Motor Sport Muse by Connie Ann Kirk

Connie Ann Kirk, Ph.D. is a writer living in upstate New York. She has been credentialed by the FIA to write about Formula 1, credentialed by NASCAR for its races, and by historic / vintage entities like SVRA and Goodwood to write about their events in the U.S. and U.K.. Connie is working on a book about racers and racing with a racer-partner. She created, writes, and maintains Motor Sport Muse as a not-for-profit online column / blog and bulletin board for participants, fans, and enthusiasts in the motor sport community and other interested readers. Thank you for visiting!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Roger Penske receives Argetsinger Award from Watkins Glen Research Center


The International Motor Racing Research Center presents the 2016 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports to Roger Penske on June 30, 2016, at the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass. From the left are Duke and J.C. Argetsinger, sons of Cameron Argetsinger, Penske and Bobby Rahal, Indianapolis 500 champion and chairman of the IMRRC Governing Council. (photo by Angelo Lisuzzo; provided by the IMRRC.)

Corning, N.Y. --


Team owner, racer, and businessman, Roger Penske, a man who has been involved with motor sports for over 50 years, received the 2016 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award from the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) at a banquet in his honor Thursday evening, June 30, 2016. The event that brought motor sport royalty from several areas of the sport to pay tribute to Penske was held at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) in Corning, NY, about 20 miles south of Watkins Glen.  Previous recipients of the award have been Chip Ganassi in 2014 and Richard Petty in 2015.


Following a cocktail reception outside, the capacity audience in the museum banquet facility saw a video explaining the work and mission of the IMRRC. The research library contains over 700 collections and more than 90,000 professional photographs of motor sport, along with many other items.

Just announced that evening the IMRRC was pleased to let the audience know that it will now manage all 73 years' worth of archives for the 68,000-member strong Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). While the donated archives are an invaluable asset to motor sport history, the need for more physical space for the IMRRC to continue its mission could not be made more clear. 


While they had dinner and conversation, those in attendance also watched a rolling slide show of archival photographs of Penske and his drivers over the years.  Penske's victories to the date of the dinner included 433 major wins, 499 pole positions, 28 national championships, and 16 Indy 500 wins. 


His leadership over time has earned him the nickname "The Captain," and his successes, as one tribute noted, have made him the "winningest car owner in motor sport history."  Penske has employed over 85 racing drivers and currently leads 53,000 people in his transportation and other businesses. 


Master of ceremonies for the evening was ESPN television commentator, Dr. Jerry Punch, who used his skills to both provide continuity for what was happening throughout the evening and to provide context for the respective guests and video tributes that the audience would see and hear.


Among those in person offering tributes to Penske were: Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International (WGI); Scott Atherton, president and COO of IMSA; Jay Frye, president of IndyCar Competition and Operations; Lisa Noble, president of SCCA; and Walt Czarnecki, executive vice president of Penske Corp. and vice chairman of Team Penske.


Current and former Penske racers in attendance included IndyCar racers Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves. Between the two of them, the drivers represented seven Indy 500 wins.


Those providing remarks via video included NBC Sports' Formula One commentary team: David Hobbs, Leigh Diffey, and Steve Matchett and several former and current racers including:  Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser Jr., Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Sam Posey narrated a video presentation of Penske's career.



Other highlights of the evening included an auction of a commissioned painting by motor sports artist, Randy Owens, that depicted Penske with several of his memorable cars over the years. The painting sold for $27,500 with the proceeds going to the IMRRC.

The actual presentation of the Argetsinger Award, a large engraved glass bowl, was made by J. C. Argetsinger and his brother Duke, both sons of Cameron R. Argetsinger, who revived road racing in the United States in Watkins Glen in 1948 as well as Indy 500 Champion and Chairman of the IMRRC Governing Council, Bobby Rahal.  Remarking on Penske's skills as a racer in the early days, J. C. Argetsinger noted that Penske had taken pole position at Watkins Glen in the 1959 Formula Libre race -- a race that was later won by Stirling Moss.

In the various discussions and interviews, Penske was asked about his relationship with fallen racer, Mark Donohue. He said that Donohue put his team on the map, that he was "underwhelming in terms of personality," but that he was high on commitment and was one  understood technology. He gave the team epic wins. 

"He was like a brother to me," Penske said. "I'll never forget him."

Asked by Punch about how the new Argetsinger Award winner's interest in motor sports all started, Penske said, "I loved cars," and that his father took him to the Indy 500 when he was 14 years old. "I always wanted to compete," he said.

He said he is "most proud of my family." What drives him every day is "to try to be better." 

His father used to tell him, "Effort equals results," and he has tried to live by that maxim. 

The evening closed, and guests were given a gift bag to take home that included J. J. O'Malley's 2009 book, Daytona 24 Hours: The Definitive History of America's Great Endurance Race, published by David Bull Publishing.

Asked to sum up his impressions of the evening, IMRRC Governing Council Member, Larry Kessler, a businessman from Rochester, N.Y. said, "The IMRRC is gratified by the support we have received from the motor racing community who came out to an oversold house to pay homage to Roger Penske and his 50 years of excellence in motor racing."

The award and event's sponsors included: NASCAR, ISC, WGI, IMSA, Sahlen's, Corning Incorporated, Bosch, Corning Auto Glass, Chip Ganassi Racing, Elmira Savings Bank, Paul Miller Auto Group, Porsche, SCCA, Sunoco, Welliver, and Glenora Wine Cellars.

The Racing Research Center is an archival library dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the history of motorsports, of all series and all venues, through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials. The Center is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.

For more information about the Racing Research Center's work and its programs, visit www.racingarchives.org or call 607-535-9044. The Center also is on Facebook and Twitter.  







Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ken Fildes' Crosslé 19F in Action with Brian Cullen -- Links


The Crosslé 19F was one of the first historic racing cars that I looked at close up in a paddock and came to follow.  I wrote a blog post about the car on the "Poetry in Motion: Vintage Speed" NYFA project, here.  That post also talks about poetry I wrote about the car (for a poetry collection in progress).

In addition, I also wrote a magazine article that featured the little Irish car.  You can see the article here.

I dunno.  I just liked it!  It was small, low, and had character.  People stopped and asked about it, because it was unique -- the only one built by the Crosslé Car Company in Northern Ireland in 1970.  It is a Formula 2 / Formula Atlantic.

As mentioned in the "Poetry in Motion" post, the car was sold away from North America back to its roots in Ireland.

Recently, I found some links that show Brian Cullen in action in the car since it returned to Europe. Here are some of the links:


-- 

I don't know if I'll ever see the car in action again live myself, or have a chance to see it up close again, but I hope so!

It interests me that many historic owner/racers purchase one or more race cars, become longtime custodians of them, and race them for many years, but many are just the opposite -- they seem to buy and sell cars at whim, only holding on to them and racing them for a short time, seemingly not attached to them at all.  I'm not sure what the difference in personality is or the reasons why there is a difference in these owner/racers.  I've heard that professional racers really don't get emotionally attached to cars, and that surprises me, too.

I have gotten attached to a few, not all, of my road cars.  Memories are attached to them, you know?  You remember your first car, long vacation trips in a certain car with people you love or loved, babies brought home in them, etc.

How do you feel about favorite cars?  Do you have a sentimental attachment to any of them, or do you simply regard them as utilitarian or useful for certain kinds of racing for awhile, then time to move on to something else?

Let me know in the Comments section!




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Formula 1: 65, Silverstone, and Suixtil


(Photo: Courtesy of Suixtil. All photos in this article used with permission).



(c) Copyright 2015 by Connie Ann Kirk. All rights reserved.


Formula 1: 65, Silverstone, and Suixtil

When the lights go out at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on Sunday, July 5, 2015, Formula 1 (F1) will celebrate its 65th anniversary as an international championship motor racing series. While F1 races took place before Silverstone in 1950 and others were run that were not part of the official championship, the British Grand Prix held on May 13, 1950 marked the beginning of a series of seven races that would determine the first Formula 1 World Championship driver under rules governed by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). 

The other six races in the 1950 championship were:  the Monaco Grand Prix on the famed streets of the principality on May 21; the Indianapolis 500, on the oval speedway in the American Midwest on May 30 (which actually did not run specifically to FIA rules, so is somewhat of an outlier); the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten on June 4; the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on June 18; France’s Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux on July 2; and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza raced on September 3.

Of those seven races that first year, Argentinian racer Juan Manuel Fangio won three of them – Monaco, France, and Italy.  The Italian winner of the first race at Silverstone, Giuseppe “Nino” Farina, won another two races in the series – at Bremgarten and Spa.  American Johnnie Parsons took victory in the Indianapolis 500. The battle for the first F1 championship then was clearly between the Argentinian and Italian racers, both of whom drove Alfa Romeos at Silverstone. 

That most people today interested in Formula 1 have heard of Fangio but perhaps not as much of Farina is certainly not due to the end of Fangio’s race at Silverstone in 1950.  Engine problems forced him to retire, and Farina won the race. It is also not because of the result of that first season – Fangio lost the inaugural F1 championship to his Italian rival.  Instead, Fangio is remembered today due to his remarkable racing accomplishments during that inaugural season but also the next year and for several years afterwards. 


(Photo above: Fangio in the ACA Ferrari - 1952 (c) C. Vercelli. Courtesy of Suixtil).


(Photo above: Fangio wins Sao Paolo Grand 13 Dec, 1951 (c) C. Vercelli. Courtesy of Suixtil).

Fangio did not win the British Grand Prix the next year either (another Argentinian, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, scored Ferrari’s first F1 win in that race); however, he would go on to not only take the second Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship in 1951, but to also win it in 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1957 driving for five different manufacturers.  The Argentinian simply dominated the sport in the 1950s, the early days in F1 racing when safety was of so little concern that drivers did not even wear seatbelts. Fangio held the record for the most championship wins in Formula 1 for several decades until 2003 when Michael Schumacher surpassed him and raced on to garner a total of seven titles.

Because of the emphasis on the driver’s skill in those days when the cars were less sophisticated and because of the higher risk they undertook in a relatively new but dangerous sport with little to no regard for their safety yet in place, drivers of that era are regarded today as among the most admired in the sport.  Of the drivers from that era such as British ace Sir Stirling Moss and others, Fangio is frequently mentioned as the best racer of all, including by Moss himself.

(Photo above: Fangio, Moss at Sebring 1957 ©Gene Bussian. Courtesy of Suixtil).


Meanwhile, far away from Europe in Fangio’s home country in South America, an unlikely Russian immigrant by the name of Salomon Rudman was a key figure in Fangio’s career.  He also would make a first and lasting contribution to Formula 1 from its first race at Silverstone onward, a contribution that continues to this day. 

Rudman ran a clothier business called Suixtil (pronounced SWIX-til), named after Swiss textiles, fabrics he thought of top quality at the time. Rudman was a car and racing fan. By the 1940s, he was sponsoring drivers in races, and the star of these by far was Fangio. Rudman sponsored Fangio’s racing in Argentina and continued that support when the talented driver took his skills across the ocean to test them in Europe. 

In 1948, the Argentinean Automovil Club fielded a national team of racers called the “Armada” or the “Escuderia Suixtil” that went to Europe to compete in Formula 2 and Formula 1. Rudman not only sponsored the team, but he also provided them with clothing to present the team to Europe with a unified look. 

When Fangio and other racers such as Benedicto Campos, Gonzalez, and Onofre Marimon arrived at the tracks of Europe, their skills were not the only thing the other drivers there noticed.

At a time when drivers wore street clothes or mechanics’ overalls when they jumped into the cockpit to compete, a team arriving in matching clothing got attention.  Rudman had designed shirts and pants in the colors of the Argentinian flag -- light blue pants and pale yellow polo shirts, all sporting the distinctive, red embroidered Suixtil logo spelling out the company name in stylized, script lettering.  However, it was the special features of the clothing that drew even more notice.  With the racers’ input, Rudman had made shirts and pants especially suited to the needs of the race car driver for the first time ever. 

The pants, for example, were gathered at the ankles.  This was to prevent the bottoms of them catching on the pedals of the car during gear-shifting. They were also made of light cotton twill to help keep the driver cool in the hot cockpit. They had deep pockets to store wrenches and other tools needed for the driver who also sometimes had to serve as his or her own on-the-spot mechanic, and they had elastic waistbands that eliminated the need for a cumbersome belt that sometimes affected circulation or comfort in the tight quarters of the car.

These first racing outfits were designed more for function and uniformity than for the safety that is regulated in racing suits today, of course.  According to Taylor Smith, Account Executive and Marketing Specialist for Suixtil-USA, “The Suixtil pants were dipped in Borax to give them six seconds of fire protection.”  However, she said, according to research conducted by current Suixtil Owner and Managing Partner, Vincent Metais, “The product was horribly itchy on the skin and would wash-off with every wash, so that most racers were confronted before every race with a choice between ‘safety’ and comfort that would normally see the latter win.” 

It wasn’t long before other racers approached the Argentinians about the useful clothing.  Fangio willingly gave Suixtil race pants away, and the logo began to appear in many podium pictures of the era as racers from different countries took the brand as their racing garb of choice.  The list of Suixtil racers includes Sir Stirling Moss, Benedicto Campos, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Onofre Marimon, Roberto Mieres, Robert Manzon, Jean Behra, Jo Bonnier, Maurice Trintignant, Wolfgang Von Trips, Hans Herrmann, Paul Frere, Olivier Gendebien, Harry Schell, Karl Kling, Peter Collins, Andre Simon, and Pinhero Pires.



(Photo above:  Kling, Fangio, Moss - Sweden 55 - (c) Corsa research. Courtesy of Suixtil).


(Photo above: Sebring 1957 Moss, Duntov autographed by SM; courtesy of Suixtil).



(Photo above:  Monaco 1958 - Moss, Bonnier, Brooks, & Trintignant. Courtesy of Suixtil).


(Photo above:  Moss, Kling, Fangio, GP Sweden 1956, R Bruzelius. Courtesy of Suixtil).


(Photo above: Le Mans 1958 - Hawthorn, Behra, Von Trips, Moss. Courtesy of Suixtil).

The company disbanded when its founder died in the mid-1960s; however, it has come back to life recently under the efforts of Metais, to offer vintage-inspired clothing to motor racing enthusiasts and others who appreciate the history and look of the 1950s to early 60s era. Attention is paid to details in the products offered that honor the storied heritage of the brand and its close connection to motor racing in its early days.

When Formula 1 looks back at its 65-year history this weekend, it is interesting to consider that history in context with other aspects of racing at the time. It was the time of the first clothing designed specifically for racing, for one example, and the Suixtil Company holds the distinction of dressing some of the first racers in Formula 1. 

Proud of its heritage, Suixtil shares an enthusiasm for the early days of racing and its common history with the sport. A line on its website offering vintage clothing, accessories, and travel items to discriminating historic/vintage racing enthusiasts and others seems to offer current advice in vintage language, “While exerting oneself, style should not be forgotten or omitted.” 

The tradition of speed and style continues to this day with several Formula One drivers posing as models for clothing companies, luxury watch companies, etc.

The 2015 British Grand Prix (Sunday, July 5, 2015) will air live in the U.S. on CNBC starting at 7:30 a.m. Eastern and will re-air at noon on NBCSN.  For more information about Suixtil's history or its products, see the company's website.

Happy Birthday, Formula 1!




(Photo above: Trintingnant - 1961 - Watkins Glen - (c) BARC Boys-com. Courtesy of Suixtil).


(Photo above: Mt Ventoux 1958 - Behra, Barth, About, Von Trips, von Haustein. Courtesy of Suixtil).

Friday, March 27, 2015

Formula One: 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix TV Schedule


Looking for the 2015 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix TV and streaming schedule?  I've put it up on my National Formula One page at Examiner.com. 

Find that HERE.

Enjoy the race!


Monday, March 23, 2015

Historics: Goodwood 73rd Members' Meeting -- Day 2 results, 1970s F1 demo, C Type Demo, more



The Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England put on its 73rd Members' Meeting over the weekend, March 21 and 22, 2015. 

This historic motor racing meeting is somewhat like the famous Goodwood Revival with a couple of notable differences -- there is no period dress required and much fewer "extra" activities going on -- people are there primarily for the racing.  The other difference is that the period the cars can come from -- 1948 - 1966 is opened up, both for cars before 1948 and for after 1966!

Here's my article about the results for Day 2 of the 73rd Members' Meeting at Goodwood.

Here is my article about Day 1.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Formula 1: 2015 Australian Grand Prix TV schedule

[Image source].

The 2015 FIA Formula One Australian Grand Prix is set to happen this Sunday, March 15, launching the new season of the sport.

Looking for a simple listing of the TV schedule in the States?  I've prepared one on my National Formula One Examiner page, here.

Enjoy the race!