MMR Blog

Alfa Romeo: View From the Mouth of the Dragon

Posted on May 1, 2014 Comments (0)

by S. Scott Callan

Alfa Romeo: View From the Mouth of the Dragon

“A note about the illustrations:

Some of the earliest automotive books received when I was young came from that great period of illustrated publications. These publications spoke of automotive design and engineering through the visual language of the pen and ink watercolor. These publications and their illustrations inspired my automotive enthusiasm and motivated me as a young artist. In the interest of taking the reader on a journey through the time period discussed, to fully appreciate the innovation of 1914 say, I have revisited this printing and graphic method dating from the turn of the 20th Century through nineteen forty.

For the engines I had a special interest in bringing alive the engineering; utilizing the printed page to bring forth the evolving performance of these engines in a method that inhabited the time, while animating them in third dimension representation. So here once again I revisit the period printing and graphic visual language of the pen and ink watercolor to bring forth an understanding of what Giuseppe Merosi, Vittorio Jano and Gioachino Colombo imagined and made metal.”

– S. Scott Callan

View the book on S. Scott Callan's website.

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 15, 2013 Comments (6)

Our images this week are from the new book 1967 – Chris Amon, Scuderia Ferrari and a Year of Living Dangerously by John Julian. See our review.

Fixing F1 – Step Two – Tires

Instead of a single source, open it up to two or more manufacturers and scrap the six lap specials except for qualifying. Let the tire manufacturers work with the teams. Since each chassis reacts differently to the current tires, it is already a part of the strategy. Change the paradigm from adjusting cars to tires to adjusting tires to cars. The current situation benefits Bernie and the teams as they sell the exclusive rights to one manufacturer. The manufacturer gives them money they would otherwise have spent on developing better tires for the different teams and tracks. Under the current formula, Pirelli has no competition, no incentive, and no opportunity to show themselves better than their competitors.


1967: My Favorite Car Year

I was 23, single, with a good job that partially involved racing. I wasn’t ugly or stupid and I had a little jingle in my jeans. Life wasn’t bad. On the car front it was also a good year. Corvette introduced the final iteration of the C2. The '67 Stingray model went from the iconic 1963’s split rear window to an iconic stinger hood on the 427 and subdued front side vents. Refining the details on each model year has been a Corvette tradition. The '62 C1 was the cleanest of that grouping also. If that holds true, considering all the bits added on to and hanging off the C7, it should be pretty by 2018. A friend had a '67 427 4-speed 435 HP convertible, dark green on tan with a white stinger and tan top. It had the optional side pipes and cast aluminum finned wheels. It was a comfortable driver and I don’t think he paid $5K for it. Unlike today’s performance cars, the suspension wasn’t tuned to generate g-forces through turns. It was a simpler time. We burned rubber and street raced in straight lines.

1967 Stingray

Mustang introduced its second generation model in 1967 and in some people’s view (mine) the first completely real Mustang. The very early first series Mustangs with six cylinder engines and 260 CID V8s were pretty and popular but they were not much as cars. Shelby and other racers got power out of the 289s and retuned the suspension. Once they got a fastback model and began racing and rallying them, they became decent cars. But the '67 with the 390 320 HP GT package was, in my opinion, as close as America ever got to the European style Gran Turismo of the day. The 390 engine was heavy and had no top end, but it had tons of grunt and would lope along at 3000 RPM all day long. Gas was cheap then. In hindsight, the 289 with the 271 HP engine was probably a better balanced package overall but it was not a popular option then and Ford built fewer than 500 of them.

1967 Mustang

If for nostalgic reasons alone, both are cars that might happily have a place in any garage today. But neither car would make a good daily driver. The things we loved about them in 1967 have been bred out of the newer cars by advanced technology and societal demands. Those Corvette side pipes we loved were hot as hell and far too loud for top down distance driving. Squealing bias ply tires? Both the Vette and the 390 Mustang plowed terribly at relatively slow speeds. The hardly sensitive worm and sector steering didn’t help either. Cars have come a long way since 1967. And so have we.

Have a great weekend.

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.


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

Classic & Sports Car Subscription Offer

Posted on October 30, 2013 Comments (0)

Get Curves of Steel by Michael Furman FREE with your subscription!

In April 2007, The Phoenix Art Museum presented 22 landmark cars that illustrated the evolution of style and aerodynamics from the 1930s to the '90s. Curves of Steel, published by Coachbuilt Press, catalogues the exhibition.

Curves of Steel by Michael Furman

Edited and co-written by historian Jonathan A Stein, this lavish publication includes essays by Beverly Rae Kimes, Ken Gross, Phil Patton and Richard Adatto. Each car is presented with historic images and modern studio photographs by Michael Furman.

Curves of Steel by Michael Furman

Curves of Steel by Michael Furman

You can receive this book free when you subscribe to Classic & Sports Car - bringing you 12 months of the best European classic car magazine in the world with over 230 pages each month. Shipped directly to your door from England. Both for $79.

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Curves of Steel by Michael Furman

James Dean as Friend

Posted on July 18, 2013 Comments (0)

Denise McCluggage

From the July 8, 2013 Issue of Autoweek
By Denise McCluggage

Lew Bracker is a first-time author who swore he would never write about what he now writes about—his friendship with James Dean, the talented young American actor and Porsche enthusiast who starred in three movies, raced in three races and died on a California highway driving his new Porsche 550 on the way to run another race. Lew Bracker had met the rising young star through his cousin’s husband, Leonard Rosenman, who wrote the scores for the first two Dean movies. Covering the last 16 months of James Dean’s life, Jimmy & Me: A Personal Memoir of James Dean is a moving story of two young men with a mutual respect for cars and each other. The direct simplicity and honesty in the telling of this developing friendship and its tragic interruption is a sincerely moving story.

Jimmy and Me a Personal Memoir of James Dean by Lew Bracker

While the October 2011 Rennsport was going on at Laguna Seca, nearby at The Quail was another gathering of old Porsches, some rare ones from the factory museum. Present, too, was a clutch of old Porsche drivers who either raced those cars in their shared freshness of youth or others like them.

But the true importance of that gathering turned out to be a dinner at a hilltop golf course and the guy seated at my right elbow. It was Lew Bracker whom I had not met before because he’d done his racing mostly in Southern California and I in the East. Elkhart Lake was the Pacific to me.

Seems someone Lew referred to as “my friend Jimmy” was responsible for getting him out of his gaudy American road cars, into meager little German sports cars, onto Mulholland Drive and eventually into a race. Jimmy himself had three races to his credit but his participation was on hold. Seems Jimmy’s more formal name was James Dean and he was making his first three movies one on top of the other. Studios frowned on fun mobility like motorcycles and race cars. Instead, he was crew chief at Lew’s inaugural race.

Jimmy and Me a Personal Memoir of James Dean by Lew Bracker

Lew’s personal story of the last 16 months of James Dean’s life from the day the two met is now a book by Fulcorte Press, the eBook Publisher to the Car World and readable on any device with a Kindle app. And soon available as a print-on-demand paperback.