MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 21, 2014 Comments (0)

NASCAR: Harvick is Worthy Champion

Harvick and Tony Stewart

Let’s get something straight from the beginning. These guys are good. It is too easy to overlook their talent and skills in what week after week looks like a high speed crash fest. But those cars are fast and finicky. They are always skating on the edge of control and the winning drivers are those who can best balance the changes to track and tire conditions and pick their spots to pass and avoid wrecks. Their two road races at Watkins Glen and Sears Point are easily among the best races on TV every year. These guys are very good.

Harvick is a worthy Champion! He has paid his dues. And he won the championship by winning the race. He came into the sport with Childress Racing as a replacement for Earnhardt senior in 2001. He was expected to become the “new” intimidator. But the sport was changing and the days of the brawny brawlers were over. Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson were the new style of champion and, though Harvick was edgy, he wasn’t winning championships. This year he joined Stewart–Haas Racing and with a new team and a new crew chief things came together.

Nascar Harvick Edwards fight

NASCAR ratings are up! NASCAR brass is taking a bow! Yes, it was their genius new format that did it, and the drivers agree. It must be so. Mainstream TV news which seemingly ignores anything but stick and ball games all year, but never misses a fire, a car crash or a baby falling out of a window, actually showed the pushing and shoving in two of the final four races and called it a “brawl”. THAT boosted ratings. As for the contenders appearing more motivated, eh, it’s possible that was merely frustration at having to contend for a title in a format that favors luck as much as skill.

F1: Finale will only be mildly interesting, then again…

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

After a long season of drama based as much on personality clashes as good racing, it boils down to this: If Hamilton’s car doesn’t fail or crash, he will be World Champion. And Rosberg will be second and Ricciardo will be third. But who will be fourth? Only four points separate Vettel, Alonso and Bottas and while everyone will be cheering on their favorite driver, the pressure from the teams will be enormous as each point earned represents huge dollars at year end.


MMR Classifieds

Jaguar XK150

We only list the top 500 Classified cars for sale by dealers around the world. This week's featured marque is Jaguar.


MMR Goods & Services Directory

Pete Lyons Photographs of Can-Am

Every week we feature one company from the MMR Goods and Services Directory. This week’s featured supplier is Pete Lyons – Photographer. MMR is lucky to have this Can-Am image and this one too in our World Headquarters and they are a source of endless pleasure.


Michael Furman Photography

Michael Furman's image this week is from his book, The Art and Colour of General Motors and shows the detailed beauty of a 1934 LaSalle.

Michael Furman's image this week is from his book, The Art and Colour of General Motors and shows the detailed beauty of a 1934 LaSalle.


Sandy on Assignment

Sandy Cotterman, London Concours de Elegance 2014

This week’s story and images are by Sandy Cotterman and are from the London Concours of Elegance. Held on the grounds of the Hampton Court Palace on the September 5-7 weekend, the setting is in many ways reminiscent of Villa d’Este in Italy.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 24, 2014 Comments (0)

It happens every year but it still feels funny. An October weekend with no F1 race, or a Tudor Sports Car race, or an IndyCar race. But wait, there is always NASCAR!

Racing

NASCAR drivers are competing to continue into their playoff season and stakes are high. My curiosity was peeked last week when mainstream media got excited over a murky video of a driver running/scuffling/whatever between NASCAR transports and the news that Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, and Denny Hamlin had exchanged paint with Penske driver Brad Keselowski on and off the track and Kenseth, in the video, was chasing him with a view to possibly harming him. As it happens he reportedly got him in a headlock. But the real news for fans was the fact that mild mannered Kenseth was involved at all. NASCAR must have felt the same way as they fined Keselowski $50K, Tony Stewart $25K, and Kenseth not a dime. In subsequent interviews with Kenseth and Hamlin, financial correctness prevailed. Each driver mentioned the name of his sponsors and their team and their car manufacturer and then described his part in the affair. All quite different.

Matt Kensenth with daughter

In a pre-“NASCAR American Family” era, before drivers stood on the grid with all their living relatives and we got to watch their wives agonize over whether husbands would win the Duck Commander 500, when drivers and pit crews fought, punches got thrown and people fell down, NASCAR projected a far different image. They appear to have forgotten the impact that the fight Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison had on ratings when they tangled on the cool down lap of the 1979 Daytona 500. . “An estimated 16 million people watched the race, a number that jumped to nearly 20 million over the closing laps. CBS won an Emmy for the broadcast, televised the Daytona 500 until 2000 and showed a fledgling cable network called ESPN the value of the racing business.”

A driver’s reputation counted for something then. Fast fists and a feisty disposition were prized driver attributes. Among many others in NASCAR’s history, a hot tempered AJ Foyt and humorless Parnelli Jones were not men to be trifled with on the track because eventually you would meet them in the pits. The aforementioned drivers were the American alpha males of their age and, not surprisingly, they never tangled. Veteran pit people also thought that Foyt was very wise. Parnelli and the angelic looking Mark Donahue, an equally fierce competitor, did their fighting on the track in Mustangs and Camaros. Jones introduced overt revenge wrecking to road racing. It shocked the sporty-car crowd establishment organizers but it thrilled the fans.

Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison fight

The difference in the times? Today, Tony Stewart is the only driver in the pits who still reacts in the old fashioned way. And his recent troubles in a modified race probably have an effect on that also. One week after the blow-up and fines, Keselowski won the Geico Talladega 500 with Kenseth pushing him across the line to finishing second. Despite Roger Penske’s endorsement of his actions, the fact remains that had this happened 40 years ago someone would have insured that he met the wall in Talladega early, unintentionally, of course.

Denise McCluggage

The Great Divide

Denise McCluggage joins us again this week and writes a follow-up to her recent Range Rover trek to her ancestral home of Tin Cup, Colorado. 

Denise is currently recovering nicely from surgery to replace a poorly performing hip. This is her second such restoration and we know you join us in wishing her a hearty “Hip! Hip! Hooray!” She is in good company as she is recovering in Albuquerque, tribal home of the Unsers and the Unser Racing Museum.

Concorso Images

Please visit our Photo Gallery for more images from The Santa Fe Concorso.

Feedback: Sochi Sucks!

Alonso, Russia GP

We were correct and so was Alonso. The Russian race was boring and it turns out there was a technical reason why. All the drivers were running out of their allotted fuel ration and dialed back the engine performance in order to finish. Brilliant! And boring.

Also on the Sochi post we suggested that perhaps Bob Varsha, Tommy Kendall, and Justin Bell would add a more American (We know Bell is British, but he is funnier than hell and we want him anyway) flavor to US F1 coverage. WHAT THINK YOU?


Michael Furman’s image is of an unrestored body badge on a T-57 Bugatti.

Michael Furman’s image this week is of an unrestored body badge on a T-57 Bugatti.


Have a great weekend and please don’t forget to share this newsletter with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


Racing

Posted on August 13, 2014 Comments (2)

There is an argument to be made that racing is all about the first and last three laps of any race and that the remainder is just driving. Sometimes, even hardcore enthusiasts will agree, it is not even that.

Watkins Glen International

NASCAR’s annual pilgrimage to upstate New York’s Watkins Glen is the exception. Perhaps because it is so different from the ovals on which they normally run, each team deals with unfamiliar factors differently. Set-up, brakes, transmissions, tire pressures, tire wear, fuel consumption, and sometimes drivers, are all different. And if the quality of the racing is measured by its entertainment factor, take away the hype of Indy and Daytona, the glamour of Monaco and the technology of Le Mans, and this is the best pure race on the planet.

And lest any feel that the driving is only the best of NASCAR, consider that while experienced road course racers are always brought in, Jeff Gordon has won four times, as has Tony Stewart, Mark Martin three, and Kyle Busch has won it twice. My point is that these guys are very good and the cars they are racing allow them to lean on or rub against each other and that makes for an excellent show.

dtm racing alfa

Just to give this a broader perspective, we tend to think of European racing as Formula 1 and the Le Mans fast plastic prototype cars. But, Europeans have a huge appetite for “touring” car racing, as they call it, and several series exist in which factory prepared cars rub against each other rather strenuously on road courses across Europe. It is not rare to find former F1 drivers out there banging around with the best of them. The Australian V8 Supercar series is a cross between NASCAR and Europe and from time to time we hear of them testing the waters with their series on American road courses. If they could be like the Watkins Glen event they would be successful.

Joey Hand race car

Speaking of Tony Stewart; the incident at Canandaigua on Friday night will not go away quickly and may have much greater consequences than ever imagined. At this point, commenting on the incident itself is not in order. It is fair to say that if the other driver involved had not been a famous NASCAR driver, this would not have garnered so much attention. But either way, a young man is dead and that in itself is extremely sad.

Sprint Cars Dirt Track Racing

By way of background, it should be noted that Stewart is but one of many NASCAR drivers who dirt track. They do it because that is often where they began racing and because it is fun. Dirt tracks are simple and devoid of the regulations and hoopla that surrounds other forms of racing and these guys love that. I was at a small track on a weeknight in Connecticut several years ago and Carl Edwards, a NASCAR star even then, flew himself in to drive someone else’s Super Modified car. Al Unser Sr. was there talking to the racers and fans and wandering among the cars. This is grassroots racing in America and nobody, promoters, track owners, or drivers make a ton of money at it.

An unanticipated consequence of the incident has already begun to surface and here Stewart, the driver who loves dirt tracking, may be instrumental in bringing about safety measures and track design changes that will greatly alter the sport he loves. Ironically, Stewart is also the owner of Eldora Speedway, one of the more fabled dirt tracks in America; close scrutiny of the sport brought on by this issue may well affect how his and other such tracks deal with safety and emergencies.

Either way, these incidents give an uninformed public a less than positive view of our sport as a whole.