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Posted on October 31, 2014 Comments (0)

Actor David Niven’s excellent biography was entitled Bring on the Empty Horses. It was a quote from a European film director to the English speaking crew of a Western he was shooting. At this point in the season, I feel that is where we are in the remaining F1 races.

F1

Hamilton and Rossberg

The US GP is this weekend. It is hard to imagine that except for a handful of F1 drivers, most have no commitment to putting it all on the line for their team. Mercedes have won the championship but only the battle for the Drivers Championship is ongoing. Many have been critical of the “trick” double points final race in Abu Dhabi, but that is all that is keeping things interesting in the race for the Drivers Championship. Rosberg could finish second in the next two races and still win if Hamilton’s car failed in the final race. Stranger and far less pleasant things have happened in the final races for former Formula Drivers Championships.

On the Constructor Championship side Mercedes and Red bull are one-two and that will not change. The battle for third between Williams and Ferrari is still alive and with a little luck Williams could reap a massive payday.

Marussia Formula 1

Speaking of F1 and money, both Caterham and Marussia appear to be in financial difficulty and neither will make the grid for the US GP. Force India and Sauber appear to also have financial difficulties. Save Ferrari-Fiat, Mercedes, and Red Bull, who are not in it for the money, Williams are the inspiration of remaining small teams. They may actually do well financially this year. Keeping them all alive is Bernie Ecclestone’s job and credit where credit is due, he has been doing it for years.

NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Racing at Martinsville’s half-mile oval for NASCAR’s Sprint Cars was once likened to flying fighter jets in a gymnasium and the track never fails to produce a rash of hard feelings. Finishing unscathed is a miracle and winning is pure luck. Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first Martinsville Clock, the winner’s prize. Unfortunately he is no longer in the “Chase” for series Championship. He finished just ahead of teammate Jeff Gordon, who is one of the “Final Eight” in the Chase and would have been guaranteed to advance to the “Final Four” with a win. Other than the driver of the car that survives to win, few ever leave Martinsville happy.


Michael Furman photograph of a 1914 American Model 642 rear wheel

Our Michael Furman image this week is from his recent book Bespoke. Editor Dom Miliano reviews the book Michael wrote with Randy Leffingwell entitled Porsche Unexpected.


Denise McCluggage joins us again this week with an entertaining tale about the remarkable BMW i8.

Denise McCluggage My Word, BMW i8


COTA is a great track for F1 so enjoy the weekend.

Don’t forget to share us with a friend and encourage them to subscribe to the MMR Community Newsletter on our website.

Peter Bourassa


My Word: BMW i8

Posted on October 30, 2014 Comments (1)

“This is the best car that has ever come to Walmart.”

BMW i8

Larry assured me the young Walmart employee was as sincere as brown shoes. And likely correct in his judgment. My press car for the week was a BMW i8. As advanced technologically as any BMW I could recall and as special to look upon as anything Bavarian not meant to be eaten.

BMW i8

Larry Bruch is my rent-a-nerd who keeps my computers functional and is also an assistant when it comes to assessing the cars I am sent to assess. He uses cars in a different way than I do and it's useful to me to hear about that difference.

This time, given the extreme zones which this BMW has claimed, I asked Larry to expose the i8 to unique situations and report on reactions he noticed. As well as giving me his personal take. “This car gets more attention from more different people than any car I have ever been in.” he said. And that’s from kids, adults, men, women—Demographics gone wild. “Young women taking pictures like never before from that group.”

BMW i8

Larry cajoled his rabbi into taking time for a short ride. That experience elicited from the cleric overt laughter, which was uncharacteristic for Larry’s rabbi, but not for passengers in general. “Everybody laughs.” Larry reported. It’s the quickness of the acceleration, the unique interior in which they are ensconced, the eager willingness of the car to move. Passengers all laughed with open glee. “This is one happy-making car” he said.

BMW i8

BMW i8 backseat

The Tuesday Car Table folks could easily be blasé about odd and awesome rolling stock. After all our lunch regulars have over time brought on any given Tuesday at noon some impressive vehicles of their own to The Santa Fe Bar and Grill (all visitors welcome). Assorted McLarens, hot-rodded Audi R8s, a Ferrari Enzo, Bentleys, a Porsche 918. But real car guys never get jaded. They want to see, touch, ask about. They were all over the i8. Even trying out the back seat.

So this plug-in hybrid from Bavaria’s motor works, made of carbon fibre with a 1.5 liter 3 cylinder engine and a couple of electric motors at the wheels. All work willingly and seamlessly and appropriately in concert or on private missions.

BMW i8 wall charger

Performance is never slighted in this car having those particular initials writ large upon it. But then it’s as green as a St. Pat’s Day parade as well. Its economy is astonishing.

But what really blew the minds of curious Car Table folk was their inability to open the hood. They called BMW and were told don't even try. “You could invalidate the warranty.”

What? Laughter here, too. Yep. Stay out. This isn’t a car, this is a personal mobility device with ways of doing things you don’t need to know about. 

BMW i8 grill

BMW—truth telling—is not my fave among Teutonic road goers. However I have been amused and impressed by the marque’s insistence on building the best of normally-aspirated engines rather than taking an easier route to power with turbos like everyone else did. Until. Whap. OK—turbos! 

And at that, such good ones. And then BMW’s diesel—wow . Fine, fine diesel.

BMW i8 interior

And now this clear move into of all things a delightful advanced path toward tomorrow with comforting news for car buffs. Thus: Socially responsible driving need not be dull. Save the planet and your zest for driving at the same time. This is a light-hearted, bright-minded way to approach the matter of four-wheeled transport in time of transition. Out of character for BMW? Well, no. A deft change of character perhaps. Read the many reviews on the web and enjoy deciding for yourself.

A negative matter here. Larry with the i8 was approached by a man not feeling kindly toward BMW dealers. “I went to buy one of those”, he said. “The dealer laughed at him. He was only getting two. So his wife was getting one of them and a friend the other. And his friend was paying him $30,000 more than sticker price.” Simple as that. The man told Larry: “It's unlikely many i8s will get to the general public. Dealers will see to that. And to their own pocket.”

Ah the motor trade. As the Brits call them. Greedy. Finagling. Too bad if the BMW dealers choose to play that way. It's unbecoming. But never mind. BMW, the magicians of Munich, have nonetheless made a point. We know how to change the scene and make the future look delightful. And everyone else seems a little off gait. 

Laughter.