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Posted on October 18, 2013 Comments (3)

F1 - The Japanese GP

Webber out-qualified Vettel and started on pole. Vettel never passed Webber because he didn’t have to. The team changed Webber to a three stop strategy, one more than Vettel, and he finished second. It should be very clear to Ricciardo that he will be the new Webber. The deck gets reshuffled next year and based on past history it would be foolish to believe that Renault will not have a competitive engine for the Lotus and Red Bull chassis. Kimi is quick but he is also impatient. If Ferrari doesn’t supply a winning package for Kimi they may learn to dread his après race interviews.

IndyCar Fontana Finale Saturday @ 8:00PM ET

The Auto Club Speedway two-mile oval at Fontana will be the site of the final race of this year. It should be an interesting cap to a season that has seen exciting races and the emergence of a number of competitive teams and attractive drivers. The organization is still young and some of the tracks they use are less than ideal, but they do race and ten different drivers have won.

Petit Le Mans – ALMS Series Finale at Road Atlanta Saturday @ 11:00AM

The final race of the year and the final race in its history. Our man Tommy Kendall is 23 on the grid in the fastest Viper. Next year the ALMS and Grand-Am series will combine. The ungainly titled TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will hopefully bring together two organizations that have struggled for years to bring sports car racing to North America. Good luck.

Memories: Racing in the Sixties

With my meager savings and different sponsors every year, I managed to race little English sports cars for the first three years of my twenties. When I went for a loan to finance the fourth, my bank manager pointed out that, among other things, like collateral, I lacked talent. That was the end of a racing career full of promises. But I wasn’t through with racing.

From Monday morning thru Thursday at 5:00PM every week, I was a regular Champion Spark Plug Co. Sales Representative calling on service stations throughout the Province of Quebec and sticking Champion decals on doors and windows. On weekends, I put Champion decals on the cars, motorcycles, and boats of racers that carried our products. My task was to help the real Champion Spark Plug techs who, with their diagnostic tools and years of experience, were occupied with potential winners. If you were not a potential winner, (read: poor) I helped you. And god helped you too.

Fortunately we blew up very few engines. Please keep in mind that blowing up engines was not a rare occurrence in those days and melted plugs weren’t either.

At the time, I shared a ski house with a good bunch of people near the Mont Tremblant race track so I was in that area almost every weekend of the year. When the F1 teams came to Canada, because some of them spoke better French than English, I was their liaison with the Champion professional tech reps that were sent from the US to help them. In 1968 when they raced at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, I was translating with the teams and recommending fine restaurants and arranging fancy box lunches. I was a 24-year-old kid! What did I know?

The real techs went to dinner with the teams and I took visiting race reps to my favorite restaurants and bars. I introduced them to young women friends and Canadian high-alcohol beer. Because the roads in the Laurentian Mountains are neither straight nor smooth, the ride back in my Champion Spark Plug Co. supplied 318 V8 Plymouth 4-door also introduced them to a new level of anxiety. All vaguely memorable to me now.

But it all worked out and at the end of that F1 weekend at Mont Tremblant, Ferrari’s Team Manager, Mauro Forghieri, gave me a Ferrari pin for my efforts. That was very cool. The next day I went back to putting Champion decals on doors and windows. It was good to be young in the sixties.

This week’s great images were taken by Chuck Schwager who recently co-drove Jim Taylor’s C-Type on this year’s Colorado Grand. Brave soul, he shot several of these from the passenger seat at speed.

Peter Bourassa

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 12, 2013 Comments (0)

Santa Fe Concorso Continues…

Until Thursday, we had a note at the bottom of the editorial suggesting readers advise us on whether a move to a Saturday launch instead of Friday would be acceptable. Fate intervened and made the Friday launch impossible so here we are in your mailbox on a Saturday. We would nonetheless greatly appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

In last week’s MMR Newsletter we mentioned, in error, that the Santa Fe Concorso’s winning NART Ferrari car was one of 17 made. Our thanks to diligent readers who pointed out that it is one of only ten built. This may have been the second potential heart stopper in recent days for owners of the other nine NART 275s who may read the MMR Newsletter. The first had to be waking up on the morning after the Monterey sale of another of that litter and learning that it had just sold for $27.5 million! That had to be a pleasant surprise. (Then again… think of the folks who had owned these cars and sold them over the years for considerably less.)

F1 in Korea

The Race of the Degrading Tires went again to Vettel. The ever exuberant Kimi finished second. Was it just my imagination or did the crowd not cheer him as lustily as it did before he announced he would be once again a Ferrari man? Fighting Ferrari and Red Bull with a Lotus is like being David against two Goliaths. Fighting against Red Bull with a Ferrari is hardly as heroic. But the pay is steady.

Tires in F1

I find the F1 tire issues both annoying and totally unnecessary. In the past you had two types of tires, wet and dry. You also had at least two tire manufacturers involved in each race. The competitor who was fastest and stopped least times would win. The winning tire was the best compromise of longevity and speed. That is what racing is about in every aspect. Fast, soft tires shed themselves into what are called marbles and eliminate safe passing areas. Passing is exciting. So how did we get here? Again, in the old days, manufacturers signed one or more of the top teams to use their tires. They paid the teams to develop cars and tire tested with them throughout the season. Tire wars were a part of the competition. At some point series organizers, or perhaps even a manufacturer, determined that all this money was going to the racers and that if the series mandated only one tire, a slice of that money could go to the series management. The tire manufacturer saved on the testing process, no longer negotiated with individual teams and at times even had the series named after itself. Even better, they always won and were never forced to develop a better tire than the competitor for the obvious reason… there wasn’t one. The fans hardly noticed or cared. Differing tire performance, fixed fuel consumption, and increasingly quick pit stops are all a part of manufactured drama for the F1 show. This is not as exciting as passing on the track. Some of us would rather just watch racing. On the track!

IndyCar in Houston has a Problem

We were wrong! Again! We mentioned last week that Castroneves had the series locked up with a 49 point lead and three races to go. Houston is another of those concrete canyon parking lot tracks and so bumpy that it was breaking cars. In the two races in Houston, held on consecutive days and both paying full points, Castroneves’s normally reliable Penske broke. His arch rival, Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon finished first and second and now leads his Penske rival by 25 points, going into the final race on October 19th at Fontana. A spectacular last lap accident injured Dario Franchitti and several spectators. None fatally, thank goodness. Viewing that accident makes you realize how far race safety has come. No one should ever be critically injured or die in a car race.

This week’s issue features more images and stories from the Santa Fe Concorso. Thank you to Royce Rumsey and Tim Considine for their wonderful images.

Have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 3, 2013 Comments (0)

Santa Fe Concorso

The fourth iteration of the Santa Fe Concorso was like a coming of age party. Each year it has gotten better. There were enough significant cars on the field this year to insure that an invitation to next year’s event should be taken seriously by collectors.

The organizers are fully aware that hosting a Concorso in Santa Fe is a double edged sword. Santa Fe is hardly on the main road to anywhere and neither is it densely populated. This means fewer qualified local cars and a smaller base from which to draw spectators. On the other hand, Santa Fe is a deliciously manageable city with a unique style and character in one of nature’s more gently beautiful settings. This year’s event was very well attended yet, mercifully, it hasn’t reached the crowd sizes we saw at Amelia and Pebble Beach this year. The Sunday show was a culmination of two days of road tours and tasteful parties. Think, Pebble Beach writ small.

Best of Show – Elegance: John Hayden Groendyke’s imposing 1933 Delage D8S Sports Coupe. The Best of Show – Sport: Lawrence Auriana’s rare 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder. This important car, one of only 17 built, was driven to a Second in Class by this year’s Santa Fe Concorso’s honoree Denise McCluggage and co-driver Pinkie Rollo in 1967.

A full gallery of our Santa Fe Concorso images will be posted to our website next week.

Racing Over the Age Limit

We received numerous interesting responses to our commentary about aging drivers and we share some with you. As ever with these issues, where you stand often depends on where you sit. Motorcycle collector, lawyer, and racer, Ken McGuire even shared his thoughts and an exciting image of four beautiful Bultacos lined up at the beginning of a race.

In F1 and IndyCar the Race for Second Remains Close

In F1, Vettel has won but the battle for second and third is still interesting with only 38 points separating them. In Indy Car, Castroneves will be difficult to unseat. The next four places are only 25 points apart. Both series run this weekend. F1 in South Korea and IndyCar runs a two race weekend, Saturday and Sunday in Houston.

MMR Fall/Winter Garage Tours

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming garage tours. Our calendar for these events is firming up as you read. These are Bring a Camera tours, which means that each visit will feature a special car to be photographed by you with instruction from a professional photographer. Tours will be limited in size.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa

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Responses to Last Week’s Editorial

Posted on October 3, 2013 Comments (1)

We had a significant number of responses to last week's commentary about Driving over the Age Limit. Most agreed that some sort of testing or other qualifier was needed. Several people felt that racing was a dangerous game and that everybody involved, including photographers, knew that going in and had no right to complain if they were killed, or even just maimed.

Let me be perfectly clear. I have no issue with people going fast, rich or poor. But when a driver is going door to door at high speeds with strangers, he has a right to expect that whoever let him out there knew they both could handle it. Physically and mentally.


We have the same problem in vintage motorcycle racing. In the day, if you weren’t good enough you couldn’t get a fast ride…now the only pre-requisite is a checkbook. The sanctioning bodies need to establish a licensing program (like regular professional racing) and stick to it. The “strong medicine” is that it is better to lose one rich cry-baby, than to kill someone. Most owners of fast vintage equipment would rather see competent drivers realize the potential of their machines than to putt around in the way. See attached pic of me (#6A) coming of the line with Three-time AMA Grand National Champ Jay Springsteen (#9) at a vintage race last month in Indy. He was way faster (and riding one of my bikes) but at least I wasn’t a moving chicane!

~Ken McGuire

Ken Springer

Dear Peter ..... old crocks racing powerful cars and coming to grief is nothing new. Experience is actually more important than age in my opinion. Surtees, Moss and many other serious drivers from the past were well up to the task in their early seventies. There were some very near misses and a few actual coming togethers at the Revival this year from young drivers who haven’t yet worked out that F1 scouts do not abound at vintage races. There is no need to carve up a slower car that’s entering the chicane and risk damage for the .1 of a second it will cost you. There’s no need to dart inside a car turning on to the apex of Fordwater flat out and risk pushing him off onto the grass and thence into the immovable barriers.

Apart from the risk to life and limb that sort of behaviour may cause an entrant to no longer want to enter a great original car with a very high value if it’s going to get punted off by a virtual replica with a goon behind the wheel.

I know what I’m talking about. It happened to me this year as indeed it seems to happen most years. Slowly but surely these goons are getting weeded out by race organisers. It’s never going to be too late to do it either. There are plenty of formulae for rock-apes to strut their stuff in cheap cars. Imagine a bunch of oldies in combat with young Kamikaze drivers in Formula Fords. Great sport and the best way possible to prove as the older guy that you can still hack it.

~Alain de Cadenet

I have to comment on your vintage racing article. After driving some faster cars with different clubs, I decided to return to the VSCCA. While I’ve driven race cars since I was 19, I recognized during my first Skip Barber race school that I was not in it to someday start at the Indy 500. Now that I am in my 60s and semi-retired, I have “downsized” to a very original Formcar Formula Vee (the first iteration). There are two other old Formula Vees in the club driven by guys my age or older who have also had much faster cars “back in the day.”

Vintage racing, at least as I’ve experienced in the VSCCA, is a place where the cars are the stars. We get to drive them fast, which is what they were built for. However, the attitude of the drivers is pretty consistent; we don’t think we’re in Formula 1 and we believe it’s way more important to bring the cars home from the event in one piece than to bring home some misplaced bragging rights about how we beat the field.

I remember walking through the paddock at an SVRA race a few years ago at the Glen and spotting more than one “retired” Formula One car. At the time I thought, “Affording it isn’t the same as being able to handle it.” I think it was at the same event I remember having a “dive bomb” pass executed upon me at a very dicey spot with a bad mix of faster and slower cars. What was the point, I thought? Well, it was about winning the race, regardless of the “cost/benefit” or “risk/benefit.”

Your point is well made, but there are options out there for anyone who is willing to honestly consider what their ability and commitment is and to act accordingly. Luckily, there are some really great clubs and options today.

~Tom Monti

You are right.

How do you tell an 80 year old that it’s time to retire? Especially when he just won a monster race at Road America running a sportsracer over 170mph to beat the “young studs” in their Lister Chevys or their Lola MkII coupes?

If there are no preconceived age restrictions, we need enforced annual physicals, stress tests, EKGs and up to date medical histories with the governing bodies not afraid to lose an entry or two.

But the real test is organizers (like Earl) with the backbone to tell bad drivers they can’t race.

We face a growing problem of aging drivers regardless of whether they drive an MGTC or a 312pb Ferrari.

The VSCCA is woefully behind in dealing with this issue.

~OOTAD (one of the aging drivers)

Hi Peter

Interesting comments about Vintage Racing. As you know I participated in both SVRA and SCCA with my GT1 X Trans Am Vette. Both series have their share of “More Money” than “Ability”. Your comments on the increased age of the drivers in both series is very true. Even more so in the big bore very fast formula, vintage and GT1 cars. I have been wrecked twice. Once at the Glen at the entrance to the bus stop in practice no less by cup car in the hands of a bone head. Second time at NHIS with an attempt to pass me on the inside of the south chicane. Very fast GT1 Mustang in hands of less than capable guy who had the “Red Mist” in his eyes. He had two wheels in the dirt on the inside just as I was turning left onto the back straight. Nearly put me into the wall at the exit, Porsche slammed into my nose and Sunbeam Tiger into the rear of the Porsche. 3 Cars with significant damage and done for the weekend. Both SCCA and SVRA are trying to control both ability and equally the Red Mist but it is difficult. Ultimately it is the driver who must recognize he is not Paul Newman and there is a time to hang up the helmet. I did last year even though I likely never put The Red Car past 85% of what it was capable of doing. Result was a wonderful 10 years of racing with only 3 DNF’s including the two wrecks noted. As a side note one does not see much on this subject and end of the day money and ego are tough to overcome! Nice piece by the way!

~Fred Myers

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