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 and IndyCar 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. 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, October 31, 2014

Formula 1: 2014 U.S. Grand Prix TV Schedule

[Photo Credit:  Connie Ann Kirk]

So, the Formula 1 road show is in town in the United States over Halloween weekend.  If Austin likes to "keep it weird," that might be a good recipe for doing so!  For those not venturing into the weirdness but staying home to feed trick-or-treaters maybe instead, here's the TV schedule for the 2014 Formula One United States Grand Prix.

TV schedule for the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix:

Friday, October 31 (Halloween):

*3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.: Practice -- NBCSN -- LIVE
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.: "F1 Extra" -- NBCSN
10:30 p.m. - 12 midnight: Practice -- NBCSN -- Rebroadcast

Saturday, November 1:

*1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Qualifying -- NBC -- LIVE

Sunday, November 2:

2:30 - 3 p.m.: Pre-Race -- NBC
*3 p.m. - 5 p.m.: United States Grand Prix RACE -- NBC -- LIVE
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.: Post-Race -- NBC


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Historics: Watkins Glen Racing Library talk to feature USRRC series, Nov. 8

[Photo:  Mark Donohue scrambles from his burning Lola T70 as Mak Kronn squeezes by in his McKee Mk6 during the Watkins Glen round of the United States Road Racing Championship on June 26, 1966. Donohue was not badly injured, but his Lola was a total loss. (photo by David Baker from the International Motor Racing Research Center’s Argetsinger Collection)].

The International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y. / U.S.A. sends this press release today [provided in full below]:

"The USRRC lasted just six seasons, but its impact on racing was enormous, and now the series' history is reported in detail for the first time in USRRC: A record of the United States Road Racing Championship 1963-1968 by Mike Martin.

Martin of Seattle, Wash., will speak about the series and its crucial role in the development of professional road racing in America at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen on Nov. 8. The Center Conversations talk is free and open to all.

The USRRC was the Sports Car Club of America’s first series for professional race drivers.

'Without the USRRC, there could not have been a Can-Am, the better known and fully international series for the same type of car,' said award-winning motorsports author Michael Argetsinger. 'The Group 7 category, remembered today as Can-Am, pitted American engineering with the best from Europe and produced some of the most exciting race cars ever built. None of it would have evolved without the USRRC.

'The series, featuring unlimited displacement, two-seat sports cars, brought raw horsepower and speed that captured the imagination of fans, drivers and entrants alike. Scarabs, Porsche RS-61s and King Cobras dominated early years to be supplanted by iconic Chaparrals, Lola T70s and McLarens before the USRRC gave way to the Can-Am which would carry the tradition of unlimited race cars into the mid-’70s,' said Argetsinger, who is a member of the Center’s Governing Council.

John Bishop, SCCA executive director at the time, and his director of professional racing Jim Kaser were the key figures in the series’ creation.

Bishop was instrumental in the founding of the Racing Research Center.

A review in Veloce Today describes Martin’s recently published undertaking as “an enthusiastic book which documents that exciting, noisy, time, in a way reflecting the social changes that were taking place in the nation, while proving that American know-how and muscle would finally prevail, at least on the race track.

Offering a foreword by 1965 USRRC champion George Follmer, the book has more than 400 photographs, including some by Racing Research Center historian Bill Green.

Though he didn’t see a race until an event at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., when he was 16, Martin was a race fan long before that. Collecting information about racing and writing about racing came naturally. Still a teenager, Martin wrote his first 'book' about racing – a 176-page history of the 1.5 liter Formula One years.

'I didn't think to try to get it published,' Martin says. 'However, years later I discovered The Formula One Record Book by the Formula One Register guys and realized there must be a market for this sort of thing. A seed was planted.'

Over the years Martin had his eye on a history of Formula Two racing, while helping other authors with their research. He switched gears in the 1990s to USRRC and dedicated 20 years to the project.

When not enjoying the world of racing or researching or writing about racing, Martin has had careers in banking, inventory control and electronics manufacturing.

Martin’s talk is part of the ongoing Center Conversations series.

The final talk of 2014 will be on Dec. 13 on the Carrera Panamericana. Tom Overbaugh and Paul Wendt will speak about the revival of the famous Mexican race that today takes both experienced racers and novices 2,000 miles across that nation in a week.

The Racing Research Center is an archival library dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports, of all series and all venues, through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials.

For more information about the Center’s work and its programs, visit or call (607) 535-9044."

All of the Conversation series talks are free and open to the public.  They are always informative and held in a casual atmosphere with friendly people!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Historics: Goodwood 73rd Members' Meeting to feature "High Airbox" Formula 1 cars, 1971 - 1976

[Image Source:  Goodwood].

The Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England has announced that it will feature at its 73rd Members' Meeting in 2015 "High Airbox" historic Formula 1 cars that date from 1971 to 1976.

According to Goodwood, the 73rd Members' Meeting, scheduled for March 21-22, will bring more than 25 high airbox Formula 1 race cars dating from 1971 to 1976 to the renowned Goodwood circuit. 

Among these will be, according to Goodwood's site:  "...two ex-Niki Lauda Ferrari 312Ts and a 312B3, two Lotus 72s and a 76, a pair of Marches, McLarens, Tyrrells, a Shadow DN1 and some rarer machinery like the only Amon AF101 in existence, a Trojan T103-1 and such a thing as a (the?) Token RJ02."

Seeing these 70s-era cars at Goodwood will provide a very different experience for those in attendance than visitors to the Goodwood Revival have the chance to see.  At the Goodwood Revival, cars on display and in action must be from the period of 1948 to 1966.

For more information about the 73rd Members' Meeting, check out the Goodwood website.

Formula 1: Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel look ahead to U.S. Grand Prix, 2014

[Image Sources:  Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel].

Red Bull drivers in Formula 1 are looking forward to the upcoming United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.  The race takes place at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack, a track purpose-built to bring Formula 1 back to the U.S. and one that has so far only hosted two previous Grands Prix.

About his return, now as a member of Red Bull and not Toro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo said in a promotional release from Infiniti-Red Bull Racing:

"Hand on heart, this is probably the date on the calendar I look forward to the most. I’ve loved every minute of being in Austin: when they picked this place for the US Grand Prix, they absolutely nailed it. The city is awesome. I love listening to live music and this is a great place for that, plus Texas feels like real America, and that’s something I’ve really enjoyed just sinking into the last two seasons. And then, there’s the important bit. The Circuit of the Americas, in my opinion, is the best of the new breed of circuits. The nature of the corners is interesting. It’s also a very busy track where you don’t get much respite. The first sector is very special and that first turn, blind up the big hill is like nothing else in F1. It’s also a good example of the excitement a late-apex can create: you can have a really good lunge there. They’ve done a very good job."

In the same release, four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel had this to say about the venue:

"Austin is a fun city where you get a real feel for the Texan lifestyle and traditions and get to race on a great track. The Circuit of the Americas is a track I like a lot; it has 20 corners and we drive it anti-clockwise. The start/finish straight has a steep incline up to the first corner and is the trademark of the track. For us that means the braking starts uphill, which is not easy and locking the front tyres could be a problem. A lot of the corner combinations remind me of other famous circuits on the race calendar. For example the fast combination during the first part of the track feels like Silverstone and Suzuka. The famous Maggotts and Becketts passages were used as a model for this part of the track and the drivers enjoy the extremely fast turns, when the car is balanced right. Also corners 12 and 15, this section was taken from the Motodrom in Hockenheim. It is a slower part of the track, and is designed to create more of a stadium atmosphere. The long bend also reminds of the famous turn 8 in Istanbul."

The 2014 U.S. Grand Prix takes place over Halloween weekend in the States, October 31-November 2. 

It has not yet been announced whether reserve driver, American Alexander Rossi, will race for Marussia's injured driver, Jules Bianchi, who remains hospitalized following a head injury suffered in a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Another pilgrim seeks out Francois Cevert sites at Watkins Glen


[Book cover photo: L'Autodrome.].

I was sent this link to a blog post by Philippe Robert, who made a pilgrimage in 2014 to Watkins Glen, New York / USA in tribute to Formula 1 racer, Francois Cevert.

Glad to pass along the link that tells about Mr. Robert's journey to the Glen.  The post is, however, in French.


[Key photo:  L'Autodrome].

The key above was Francois's room key from the Glen Motor Inn, where many drivers stayed in the 1960s and 70s during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix every October.  The key was found in Francois's briefcase after he died on the track at Watkins Glen on October 6, 1973.  The photo comes from the book about Cevert co-written by the driver's sister and pictured at the top of this post. 

It is haunting to see the room key for Room #7, thought to be a lucky number by some.  The Glen Motor Inn, overlooking scenic Seneca Lake, still exists and remains in operation to this day, mostly unchanged from the Grand Prix days.  As Mr. Robert writes in his blog post, he was able to stay the night in Cevert's very room. 

The Cevert book was initially printed in a limited edition in 2013 to mark the 40th year of Cevert's passing. 

There is a wish among some fans that the book be translated into English.

BOOK:  Francois Cevert:  Legendary Driver by Jacqueline Cevert-Beltoise and Johnny Rives. 

  Sir Jackie Stewart and Jean-Claude Killy.

The book is available to read on the premises at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen.  As with all the rare books in the reference library at the IMRRC, it may not be checked out. 

Thank you, Philippe Robert, for sharing your experience with readers.

In sending me his blog link, Mr. Robert referred to reading my own blog story about Francois Cevert and Watkins Glen as one of the factors in his deciding to make the trip from France to the Glen.  You can read my Motor Sport Muse post about looking for signs of Cevert's crash at the Glen on the 40th anniversary of his passing, HERE.

RIP, Francois Cevert.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Historics: Crosslé book reveals Northern Ireland racing car company's 'Hidden Glory'

[Photo credit:  Booklink; used with permission from the author.]

It was a pleasure to speak with the author of this book in purchasing and writing about the book and to also communicate with Paul McMorran of the Crosslé Car Company.

Readers of this blog and my Poetry in Motion: Vintage Speed (poetry and historic/vintage motor racing) project will know of my affection for Crosslé race cars.  This book and the videos linked below will help explain why.

Read the full article about the book on Examiner HERE.

Related videos:

"Building a Dream" by the National Museums Northern Ireland

Crosslé Car Company promotional video

RIP, John Crosslé.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Historics: SVRA Announces 2015 Racing Schedule

SVRA has announced its racing schedule for 2015.

[Photo credit:].

5 new events next year mean that now there will be 18 total -- East Coast, West Coast, and places in between.

According to SVRA, here is the schedule for the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) for 2015:

  • Feb. 13-15, Duel in the Desert with VARA at Spring Mountain Raceway, NV
  • Feb. 20-22, The Southern Classic at Road Atlanta, GA
  • Feb. 26-March 1, The Spring Vintage Classic at Sebring Int’l Raceway, FL
  • Mar. 28-29, Willow Springs Historics with VARA at Willow Springs Raceway, CA
  • Apr. 9-12, Miami Historics at Homestead-Miami Speedway, FL
  • Apr. 25-26, British Extravaganza with VARA at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, CA
  • May 14-17, SVRA Spring Vintage Festival at Road America, WI
  • May 28-31, Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival at Sonoma Raceway, CA.
  • June 10-14, Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational at Indianapolis Motors Speedway, IN
  • June 19-21, S. California Historic Sports Car Festival at Auto Club Speedway, CA
  • June 25-28, Mid-Ohio Vintage Grand Prix, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH
  • July 9-12, Portland Vintage Racing Festival at Portland Int’l Raceway, OR
  • Aug. 13-16, Pocono Mountain Historic Getaway at Pocono Raceway, PA
  • Sep. 10-13,* U.S. Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen Int’l, NY  *(if repaving is approved, date will be July 23-26)
  • Sep. 18-20, The Coronado Speed Festival at Coronado Island, CA
  • Sep. 24-27, Heacock Classic Gold Cup at Virginia Int’l Raceway, VA
  • Oct. 8-11, Mardi Gras in October at NOLA Motorsports Park, LA
  • Nov. 4-8, U.S. Vintage National Championship at Circuit of The Americas, TX

Monday, October 13, 2014


[Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield]

Note:  This book review was written for the Sports Literature Association and also appears on their website hosted by the University of Texas -- Arlington.
Motorsports and American Culture:  From Demolition Derbies to NASCAR edited by Mark D. Howell and John D. Miller
Howell's and Miller's Motorsports and American Culture: From Demolition Derbies to NASCAR is a welcome publication in the small but growing field of motor sports studies. While a bit uneven at times, collections of essays such as this one offering different perspectives on a common theme can be exciting reads because one witnesses on the page scholars in the act of angling approaches to a newer area of study. Books analyzing Emily Dickinson's correspondence, for example, illustrate this. So have early critical collections about the Harry Potter phenomenon in children's literature and popular culture. While each essay here cites earlier writings by other scholarly fans of speed, the editors assert that their collection is possibly the most diverse treatment available so far. That description may be quite apt.
The book's introduction provides a brief orientation about motor sports within American culture and attempts to address the question that inevitably gets asked of those who conduct racy research, "Why study motor sports?" Following that, the book is made up of 12 essays, each by a different author. The essays are grouped into four parts: Part I: "Speed and Spectators: What Motorsports Means to Fans;" Part II: "The Track and Beyond: Motorsports and Community Identity;" Part III: "Fenders and Genders: Motorsports Femininity, and Masculinity;" and Part IV: "Stars of the Road: Spectacular Drivers and Spectacular Feats." Five of the 12 essays are illustrated with black and white photographs. End notes including citation information follow each essay, and the book contains a useful bibliography and index as well as notes about the contributors and editors at the back.
Perhaps predictably in a book published in 2014 that examines how motor sports relate to American culture, half of the essays here are about NASCAR. James Wright's essay opening the volume, "The NASCAR Paradox," suggests that the growing popularity of NASCAR – once a stronghold sport of the American South but now the second most viewed sport across the United States next to football – does not say that the South is becoming more like the rest of the country but instead the shift "reveals a nation becoming more like the South" (4). Taking a historical approach, Dan Pierce's essay, "'What Is Your Racket, Brother?'" traces how Charlotte, North Carolina became the "home" of NASCAR over Atlanta, Georgia – represented by the establishment there of NASCAR'S Hall of Fame in Charlotte – by showing how the latter city purposely rid itself of known bootlegger race car drivers in the mid-twentieth century.
Through a "Soccer Mom" / NASCAR Dad" framework, Patricia Lee Yongue's "'Way Tight' or 'Wicked Loose'" shows how she believes the series reinforces male stereotypes and argues that some male fans enjoy NASCAR because, for them, it may serve as a "force by which traditional American manhood will be reclaimed from diversity" (145). Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder examines nationalism as it relates to international influence arriving in NASCAR in the early twenty-first century along with its effects on fans who "consume" the sport. Jaime Noble Gassmann writes in "The Spectacle of NASCAR" about how NASCAR teams use "enchantment" to create a bond between driver and fan that "promotes the fans' consumption of NASCAR-related products and sponsor-created identities" (150).

Outside of NASCAR, Susan Falls writes about the crash-banging of cars into one another without any suggestion of racing in between at demolition derbies as "creative destruction," a form of "theater" (58). Like Yongue's essay, gender studies also provide John Edwin Mason with a lens through which he looks at motor sports in America. He argues it is one of the few activities where females compete in the same professional series and arenas as men in "Anything but a Novelty: Women, Girls, and Friday Night Drag Racing."

Essays about individual drivers, types of cars, or events include one by Lisa Napoli on Barney Oldfield, an early twentieth-century racer turned celebrity; another by Martha Kreszock, Suzanne Wise, and Margaret Freeman about stock car racer, Louise Smith who competed from 1946 to 1956; and an essay by David N. Lucsko about the history of the American hot rod. The book closes with an essay by Ronald Shook tracing three eras of attempts to set and subsequently break the land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats and elsewhere.
Surprises that may make the collection ideal for some readers relishing the unexpected may puzzle others looking for examinations of more "traditional" forms of motor sports – i.e. races of various kinds of cars and motorcycles. Most notably in the unexpected category – acknowledged by the editors themselves in their introduction as a bit of a "stretch" – is Emily Godbey's essay, "Speed and Destruction at the Fair." This piece talks about an exhibition of nineteenth-century locomotives plowing into one another at the 1896 Iowa State Fair, which Godbey argues is an example of Americans' combined feelings of astonishment and terror towards technology, something she calls the "technological sublime" (40). Outlier though it may be, the chapter's consideration of technology and spectacle has, as the editors argue, reverberations with other essays in the book.
The editors acknowledge that the collection represents "beginnings rather than endings" in the study of motor sports and American culture. Among the more notable vacancies is the lack of an essay about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or its historic event, the Indy 500. Situated in the Midwest heartland as it is, on the same footprint of land with a history reaching back to 1908, that facility still holds the record as the largest sports spectator venue on the planet, seating 250,000 with grounds occupancy of 400,000. Indy warrants inclusion, as do many other subjects, in a book with a title as inclusive as this one. Contrarily, with its heavy emphasis on stock car racing, the book may have benefited from shifting its focus and title to include essays about NASCAR exclusively.

These suggestions aside, this rather eclectic mix of essays does demonstrate a range in current scholars' interests and thinking, and that alone is worthwhile for others researching trackside out there who may look to this book for ideas, approaches, or even just a sense that they are not alone in their speed-driven curiosities. However balanced or not the book is as a collection, this volume suggests a variety of directions and approaches that are bound to stimulate further thinking and exploration of motor sports, speed, gender, popular culture, and technology.
 Howell, Mark D. and John D. Miller, eds. Motorsports and American Culture:  From Demolition Derbies to NASCAR.  Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.  248 pp.  Hardcover, $75.00.  ISBN: 978-1-4422-3096-5.  eBook, $74.99.  ISBN:  978-1-4422-3097-2.

 Copyright © by Connie Ann Kirk.