Popular Tags:

Yes there is death in racing

January 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I’ve wanted to write about †his for a while. Yes ladies and gentlemen, in an era of racing in which technology and safety are at levels they have never been before driver’s can get killed in racing. My original thought for this post came after the death of Allan Simonsen at the LeMan this past year. It was the first death during the race since 1986. Later in 2013 we had the death of Jason Leffler during a Sprint Car race and up and coming sportscar star Sean Edwards during a test session.

We must remain aware that death happens in motorsport’ not as much as it once did but the potential for death or even great injury is greater than  all other sports. Perhaps the reason why we’re so taken a back by death in motorsport is that we’ve all seen accidents in recent years where the driver has walked away; accidents if they occurred in a previous era would have resulted in death.

Next time when someone tells you racing is not a sport, please remind them of the facts

Detroit Lions?

December 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm
How did two of these end up in GM's collection?

How did two of these end up in GM’s collection?

I was doing some web surfing on Christmas afternoon: sitting on my parents couch, one eye on an NBA game and smelling the ham in the oven when I came across an old news item. Remember when GM did some cleaning and sent some of the cars from their Heritage Center Collection to the Barrett Jackson Auction in 2009? I was looking over the list of cars and two items stuck out. Two Grey 1985 Peugeot 205 Turbos. Why would GM have two Group B Supercars in their collection? I know manufacturers buy each others cars to get an up close and personal view of what everyone else is doing but it’s strange to own two cars that were of very limited production and not for sale in the US at the time. Was GM thinking of making a Group B Opel to fight the 205 and others on the WRC stage?

Looking at this closer, one of the cars is listed as “Active”. During the second half of the 1980’s GM was heavily involved in developing “active suspension”. GM had a fleet of Corvettes developing and testing the system in hopes that it would debut on the 1990 ZR1. The system (which was also being developed by then GM owned Lotus) was used in the Corvette GTP cars being raced on the IMSA circut. Perhaps these cars were used as mules to develop active suspension for the Corvette and at the end of their time ended up in the GM collection.

Doing some research on these cars I stumbled across the website www.thevirtualdriver.com . One of the post on the site was about the Peugeot 206 that Sebastien Loeb used to dominate Pikes Peak in the Summer of 2013. One comment under the post came from a man identified as “Patrick Peal” who commented:

“Having worked on a heavily-modified Peugeot 205T16 as a development hack for an Active Suspension project at Lotus back in the last millennium, I’m delighted to see Peugeot taking on Pike’s Peak with this feast of technology. Awesome!”

A quick search of Mr.Peel  online found that he worked for Lotus as a development engineer in consultancy work and later became engineering sales and head of Communications. So I sent an email to Mr. Peel and here’s what he had to say.

“Thank you for your email, which brought back a lot of very happy memories. So much so that last night I dreamt I was sitting in the driver’s seat of a full works T16 trying to work out how to start it! (Clearly it wasn’t one of the two cars we had at Lotus…)

This was indeed all to do with the engineering relationship between GM and Lotus. The Active Suspension development originally conceived for the F1 team in 81/82 became a major technical offering for Lotus Engineering which ultimately grew into a suite of active systems for vehicle dynamics control.

But back to your question – yes, in 84 or so we secured a massive contract from GM to develop active systems which would be showcased in the Corvette Indy showcar (http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/08/08/cars-of-futures-past-1986-corvette-indy-concept/ )

By this time we’d already built several cars with active suspension for GM – the first contract was for a couple of sedans as R&D cars, and we also did a truck as a show car. We’d also worked with Volvo and had sold an idea for creating active rear steer to them which worked incredibly well (it was at least +- 5 degrees of steer and may have been +-15 degrees – I can’t remember. But it was more than enough to control the steer response not just trim it.).

So we had already gone beyond just active suspension.

The concept we were working towards for the Indy was ‘active everything’ – suspension, rear steer, front/rear torque distribution and front steer – and lots of performance. So we needed some new tech and some mule vehicles to try it out on. 

We knew we needed some cars that would have lots of performance, four wheel drive and ideally quite easy to modify. We did look at building something from scratch but not for this project – so we looked at the then current crop of Gp B rally cars and analysed all the cars around at the time. The Metro 6R4 was a possible as was the Ford RS200 but we eventually bought the last two 205 T16’s from Peugeot Sport (Andre de Cortanze was my contact).

Of course when they were delivered to Lotus they were brand new so we had to run them in as road cars…that was a hoot! I took one from my home to Brighton for the weekend to visit some friends…I discovered pretty early on that if I gave it full throttle for an instant and then backed off I could get a huge flame out of the exhaust. Made for a good effect in the high street at night…

We also decided that the 240bhp of the ‘standard’ car wasn’t enough, bearing in mind the power drains from the hydraulic systems and the added weight, so we bought the Club upgrade which gave us 300bhp.

I could go on (and on) but here are some highlights I can remember:

We modified the four-wheel drive with a second differential driven by a hydraulic motor (check out a Tamiya model tank drive system to see what I mean – that’s what we did!) so that we could control exactly the speed of the front axle compared to the speed of the rear axle and therefore control slip.

To do so, we had to compare wheel speed and true vehicle speed (longitudinally and laterally) which was a challenge – we ended up using two Leitz Correvit optical speed sensors mounted behind the passenger seat. They were a bit like two massive telephoto lenses and were a pig to install, calibrate and keep working. We had to calibrate the lateral speed sensor using a belt sander as a ‘road surface’ whose belt speed we could measure.

One car was built with active suspension and the four wheel drive so we could sort that out while the second ended up with the steer systems as well, so it was the full mule for the Corvette Indy. 

Front steer was weird – basically the steering wheel could be mechanically disconnected from the steering rack (with an emergency reconnecting clutch if things went wrong…) and then it was just used as an input to the computer. You could have opposite-sense steer – turn the wheel to the right and the car would go left – or even load-steer when the wheel wouldn’t move but applying load one way or the other generated a steer response.

And of course rear steer could play whatever static tricks we could dream up as well. Same-sense or opposite-sense giving crabbing motion or a very rapid rate of rotation with a small turning circle. In fact one of the silly party tricks was to apply full lock and full throttle and get massive burnouts in a ridiculously small circle – two very black very small concentric circles on the test track, not much bigger than the wheelbase of the car…oh and a dizzy driver!

So once we’d sorted out all the systems, the main project was to build the Corvette Indy. I didn’t get involved with that one but I seem to remember there were some problems which made it difficult to run. Shame cos the systems were awesome.

We were all very sad to say goodbye to the two Pugs when they were shipped to GM at the end of the project”.

So mystery solved. The Peugeot 205’s in the GM collection were from the time when Lotus was testing active suspension for projects such as the Corvette Indy. Thank you Mr Peal for your response and solving an interesting mystery.

Any other automotive mysteries out there, send them to Sons of Taki.

A Sons of Taki 2013 Year in Review

December 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Our first year was a fun and interesting one at Sons of Taki. On behalf of Jeff and Matt, thanks for reading, making comments and telling us we’re not complete idiots for doing this. 2014 is shaping up to be  an exciting one as well. We just won’t hype it up like Lotus and then fail to deliver the goods.

In the meantime, here’s some Sons of Taki Moments from 2013.

We Launch A Website

I remember siting with Jeff and Matt on a snowy winter late January Sunday at the Starbucks in Braintree brainstorming ideas for what would become Sons of Taki. We talked about what we wanted to be, what we wanted the site to look like and most importantly what did we want to call it. I forget how it came about but we pulled up the video of Taki Inoue getting hit by the medical car which got us rolling on the ground. From there it was easy coming up with the name. Then the night after the Daytona 500 we put our money where are mouth was and bought the domain.

The Sound of Metal In a Wood Chipper

Back in March while driving to Rhode Island to have dinner with Jeff, the CEL light came on in the Leggy. I didn’t think much of it as the car was prone to random misfires and light ups. As I was getting past the point of no return (where I was closer to Jeff’s house than my house) the car started making stranger noises, a crackle here and there. I made it to Jeff’s, had dinner with him and white knuckled it back the hour drive to my house with the car sounding worse and worse. I was dreading motor issues.

The next day Matt and I were off to world of wheels in Boston, Matt was going to meet me at our local repair shop so I could drop the Leggy off and then go with Matt. As you know by the now, the Leggy didn’t make it and got a ride from AAA.

One month later and finally being lucky that Subaru decided to be nice I had a new shortblock in the Leggy.

Alpine White BMW’s

Jeff’s obsession with Alpine White BMW’s reached a new level when he got rid of his pristine E46 ZHP and bought a 95 E36 M3 (Alpine White of course). A man who lives in a city in the Northeast must not be right trying to keep two white BMW’s semi clean and not dinged.

The Deal of Century

Everyone has a great buying a car story and dealing with salespeople who are close to Genghis Khan on the people you wouldn’t trust category. SOT took it to a whole new level when Matt bought a new GMC Terrain and the sales person was…Matt’s father. The memorable moment of these negotiation was when Matt’s father (FYI, Matt and I are brothers so he’s my dad as well) was caught in between being a father and being a salesperson when trying to answer Matt’s question of how much money should he put down as a down payment.

The Baltimore Grand Prix Trip

When Jeff decided to take the plunge and get married, he asked me to be his best man, which in turn means a motoring related bachelor party. The whole story can’t be told on this site but in short we got to see the best wreck at an ALMS race in a long time, had to send a search party out for someone at one point and things occurred that racing legends such as Innes Ireland and Gerry Marshall would be proud of.

We’re Surrounded By Rednecks

Sportscar racing wasn’t the only racing we took in live during 2013. Matt (being a trooper and coming off of a 24 hour shift at work )and I attended the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race was dominated by Matt Kenseth but what really stood out was the kid in front of us who decided to go full redneck and rock a mullet wig, daisy dukes and a plaid shirt to his waist.

Where the hell are they?

You know who your friends are when you go on a wild goose chase with them to find an automotive graveyard; end up wandering around a quarry in the Catskills for an entire afternoon and both of you come back alive and are still friends (I think). The chase doesn’t stop there as you search for answers, find people, get lied to and then get the real deal.

That’s as much as we can tell you for right now about the story. We’ll be rolling it out something during the first half of 2014.

Check back in 2014 as we’ll be posting more automotive ramblings, buying more Alpine White BMW’s, saving lives, and throwing more money at a Pig from Fuji. The first Sons of Taki Movie will be coming out and maybe a podcast or two. Make sure you follow us on Twitter and try to guess who is tweeting what.

Would I Buy Another? My Life with the Fuji Pig

December 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I just recently I received the title to my 2008 Subaru Legacy GT; it’s car I bought brand new on September 7, 2008 from Clay Subaru. It’s first car I bought brand new and I’m also proud to say I paid it off a few months early.

After five years of Leggy ownership I ask myself the question would I buy another? Leggy ownership has been an experience of highs and lows with the highs putting a big smile on my face and the lows putting me into tears. Let’s reflect on the good and bad so far.

The thing I love the most about the Leggy is that it’s the can do anything car, the three things that allow for this are size, power and all wheel drive. I can hoon it in all seasons, throw camera gear in it and take it to important meetings and it’s never out of place. It’s the WRX for those of us who have grown up, maybe settled down a little but still desire Subaru performance.

On the subject of performance, the Leggy offers perfect performance for the daily driver with 240 horsepower on tap with three levels of throttle response; sport being the happy medium of power and not hitting hyperdrive every time you step on the loud pedal. A solid performer stock, I’ve added a Cobb catback exhaust, Cobb sport springs and Ralitek front and rear sways. The Cobb catback offers a perfect level of sound and adds a few extra horses. The sport springs have diminished the hideous stock wheel gap and the sways have improved the understeery nature of the car.

Add this all up and it’s a car I always enjoy driving no matter the situation, sure there are cars more involving or analogue but for the me the Leggy GT checks all the buttons.

Now comes the bad, it was a thirty thousand dollar car new and that doesn’t include navigation and there’s no option of cloth seats. In addition, the car came with infamous Bridgestone RE92 tires, the tires referred many GT owners as “joykillers”. Due to the fact it has a turbo it’s pricer to service than a normal Subaru and if you get your service done at a dealership prepare to pay an arm for an oil change and rotation and throw in a leg or two when it’s time for a major service such as the 60K.

Reliability wise the car has been quirky, in the early days there was a water leak in the front passenger side, the radio had to be replaced and during cold weather months the car would almost stall out at stop lights and throw codes for misfires. The biggest disaster was in March of 2013 when the turbo decided to eat itself due to oil starvation; it sounded as if someone was putting metal into a wood chipper. Thankfully, due to a somewhat friendly relationship with the Service Manager of Planet Subaru and the fact that all of the car’s major services had been done there, Subaru of America decided to cover the cost of my just out of warranty car and replace the shortblock. The kindness of SOA saved me either ten thousand dollars or the cost of a new car. The Leggy spent a little over a month at Planet Subaru getting a new shortblock.

The turbo eating itself is something fairly common in the Subaru world with cause thought to be the Banjo bolt (a theory which the Planet Subaru Service Manager claims is “an urban legend”. Since I took return of the car in late April, things have been fine, however there will always be a fear in the back of my mind as what will be the next thing to go (The car has 93K miles) or when will the turbo lurch itself again? Recently the fuel lines had to be replaced to the cost of $1,200. Thanks Planet Subaru

Would I buy it again? I’m not sure, the pleasure of driving the car I’m not sure is above the stress and money I’ve dumped into it to keep it straight. Would I buy a new Legacy today? Not at all; many consider my 08 Legacy GT to be the end of an era in which the Legacy was a unique sport sedan and isn’t what it is today, an all wheel drive Toyota Camry. If I had to pull the trigger today my shortlist would include Cooper Clubman, GTI, and AWD Buick Turbos.


The Secret Life of the Velveteen Rabbit

December 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm

The holidays have become known for a few things, none of them good: excessive consumption of Chinese-manufactured technology goods; holidays sales that put low-wage employees in harms way and away from their families; and a society-wide binge on throwaway products endorsed by a rampant barrage of media buys that do nothing but make the have-nots feel worse while convincing them that the only way to salvation is to put themselves even further in debt so their children – like, 5 years old – can own a Macbook Air.

When I was 5, Hot Wheels and Darda filled my wish list. Granted, the quantity of these requests could fill a small orphanage, but still. It seems blessedly tame in comparison to what today’s offspring demand.

Other things the holidays are known for include big-ticket cinematic releases, which I’ve always been amused by. Yes, I am aware some people do not celebrate Christmas. But is that their automatic go-to? Let’s check out a movie? In this era of Redbox and Netflix, I’m somewhat surprised that hopping into the family truckster to take in a flick on a holiday is a go-to for some folks. I suppose if the drive-in theater is still fighting the good fight, an indoor (re: warm) cinema should have no problem filling seats.

One such film slated to open this month is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. From what I can discern, it’s about an individual dripping in anxiety about his self-worth based on accomplishments someone else told him he should have (I suspect there is a need for validation by a female involved as well, but if Kristen Wiig is your idea of a good time, have at it). So, despite knowing very little about this film, a juxtaposition unfolded in front of me today. This movie does capture the validity of the imagination, and the journeys that are feasible if only your mind is open to wandering and letting the empty spaces remain vacant for a roaming thought or two of, “Well, what if that was possible?”

There’s a thought I have – often when rambling, roaming, or otherwise exploring my vast subconscious – about energy. Ghost hunters will tell you spiritual activity is less about a moaning white sheet and more about the lasting impression of a particularly intense moment of energy, be it anger, happiness, jealousy or what have you. And often, physical environments are the recipient of these imprints, be it a grand staircase, a child’s room or a garage, filled with tool chests and grease, full of smells and stains of previous occupants.

By that logic, cars are a perfect conductor of this energy. They bear witness to fights, romance, frustrations. From bringing home a wife to bringing home a child to bringing home a termination letter, or traveling to a new job or cruising into retirement – vehicles are with us at those moments that typically define our adult lives. They are silent passersby who happen to be our first reprieve from whatever psychological high or low we are experiencing at that moment. This is why I know, without a doubt, some of my cars have spoken to me while others have had nothing to say, despite the trials I was enduring at that moment. This is not unlike people: some are caring, able to express concern in perfect silence, while others wouldn’t bother to hold you up as you struggled to stand.

My ’87 325is is a conductor of this electricity, this memory burn that cars can absorb. Like an older adult, the car has more years under its metal, giving it the benefit of time to become an accomplice to memories. But it doesn’t have to speak to me; it doesn’t have to provide that channel of energy, of memories that come alive every time fuel flows through its weathered lines. As the ghost hunter will tell us, however, when the energy is great enough – intense enough, either in good or evil – it becomes impossible to ignore. And you can stare into its headlight bowls much like grandpa’s ancient retinas, and know it is watching every moment, recording them either for your benefit or that of the next owner, convinced it will live forever to tell those stories. Of first loves, second chances, and of nothing at all. Of drives that go in circles, or plans that last as far as the next gas station.

So, where does the velveteen rabbit come in? Margery Williams said that things become real when they are loved for a very, very long time. I happen to know for a fact this E30 was cherished by its first owners, and despite the shambles it arrived in, loved enough by later stewards that it stayed on the road, despite accidents and deferred maintenance. It is a conveyance of memories; it has witnessed more in its life than I have despite my abilities of free will and intelligence. Think about that: this car is almost as old as me and has lived in more places. It sat on a ship and sailed the great oceanic divide, and took center stage at a major auto show. It’s likely faced more challenges, too, as my health has rarely been compromised and I’ve never been left to waste away. Its resiliency is undeniable.

And unlike the rampant consumerism this time of year, which relies on selling fake notions of wants and needs, things that are made by hand and forged in factories of men and sweat reveal to us daily that its original maker had no intention of it living an abbreviated existence. Whether “it” is an rambling old home, a pair of pliers or a set of stiff and woolly overalls, these things – and yes, they are things – can carry the energy I speak of. They were designed to be used, to do a job and to be a conveyance of achievement, whether a simple task or a lifetime milestone. And they bear the brunt of our existence, much like a family member, but doing so in complete silence and dutiful service.

So yes. This Christmas, go to the movies. Buy your flatscreens. But take a moment to stand in awe of that around you which has endured, be it a relationship with a spouse or your childhood home. Remember what it means to withstand the test of time, and realize the power contained when perseverance and emotion collide. Mercedes-Benz did a bang-up job capturing this in their fantastic ad, “Soul.” Enjoy – and merry Christmas.

Mercedes-Benz – “Soul”

What We Are Thankful For

November 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

Happy Thanksgiving From Sons of Taki, here’s a few things we are thankful for:

– The fact we live in an age where cars are faster, handle better, safer and offer more features than ever before.

– That there are cars new and used that are rewarding to drive.

– Shipping companies that can get a 95 M3 across the country safely.

– All the great repair and bodyshops we use

– Understanding parents, friends, wives, etc who accept our love of cars

– Salespeople we can trust

– All the great magazines, books, tv shows, websites that are car related

Fear and Loathing about Fuji

November 13, 2013 at 11:48 am
Just give us a modern version of this and all will be forgiven

Just give us a modern version of this and all will be forgiven

The debut of the new Subaru WRX scares me, I am preparing myself for the disappointment of a bloated Impreza with a hood scoop. But wait, wasn’t the original Subaru Impreza Turbo’s and WRX’s fast cars that weren’t lookers that flew under the radar? That’s true but they weren’t unattractive cars at their core and the addition of  the wing and rally fogs made them more appealing. We were all impressed by the Concept Subaru has shown us of a potential new WRX but the spy shots and renders failed to impress.

What really scares me is where this car will be priced? The current WRX starts at around 26K; will the new WRX be priced higher? If it’s priced higher or even starts around the same price, Subaru has missed the mark. In the  performance Impreza chain, the WRX replaced the Impreza Turbo as the entrance into Subaru performance starting with GD generation which was also the start of Subaru pricing itself out its market with a car that starts in the mid 20’s in it’s base WRX form instead of having a turbo motored Impreza that starts at 20K. The target market for cars like Turbo Subarus and Evo’s is people in their twenties who want a fast car that costs under 25K, not many in this market can afford WRX’s and Evo’s in the current price range.

So Subaru, in order to make the WRX the car it can be, it doesn’t need to be flash but it can’t be bloated and most importantly make affordable so the people that would want to buy it can afford it.

Looking At Your Sport Through Autosport – August 10, 1995

November 12, 2013 at 10:50 am
JV coming to an F1 track near you

JV coming to an F1 track near you

Villeneuve in F1 next year? Yes you are correct Autosport. The top story is Jacques Villeneuve’s test with Williams and the possibility of him joining the team for the 1996 season. It’s believed that Williams has a right of first refusal on Villeneuve in F1 for the next three seasons. In addition, it’s reported that if he was join Williams he would be taking a paycut from his six million dollar Indycar salary. Can you believe that today, a top Indycar driver taking a paycut to go to F1 and a current Indycar driver making six million a season.?

In other F1 news, Mika Salo is confirmed for Tyrrell for the 1996 season and Michael Schumacher gets married. In touring car news, recently crowned South African touring car champion Mike Briggs is announced to sub for James Thompson in the Vauxhall team at Brands Hatch in support of John Cleland’s title bid, Thompson was injured in a testing accident two weeks earlier at Knockhill.

In this edition of the Fifth Column Nigel Roebuck reflects on seeing the son of his late good friend Gilles Villeneuve test an F1 car for the first time. Roebuck talks with Jacques about his first impressions of driving an F1 car after driving an Indycar. Jacques describes the car as “more nimble” and “much lighter”. Jacques says that the Indycar would not be much slower than the Williams at Silverstone as “it would be slower in the corners, yes but it would probably make up time on the straights”.  This was in the era when CART cars were rocketships and provided possibly the best racing on earth.

Nigel also gets a comment from Bernie Ecclestone after having dinner with Jacques saying “It was almost like talking with Senna again”.

The Hungarian Grand Prix is previewed with Mark Blundell calling it an important race for Damon Hill and Simon Taylor predicting a Schumacher win. In the end Hill will go on to dominate the weekend winning the pole, setting fastest lap and winning the race.

It should also be mention that this was the race when Taki Inoue was hit by a marshal’s car when attempting to put the fire out of the Footwork.

Formula 3’s best were at Zandvoort to see who was the best at the Marlboro Masters. It was a familiar sight as the stars of the German F3 series dominated the occasion with Norberto Fontana and Ralf Schumacher going 1 and 2. Rounding out the podium was current Indycar star Helio Castro Neves (listed as Helio Castrol Neves). Other familiar names down the result sheet were Ollie Gavin in 4th, Max “The Axe” Angelli in 6th and future F1 driver Alex Wurz being caught up in a 2nd lap accident.

Fontana was dominate in German F3 this year and many expected him to be a star in the making, however his F1 career didn’t pan out and only started four races in 1997 and is mostly known for blocking Jacques Villeneuve during the title decider at Jerez that year.

At rounds six and seven of the ITC series at Estoril, Bernd Schnieder all but clinches the title by winning the first race and finishing second to teammate Jan Magnussen in the second race. Dario Franchitti, who is second in points plans to stop his AMG Mercedes team from winning the title by kidnapping Schnedier, locking him away and paying all the drivers to let him win.

In the World of Sport section, Dale Earnhardt wins the second running of the Brickyard 400 and Richie Hearn closes in on Toyota Atlantic points leader David Empringham after a win in race two at Trois Rivieres,. Empringham is one of the guys when looking back saying “why didn’t he get a good CART ride, he won in Atlantics and in Indy Lights?” After Empringham won the Indy Lights title he never really made it to CART.


Looking at your sport through Autosport – July 27, 1995

October 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Autosport 7/27/95

The July 27, 1995 edition of Autosport focuses on the preview for the German Grand Prix. The clash between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill at the previous round at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is still on the mind of everyone with predictions being the German GP would be a fight between these two. The Hill/Schumacher battle is topic Nigel Roebuck brings up in his edition of the Fifth Column. Roebuck talks about how the Silverstone incident is another example of how in current times, the trivial is emphasized and everything is analyzed to the oblivion. Roebuck states “…it seems to me sometimes that we journalists are writing more and more about less and less”. Little could Nigel imagine today’s society with blogs, social media, etc.

On the topic of Nigel Roebuck, this issue of Autosport also features Nigel talking with Bernie Ecclestone about Bernie turning Grand Prix racing into what is, enemies he’s made and the people that are greatfull to him, including Michael Schumacher. It’s typical honest, making deals Bernie in the interview with Bernie telling the story as to how he made Schumacher a Benetton driver. He says that Schumacher is worth close to a second a lap comapred to anyone else. With death of Senna the year before at Imola still a hot topic Bernie addresses those who thought the race should have been stopped by saying, “Senna was dead, clinically but he was alive. And why should the race have been stopped?” Bernie also talks about long term planning in F1 calling anyone who starts talking about four years time “an idiot” due to the fast changing world.

Top story in this issue is the Simek team being sold for 250,00 pounds at auction. Some of things that went under the hammer were Jos “The Boss” Verstappen’s S951/001 minus Cosworth engine and gearbox going for 18,000 pounds and Mimmo Schiattarella’s pitboard going for 70 pounds. News also included  recent Clevland Indycar winner Jacques Villeneuve being close to a test with the Williams team and 20 year old Canadian Greg Moore wrapping up the Indy Lights title with three rounds still to run.

One of the great racing series in the world in the 90’s was the DTM/ITC with the likes of Opel, Mercedes and Alfa battling it out in high tech touring cars. This issue covers the DTM round from Diepholz with Michael Bartels sweeping both races in the beautiful orange Jagermeister Alfa. In second in race one was AMG’s young Scottish gun Dario Franchitti.

Two racing Scot’s were featured in back to back articles. Colin McRae and his toys such as his Honda Fireblade and his Monaco apartment were in one story and British Tourning Car star John Cleland talks about going for his second title and his refusal to let his young hotshot teammate James Thompson get in his way.

In the World of Sport section, German Forumla 3 is at Deipholz with Ralf Schumacher sweeping both races and in Club Autosport, hillclimber (and future BMW touring car ace) Andy Priaulx wins his home hillclimb in Guernesy and closes in a RAC title.

The Last Lap column is by the great Denis Jenkinson reflecting on the great Juan Manuel Fangio who had passed away the week before. Jenks calls Fangio gentle and very  human being until he climbed into a racing car, at that point he became in Jenks words “a tiger”. He also talks about the respect Fangio commanded even years after his racing career.

Writing About Cars: Listen, this Blog is Cool, but…..

October 2, 2013 at 11:26 am

I haven’t really discussed this before, but I really need to find a way to write about cars, motorsports, and the hobby for a living. Like, a good, healthy living that doesn’t involve living hand-to-mouth and selling off my collection of mismatched BMW parts. A living that ensures the E30 receives the restoration it deserves and the M3 lives to see 250,000 miles on its original bottom end. That kind of living.

Long ago, I interviewed with Grassroots Motorsports magazine for a job as a reporter/writer. I was offered said job, which prompted a near nervous breakdown of deciding to invest in what I saw as a valuable relationship, or throwing caution to the wind (and said relationship) and moving to Florida to essentially live at Daytona. Did I mention that I would later be fired from the job I was considering giving the gigantic middle finger to while I relocated to Daytona Beach in the middle of a vicious New England winter? Yes, that happened. But the pay was low – really low – and I believed the relationship I had found was far more significant than the opportunity presented by the editorial staff. This decision was validated by my marriage not two weeks ago to an absolutely wonderful woman, but the scars of regret haven’t fully healed.

So what do you do? Well, if you’re like me, you dust off your Linkedin profile and see who might know who in the automotive world. You discover that a native Rhode Islander – right down the road, in fact – is a PR consultant for Porsche’s North American Motorsports team. You get him on the phone, in which he proceeds to tell you that the industry is a barren wasteland and that you better really enjoy making just enough to cover travel expenses while never earning what’s needed to support that restoration three years in the works for your 1987 325is. I don’t doubt the man, but in my phone-call fantasy, he was supposed to tell me he needed an extra set of hands to punch out press releases, set up interviews, and travel to Road Atlanta in a support role. Mere table scraps, and I’d take them. Truth be told, even table scraps are hard to come by, according to him. I’m a realist, but that was hard to digest.

And then you do the sit and wait thing, where you feel like a drug addict coming off of buzzy highs and hope-swallowing lows. After discovering a potential connection worked for one of the major media conglomerates with multiple automotive properties, I sent him my resume at his urging. Grateful, I am, but the excitement of this close connection was quickly subdued by the realization that my information is a mere email – a speck – in a inbox that is as vast as the universe itself, with unknown depths and myriad possibilities for when, if ever, my deets are viewed.  I’m not naive. I hate entitlements. Don’t feel like my profile deserves viewing any more or less than the next guy. But holy God, getting noticed and having a conversation seems like its light-years away after witnessing the effort involved in just finding someone with an email address that doesn’t begin with “info@…..” True, it’s half the battle – and for that, I am grateful – but when most of your mojo is locked up until an in-person meeting is proposed, you begin to understand how a third-string quarterback might feel. If you gave me the ball, you might just see that I can chuck that thing out of the stadium. Sure, my face will get stomped on a few times. But until you get that chance, how will anyone know?

I love writing. I do. I believe I’m good at it. That’s not to say a trip to J-School isn’t required, but I’d be willing to make that leap if someone gave me a sign that the investment is worth it, and that my life won’t turn into that of a starving artist. I look at why my subscription to Car & Driver will never lapse, and that’s because I love reading the columns penned by John Phillips and Peter Egan. Good writing does sell products, and I am hungry to prove my worth at any number of publications. I’m not picky. I’ll bring my own computer, and jump on a plane without hesitation. You want me reviewing a Nissan Versa in South Dakota? Done. Analyzing vinyl seating surface durability in New York City cabs after years of carting millions of gross, disgusting asses? Where are my latex gloves? Interview members of the Green Party about their hatred of horsepower? Heck, I’ll even wear a Prius button just to set the mood.

I’m sure there are thousands of gearheads and writers who would answer yes to those questions as well. But you’ve got to respect the guy who came up with them in the first place.

Visit Us On Twitter