MMR Blog

Sandy On Assignment: The Bucket List

Posted on January 15, 2015 Comments (10)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

Sandy on Assignment

Yes, a glamour shot, but the suit (not the shoes) gets me into the hot pits!

No matter what your age, I bet you have a list of things you want to do ... someday. Since setting myself loose in this amazing world of motorsports, I realize my someday is now. A bit late to the motorsports party, I have come to peace with the fact that I am neither going to become a race car driver, nor am I going to trip upon a million dollar barn find. So instead, I have been knocking out my very own bucket list ... to get as close to everything motorsports as I possibly can.

Looking at my list got me thinking. Does every car guy have a bucket list? What’s on it? What are their plans? I started asking around and this is what I discovered. Generally speaking, there is no limit to what a car guy wants to do with cars, events they want to attend, and cars they lust over owning or re-owning. What did surprise me was the final hesitation ... someday.

My hope in sharing my adventures under Sandy on Assignment is to get you excited about building and actually tackling your own motorsports bucket list.

You are never too young to appreciate motorsports

It is never too soon to introduce children to motorsports.

I appreciate that this sport or hobby, depending upon your level of participation, requires resources. Although some are financial, many just need some time and planning. This may not be the year to hit Pebble Beach, but it may be the time to take your children or grandchildren to the races or a local car show. It may be the year to hop in your car and do a Club autocross or a road tour.

As for my motorsports adventures, here are my top ten recommendations. See where your dreams fit. Write them down.

Sandy’s Top Ten Favorites

1. Take a high performance sports driving course. My favorites are the 2-day Porsche Sports Driving School outside Birmingham, Alabama and Monticello Motor Club’s high performance courses, just 90 minutes north of New York City. Interestingly, most participants attend as a birthday present from their spouse! What I learned in both courses stays with me every second I am driving on the road.

Bruce Ledoux and Sandy Cotterman

Meeting driver Bruce Ledoux, founder of the  Guardian Angels of Motorsports, opened my eyes to the world of racing.

St. Petersburg Grand Prix

Smaller races, like the St. Pete Grand Prix let you get close to the cars and the drivers.

2. Go to the races. The Rolex 24 hours of Daytona was my first and got me hooked. Whether it’s local stock car racing or Formula 1, the electricity is always there. Splurge on a paddock pass. Meet the drivers. Le Mans can’t be beat. Formula 1 in Monaco is breathtaking. Vintage racing during the Lime Rock Historics and Monterey week at Laguna Seca are favorites. Watching the Elegance at Hershey hillclimb is a blast.

3. Get out and drive. Whether it’s a Club track day, family drive, or week-long rally, just get out and drive. Enjoy yourself in your car. After taking my performance courses, I realized you don’t need a Ferrari or a Porsche to get out and have fun!

Sandy Cotterman, judging a concours

Judging has gotten me closer to the pulse of a concours.

Sandy Cotterman and Norman Dewis, OBE

It is one thing to go to a concours like Villa d’Este, it’s another to meet a legend like Norman Dewis, OBE and the car that made history.

4. Attend a Concours d’Elegance or local car show. A concours can be a step back in history or a waltz down memory lane. It’s like a living history and a chance to meet the owners. The atmosphere is always fun, often lasting a weekend. You would be amazed at the classic cars entered in local car shows! There is nothing that beats the fun during the British Invasion in Stowe, Vermont. Sandy on Assignment has taken MMR readers from Pebble Beach to Amelia Island and across the pond to Villa d’Este and Hampton Court.

Max Girardo, RM Auctioneer and Managing Director

Max Girardo, RM’s auctioneer and Managing Director captivates his audiences.

5. Feel the excitement of an Auction. Whether you experience it live in person or on television, watching a car auction is a blast. I love to hear guys talk about prices as cars roll onto the auction block. What looks like their high school car or the car they almost bought, is now priced out of sight! You can get caught up in the bidding frenzy without even opening your wallet! Preview days are often free, and a great time to walk around and check out the cars. My favorite is RM with auctioneer Max Girardo. Also at the top of my list are Gooding, Bonham’s, and Artcurial auctions.

First Porsche sports car

The first sports car bearing the Porsche name. The 1948 Porsche Type 356, “No. 1” Roadster.

6. Check out your dream car. There is no harm in test driving your dream car. There is no harm in surfing the internet for your dream car. There is no harm in tracking down the car you once owned. Dream it and someday you may own it. I want a Porsche 911 in the worst way.

Goodwood is fun for everyone

The Goodwood Revival is magical and fun for everyone.

7. Head to the Goodwood Revival, Retromobile, or the Mille Miglia. These events are for everyone, from the vintage racing buff to the reluctant spouse. If looking through memorabilia at Retromobile gets boring, there is always shopping in Paris. There are enough trade-offs in Italy to spare a couple of hours watching the cars take off at the Mille Miglia. As for the Goodwood Revival, the entire family cannot help but have a fabulous time.

1902, the oldest Mercedes still in existence

The oldest Mercedes still in existence, the 1902 Mercedes-Simplex 40PS.

8. Tie an automotive museum into your vacation. Automobile museums are everywhere. Admission is often nominal. In the States, favorites on the west coast, besides Jay Leno’s Garage, include the Blackhawk Museum, Mullen and Nethercutt Collections, Peterson and LeMay Museums. Heading east, the Seal Cove Museum in Maine and Simeon and AACA Museums in Pennsylvania are fantastic. Heading to Europe? Take the train from Paris to Mulhouse for a treat — the Schlumph Collection in the Cité de l’Automobile National Museum. If you are flying into Milan, the Museo dell’Automobile in Torino and Museo Mille Miglia in Brescia are unique. Once in Stuttgart, Germany, the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums were phenomenal. The crème de la crème was The Collier Collection in Naples, Florida.

Katies, on a Saturday Morning

With over 300 cars on a Saturday morning, at Katie’s, you can always find something to talk about.

9. Get to a Cars and Coffee. If it’s 7am, Saturday morning, you will find me sipping coffee with hundreds of car guys and gals, at the local cars and coffee. I love being around other like-minded motorsports enthusiasts. Classics to exotics, you’ll see everything and just talk cars. My favorites — Katie’s in Great Falls, Virginia and the duPont Registry in Clearwater, Florida.

Sandy's dream come true

My dream come true.

10. Don’t stop at 10 ... keep dreaming. On my bucket list for decades was to own a convertible, something sporty. I never let up on that dream and I’m glad I didn’t. Who would have guessed that dream would change my life.

Rallies enough to last a lifetime

There are enough rallies on my list to last a lifetime.

So what is still on my bucket list? My dreams span the gamut, from tinkering under the hood of an E-Type to navigating in the Peking to Paris Rally. And, of course, there’s the 911.

Donald Osborne at the Mille Miglia

It is just as much about the people as it is about the cars. Donald Osborne at the start of the Mille Miglia.

I hope I have sparked your interest. Get out and have fun with your own bucket list. Sandy on Assignment, under the MMR Blog, gives you a glimpse into many adventures, with specific suggestions on how to go about planning. When it comes to motorsports adventures, it’s all about the cars, the people, and having fun.

Please keep me posted on your bucket list ... and I promise to write about mine.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 7, 2014 Comments (0)

F1

COTA track diagram

If ever there was an argument for road courses over street sources, the US grand Prix at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) made it. Here, in a race where the finishes of the first two cars was pretty much determined in qualifying, an entertaining race took place largely due to the race track on which it was held. The two Mercedes are not identical in set up and Hamilton made the right setting decisions and Rosberg did not. Bravo Hamilton. Behind the two of them, some fantastic scraps took place, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many moons. Ricciardo cleverly drove the fifth best car to third place and the Williams cars both finished ahead of the top Ferraris of Alonso in 6th and Raikkonen in 13th.

Lewis Hamilton COTA Voctor

But it was the track that was the star. It is the most interesting F1 track on the circuit and we predict, where Spa has held that unofficial title for decades, given not too much more time, COTA will be just as highly regarded. Why? Well, for one thing it is wide enough to encourage three abreast driving and for the same reason makes blocking difficult. The straights are long enough to allow trimming and tuning for high speeds and that hurts grip in the twisty bits. And, most important, it rewards aggressive driving and good set-up decisions. Strictly from a spectator’s viewpoint, this may have been the best race of the year. Bravo COTA!

Lewis Parc Ferme COTA

Noteworthy

Sergio Perez Force India

“The Force India driver (Sergio Perez) was involved in a collision on Lap 2 at the Circuit of the Americas that forced him and Adrian Sutil into retirement.” He ruined both their days and was penalized by the stewards. In questioning immediately after the incident, Sutil, was asked if he was going to go over to the Force India pit and confront Perez. No, he said that he expected Sergio to come to him. With an apology? He was asked. Well, at least an explanation, he said. (Read NASCAR below for comparison.)

Adrian Sutil COTA

Caterham and Marussia, who both missed the race, were hardly missed on TV because they are so uncompetitive that they are rarely seen on TV anyway unless someone who is really racing is passing them. Proving F1 doesn’t need a full grid to be entertaining, it needs competitive cars.

Ferrari Factory

Fiat announced that they will sell Ferrari. From an F1 viewpoint, an independent Ferrari company can only afford to compete in F1 if they are winning. The Manufacturers Championship purse is huge. The winners share can finance the F1 racing program with some left over. A future independent Ferrari could not afford to race in F1 if they finish fourth, as they will this year. And some argue, with reason, that F1 without Ferrari has a huge problem.

NASCAR: Another Battle in Texas

Ferrari Factory

Hollywood has set an absurdly high standard for how fist-fighting should look! The staged fistfights in early cowboy movies were humorous by today’s standards. Good guys and villains absorbed haymakers that should have disfigured them for life, yet never lost their hats. Let alone a tooth. Current movie fights are more graphic but equally unreal. In the real life NASCAR fight we featured last week, tough looking Cale Yarborough actually hit Allison with his helmet, not his fists. It’s not up to Hollywood standards but it is far smarter. Head bones are thicker than hand bones.

Jeff Gordon

Sunday’s brawl after the Texas 500 race involved gentleman Jeff Gordon, annoying but talented Brad Keselowski and the proud inheritor of Dale Sr’s less admirable traits, Kevin Harvick. Gordon knows better and Harvick hit Keselowski in the back. But again, lots of hugging but no real punches thrown. And the film shows that Gordon had every right to be disappointed but no more than that. He gave Keselowski an opening and the kid took it. For his troubles, Keselowski got his face scuffed a little but he probably won thousands of fans that Gordon and Harvick lost. Next week’s second to last race in Phoenix will determine which four drivers will be eligible to win the Championship in the final race at Homestead. This is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Kevin Harvock


 Michael Furman image is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One

Our Michael Furman image this week is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One.


Artist Chris Osborne painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix.

Talented artist Chris Osborne sent us this image of a recently completed painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix. I think you will agree that Chris has captured the essence of both.


The next chapter of Marshall Buck’s story about building a model of a Ferrari 250 SWB is now available.

In My Word:Tread Lightly, Denise McCluggage suggested that readers may want to join her on a Tin Cup Trek. Several of you have mentioned an interest to me. If you keep in touch with Denise, we will keep everyone updated on progress.

This weekend the F1 circus goes to Brazil and, as mentioned, NASCAR is at Phoenix. Please share us with your friends and have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 12, 2014 Comments (0)

We have turned the corner on summer and many of our favorite viewing activities are either in the final events in their series or already shutting down for the season.

IndyCar is done. NASCAR begins its 10 race Chase to choose a Champion. The Tudor United Sportscar Championship has two weekends remaining. The finale is a 10 hour Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta on October 4-5.


The Boston Cup

The Car Show season winds up in the Northeast with The Boston Cup event on the Boston Common on September 21st. See you there.


In this issue of The Weekly LeekStreaming the Finest in Pale Yellow Journalism, Professor Prosser has scooped the poop on the latest Papal pronouncement. In the best Rocky & Bullwinkle tradition: Don’t miss the next exciting episode of Lewis Whines a New Title! or Papal Palace Promotes Pals!


Sandy (on Assignment) Cotterman visited the Hershey Concourse and her images and story inform this week’s Newsletter.


Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.

Michael Furman’s dramatic image of the Porsche 911 GT1 captures the beauty of the beast.


F1

In short, the Tifosi (Ferrari fanatics) were disappointed, again. Mercedes dominated, again. The Nico/Lewis battle for hearts and minds continues and many hopes for the future are pinned on the return of Honda engines. As everyone knows by now, Hamilton won and Rosberg appeared to have given it to him. Conspiracy theories abound.

Mark Hughes of MotorSport magazine credits the win more to a difference in driving styles and car set-ups than to a huge driver error under pressure. The podium ceremony was very interesting (who was that animated interviewer?) as were the post race interviews. Hamilton still has a hill to climb and the next six races will be fun for viewers.

Monza in both its original configuration, which included a high banked oval, and its modern configurations of long straights and fast curves has always advantaged the most powerful cars and the bravest drivers. A list of the talented and experienced drivers who lost their lives at Monza says it all: Ascari, von Trips, Rindt, Peterson, and on motorcycles, Saarinen and Pasolini. All among the very best of their times.

At one point, a portion of the banked oval was part of the course. In its later days, it was quite bumpy; its depiction in the film Grand Prix was quite accurate.

Today’s course, even with the new formula’s dumbed down engines, it is still amazingly fast but its challenge to drivers has changed to a challenge for engineers. Where a strong motor and a brave driver were requisites in the sixties, downforce packages, engine mapping, brake systems, brake balance settings and tire management all come in to play now and the engineer’s role dominates the outcome. That is not to denigrate today’s cars or their drivers. Quite the contrary. The Italian GP was a brilliant example of how different teams, dealing with different technical strengths and weaknesses and driver preferences, managed a fast and complex 90 minute race. An analysis of each car’s technical package would go a long way to explain the driver’s finishing position. It is possible to believe that the Monza results, two Mercedes followed by two Williams and two Red Bulls would be the same if those six driver’s names were put into a hat to choose who would drive which car. Could you seriously question the fact that Vettel, who finished sixth would have finished first, had he been driving a Mercedes?

It has been rumored that Ron Dennis is making the rounds of top talent agents to see if he can convince them that their charges can win the Driver’s Championship in a McLaren-Honda next year or the year after. For those of you unfamiliar, only Mercedes and Ferrari enter their own chassis-engine combo. Most teams design, build and develop their own chassis and purchase engines from either Mercedes or Ferrari or Renault. Each component is equally important and to believe that any team (McLaren) will be stronger next year with the advent of a new Honda engine says that engines are their current problem. The reality is that Mercedes (454 Points) Williams (177 points) McLaren (110 points) and Force India (109 points) all have Mercedes engines. What they don’t have is a Mercedes chassis. On the other hand, Red Bull (272 points) is second in the series and has a Renault engine reputed to be 90 horsepower down on the Mercedes and its own Adrian Newey designed chassis. It shares a Renault engine with the Lotus (8 points) and Caterham (0 points). Red Bull, second in the points is well ahead of the Mercedes powered Williams. It has the second best chassis after the Mercedes team and Williams has the next best chassis after Red Bull. For any driver to jump from Mercedes or Red Bull, or even Williams, to any other F1 team with a currently uncompetitive chassis and an unproven engine would be asking him to make a huge leap of faith. McLaren is a great team with great resources but so is Ferrari and both have a long way to go.

If we were building for the future, Bottas and Magnussen would be an interesting base.

Have a great weekend. Please share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on June 6, 2014 Comments (0)

June! Glorious June!

Our June calendar lists a favorite racing city party and Le Mans.

Our images this week are from the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, taken by Editor Dom Miliano and me. Michael Furman’s feature image is that of a 1933 Squire front.

1933 Squire photo by Michael Furman

IndyCar and Detroit Both Survive

In the recent past, images of Detroit have been anything but pretty. But news from the Motor City has been much better of late. People who care about the city, including Roger Penske, have contributed energy and money to make things happen. The American never say die and we can do this attitudes are prevailing. Property values are rising, and neighborhood by neighborhood there is a resurgence of small businesses and community spirit. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are doing well and doing good by investing in their own local infrastructure. Ironically, the same word applies to this turnaround as to the iconic downtown development that was once heralded as its salvation and later criticized as the reason for its ruin. Renaissance. 

Penske Racing is based in Detroit and The Captain has been the driving force and sponsor behind the two day IndyCar races held on Belle Isle, a park island just off Detroit’s downtown. This is another barrier bound street course and its physical condition mirrors Detroit’s finances. It is to be hoped that both will improve. Penske cars won both bumpy races and as bumpy races go it was entertaining. The talented Will Power drove to a solid win on Saturday and the equally talented Helio Castroneves won on Sunday. The close racing on a tight bumpy course made for the inevitable contact and bad feelings and the soap opera is now part of the IndyCar show.

F1 in Montreal this Weekend

The Grand Prix of Canada takes place in Montreal this weekend. Montreal is a great party city and the F1 team sponsors decorate the town squares with product and race car displays. The race track itself is both simple and boring. The F1 community has a speak no evil policy to which all adhere. A boring track is called technical by drivers. This infers that they don’t think it is as boring we do. Named after native son Gilles Villeneuve, it is essentially a park service road on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River and in full view of downtown Montreal. Coming off the tight Monaco circuit, this track allows for more passing. It is one of Hamilton’s favorite circuits and he has won here several times. That insures that the Mercedes drama will continue.

Greenwich Concours d’Elegance

Dom and I attended the Greenwich Concours this past weekend. The setting, a wooded park on the Long Island Sound is magnificent. Sadly, the view of the water is blocked by the huge Bonham’s Auction tent installation. The show cars are set out in circular compounds among the trees and while I had heard complaints about this, I found it interesting and not at all a negative issue. The actual selection of cars on display was eclectic and interesting. The whole atmosphere is casual and owners of cars on display seemed more accessible and engaging. 

Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

The Bonhams Auction was a huge success and the pricing on market leading cars did not disappoint. An early Flat Floor E-Type Jaguar sold for $335K and an XK-150S did $203,500. The crowd cheered a local bidder who purchased John Fitch’s Phoenix in part to keep it in Connecticut. This is a good thing. No bubble burst here.

Uncommon Ferraris

A Connecticut resident brought his Carbon Fiber race car to the Greenwich Concours. We thought you might be interested in seeing its pretty sister and the Forghieri-designed original.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to share this newsletter with a friend. It’s how we grow.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 16, 2014 Comments (0)

It’s Alive! You open the garage door on a sunny warm day and suddenly your heart stirs as you see that car or bike that has been a mere sculpture for months. It’s time for the sun to warm that paint and leather and bring your friend to life. That is what May means to Motorheads. I recently drove the 308 600 miles in one day and I want to share with you my thoughts about older cars further in this post. See In Praise of Older Cars.

Michael Furman Photography, 1937 BMW 328 speedometer

Michael Furman’s image this week is the speedo of a vintage 328 BMW.

May in American motorsports has always been dominated by the pageant of the Indianapolis 500. Indy, like the Masters, the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 dominates the sports media. In Europe the brilliant Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este shares the stage this month with F1’s crown jewel, Monaco, and the Mille Miglia. Look for stories from Sandy on Assignment in next week’s issue as our intrepid reporter Sandy Cotterman reports from the 1000 Miglia.

In Boston, as in other cities across America, car shows and dealership Open Houses abound. This weekend is the annual Waltham Auto Enthusiasts Tour at Aston Martin of New England and European Auto Solutions. Details.

F1 Spanish GP – Race Between Equals

As Grand Prix events go, this race was rather dull. The Mercedes cars ran away again and everyone else was there to measure their progress. The race between teammates however was dramatic and very entertaining. Hamilton once again bested his only competition, Nico Rosberg, who in finishing second appeared more content with his day than did the man who bested him and now has the driver’s championship points lead.

Ricciardo started from third and finished there. His teammate Vettel started from 15th place and finished fourth. This was a good race for him. He passed aggressively everywhere and showed why he is a champion. Valtteri Bottas was a brilliant fifth in a resuscitated Williams. His teammate, Massa, had problems and didn’t fare as well, again. The Williams team is really quite chuffed about the team’s turnaround. Ferrari finished sixth and seventh with Alonso once again beating Raikkonen at home GP of both Alonso and Ferrari sponsor Santander. Kimi, never a team player, appeared disgruntled that team strategies meant that Alonso had fresher tires at the end of the race and therefore passed him with ease. Romain Grosjean and Lotus were eighth and probably thrilled with that result. His teammate Maldonado was 15th. Force India took the final points in ninth and tenth with Perez and Hulkenberg. McLaren drivers Button and Magnussen took the next two spots.

Points to ponder. McLaren’s strong early season performance has faded and the Williams is now the Ferrari of England as one of the bio lines about the team stated during the TV broadcast. That must sting McLaren’s team principal, the dour Ron Dennis, who came back at the beginning of this year to take charge at McLaren Racing. Staying with “stinging” and Williams, it is rumored that Pastor Maldonado’s sponsor gave Williams $25M to release him from his 2014 contract to go to Lotus. That little windfall probably financed a good deal of the R&D on the new 2014 Williams car that is performing so well. Despite that, Maldonado’s gamble may yet come good. It is a little early to discount the Renault engine and the Lotus chassis. Renault will solve their engine issues eventually because Red Bull will hold their feet to the fire until they do, and Lotus does have a good chassis. If they put it all together, they can still salvage something this year.

IndyCar – Grand Prix of Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway introduced its new road course with an inaugural race entitled, rather grandly, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, from the small Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports team, emerged the winner and is now a force in the championship. Andretti team’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was second and Penske’s Castroneves was third. Penske’s Will Power continues to lead the driver standings and Pagenaud is fourth, a mere six points off the lead.

Points to Ponder. The race had plenty of action. A crash at the start took out the pole sitter and two other cars. History teaches us that the Speedway has difficulty with just about everything it does for the first time. This new road course is actually their second design. Last year, at the Indy 500, in the name of security they banned large customer coolers. When the back-ups at the entrances threatened to make patrons miss the start, they relented and let everyone and their coolers in. Also, in the name of security, they rerouted traffic and ticketholders who could not get to the track in time, turned around and went home. For this race on a new track they introduced a new starting format and in keeping with everything else they do for the first time, they screwed up.

Peter Bourassa