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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 31, 2014 Comments (0)

Le Mans Start

Photo by M. Keyser.

A Fine Beginning

In a recent conversation with a good friend and MMR Community Newsletter subscriber, he asked a startling question: What is MMR all about?

Coincidentally, two clever ladies affiliated with MMR suggested that some people did not know what MMR, Motorsports Marketing Resources, meant. They suggested we change the name to My Motorsports Resources and we agreed. That explains the different heading of this week’s Newsletter.

My Motorsports Resources: Information related to European cars and motorcycles. The MMR Goods & Services Directory is the essence of our being. It helps companies and people find Goods & Services that let them enjoy their vehicles and our sport. From restoration specialists to art, literature, luggage, clothing, and convertible top repairs to cleaning supplies, sunglasses, storage and shoes, rallies, restaurants, driving schools, and special insurance. We list over 10,000 researched Goods & Services in 350 categories. Some are not on the internet. Check us out. You will be amazed.

MMR Goods and Services Directory

This week’s featured G & S Directory supplier is  Volante Classics, offering America’s largest inventory of original Alfa Romeos.


Michael Furman’s image is a 1937 Delage Coupe from his book Curves of Steel.

1937 Delage Coupe, by Michael Furman


2014-2015 Racing

2014 is, as they say, in the books. While the various racing series in our sport fared differently, at this point all appear to have survived and all are prepping for 2015. Our  2015 MMR Motorsport Calendar is up and for those of you who haven’t yet subscribed or didn’t even know, it has an RSS feed that will send you timely alerts about upcoming events.

24 Hours of Daytona

BTW, January is a surprisingly busy month. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona kicks off the 2015 season of the Tudor Sports Car Series. In an interview with the PRI (Performance Racing Industries) December show issue, NASCAR’s Jim France, who alongside ALMS’s Don Panoz, spearheaded the combining of the competing Grand-Am and ALMS series, explained that 2014 was an excellent year for the combined effort at every level. What heartened us was his comment that the series management would convert the current classes into Le Mans Prototype and FIA GT3 rules, two years ahead of projection. 2017 will see Europe and North America competing by the same Le Mans/WEC rules. That is great news for sports car racing fans, manufacturers, and track promoters.

Incidentally, MMR will attend the Arizona Concours d’Elegance on January 11th. We hope to see you there.


Racemaker Book Review: Lyn St. James, An Incredible Journey

An Incredible Journey, by Lyn St. JamesWhile attending last September’s fun filled Santa Fe Concorso, we had the opportunity to spend some time with Lyn St. James. She participated with other Indy car drivers in a most entertaining panel discussion. Subsequently, we read and enjoyed her excellent book An Incredible Journey. In this issue her book is reviewed by our own intrepid motorsports enthusiast Sandy Cotterman.

We thank you for your support in 2014 and wish you a Happy New Year. Please don’t forget to support our sponsors and, now that you know all about it, visit our MMR Goods & Services Directory.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Merry Christmas from everyone at MMR

‘Tis the season to be gifting. In this, our last regular issue before the biggest gift day of the year we will suggest some affordable gifts that punch far above their weight in lasting value. The following are gifts that will be ecstatically received by any motorsports enthusiast. Uncertain that anyone close is knowledgeable enough to give you one or more of these fine gifts? Don’t take a chance, buy it yourself!

1961 Porsche 356 GTL Abarth, by Michael Furman

This week’s feature image is by  Michael Furman from his recent Porsche book entitled Porsche Unexpected. Editor Dom Miliano reviewed this book several weeks ago and you are invited read more about it here.


Ferrari Hypercars, Book by Winston GoodFellow

Ferrari Hypercars is Winston Goodfellow’s take on the very special cars Ferrari built to be the fastest, most beautiful, and most expensive cars of their period. And while this book accomplished the task of delineating those certain cars that qualify and more, it is what constitutes the “more” that you will find captivating


Lancia and De Virgilio: At the Center by Geoffrey Goldberg

Lancia and De Virgilio: at the Center by Geoffrey Goldberg. Published by David Bull Publishing. In the postwar era Lancia was the most innovative and design-driven automobile company in Italy, if not the world. Francesco De Virgilio was one of the company’s leading designer-engineers whose quiet drive for excellence reflected the company’s goals. De Virgilio worked with Gianni Lancia, founder’s son, and Vittorio Jano who had designed winning engines for Alfa Romeo. The book was reviewed in last week’s NY Times and we link you to that review.


Morgan Plus Four in Snow.

Our sixties lookback this week features the Morgan Plus 4, one of our favorite cars. Two weeks ago we featured the Sunbeam Tiger, another favorite. In conversation with Marshall Buck, MMR’s model maven, he suggested that readers might enjoy a brief review of the Tiger models available and his thoughts on them. Your comments are invited.

Porsche Speedster

Editor Dom Miliano has done yeoman work. This week’s eye candy is appropriately the color of the holidays and all the red cars are for sale, along with another 400 of the world’s most desirable and available cars in our online MMR Classifieds.

That’s it for this week. Please remember to support our advertisers and to invite friends to join our MMR Community by subscribing to our weekly Newsletter. Happy Holidays.

Peter Bourassa


French Barn Find

Posted on December 11, 2014 Comments (1)

Artcurial Unearths A Treasure Trove of Collector Cars.
( And the internet justifies its existence)

Let me be clear. 99.9% of the blogs to which we are invited are at best vacuous.

Hemmings has proven to be a welcome difference.

French Barn find - Ferrari under magazines

With a timing that could only be described as serendipitous,  Artcurial, a French auction house, has unearthed a treasure of over 60 “abandoned” cars. It has also created an art video and a set of quite evocative images and unleashed the whole lot on a shocked car collector world. Room occupancy rates, usually dismal in Paris in February, are bound to rise for the days including and surrounding February 6th. This isn’t cynicism; it is homage to brilliant marketing.

Ferrari 250 GT California, French Barn FindOf the product itself, several are mere rusting shells, others look restorable and still others, like the most valuable Ferrari 250 California once owned by actor Alain Delon, appear relatively unscathed and ready to drive. “Curiouser and curiouser” as Alice once said.

Hemmings, with a history and style at least as old as the oldest of these vehicles, is hosting a lively and interesting “blog” related to this discovery. The comments contained encompass opinion that in many ways defines the multi-faceted world of vintage cars and the very interesting people who inhabit it.

pb


2014 Predictions - Confusion Reigns

Posted on January 9, 2014 Comments (3)

As 2014 begins, F1 is praying that the decisions it made regarding engine and chassis will allow more teams to be competitive. Sports cars are struggling to find a formula that will be entertaining and also doesn’t exclude good racecars, and IndyCar is timorously emerging from its own stretch in the wilderness.

The business of racing is business. The public, that’s us, seeks entertainment. The racers, that’s them, seek fair competition and money. Between us and them is each series management. If management can satisfy both camps, everyone will be happy and they also will make money. History tells us that the only management style that has thus far satisfied both camps is one that is intelligent and autocratic with the ability to withstand pressure from teams, advertisers, suppliers, broadcasters and fans. No mean feat.

Bill France

Bernie Ecclestone

Only two people have managed to do that for a prolonged period and only one is alive. Big Bill France and Small Bernie Ecclestone ran/run their operations to suit their visions and the bottom line. Like them or not, both have made wealthy men of themselves and those who chose to follow them.

Here are some thoughts about three major series for 2014.

F1 – Difficult to Predict

If you believe that the four major components of a race team are engine, chassis, driver and management, the fact that two of them are in flux for everyone this year has created a level of excitement and anticipation for followers of F1. The advent of new engine and aero packages could wreak havoc with the current order. As we left them, Renault had the top engines and Red Bull had the top chassis.

Beginning with a clean sheet, it is theoretically anyone’s game. But if you believe that people win because they are experienced winners and appear to have the most talent, you have to give the nod to the Renault-Red Bull package. The fight for second could favor the Renault- Lotus package. Lotus arguably had the second best chassis last year and the same winning engine as Red Bull. But in the driver department, Grosjean has yet to mature to the Vettel/Alonso/Raikkonen/Hamilton level. Maldonado, despite his experience, is an unknown factor at this level.

The most solid one-two driver line-up belongs to Ferrari. Like their drivers, their management is solid and experienced. The engine-chassis portion of their package, we will learn about at the first race. And so will they.

McLaren, considered the engineering team, have proven to be weak in engineering. Plus, half their driver line-up is on a learning curve and their engine fate will be in the hands of Mercedes until next year.

Mercedes are the enigma and the enigma is fascinating. They have two strong drivers, and like everyone else, an unknown chassis/engine package. What makes them particularly interesting to follow is their management structure. Having recently fired Ross Brawn, the canniest racer in the paddock, they have new management which is unproven at this level. At the top sits Niki Lauda, the non-executive Chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, and who, undoubtedly, at the very least, agreed to the Brawn dismissal. Totto Wolff, who has a racing history with Mercedes in the DTM series, is the Business Manager and Paddy Lowe, formerly Technical Director for McLaren will, be Sporting Director with responsibility for building the cars and running the team. They all report to the board.

Time will tell if firing Ross Brawn was a bright move. Last year when Mercedes appeared to be having a high level of tire degradation, it was Ross Braun who engineered a secret tire test that solved the problem and also contravened what many considered to be strict rules against such actions. Not many people in F1 could have done that. Fewer still could have come out of it with so few negative consequences. New Mercedes Business Director Toto Wolff will be benefitting from Brawn’s 2014 planning and efforts for the first part of this year but after that Toto will discover that, as Dorothy said, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Brawn has said he will take six months to review his options. Here’s a prediction: Don’t be too surprised if someone has suggested he not commit to anyone until the board sees how the new management team does. His track record in F1 management is considerably better than Niki’s, Toto’s, and Paddy’s put together. At the very least Mercedes should keep Brawn on retainer not simply for what he can add but to keep him from adding it to someone else’s pit box.

Toto Wolff’s interview with Fox sports regarding Lotus Renault’s delayed payment of their drivers was at best tactless and equally ill informed historically. If this is accurate reporting, it would indicate that Mr. Wolff will be exciting to watch, if only briefly.

Sadly, the remainder of the F1 field will continue to soldier on at the back of the grid.

Tudor Sports Car Series  A Shotgun Marriage

Two series, ALMS (American Le Mans Series) and Rolex Grand-Am, have struggled with confusing classes, hopeless schedules, and lack of the necessary funding to properly establish distinct products. They have now merged to form a new series, the Tudor Sports Car Series, that will allow cars from both series to be competitive.

Tudor, I recently was informed by a watch aficionado, is Rolex’s second line, just as Tissot is Omega’s. A fine watch, to be sure, but still an acknowledged cut below the top level. And it does pose a simple question: Why a second level product?

They face challenges. Merging at the second level will be difficult but made easier because major car manufacturers are involved. They see a link with sales in showrooms and they will find a way, with time, to accommodate the new rules. The Ferrari, Corvette, Porsche, and Viper people all want a system that will allow them to be competitive. They want the series to have value in the eyes of the consumers and if it does that, they can afford to build the cars and the teams to make it work.

The biggest problem is at the top of the ticket. The Grand Am Daytona Prototype was initially a France family product designed to impose on sports car racing what they imposed on NASCAR. They introduced it as the Car of Tomorrow (COTA). The fans didn’t buy the homogenization and it is now, happily, the Car of Yesterday. The initial Daytona Prototypes were ugly slugs and still remain hugely different from the ALMS FIA derived Prototypes that run at Le Mans and in the remainder of Europe. The difficulty is that both sides have huge investments in these cars and nobody wants to, and many can’t, make obsolete their equipment and start from scratch. Management is struggling to find a way to make them even without destroying the cars or the racing.

Now is the time for IndyCar to anoint a strong leader and to find either a much higher profile title sponsor or co-sponsor who can invest the needed funds to help the teams through the expensive transition they will need to make to stay in the game. Like NASCAR, their biggest event is also their first. The Daytona 24 hours will be held at the end of this month and we will learn then what progress has been made.

IndyCar: Chasing the Carrot – Getting the Stick

The four major components required for a successful IndyCar program differ somewhat from the four determined for F1. These are IndyCar's requirements for a strong series: Strong teams, affordable car/engine packages, decent venues, and strong visionary leadership.

They have the first two. Randy Barnard rescued open wheel racing in America from the inept stewardship of the Hulman family and in the process learned that no matter how bright or right you are, when you are beholding to the folks who created the mess you are cleaning up, the likelihood of them being clever enough to let you take a bow and a buck, is highly unlikely.

IndyCar management believe their destiny is bringing their races to downtown streets all over downtown America and obscure racetracks in the hinterlands. F1, by contrast, have enough confidence in their product to believe that people will pay a lot of money to see good racing on real race tracks no matter where in hell they are. Their problem is supplying a consistently good race.

IndyCar finally has good racing and a deep field of driver talent, but their venue lineup is a joke. Other than the Indy 500, Birmingham and Mid-Ohio, the remainder are second rate and hard to watch. Long Beach, the most celebrated, tries hard, but it isn’t Monaco. Monaco has movie stars, Long Beach has TV stars. Bumpy city streets between ugly cement walls and 20’ catch fences is hardly glamorous. Inexplicably, they persist in believing that Laguna Seca, Elkhart Lake, Lime Rock Park, and countless other interesting tracks couldn’t fill their coffers.

They have a great product that has the potential of someday rivaling F1 as they once almost did. But history has demonstrated that as long as the France family control the major venue and the series, it will continue to fumble on!