Information and entertainment for enthusiasts of European cars and motorcycles.
This week's images are of cars that will be racing at Lime Rock Park this weekend. If you are within driving distance, tomorrow could be a good day for a drive in the Connecticut countryside.
The Old Days. Different? Yes! Good? Not so!
We had positive feedback about last week's newsletter, particularly about Alain de Cadenet's thoughts about current F1 racing and the positive effect it has had on "IMSA, NASCAR, and especially Historic Racing".
Alain is correct. We are all now familiar with the refrain from commentators that begins "of course, in the old days etc. etc". This intimates that things were not only different but better. Perhaps not. In the sixties F1 was hugely popular but in terms of actual racing, it wasn't particularly exciting. We were among the 40k who attended the 1962 USGP at Watkins Glen. Jim Clark in a Lotus won from Graham Hill in a BRM. Only they finished on the lead lap. McLaren, Brabham, and Americans Dan Gurney and Masten Gregory were one lap down. Roger Penske was four laps down in 9th, followed by fellow Americans Rob Schroeder and Hap Sharp. Timmy Mayer did only 31 laps and Jim Hall lost an engine in practice and never started. It was boring to watch. After the first ten laps we had no idea who was leading. The PA system was rudimentary at best and we stood at the fence on the back straight and watched them briefly as they went by us flat out. What we got was a flash of color and a sound. But we did get to see, albeit briefly, the racers we had been reading about all year in Road & Track. All the racers named above, plus Bonnier, Tritignant, Surtees, Ireland, and Salvadori were there. We drove there and back in a TR3, and we camped out. Like 39,999 others we took home memories of seeing our heroes, camping in the cold and drinking too much beer. Not a good race but a good time. In that respect, things haven't changed much.
When one listens to stories of the day, as told by drivers of the period who survived it, we appreciate that their talent, their love of the competition, and the camaraderie between them, plus the fact that it was a hell of a way to earn a living was what kept them racing. We have mentioned the following in our Newsletter on several occasions, but it is worth doing so again, Michael Keyser's video documentary The Speed Merchants is unquestionably the best film ever done on that period. John Horsman's book, Racing in the Rain, is a must read. In explaining what these drivers were capable of doing explains why we cared about them. Hard to feel the same affection for current F1 drivers, all but a seven or eight of which would not be recognized away from the track.
Down with Downforce!
Many blame the advent of "downforce"' for what ails racing today. Motorsports Journalist Gordon Kirby reports on one race series effort to do something about that and you might be surprised at which one is taking the lead.
To read his column, go to www.gordonkirby.com and click on 'The Way It Is'.
The Concours Season
From mid-August on we begin the last portion of the Concours Season. We have plans to attend Pebble Beach, The Quail, and Concorso Italiano during Monterey week, followed by The Boston Cup and the Santa Fe Concorso. As we get closer we will tell you more about what to expect and then report on what we have seen.
On a local scene near you. On Sunday we attended the annual Unobtainium Supply Ferrari BBQ at the home of Verell Boaen in Groton MA. It is by invitation and 40 or so Ferraris turn up to show their cars and talk Ferrari. This is truly the grass roots of our sport. Thank you Verell.
Ben Schmidt wrote: I'm from Iowa (now in Chicago) and completely agree with the view that ethanol is bad for vintage cars. That said - I don't know if you can pin this all on Iowa - seems like this is a federal issue based on tax funding from our federal government entities and an individual state issue whether they mandate ethanol gas at the fuel pumps. For example in the entire Chicagoland area literally every gas station has ethanol at all pumps. Yet in Des Moines, non-ethanol stations are plentiful. Check it out at pure-gas.org. It is maddening to have to fill up a vintage Ferrari, or any other vintage, pick a marque, with ethanol.
That is it for us this week. Please pass us on to a friend.