best described that first event in 1929, which is pretty much the same today. “All of motoring aristocracy will be required to parade before a cosmopolitan aristocratic audience gathered at Villa d’Este – a public that knows how to appreciate beauty – in this artistic contest of which the victor stands to win an exceptional prize: a solid Gold Cup, which in addition to its actual material worth in gold, will also have an enormous moral value.” The Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este still coveted today, and selected by Saturday’s invited public , was awarded this year to Italian collector Corrado Lopresto and his stunning open car entered in the Gone with the Wind category – his 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Spider, Zagato/Aprile. It was one of my favorites at Pebble Beach in 2012 and was Best in Show at the Boca Raton Concours in 2013!

For the best overall appearance of car, driver and passenger by the Jury, the Trofeo Roeckl prize went to the 1922 Hispano Suiza, H6 B, Sedanca Landaulette, Chapron and owner Alexandre Schaufler.

For the best overall appearance of car, driver and passenger by the Jury, the Trofeo Roeckl prize went to the 1922 Hispano Suiza, H6 B, Sedanca Landaulette, Chapron and owner Alexandre Schaufler.

From the Mille Miglia two weeks prior to the Concorso, the 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC, Spider, Scaglietti is stunning, in front of Villa d’Este.

From the Mille Miglia two weeks prior to the Concorso, the 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC, Spider, Scaglietti is stunning, in front of Villa d’Este.

Harking back to the roaring twenties and the roots of the event 85 years ago, this year’s theme was The Great Gatsby. In true Concours d’Elegance fashion, entrants in The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind and Gentleman Driver classes were dressed the part! After the first four years of the original event, venue and organizational changes began to occur, even the name of the event changed over the next eight years. Like the Mille Miglia, the event was suspended over the war years. It was the Italian coach builders who re-initiated the event in 1947. Unfortunately, after the last Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este was held with the new post-war vehicles in 1949, the industrialization affecting the coach building industry reached a crisis level, becoming so economically severe that the Concorso never took place again, in its original form. The event was basically forgotten for 40 years. Numerous attempts, with some success, were made to revive it between 1986 and 1997. At the end of the 1990s, the event attracted the attention of the BMW Group, which took sole responsibility as the patron of the Concorso between1990 to 2001. Since then, the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este and the BMW Group have jointly supported the event.

The Trofeo FIVA award went to the best preserved pre-war car, the 1908 Rolls-Royce, Silver Ghost, Roi des Belges, Barker.

The Trofeo FIVA award went to the best preserved pre-war car, the 1908 Rolls-Royce, Silver Ghost, Roi des Belges, Barker.

Maserati Class winner, the 1929 Maserati, V4Sport, Spider Zagato.

Maserati Class winner, the 1929 Maserati, V4Sport, Spider Zagato.

This year, the Concorso was also paying tribute to the 110-year anniversary of Rolls-Royce, which debuted its models at the Paris Auto Salon in December 1904 and the anniversary of the legendary victory of the Mini in the Monte Carlo Rally 40 years ago. Another highlight was the centenary of Italian sports car maker Maserati. A relatively new addition to the Concorso Villa d’Este is the Concorso di Motociclette, with an array of 35 historically significant motorcycles. Also on display at Villa Erba were six concept cars and prototypes… quite the eye-candy.

For the most sensitive restoration, the Trofeo BMW Classic prize went to the 1936 Lancia, Astura Type 233, Cabriolet, Pinin Farina and owner Orin Smith with restorer Richard Gorman at his side.

For the most sensitive restoration, the Trofeo BMW Classic prize went to the 1936 Lancia, Astura Type 233, Cabriolet, Pinin Farina and owner Orin Smith with restorer Richard Gorman at his side.

As you can imagine, this is a who’s who of motorsports, so it wasn’t surprising to see several familiar faces. Collector and vintage race driver Andreas Mohringer from Austria, ever gracious and always willing to share anything you would like to know about his cars, was there with his 1957 Maserati 150 GT Prototype, which I had seen drive onto the fairway at Amelia to make its debut in 2013! Collector Orin Smith from Florida brought his 1936 Lancia, Astura Type 233, Cabriolet, Pinin Farina, which I had witnessed make its debut at Pebble Beach in 2012. Norman Dewis was front and center during the tech check-in next to the 1952 Jaguar XK 120, in which he had made the famous high speed run (172.412 MPH) on the Jabbeke/Ostend Route in Belgium in October 1953. A small select group of vendors were invited to Sunday’s event. Friend to MMR, the Suixtil historic clothing line was very popular.

The Concorso de Motociclette had its own award program in the same spirit of a Concorso d’Eleganza.

The Concorso de Motociclette had its own award program in the same spirit of a Concorso d’Eleganza.

If you are thinking of checking this event off your bucket list, I would suggest making Lake Como and all it has to offer your destination. Attending Sunday’s event at Villa Erba will be the icing on the cake! If you have a historic, concours ready vehicle, treat yourself and apply for an exclusive entry to Saturday and the weekend’s events! Getting to Cernobbio from anywhere around Lake Como, or northern Italy for that matter, is very easy. Entrants are guests at the Hotel Villa d’Este. For everyone else, available lodging anywhere in the immediate vicinity to Villa d’Este is booked months in advance and the rates inflated during this week. I would suggest doing your homework and staying at one of the quaint B&B style homes on the water, within an hour’s drive. We stayed on the eastern side of the Lake and the early Sunday morning drive was about 45 minutes. Once in Cernobbio, we followed the signs to P1 and P4 for parking, as there is none on the grounds of Villa Erba. Parking is a mere six euros and entry to Sunday’s Concours another 14 euros, a bargain for this prestigious event!

Spectators at Villa Erba enjoyed both a parade of automobiles and fashion models, all in the spirit of this magnificent Concorso d’Eleganza weekend!

Spectators at Villa Erba enjoyed both a parade of automobiles and fashion models, all in the spirit of this magnificent Concorso d’Eleganza weekend!

Once on the grounds of Villa Erba we walked between the show field, with glistening Lake Como as its backdrop and the staging area with open seating, to watch the car parade and awards presentation taking place early afternoon. Pictures speak louder than words, so I hope you get a feel for this magnificent weekend.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 20, 2014 Comments (0)

Michael Furman’s side view of a Bugatti T-46 Coupe, from his Art of Bugatti book, is our feature image this week.

Michale Furman’s side view of a Bugatti T-46 Coupe, from his Art of Bugatti book

A surfeit of events on TV kept us glued to the tube. Golf’s US Open, the NBA Spurs downing the Miami Heat, Soccer’s World Cup, and of course, Le Mans. What don’t they all have in common? That’s easy; only racing involves real personal risk. (Not, that falling down on grass and grimacing as often as soccer players do isn’t dangerous.) What do they have in common? That’s tougher; they are all entertaining. And until relatively recently that may not have been true. See our Le Mans story below.

This is a read and travel issue. I report on Roy Spencer’s MotorBinder book and the peripatetic Sandy Cotterman shares her Mille Miglia travel adventure and makes it bucket list attainable and desirable watching.


Electronic Book: The Last Open Road

Burt Levy

MMR friend and author Burt Levy has a very special offer for the first (and the best) in the Buddy Palumbo series of racing novels. You can’t beat this deal and his stories about the early days of US road racing are an addiction of which I am proud.



Le Mans

Tommy Kendall and Justin Bell

In conversation with Tommy Kendall, one of MMR’s adopted sons, at Amelia in the spring, something he said stuck with me. We were discussing what Fox might do with motorsports events other than NASCAR, and the role he and Justin Bell might play. He said he felt Fox understood that their broadcast had to be not just reporting but also entertaining.

We won’t even try to tell you what happened over the 24 Hours of Le Mans. By now you know that Audi again won overall but it was a battle for all 24 hours and both Porsche and Toyota also lead at some point. They’ll be back and rumor has it that Nissan will join the fray next year. The GT Pro class was won by Ferrari but it also was a battle. Aston Martin and Corvette both led and Aston won the GTE Amateur class.

Fox put together a fine team to cover the event. Dorsey Schroeder and Tommy Kendall added the depth of their experience and knowledge to the coverage and Justin Bell adds a refreshing dimension to what is a very long event.

The French will be French: One of the more enjoyable distractions from the actual 24 hours of racing is Justin Bell’s mingle with the crowds who come from all over the world to take in the event. Like many other racing events, Le Mans spectators often travel to it in groups. Bell revels in finding these groups, generally men, who have had a pop or two and who, upon seeing the camera, are prepared to behave badly for the folks back home. It should be noted that for all his angelic qualities, Justin Bell is the kid you knew in your teenage years who was consistently the center of trouble but was never caught. While around him, of course, you and others paid the price. He was the one your mother said to stay away from. Forward twenty years to Le Mans where this same character is protesting to the camera about being in a tough spot and needing to get away, all the while backing up with microphone and camera to find the most wasted of the group to interview. 

Grand Marnier

At one point, he finds a clutch of men wearing similar shirts at the Grand Marnier stand where the company is serving plain crepes and inviting patrons to help themselves to a little of their product from 40 oz. bottles on the counter. Encouraged by the site of Justin and the TV camera, one man abuses the privilege. He douses his crepe and then raises the bottle over his head and aims the spigot at his mouth. While a wide-eyed and smiling Bell watches, the man takes on board an illegal amount of Grand Marnier before the sturdy lady in a blue smock reaches over the counter, snatches the bottle from his hands and restores order.

Justin, ever the angel on the side of Justice (Justin is Latin for Justice) and Grand Marnier, attempts to bury the poor bastard and ingratiate himself with authority. He points to the man’s foggy noggin and in an accusatory tone tells the woman in French that the man is sick in the head. All fine except that the words he chooses actually informed her that the dumb bugger had a headache. TK was right. That’s entertainment!

F1 is in Austria this weekend. Next weekend is quite busy. Check out our MMR Motorsports Calendar and join us at Volante Classics Open House next Saturday.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this with a friend. That’s how MMR grows.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on January 10, 2014 Comments (0)

Our images this week are by Sandy Cotterman. And so is the main story!

Cadillac! Oh Cadillac! – Where Art Thou?

Thank you all for your candid remarks about the new Cadillac. One is lead to believe that, by and large, most people WANT Caddy to be competitive with the Euro cars but feel that although they have made excellent progress, they are not yet there.

Going Once!... Going Twice!... Yawn…

Things are about to start happening. The Daytona 24 Hours is on for the end of the month. Check the MMR Motorsports Calendar for details of other events. Friends in Scottsdale are looking forward to a new show next week and, of course, the auctions. The Arizona Concours d’Elegance has limited its field of entrants to 77 for its inaugural event. Good beginning and good luck. The absence of agreeable weather and car events for over two months is what draws people to Arizona now. The world of auctions has split into two camps: Bonhams, Gooding, and RM on the snooty Sports and Classic side; and, Barratt-Jackson, Russo & Steele, Mecom and the remainder on the old American iron team.

Auctions, once held in barns and parking lots are now TV entertainment. To his profit and credit, if that is what you take for this, Craig Jackson has made buying or selling a car in front of thousands of strangers entertaining… to a degree. I freely confess that in the beginning I was as glued to it as everyone else. Initially it was all about looking at real cars and the anticipation of the next car on the ramp that I hadn’t seen in 40 years or more. But when, not many years later, the hammer fell signaling the sale of the 20th “rotisseried” Camaro SS of the weekend, or a similar amount of ‘64 Ford Galaxy 500 convertibles with 390 Automatics and chromed undercarriages, I plain lost interest. To me it is about the cars and when all the cars are all the same and all better than perfect, there is little appeal. The only intriguing cars remaining in that show are the hot rods and even they are beginning to look “assembly line”. The Bonhams, Gooding and RM side will sell vehicles that were interesting from birth. Theirs, not ours, and sadly, they won’t be televised. What’s wrong with this picture?

Sandy on Assignment!

This week we feature a story and pictures we saved for just this issue. Sandy (as in: on Assignment) Cotterman, our intrepid globetrotting reporter attended the 2013 Goodwood Revival last fall and shares her story and pictures with us. Read the story and tell us if you would like to go next September. If there is enough interest, perhaps we can put something together with one of the touring companies listed in the MMR Goods and Services Directory under Specialty Services.

Sandy Cotterman

Screaming Down the Years

Check out this week’s video. We haven’t featured it in a little while. Thank you Shell.

From the If we waited any longer they would be reports not predictions! Department

Some folks take longer to think than others. So, at long last, some thoughts on F1, IndyCar, and the Tudor Sports Car Racing series. Take your time, share your thoughts and have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa