Archive for the ‘Sportscars’ category


Daybreak

Nightshift Sports:

“In a 24 hour endurance race, it’s only 24 hours for the car. For the crew and drivers, it’s a minimum of 32 or 36 or even 48 hours.”–Miles Geauxbye

Daybreak.

There is a trick that the night/day cycle plays on participants in around-the-clock, 24 hour endurance races.

It is called Sunrise and although the racers naturally feel that racing into the sunrise means the end of the race is very near, that is not the case.

The legendary 24 Hour races start in early afternoon, at 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00PM and when a team makes it to sunrise–safely and still in the game–there is still approximately a third of the race to left to go.

Sunrise is a signal that, having made it through the night, you are now simultaneously required to do things: turn up the wick to close strongly and keep it all together on the track and in the pits so nothing derails your run to the finish line.

Go fast, but don’t go recklessly.

Do your very best work on the track and off at the precise time of day at which you are the most compromised in terms of energy, attention, strength, focus because you have been up all night and working longer than that.

Sunrise is a marker of progress but it’s also a false horizon: you might think you’re almost there, but you’re not.

You made to morning. Congratulations.

But a third of the race is yet to be run, and this is–like all of the race–yet another strategic point.

The next goal is to make it to twelve noon, the point at which –at Le Mans–you have three hours left.

And once you make it to twelve, you get to turn up the wick and race full blast all the way to the end of the race.

Enjoy the sunrise. But it’s not the natural end to the race, just the unnatural beginning of the end.


The Fastest Lap Ever at Le Mans.

Nightshift Sports:

Records are made to broken, and this year at Le Mans, a Toyota Hybrid driven by Kamui Kobayashi broke the lap record at the famed Le Mans track.

Even better, there’s terrific  footage, great graphics, and very informed commentary. The video is just the thing to get you ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but for full impact, kick it to the big flat screen.

A couple of viewings will definitely put in the mood for some LDR (long distance racing).

Enjoy.

 

The Fine Print: Embed courtesy of our friends at YouTube. Posted by the guys at MotorsportManiac. All rights reserved by their respective parties. 


Original Tastes

The perfection of imperfection; it's a trend.

The perfection of imperfection; it’s a trend.

Editor’s Note: this post was originally produced in 2015 but the story line is still accurate..perhaps even more so..and the link is still good. It’s repeated here as we move into the major season(s) for Concours shows. 

Paying Attention: 

Not so long ago, I was at the Pebble Beach concours, primarily to see a client’s car through the auction process but also to look after another car that a friend had entered in the show. The car was a Ferrari 250 SWB, a very desirable model from one of Ferrari’s great periods and it was beautiful in every way. It had undergone a complete restoration by Ferrari’s internal Classiche Department, and was, for all intents and purposes, brand new.

In a show that prizes perfection, one would think that particular car would have won.

It did not.

It did not even win  its’ class.

And when I tracked down one of the judges to ask why the car did not perform better in the judging, he said something that was a bit startling: “It’s too perfect. The car looks like a new showroom model. There’s no patina at all.”

I understood his point about the car being “too new” although I certainly don’t  agree with the idea that the car should be downgraded because it was a perfect specimen in a beauty contest that traditionally) prized perfect specimens.

The bigger point, however, was that at Pebble Beach (and at other big concours shows now) there is a movement away from engineered/renovated perfection and towards perfected preservation of a car in it’s original state. It’s a serious movement and it’s here to stay;  just a few weeks ago, the New York Times picked up on this significant cultural shift with this very fine article on the rising value of collector cars in “original” condition. It’s a terrific article by Robert Yeager and is going to provide much food for thought for collectors over the next few years.

 

The Fine Print: Photo (C) 2015, Donald Pierce. All rights reserved. 


Flat out: Moto GP, April 21-April 23 at Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX

There is racing and then there is Moto GP racing. Moto GP racing is the F1 of motorcycle racing. The bikes are extreme, the drivers are absolutely fearless and phenomenally skilled, and the action and visual presentation of the sport is without equal. It is a sport that is visibly, incredibly dangerous. On the weekend of April 21st – April 23rd, Moto GP visited Austin, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas, the site of the U.S. Grand Prix. Photographer Regis Lefebure was on site to capture the action and graciously agreed to share some of his photos, which are absolutely amazing. One thing for certain about Moto GP: these guys are totally committed, have amazing balance and skill, and push the limits on every lap. If you get a chance to see a Moto GP race, do it. It will change your idea of what is possible on two wheels. All photos are (C) 2017 by Regis Lefebure. We thank him for sharing (you should too!).


The Zen of Street Racing

A Risi Comp Ferrari GT racer at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Photo (c) 2014, Regis Lefebure. Regis is the Official Team Photographer for Risi Comp. He’s good.

Editors Note: This post originally ran on the Risi Competizione website in April of 2009. It describes a race meeting at the Long Beach Grand Prix, among other topics. The Long Beach Grand Prix(now known as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and also as the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix) is a sports car race conducted on a city-street course in Long Beach, California. There’s a sports car race and an open wheel race. It’s a bit of a classic. The 2017 race is this weekend. The piece is repeated here to set the mood (if you follow racing; if you don’t follow racing, we’re also setting the mood for golf in other posts. Your weekend, your choice.). 

From The Racing Archives: 

(Dateline: Los Angeles, 14 April 2009)……….

“One of these nights
One of these crazy old nights
We’re gonna find out
Pretty mama
What turns on your lights
The full moon is calling
The fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers
And moans
You got your demons
You got desires
Well, I got a few of my own”

One of these Nights, Eagles

Why is it always rock n’ roll and speed? Why is it that a certain song can capture a certain speed and mood with such perfection?

Why does loud and fast and fast and loud appeal so much to me….and to most of those who read this column?

It’s primal, it works at the cellular level, it’s rebellious, it’s us, and we’re not going to change. Ever.

Downtown Chicago. More than a decade ago. A Rosso Rubino Ferrari 275GTB/4 is rolling down Michigan Avenue, the sound from the exhausts ricocheting off the stone and glass-walled skyscrapers as the big four cam 12 cylinder engine housed in,  arguably, the most beautiful production coupe that Ferrari ever produced, emits the purest tone imaginable, a rumbling, threatening, dangerous wave of sound that makes this particular car, at this particular moment, the center of the city.

The sun is just coming up over Lake Michigan as EE and I make the turn out of downtown Chicago and head onto the Dan Ryan Expressway for Lake Forest and the rest of the weekend. We have been up all night, partying, living for The City, and now we are headed out to Lake Forrest to decompress with our friends.

The five speed, competition gate gearbox, with its’ delicate thin chrome shift lever and black shift knob, is fully heated now (the tolerances on the 275GTB/4 gearbox are so fine that if the oil that lubes the box has not reached operating temperature, there will be a bit of a grating sound as gears are changed), and the gearshift clicks through the gates with a sweet type of precision that is almost erotic as I work up the scale, the Ferrari twelve cylinder engine singing a song of rebellion and speed and pride.

First is a memory, second not far behind, we are in third and climbing and then into fourth and past the massive RR Donnelly printing compound, a huge production facility where the Yellow Pages are printed for America. There is a big sweeping curve, a right hander as you go out of town, by Donnelly and EE looks over at me with both trust and trepidation, because we are booking 145 plus and still accelerating as I click the gearshift into 5th and continue the ride up the rev chain, out of town, in a Ferrari, invisible, invincible, too fast to be found, too young to know the consequences of a mistake. We were immortal and we loved it.

Last year, at Laguna Seca, EE and I revisited that moment and laughed all night about it, the fun, the danger, the adrenaline, the pure experience of speed in the city and the sheer, cocky attitude that comes with driving a Ferrari that fast on city streets.

This year, at the Long Beach Grand Prix, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer will take the Risi Competizione F430Gt and drive much faster, on streets much tighter, with traffic much denser. They will be seeking and living their own type of immortality as they do so.

Think of it this way: one hundred fifty-five miles an hour in the Risi Comp F430GT on city streets tightly bounded by concrete barriers, with no room for error, even less room for the faint of heart.

True racing drivers—the ones with the deepest possible well of courage and daring—love city circuits because these circuits are dangerous, technical, demanding, penalizing. They are racing’s equivalent of a knife fight—one mistake and you’re out. We have two of those types of drivers racing for Risi Comp this year, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer. Last year, we also had two: Melo and Mika Salo, an equally dangerous combo.

The Long Beach Grand Prix (Officially known as the 2009 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach) is a major race on the ALMS circuit. It typically attracts one of the biggest crowds and has the largest TV audience. The sponsors lineup for this one like banks working for a TARP bailout: Toyota, Firestone, Patron Tequila, Korbel, Canon, Tecate, Coca Cola, The Orange County Register, The Port of Long Beach, etc., etc., etc. It’s a big race, a hugely popular race, and a very difficult one.

The track is tight, 1.968 miles and 11 turns. It’s a temporary course, like all street courses, and technical. The fastest part of the course is a long, curving straight right in front of the very crowded pits. That straight leads to a 90 degree lefthander, a little juke-and-jive right hand u-turn up to turn 4, another 90 degree right hander. Then it’s down a short straight to turn 5 (90 degrees, turn right—it’s a street course, there are lots of 90 degree turns) down a quick straight to a left hander, up a short straight with a left-hand kink about 1/4th of the way through, then a right-hander (you guessed it, 90 degrees), a blast down the Seaside Way straight to another 90 degree righthander, then a short straight followed by a sweeping left hand semi-high speed curve into the slowest turn on the track, a hairpin! And then onto the curving front straight again. GT1 and GT2 cars don’t have too much trouble with the hairpin curve (officially Turn 11) but it’s a bit of a problem for the P1 and P2 cars that lumber through it, in the automotive equivalent of gasping for breath.

Rick Mayer’s excellent preview of this race should be your guide to what to expect from an automotive dynamics point of view. The field of ALMS cars will be down again this week: Audi and Peugeot have gone away from the ALMS circuit for this part of the year to do battle in Europe and the Porsche RS Spyders are but a memory. It’s Hollywood, however, and this week the surprise guest is Corvette, who bring their wonderfully organized and super-competitive GT1 program to Long Beach for the fans. I said in my Sebring writing that I didn’t think we’d see a GT1 Corvette race again in America this year because Corvette was pointing for Le Mans and a showdown with Aston Martin; their plan was to return to ALMS in the GT2 category, with a new model now in development. But I was, thankfully, wrong.

Hey, it’s Hollywood! And Corvette will be running and Corvette fans should show up and support them, in mass. These are good guys and their program is superb. If the rest of GM was run as well as the Corvette Racing program is managed by Pratt & Miller, GM would not be in trouble.

The real action at Long Beach will be in the GT2 category, where 12 different cars will be entered. Flying Lizard will be there with their two car Porsche 91 GT3 RSR program; Rahal/Letterman, feeling rather spunky after a podium at St. Pete, will bring in a pair of the still-in-the-development-stage BMW E92 M3s; Panoz will bring in an Esperante, the only car in the series to podium in both of the first two races. Lou G will line up his Chevrolet Corvette C6 (he was fourth at Long Beach), and the Dodge Viper Competition Coupe from Primetime Race Group will also be present. VICI Racing, new sponsorship deal with T-Mobile in place, will return to the circuit with their new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, this year racing on Michelins. Welcome back, guys.

Risi Comp will, as the legendary University of Texas Football Coach Daryl Royal once said, “dance with who brung us”, which means Melo and Kaffer handling the driving chores for our Rosso Corsa clad Ferrari 430GT. We had a brilliant start to the year with a win at Sebring and a rather inglorious second race at St. Petersburg, where we DNF’d after leading early (we also had the pole) due to suspension failure. Analysis complete, the  team doesn’t expect THAT to happen again and does expect to be very competitive at Long Beach.

We have had success at this track before. Winning  in 2007 with Mika Salo and Jaime Melo driving. . We did not do so well in 2008, but two races later we won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so……not a bad year, that 2008.

Practice time at Long Beach, like St. Petersburg, is severely restricted, a mere 90  total minutes of pre-qualifying practice, so we will count on Rick Mayer’s legendary memory of how to set up the car up for this particular circuit and Jaime Melo’s ability to dial it in quickly (he was the development driver for the 430GT project at Ferrari). Kaffer is a very quick study in the 430GT (he is also a mechanical engineer) and his input adds immensely to the Risi Comp braintrust. A quick path to the optimum setup is a key to victory here and I believe we will get to the proper setup and race pace very expediently.

Here is what expect: it’s a tight track and passing spots are few and far between. It is not a tough track on brakes because there are enough straights to keep the brakes cool. The track is uneven because it’s a street course. There will be celebrities in the stands and in the pits but we will be unable to fulfill their requests for new Ferrari California convertibles because they live in Los Angeles and not in Houston. The stands will be packed. The atmosphere will be electric. Jaime Melo will put on an amazing show during qualifying. The pits will be crowded and jammed and the yellow flags will be few, because the car count is down and there are fewer things to hit on the track. The hairpin will equalize P1 and P2 cars. The Zone may be achieved, again.

Here’s what not to expect: another DNF due to suspension problems for the Ferrari 430GT. Last place on the grid due to poor qualifying speed. An inability to take advantage of the course and the strategy. A lack of competitive zeal from the Porsche and BMW factory teams (they’re here to win, too). It will not be a walkover for any team.

“One of These Nights” by The Eagles was the opening cut in their seminal “HOTEL CALIFORNIA” Album. It’s a song written about Los Angeles and it pretty much sums up the sentiment at Risi Comp as we get ready for battle at the concrete jungle that is the Long Beach Grand Prix.

We’re here. We’re pumped. Let’s race.

“You got your demons

You got desires

Well, I got a few of my own”

One of These Nights.  Eagles

You got it.

 


SEBRING RESOURCES 2017

Paying Attention: 

The internationally famous 12 Hours of Sebring race is today. The flag drops at 10:40AM and runs until 10:40PM, ET. You can see the race on IMSA.tv, Fox Sports GO (app) and from 2:00PM to 11:00PM (ET) on Fox Sports 1. It’s not an easy race to follow. Our recommendation: radiolemans.com–the best audio coverage of The 12. But…for a totally different and thorough overview along with continuing uninterrupted coverage of the race, check out the Sebring Resources listed below–easily the best and most comprehensive list of information on the race. You never can tell what’s going to happen at Sebring. Last year’s race was something of a water festival….if you like big time sports car racing, this is one of the best.

Sites and Sounds to follow for The 12:

Live Timing and Scoring

 IMSA Twitter Feed

IMSA Instagram Feed 

Sebring Twitter Feed 

Sebring Instagram Feed

Risi Comp Twitter Stream

Risi Comp Instagram Feed

Regis Lefebure Instagram Feed  (Regis is the Official Risi Comp Photographer)

Keith Rizzo Instagram Feed (Keith also shoots for Risi Comp)

Camden Thrasher Instagram Feed (Cam is one of the best young photographers in the sport)

Rick Dole Instagram Feed (Rick is another top photographer. Follow ALL these guys)

Marshall Pruitt Twitter Feed (Marshall is a photographer/writer for Racer magazine other publications)

John Dagys Twitter Feed  (John is the founder/editor of Sportscar 365)

Sportscar 365 Twitter Feed (The daily journal of the sport’s twitter feed)

Graham Goodwin (Editor, Daily Sports Car Racing)

Eve Hewitt Radio Le Mans Twitter Feed (one of the voices from Radio Le Mans)

 Radio Le Mans

Fox Television Broadcast Schedule (scroll down for Sebring)

2017 Sebring Media Guide 

2017 IMSA Spotter Guide  

2017 IMSA Technical Specifications for GTLM Cars 

2017 IMSA Sporting Regulations 

2017 IMSA/Sebring Balance of Performance (BoP) Specifications

2017 Sebring Entry List 

The Fine Print:  Embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. They remain the internet’s go-to source for photos.  This visual has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing. This post is a production of Perception Engineering and The Media Bunker. 

 

 

 


Beginnings

Racing:

The official testing season for F1 cars is now in progress. Below, a short photo review, courtesy of our friends at GettyImages.com of some of the new models for 2017. More on the F1 season later.

The Fine Print: Slide Show Embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file.They remain the internet’s go-to source for photos. This visual has not been altered in any way. The Nightshift is a production of Perception Engineering and The Media Bunker.  This post is number 1022 for this site. Thanks for reading.


How to Build a Car

Paying Attention

At one time in the evolution of the automobile, most cars were hand built. After Henry Ford invented the production line, hand built cars became a status symbol and were for the most part,  the very best cars, the most expensive, the fastest, the most exclusive. As a result of mass production, the costs of an automobile went down and cars became “affordable” for the masses. But the lure of a hand-built or custom-built or small run (another term for a limited production run of an automobile) car has always remained, primarily because of exclusivity and sophistication of the vehicle.

In the earlier years of the automobile, obtaining a car built to your specifications was relatively easy, if you had the money (and the clout: it’s said that Ettore Bugatti, who insisted that clients who wanted a special model have dinner with him at his factory in Molsheim, once turned down a sitting European King because “the man’s table manners were horrible”). The process was very simple: a client contracted with a manufacturer–Bugatti for example (this is the Bugatti of the 1930s, not the Bugatti of 2013)–for a chassis and engine, also known as the “running gear”.

The client then contracted  and worked with a designer and coachwork studio for the design and build of the body and automobile interior. The basic elements of the car, chassis/engine and the bodywork,  were  fabricated and then joined together to create a complete, truly custom-made automobile. Every element of these one-off or short run cars was designed, produced, and installed–the doorhandles, window washers, lights, running boards, interior upholstery. It was time consuming and enormously expensive but the end-result was, in the best of cases, a work of art.

With this type of system, it was possible for Bugatti to make Six Type 57s and have none of them look alike—they all shared similar running gear  and iconic styling keys, but the body and interior would be different for each car.

It was a nice way to create something very exclusive and some manufacturers–notably Ferrari and Rolls-Royce–embraced and continued the practice, some more aggressively than others (Ferrari) to current times.

As late as the early 21st century, there were still some firms operating in Europe that produced cars in this manner, producing “short runs” of a particular model or design for big manufacturers.  One of the most famous custom manufacturers was Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design firm best known for their designs for Ferrari. Although Pininfarina was known primarily for their coachwork design skills, the company operated several short-run manufacturing facilities that could build a couple of thousand cars a year for a client. One of their clients was Cadillac, for whom Pininfarina designed and built the Cadillac Allante body.  The process was the same as it had been for generations: Pininfarina would produce the body at their factory and then the bodies were shipped to the US (in specially modified Boeing 747s) to Michigan, to a General Motors facility that combined the bodies with a GM manufactured chassis. Approximately 23,000 Allante’s were built during the car’s production run (1986-1993), an average of about 3000 cars/year. Over the years, Pininfarina also did short run manufacturing for Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Lancia, and Fiat. When the company went through re-organization at the end of 2015, it had already started the process of closing it’s short run manufacturing factories.

Today, the automobile industry seems to be exploding with new brands and models. Tesla is the most recognizable and successful of the new automobile manufacturers, but other new brands and models are either rumored (Apple) or on the way (Uber). Building a car is not an overly complex undertaking, but neither is it an easy one. The new electric cars, which use electric motors and not the gasoline powered internal combustion engine, are much simpler to design and build than gas or diesel cars. As electric car components become readily available, the economics of building short run custom electric vehicles will increase.

However, the more manufacturing experience, knowledge, and contacts a new car company has, the faster it can commence operations and the less mistakes it will make on the way to the showroom floor. Tesla’s business model is Silicon Valley, not Detroit, and that’s one of the reasons for it’s success; it has no legacy technology and is free to upgrade the cars it makes whenever it thinks an upgrade will improve the car and the ownership experience.  Tesla is so certain it’s doing things the right way that it’s open-sourced its’ cars. No other manufacturer has done that.

If you are going to build a new model of car–traditional, electric, or highly innovative– and you want to get it done in a hurry with a minimum of stress and startup errors, you might want to fly up to Ontario Canada and talk with Magna International (if Canada is out of the way, they have offices all over the world), a company that specializes in small run automobile manufacturing as well as producing many of the components that make up the modern automobile. Magna is not a new company–it’s been around for approximately 60 years–but it could be your new best friend if you need a production run of 100 or 1000 new models. Magna International’s Austrian subsidiary, Magna Steyr currently handles small run production for BMW (among others) and has been rumored to be the production choice for the rumored Apple Car. It has also been rumored (and not independently confirmed) that Magna Steyr handled a small production run of certain Lamborghini models after Volkswagen bought the brand (and that those models were considered highly desirable because of the build quality and fit-and-finish) while VW was upgrading the Lamborghini factory in Italy to VW/Audi production processes and standards.

Bloomberg.com profiled Magna and how they have managed to combine the best of old world manufacturing with new century technology in a short, incisive piece. Certainly worth a read if you have even a modest interest in automobiles; definitely worth a read if you’re planning on starting a new car company.

The Fine Print: Image courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, always the perfect source for any image you need for your blog or website. Thanks, guys, for sharing. 

 

 

 

 


The (Secret) History of Mosport.

This is the second in a series of posts about the histories of various North American and European race tracks.. The first in the series was posted lasted week and covered Watkins Glen. 

Paying Attention: Canada. Oh Canada. There are a lot of very neat things to like about our neighbor to the North.

Here’s a short list.

Ice Hockey.

Big Snow.

The Trans  Canada Railway.

The Mounties (and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon).

Northern Lights.

Helicopter skiing.

The Canadian Rockies.

Big Forests.

Nova Scotia.

The Canadiens and the Maple Leafs.

Montreal.

Vancouver.

Toronto (where our story starts).

It’s all good.

Plus–A rather brilliant group of comics:

Jim Carrey

The fab but late John Candy

Martin Short

Dan Aykroyd

Seth Rogen

Lorne Michaels the man who brought us Saturday Night Live

And, of course, two of the greatest athletes of all time, Gordie Howe (“Mr. Hockey”) and Wayne Gretsky (“The Great One).

To the above distinguished list of very great things about Canada,  we must add Mosport, now re-branded and re-named as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

This is a legendary race track and it’s seen more than its’ share of legendary races.

But first, some basics: The key thing you need to know about Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (located in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada), the site of this weekend’s TUDOR United Sportscar Championship race, is how to pronounce it.

No, not the word Canadian, or the words “tire” or “park”, but the name “Mosport”, which is how most people still refer to the track (the track has been known as Mosport Park and Mosport International Raceway, prior to the latest nome de brand).

Mosport is prounced “Mo-Sport” (an abbreviation of the terms Motor Sport -see middle of the current track name). It is not pronounced “Moss Port”. Pronounce it correctly amongst your racing pals and your track cred rises immediately.

Nomenclature lesson done, now to the background.

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (known, from this point forward in this column, as Mosport) is a 2.459 mile 10 turn road course. The track was opened in 1961 and cost $500,000 to build (initially). It is fast, (brakes don’t get a huge workout here), it is dangerous in the dry and treacherous in the wet.  Mistakes here can be very expensive and very painful. Read Rick Mayer’s column to get an engineer’s perspective.

Mosport is and has been an amazingly productive and versatile race track. Take a look at all the various motor sports events that have been contested at Mosport:

FIA Formula 1 (1961-1967, 1969, 1971-1974, 1976-1977)

FIM Road Racing World Championship (Motorcycles) (1967)

Can-Am (1966-1967, 1969-1974, 1977-1986)

USAC Championship Cars (1967-1968, 1977-1978)

FIM World Superbike Championship (1989-1991)

United Sports Car Championship (2014-present)

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (2007-present)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2013-present)

Pirelli World Challenge

IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge

Mazda MX-5 Cup

Porsche 944 Cup

Canadian Superbike Championship

Canadian Touring Car Championship

Toyo Fires F1600 Championship

Canadian Historic Grand Prix

In other words, if it has two or four wheels,  a place to sit and people race it, it’s probably been raced at Mosport. It’s a staple, a regular, a standard, a track to test your car, your tires, and your nerve.

Legends have run here. Anyone who ever saw the “Bruce and Denny Show”, which was Bruce McLaren and Denny Hume, blasting around the track at Mosport during the Can Am series in twin orange McLaren M8S’s powered by big, loud, V8s has seen motor sport Nirvana.

Stirling Moss, the brilliant English driver who was fast in everything he ever raced, from rally cars to F1, won the first race at Mosport, a two heat event, in a Lotus 19. He’s beloved in Canada (as he is the rest of the world) and so when a little bit of re-engineering turned a hairpin on the course into two separate corners (turns 5 & 6 for those keeping score) to provide more interest for drivers and a better show for the spectators, the revamped right hander was named “Moss Corner” in honor of Sir Stirling. But—and this is crucial—the track is not named after Moss, and thus the pronunciation lesson in the preceding paragraphs stands.

Oh, one more thing: It can get cold in Canada in the Fall/Winter/Spring so most of the racing is jammed into a very tight late-spring/summer/early-fall window. All the more impressive to deliver so much racing in so little time. But that’s what it takes to be a legend.

Mosport was originally built by a public company created for that purpose. It has been well regarded from day one, so much so that two prior owners , Norm Namerow (also a publishing executive) and Harvey Hudes, are both members of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. They did many things very right to earn that honor.

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Panoz Motorsport Group (headed by Dr. Don Panoz; founders of ALMS and former owners of IMSA) bought the track in 1998. Panoz liked race tracks and at the time he also owned Road Atlanta, and held a long-term lease on Sebring International Raceway, home of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Panoz sold Mosport in 2011 to a Canadian group as he started to wind down his extensive involvement in motor sports, and, later, sold the rest of his motor sports holdings to NASCAR, including the sanctioning body IMSA (should a sanctioning body be owned? Or sold? A topic for another time…), which is now the sanctioning entity for the Weathertech United Sports Car Championship Series.

Canadian Motorsports Ventures (CMV) is the company that bought Mosport from Panoz; it’s composed of business exec Carlo Fidani and Ron Fellows, one of Canada’s best known racing drivers. The new owners quickly put a “naming rights deal” together with Canadian Tire while simultaneously continuing development of the track to make it better for teams, spectators, and, perhaps most important in the modern era of sports, sponsors. In contrast to facilities with few or outdated facilities, Mosport continues to build on its legend. The track was repaved in 2001 to meet FIA specs and the width increased to 48 feet.

The physical nature of the track requires constant attention. The main maintenance problem is the Canadian winter; the winters are harsh enough to change the texture of the track, so it’s never the same track twice. That creates challenges.

In addition to the main race track, Mosport also contains a 1.7KM 12 turn driver training facility laid out by the owners and designers at the on-site Bridgestone Racing Academy. Guard rails, walls, and blind corners were minimized (best not to spook the newbies) on the training track. This part of the track complex was enlarged in 2013 and now includes both a 2.2KM course and a 2.9KM course. The Mosport complex also once contained an oval track, but that has been closed so that the driver training area could be expanded.

If Mosport were just about racing, it would be legendary enough

But it’s not.

 

Nothing Is Real 

“Let me take you down, cos I’m going to strawberry fields,

Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about…

Strawberry fields, forever…”

Strawberry Fields  Written by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison © SONY/ATV, Harrison Songs LLC

 

In it’s history, Mosport has been home to two famous (or infamous) music festivals in Canadian history.

The first was the Strawberry Fields Festival held on August 7-10th, 1970. As you might ascertain from the name, a certain John Lennon was involved at the beginning of the festival. Lennon and wife Yoko Ono, working with a local promotor named John Brower, were planning a “Toronto Peace Festival”, but the relevant authorities heard about it, and immediately went into full bureaucratic road block, and denied all the necessary permits. Lennon and Ono left the project, but Brower soldiered on, renamed the event the “Strawberry Fields Festival” (now, where did he ever come up with that name) and made plans to move the event to a town in New Brunswick.

Again, the authorities held up the stop sign.

Brower, however, was not an easy man to stop, and so he deftly re-programmed the event, now named the “First Annual Strawberry Cup Trophy Race”, to include a motorcycle race, and, oh yes, a little music. To avoid another shutdown, he downplayed the music and up-played the racing, but the local government officials were having none of it and Ontario Attorney General Arthur Wishart stepped in to seek an injunction stopping the event, on the grounds of public health and safety (which of course, can apply to every event where masses of people gather, including Black Friday shopping at Wal-Mart).

But, this time, Brower had a calmer presence at the top of the food chain;  Supreme Court Justice D.A. Keith refused to grant an injunction and so, hours before the first act was slated to go on, the event that became known as “Strawberry Fields Festival” was on. And on at Mosport.

And, it was an Event. A three day ticket was $15. From a distance of time and space, it looks a lot like a Canadian version of Woodstock.

For the money it was quite a line up. Put on your time-travel music helmet and look at this vintage 1970 list of acts:

Procul Haram

Ten Years After

Jose Feliciano

Jethro Tull

The Youngbloods

Mountain

Luke & The Apostles

Lighthouse

Melanie

Chakra

Alice Cooper

Sly and the Family Stone

Grand Funk Railroad

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends (don’t know if Clapton was with them for this one)

Cactus

Syrinx

Sly and The Family Stone closed the festival and, if you have ever seen Sly Stone close a show, you can only imagine the musical chaos and fun that closed the place down.

Attendance was estimated at between 75,000-100,000 people, which is a major league crowd anyway you cut it.

If Mosport only had one big time music festival on its’ resume, the 1970 one would be enough to get them considered for legendary status. But, as they say on late night TV, wait, there’s more.

The Official Poster of The Heatwave Festival at Mosport, 1980

The Official Poster of The Heatwave Festival at Mosport, 1980

Almost exactly 10 years later, on August 23, 1980, the “Heatwave” festival was held at Mosport. It was promoted as the “Punk Woodstock” , the “New Wave Woodstock”, and even the “1980s Big Beat Rock and Roll Party”.

Once again, John Brower, 10 years older and no less persuasive, was involved and for this one he should get his ticket punched into the Festival Hall of Fame AND the Motor Sports Hall of Fame.

Again, the list of acts that performed was top notch; this time  the lineup featured the best of New Wave, Punk, and push-the-edges-rock.

Here’s the list of performers:

Elvis Costello and Attractions

Teenage Head

BB Gabor

Holly and The Italians

The B-52s

The Rumour (no Graham Parker; he went solo)

Rockpile (with Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe)

The Pretenders

The Kings

Talking Heads

All in all, a stellar lineup. Tickets were $20 advance, $25 at the door, and attendance was estimated at 85,000 plus and it’s the plus part that gets most interesting. During a radio interview between Dan Aykroyd and John Brower,  Aykroyd pulled a “Woodstock” and asked Brower if he would let anyone listening to the radio telecast in for free. Brower agreed, and  within an hour and a half another 15,000 fans showed up, pushing attendance up to approximately 100,000.

It was a great music event but, allegedly, there were some ” business mis-alignments”. Ticket stubs (necessary for determining the gate and the revenue ), went missing. When the final counting was done, the  event allegedly lost a million dollars and change. But…there were some amazing coincidences. The entire concert was (accidentally) professionally recorded—despite no rights agreements—by a sound truck that had come to record the set of Teenage Head. Taking the totally right approach—we’re here, let’s get it all—the recording team took it all down and, after a few rounds of give-me-this-and-I-will-give-you-that, the tapes ended up in the hands of recording professionals, were cleaned up and restored, and, according to legend, Teenage Head’s set ended up released about a year or so later. If/when those sets of music are released, look for some gems. The Pretenders doing “Louie, Louie”, The B-52’s  on “Party Out of Bounds”, Talking Heads cranking “Life During Wartime”, and Elvis Costello performing “Green Shirt”  all sound pretty great to me. If you have a copy, please let me know.

There will be no music festival this weekend at Mosport, just a group of the world’s top teams and drivers racing, again, on one of the world’s legendary race tracks. But rhythm is in the history of Mosport, and we’re hoping that the home team–Risi Competizione, can start from their position on the grid and bring it home in front.

The point: Mosport is a legendary track, not just for what happens on the track but also for all that has happened off of it.

 

The Fine Print: Videos from HEATWAVE Festival via YouTube (Thanks, guys). Elvis Costello and the Attractions version of “Green Shirt” posted by Larry Rulz, shot on VHS, sound through audio board. Pretenders version of “Louie Louie” posted by Adison Fagundes. Again, the sound is through the audio board. Opening Video of Rick Koop in a McLaren turning laps at Mosport, embed courtesy of YouTube, posted by The Racer Channel (support Racer magazine..it’s amazingly good). All rights reserved. Track Map by Will Pittenger, who was kind enough to place it into the public domain. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The 24 Hours of Le Mans: An Entire Race Covered in Just 4 Press Releases

Paying Attention: For over a decade, I have worked at/with/for Risi Competizione, the top American Ferrari racing team. This year, they went, again, to race in France, at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, a race they have won three times (1998, 2007, 2008) in two different models of Ferrari race cars (333SP and F430GTC). As a part of the media coverage the team produces, they do a series of press releases, four in total, on race day. These releases are preceded by a series of pre-race releases that cover the race, team expectations, and, most interestingly, a look at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from an Engineer’s perspective. The race was held one week ago, and the team finished second, officially a minute and change behind the winning Ford GT; unofficially 10 seconds behind the winner (the difference between official and unofficial is the difference between end-of-race administrative penalties put on both teams by the ACO, the organizing body of the race, and the official timing of the race). Below, the story of one race team’s 24 hours at the most famous endurance race in the world; told in four press releases, each released at six hour intervals (first 6 hours, 12 hours in, 18 hours into the race and a final report). The reporting for Le Mans was produced by Barbara Burns, who is the season Public Relations Representative for Risi Competizione and by British Press Agent Anne Bradshaw, a legend in racing public relations, who stepped up and in to assist Barbara when a personal situation required Barbara’s presence elsewhere. Most remarkable is the way the PR pros handed off one of the toughest intercontinental assignments in sports seamlessly. The whole story is amazing, and it’s below for your enjoyment and education. One race, four press releases, and a lot of unanticipated drama(isn’t that always the way it is with sports)?

 

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