MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 13, 2013 Comments (0)

Our images this week are paintings by the artist and enthusiast Roger Blanchard. These and other images and prints are available on his website; find them in the MMR Goods and Services Directory.

Fixing F1 – Step 6: Refereeing

The FIA spells out the rules which govern F1 racing. The rules relating to how the race is conducted and what the drivers must and mustn’t do are the responsibility of the FIA Race Director. A small group of racing experts, sometimes local, all part-time, often former drivers, supply input on individual racing incidents. They are called Race Stewards. A guest celebrity ex-driver is also part of the rules team for every race. In other words, well intentioned amateurs are making decisions that govern a billion dollar sport/business. Sir Jackie Stewart has been lobbying for professional stewards for this billion dollar industry. Good for him and for us! 

Jackie Stewart 2

Denise McCluggage

Denise McCluggage: The Centered Driver Workshop

January 28th, 2014

Two years ago Denise McCluggage visited New England and gave an enjoyable and informative series of talks to several local clubs and the MMR Community. This January 28th, Denise returns with an interactive driver’s workshop entitled The Centered Driver. The event is being offered first to the MMR Community. In January we will open it up to the public. Please read more about it and reserve your spot now. Our thanks to Michael Ricciardi and European Motorsports of Lawrence MA for making this event happen.

Ferrari Myth Calendar                                                        

Gunther Raupp’s annual Ferrari Myth Calendar is once again available from David Bull Publishing.

Ferrari Myth

An Uncommon Auction

Last Saturday, Dom Miliano and I, along with a number of MMR Community members, attended the Dragone Auctions in Westport Connecticut. The cars were stunning and many sold after the gavel had fallen. Highlights included the sale of a 1930 Packard Phaeton for $920K and an unrestored 1920 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost for $520K. As mentioned last week, this small auction is unique. It is focused on privately owned cars never before offered at auction.

Etre Bien Dans Ca Peau (To Be Well In One’s Skin)

Despite the less than positive aspects attributed to maturity, there are some things about aging that are totally positive. For instance, fashionable clothing gives way to wearing garments that serve a purpose other than style, like comfort and utility. The same goes for our cars. We once responded to questions about what we drive by first stating the year, then marque and model, as though the most recent date were the winner. At a recent gathering, I asked three friends what they were driving. One said an M-5, a second said a 5 Series, and the third mentioned a Mercedes 320. I drive an Allroad. We are all driving vehicles we like in which we are comfortable. All are fine and proven cars. None, like us, is new or in fashion. Then again, none of the newer models appear compelling enough to encourage a change. That might say something about both of us.

BMW

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 22, 2013 Comments (0)

This week’s images are from Michael Furman’s excellent new book Automotive JewelryRead our review.

Fixing F1 – Step Three - Bring Back Risk

Let’s face it, the risks in today’s F1 races are hardly commensurate with the rewards. The danger and often deadly aspects of older tracks, long gone road courses, and races such as the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio were inherent and impossible to eliminate. Huge trees, narrow roads and stone bridges, were all part of the perils of racing and everyone, drivers and spectators, recognized them. For drivers, the risks were always high and the monetary rewards comparatively low.

However, other than being a fighter pilot during war, there are few opportunities to compete with like individuals at a potentially lethal level and earn both adulation and great sums of money for doing it.

Keeping It on the Island

Keeping it on the island.

Today, what commentators call a brave move is more likely to be an unanticipated maneuver. The risk is now limited to a damaged car and/or loss of championship points. Is it admirable? Unquestionably. Is it brave? Not the way it once was. Is it exciting? Well that’s the question isn’t it? Lawyers and insurance companies have successfully eliminated risk from but a few corners at a few tracks. And if we are not pleased that racing is now safe, what does it say about us? Are we the new old Romans?

F1 – US GP

A boring race. See above. There was an opportunity for drama. Lotus borrowed former F1 driver and now Caterham test driver Heikki Kovalainen to replace the Never Leave ‘em Laughin’ Kimi. The Kimster had back surgery so that he could be healed in time to race for Ferrari next year. True to form, Kovalainen, once again, didn’t fail to disappoint. Surprisingly quick in practice, only 8th in qualifying, he finished 14th. There is a reason this driver has a test contract with the worst team on the grid. To his credit, he doesn’t blame the machinery.

Snooze Fest

Snooze Fest in Texas

So now on to Brazil and more of the same.

NASCAR – Johnson Wins Again

The 2103 NASCAR marathon is over. A talented driver, who works hard, has a great pit crew and races clean, Jimmy Johnson won the championship. I gave up watching when the challenge became the re-engineering of the tire pressures and suspension setups through their far-too-long oval Sunday afternoon marathons. Like other forms of high level racing, the battle now is among the engineers. The saving grace for NASCAR may be its road races. NASCAR drivers are not recognized for just how good they are. If NASCAR dropped Sears Point, added Laguna Seca, Lime Rock, Road America, and Road Atlanta and two more tight tracks, they would have an exciting new series.  

Nascar

Welcome NASCAR Fans?


Denise McCluggage

Denise McCluggage: The Centered Driver Workshop

Mark your Calendars. January 28, 2014. Denise will hold an interactive drivers workshop at European Motorsports in Lawrence MA. The class is for a maximum of 60 participants. Order your tickets here.


Burt Levy

Our Buddy Burt – Holiday Offerings

Vintage Racer and Author, Burt Levy, has forwarded his Holiday gift suggestions and a teaser about delivering his second Ford/Ferrari/Le Mans book entitled Assault on Four O’clock. Check out the pricing on Holiday cards on Burt's website.

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.

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


Red Bull Gives You Wins

Posted on November 18, 2010 Comments (0)

Red Bull have won it all! And deservedly so.

Excited and exciting Seb Vettel wins Drivers Championship

Excited and exciting Seb Vettel wins Drivers Championship

The energy drink people at Red Bull have proven once again that unfettered money can beat the Fiats, Mercedes and Renaults of the world at what should be their game. Benetton were the last wholly owned non-automotive oriented team to win both Drivers and Constructors Championships and that was fifteen years ago.

But this was an interesting season. Not as much for the racing as for the people. We appear to have a group of drivers who have let their personalities shine through the corporate sponsorships and we find they are a diverse group.

The following are the impressions they left with me as the year ended.

Sebastian Vettel: His little-boy exuberance can be alternatively refreshing and annoying but there is no doubt that he can drive. He had the best car, he won the Championship and he really deserved it.

Mark Webber: Flashes of brilliance but not enough of them. Nobody ever thought he would accomplish what he did at his age and stage of his career. He has a sympathetic following but a dim future.

Hamilton: Quick and competitive. Somehow appears one dimensional. He will be better as he matures.

Alonso: Quick and competitive and smart. Interesting to see him being consoled by Ferrari after the race. I would have thought the check was enough. He has been with four teams in nine seasons.

Massa: Great guy who needs to step up his game. He is number 2 at Ferrari. The new Barrichello.

Button: In two years he has built a reputation for being smart, fast and easy on equipment. Moved from Mercedes at the right time and can give his teammate a run on any day. He was impressive this year.

Schumacher: Gave every aging F1 driver hope. Then dashed them with uncompetive drives. His crash on the first lap of the final race should be a message.

Rosberg: Quick and smart. Handled being Schumacher's teammate very well. He deserves a better team and car. I would love to see him at Red Bull.

Kubica: Very quick. Needs a top ride and then will be very, very competitive.

Kobiyashi: Exciting to watch and would be interesting to see what he could do in a better car.

Domenicali: The most refreshing team principal in years. After years of Dreary Ron and Silent John, he is a breath of fresh air.

The only difference between the cars is Adrian Newey and Renault power.

The last two races were good strategic battles on boring courses. If Abu Dhabi would have been the first race it would have been called a disaster for its lack of passing opportunities.

Formula One drivers are pretty evenly matched. Vettel had a car in which at least five other drivers could have won the championship.

A lot of people seem to speak for Red Bull but we never hear enough from the guy who really makes it all work, Adrian Newey.

Hopefully next year will see more teams competing at the front. Mercedes and Renault seem poised, Williams, less so, but could surprise. A few less boring Tilke tracks would help.

On to 2011, let the testing begin!