Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Peter Brock At AutoBooks-Aerobooks

Peter Brock Book Signing AeroBooks-AutoBooks Burbank
Peter Brock - Brock's new book on the creation of the first Corvette Sting Ray tells the inside story, from the foreign inspiration to the adoption of prior dreams that never made it, to the actual design of the prototype that did. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store

Peter Brock At AutoBooks-Aerobooks 
By: Randy Berg

On an unassuming corner of Burbank California, there lies a book shop steeped in the history of the automobile and aero industries that seeded the area with creative gusto. Saturday morning coffee is a tradition with the locals. You never know who is going to stop by and what car you might see when you visit. The book store has great friends, and they don't mind sharing.

It was a great privilege to meet Peter Brock; the very influential automotive design icon from across many brands and eras. On September 7, 2013, Peter was able to introduce his latest book, "PETER BROCK - CORVETTE STINGRAY Genesis of an American Icon," to a group of automobile culture enthusiasts, journalists, and friends (which may all be people who share these same descriptions).

Peter gives much credit of the survival of the Corvette to Bill Mitchell; and understates his contribution to a formative period of Corvette evolution; the '63 Stingray. The book is coffee table worthy; chock-a-block full of beautiful pictures, original sketches, and personable Corvette history as it happened.

Peter Brock Book Signing AeroBooks-AutoBooks BurbankPeter Brock Book Signing AeroBooks-AutoBooks Burbank
Autobooks-Aerobooks Burbank, CA. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store

Jay Leno, Stewart Reed & Peter Brock Book Signing AeroBooks-AutoBooks Burbank
Jay Leno, Stewart Reed & Peter Brock book shopping. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store

Peter could write a few other books - parked out front was the beautiful  Superformance Brock Daytona Coupe based on his original design for Shelby. Thought ugly on first review, the design was an aerodynamic winner on the track. Success has followed Peter in each wind direction.

2005 Superformance Brock Daytona Coupe Peter Brock Book Signing AeroBooks-AutoBooks Burbank
2005 Superformance Brock Daytona Coupe Peter Brock Book Signing AutoBooks-AeroBooks Burbank
Peter Brock's personal 2005 Superformance Brock Daytona Coupe. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store

Corvette Stingray Peter Brock Book Signing AutoBooks-AeroBooks Burbank
Corvette Stingray. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store

Datsun parked at Peter Brock Book Signing AutoBooks-AeroBooks Burbank
Datsun 710. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store

Triumph TR4A IRS parked at Peter Brock Book Signing AutoBooks-AeroBooks Burbank
Triumph TR4A IRS. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store

Classic car parked Peter Brock Book Signing AutoBooks-AeroBooks Burbank
Citro├źn Traction Avant - Itself an innovative car (in 1934!) showcasing the first mass-produced front-wheel drive car. Image Credit: Randy Berg, Special Car Store
(ht: Special Car Store with edits by Edmund Jenks)

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, September 23, 2013

“Rush”, The Film - An Automotive Lifestyle POV

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt - Entry ticket to a Brembo sponsored advanced screening to Ron Howard's "RUSH", a spectacular big-screen re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, which will make its U.S. public release in selected theaters on September 20, everywhere else on September 27. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks

“Rush”, The Film - An Automotive Lifestyle POV
By: James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications for The Motor Sports-Report

The film “Rush” is appropriately named and delivers a high-octane adrenaline rush that is non-stop and intense.   Director Ron Howard has given race fans a film that will rank with the all time greats of “Le Mans”, “Bullitt” and “Winning”.  He meets the standard of those iconic films and has set the current bar higher for race and car based films. This is not “Driven” or “Days of Thunder” this is the serious approach to racing films and it’s a checkered flag finish for “Rush”

Before Howard could deliver a film of this quality and magnitude he had to satisfy his investors and the studio that this project would have broad appeal to a general audiences as entertainment.  He succeeded by having Peter Morgan write a strong character driven story that has the 1976 Formula 1 Championship as its base. The intenseness is properly balanced between the action on the track and between the twin lead characters James Hunt and Niki Lauda.  The intensely level is into the “red line” of my tachometer and had me unable to sit still during some race scenes.  The track action shots seem to meld seamlessly with the CGI to where it is not an issue.

Race fans will not be disappointed with the F1 cars and the selected racetracks.  The scenes in the rain are the most impressive rather than the expected crashes. Many of the crashes are hard to watch because of the reality of death and major injury that was and to a much lessor degree are part of the sport.  While the 1950’s and 1960’s were the worst for driver fatalities it was still a major factor in 1976.  Director Howard communicates that fear and shows it needs to be heeded or pay a high price.

It terms of general audience appeal, Director Howard scores major points for exceptional entertainment without predictability and stereotypes.  Howard captures the essence of era’s style and attitude. The clothing is period correct as are the beautiful women wearing them. “Rush” features gorgeous women throughout the film that are not overplayed, Olivia Wilde is spot on as James Hunt’s wife.  

Serious consideration for “Best Supporting Actress” should be given to Alexandra Maria Lara for playing the role of Lauda’s wife. Alexandra Maria Lara is silent but strong during adversity and tragedy, yet she remains sensual and is a calming force.  She is the winner in the end…

The heart of Morgan’s story is the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda to be the best in their sport and win the F1 Championship; each has their own unique style. Playboy driver Hunt is played perfectly by Chris Hemsworth. Hunt is a man absolutely willing to die on the track to win and who lives even more reckless off the track.

The casting is exceptional throughout but the choice of Daniel Brul (with an umlaut over the u) was brilliant, as is his performance as F1 World Champion Niki Lauda. Mr. Brul deserves a nomination for his depiction of a complex man, ever calculating and perhaps until now misunderstood champion.  Brul’s performance will also be remembered for how we are able to warm up to Lauda’s manner.  

Austrian by birth Lauda has a drive to succeed that is unmatched by his fellow top drivers.  Lauda takes every bit of his God given ability and finds ways to maximize it in what he is best suited for F1, the elite level of motor racing. He has even calculated his risk of death to be 20%.  Lauda is willing to chance his life at 20% but we learn not a single percentage point beyond.

Lauda is best at finding a edge over the competition at every level, design, weight, drag coefficient and tolerating pain… Lauda’s best strength though is his will.  He is stronger willed than the competition and is the upmost logical about every decision he makes. We get words of wisdom from him as well as examples of how to race to win and live to tell about it.  With all this going for him Lauda is respected but not liked by the fellow drivers, so states Hunt.  I appreciate that Lauda retains a “Gentlemen Racer” attitude but he backs down to no one.

This film is significant to Brembo as it tells the story of the 1976 season, when Lauda’s Ferrari with Brembo brakes was a key player in one of the most epic chapters of Formula 1. It was in 1975 that Enzo Ferrari first asked Brembo, the Italian manufacturer of high-performance braking systems, to equip his legendary Scuderia Ferrari with brake discs. Image Credit: RUSH, the film via Brembo


I know this era well having taken part by covering the first Formula 5000 and F1 Grand Prix of Long Beach for magazine.  By the time the McLaren team was racing at Long Beach in 1982 and 1983 I was with Jaguar Cars Inc. as West Coast Advertising &PR Mgr. Thanks to Leyland Bus & Truck, Jaguar was a sponsor of the Williams Team winner Alan Jones in 1981 and 1982 & 1983 a sponsor of the McLaren Team.

At Long Beach in 1982 Niki Lauda won with his McLaren MP4/1B-Ford with teammate John Watson finishing sixth.  For 1983 veteran John Watson won in the McLaren MP4/1C-Ford and Lauda finished second in his MP4.  During these years as a sponsor we had “meet the driver” events that I put on at local restaurants, affording all of us one on one time with the drivers. The film depicts how Lauda was always seeking an edge, ones that eventually got adopted into the sport, at this period he had found a new edge.  As part of his intense training and conditioning he now had a regimented diet.  

Lauda was not fond of these types of events so my time with him was brief but positive.  I had longer conversations with teammate John Watson who spoke of the planned meals Lauda ate three times a day, prepared by the team nutritionist for him. Watson was on it too but only for one meal a day.  It’s common these days, but for the time Lauda once again was a pioneer.  The competition between the cars and drivers was extremely close, so any edge counts.  Given the rigors of the sport it was conditioning that would help make enough of a difference for Lauda to repeat as a World Champion after 1975 again in 1977 and 1984.   


Monday, September 2, 2013

Castroneves Gains A New P3 Chaser At #GPoB With Pagenaud Win

Helio Castroneves gets ready to keep the IZOD IndyCar Series championship points lead as the only driver to complete every lap of every race of the season so far. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Castroneves Gains A New P3 Chaser At #GPoB With Pagenaud Win

Ever go to a hockey game and have a fight break out? How about go to a late season open wheel championship points chase and have a massacre and a bunch of vehicle carnage pop up?

Many who follow and witnessed the last IZOD IndyCar Series championship race probably felt they were treated to both type of events at the race in the streets, the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT (Twitter hashtag - #GPoB).

James Hinchcliffe as he launches off of the chicane that begins the front straight-away. The IZOD IndyCar DW12 cars reach a high speed of around 180mph with the chicane ... maybe over 200mph without. Image Credit: John Cote via motorsport.com

With only four races left in the 19 race season, the bumpy, uneven-surfaced, chicane and tight hairpin element-ed 2.04 mile 12-turn temporary street track delivered a tough championship test for all men, a woman, and Dallara DW12 machine which seemed to be shaping up to deliver an eleventh new winner in a season, tying a record that had been standing for over a decade (2000 and 2001 CART/ChampCar seasons).

Going in, four-time ChampCar World Series season champion Sebastien Bourdais felt he could be the upset winner this weekend in Baltimore. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

In the morning warm-up, Dragon Racing's four-time past ChampCar champion Sebastien Bourdais was very quick after damaging his car by hitting the corner tires in the chicane during qualifications. Bourdais started the race from P22 of a 24 car field and through skillful and aggressive driving managed to work his way through the many YELLOW Flags (six full course cautions with almost every car sustaining some damage) on restarts to lead the race for 19 laps. "SeaBass" ended up on the podium at P3 ... but not without a fight. "We had a fast car. We had a fast car all the way to the end of the race. That car got beat up pretty good, so by the end it was pretty ragged. I am just really happy for the guys. Yeah, it would have been awesome to win and in so many ways I guess we should have or would have. But you know, it’s the podium………another one, and its really important for the group. For the spirits, for Jay, for the sponsors: McAfee, TrueCar, and Chevy. Still pretty happy because when you start nearly dead last and you make it to the podium, pass a bunch of people and make it stick at the end – its pretty sweet."
(ht: rpm2night.com)

Simona de Silvestro scored her best finish of the season by taking the checkered flag in fifth place behind the wheel of the No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet to give Team Chevy two of the top-five finishers. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Another triumph performance was delivered by the only female pilot in the 24 car field. After qualifying P17, KV Racing Technology's Simona de Silvestro driving the #78 Nuclear Energy Areva Chevy managed to stay out of trouble and get past some pretty capable drivers, including the Indy 500 winner and team-mate Tony Kanaan finished at P5. "I'm definitely really happy with P5. It was kind of a crazy race. I don't think we had the fastest car out there, but we had a pretty good call on the pits when we got stuck in one of the wrecks. After that we were able to move forward and had some pretty good restarts. The Nuclear Clean Air Energy car was really good at the end, so I'm pretty happy with it for sure. Not a bad way to celebrate my birthday."
(ht: rpm2night.com)

What really marked this race was the IZOD IndyCar Series championship fight and the held over controversy from the previous race at Sonoma Raceway about pitboxes and pitbox etiquette. Clear yellow paint and dotted 45 degree outer edge lines defined the smaller pitboxes all throughout pitlane. A new rule was added to the rule book that clarified the movements of pit workers during competition so as to make the racing safer for everyone.

All eyes were on Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Penske Racing's Will Power since Dixon had lost points in his effort to chase down Will Power's team-mate, Helio Castroneves, after having to serve a drive-through penalty during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma for hitting a Penske Racing crew member working in Power's pit located just in front of Dixon. With the pitboxes being 2 feet shorter, and the pitbox locations being reversed - Dixon in front of Power, many thought there would be an opportunity for Power to possibly graze a crew member in Dixon's pit.

On the track, however, is where a miscue by Will Power ended both Dixon's chances at gaining championship points and Power's race.

On a race restart, Will Power was sizing up then race leader, Sebastien Bourdais, for a pass not aware that Scott Dixon had the same exact design on Power's car just in front of the #9 Target sponsored Honda Dallara. Dixon popped out to the right, next to the wall, then Power popped out to the right and touched Dixon's front wing sending both cars into the inside trackside wall ending their race and bringing out another of the six full course cautions of the race.

Scott Dixon started the race 38 points behind after gaining a point for capturing the Firestone Fast Six pole award, but lost another 11 points leaving him down 49 points with three races left. Disappointing after starting the #GPoB P1 just to finish P19.

As for the championship points leader, Helio Castroneves started his PPG Team Penske Chevy from a P7 qualifying position but lost many positions and had to adapt to a different pit strategy due to an early race black flag stop and go penalty for a safety violation. He slid his car in his pitbox and hit a crew member.

With Scott Dixon being forced out of the race after getting collected by Will Power, and Ryan Hunter-Reay suffering a power outage in his car - stalling on the track ... Castroneves was able to distance himself from his top two competitors with a respectable P9 finish.

"Towards the end, I noticed that my main competitors were out," said Castroneves, who is seeking his first series title. “I know it could have been a bigger risk trying to finish further ahead. I felt that I had a target on my back. So I said, ‘I’m just going to take what I get,’ and that’s what I did. Sometimes it’s better to have only a few points instead of having a big accident and not even getting a point. So now we’re 49 ahead, and that’s what we’ve been doing the entire season."
(ht: The Baltimore Sun)

Castroneves now leads the IZOD IndyCar Series with 501 points. Dixon is still second. Hunter-Reay, the reigning series champion, dropped from third to fifth with 427 points.

The Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT from left to right - Josef Newgarden P2, Simon Pagenaud P1, and Sebastien Bourdais P3. Image Credit: Chris Owens via motorsport.com

In the end, the survivors came across the stripe after 75 hard fought laps with Frenchman Simon Pagenaud - #77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda leading the final seven laps (Will Power led the most laps with 31) after aggressively passing Marco Andretti on a race restart to win his second race of the season and overtake Ryan Hunter-Reay for third in the championship points behind Dixon, Tennessean Josef Newgarden - #67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda in P2 to notch his best finish in IndyCar as his brakes were fading, and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais - #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevy in P3.

Favorite Tweet? ... Shane Rogers @upshifted - Random Stat: All 5 of the cars with the digit 7 in them, finished in the top 7. #indycar #GPoB.

How they finished the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT (75 Laps):

Pos  Driver               Team/Engine           Time/Gap
 1.  Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt/Honda    2h16m32.3443s
 2.  Josef Newgarden      Fisher/Honda          +4.1592s
 3.  Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon/Chevy          +7.9588s
 4.  Justin Wilson        Coyne/Honda          +10.7598s
 5.  Simona de Silvestro  KV/Chevy             +11.6017s
 6.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi/Honda        +21.4160s
 7.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti/Chevy       +22.8422s
 8.  Sebastian Saavedra   Dragon/Chevy         +25.5377s
 9.  Helio Castroneves    Penske/Chevy         +29.3117s
10.  Marco Andretti       Andretti/Chevy       +40.5499s
11.  Tristan Vautier      Schmidt/Honda           +1 lap
12.  Oriol Servia         Panther/Chevy           +1 lap
13.  EJ Viso              Andretti/Chevy          +1 lap
14.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter/Chevy         +1 lap
15.  Tony Kanaan          KV/Chevy              +2 laps*
16.  Stefan Wilson        Coyne/Honda            +3 laps
17.  Graham Rahal         Rahal/Honda           +7 laps*
18.  Will Power           Penske/Chevy           +8 laps

* Not running at finish


     Scott Dixon          Ganassi/Honda          52 laps
     Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti/Chevy         42 laps
     Dario Franchitti     Ganassi/Honda          22 laps
     Luca Filippi         Herta/Honda            12 laps
     James Jakes          Rahal/Honda             5 laps
     Takuma Sato          Foyt/Honda              4 laps

All drivers use Dallara DW12 chassis
(ht: autosport.com)

The next scheduled events in the IZOD IndyCar Series 2013 championship season are a doubleheader weekend at the temporary road circuit near Reliant Stadium (home of the NFL Texans) in Houston on October 5 and 6 - similar to the two-race weekends in Detroit and Toronto this year, the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston could result in another wild, DW12 rubbing affair - and the season finale, MAVTV 500, is again at the superspeedway oval of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Oct. 19.

... notes from The EDJE