The Power and Passion of Red

20 Sep

In Spring of 2014, I spent some time in Italy, breathing the Italian air, walking around Ferrari’s private racetrack, Fiorano, near Marenello, and touring the Galleria Ferrari and even walking the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena.  The streets in this historic region are narrow and rarely straight.  You see numerous ceramic manufacturers, an industry that has been around these parts for nearly 2000 years before Enzo.  Though primarily architectural ceramics, the range of products include pottery and kitchenware as well. You may spot stores selling the region’s balsamic vinegar or possible a sign pointing out Luciano Pavorotti’s former home. Nothing jumps out as the heart and soul of Ferrari as you approach the actual factory. When you first spot it, the historic look of the entrance gate is exactly as it has been for years.  Across the street is the famous Ristorante Cavallino, that Enzo Ferrari opened so he could get a table and meals matching his preference. The food is wonderful but reservations are recommended, as the place seems to be on every Ferrari fans bucket list.Factory2

Ferrari cars are assembled inside the Marenello factory, while the body / chassis components are made and assembled just up the road in Modena at the former Scaglietti factory.  Carrozerria Scaglietti was opened as a repair shop and coachbuilder in 1951 by Sergio Scaglietti. Initially located just across the street from the Ferrari factory, he became the primary builder for Ferrari designs.  Relocating slightly north as space was needed, then selling the factory to Ferrari later in life.

IMG_3621A short walk away is the Galleria Ferrari and the feel of the space changes quickly.  Every store and business seems to be Ferrari themed, selling clothes, shoes, miniatures, photos, posters, and all types of memorabilia.  There are Ferrari rental businesses with a choice of cars to enjoy for an hour or two.  IMG_3922An elderly gentlemen drove past me in a Fly Yellow Ferrari convertible and after a few blocks he made a U-turn and came back by.  He repeated this a few times as he enjoyed his chance to check this off his Bucket List without getting lost in the Italian countryside.

Just past the Galleria is the Fiorano test track used by Ferrari for both street and race cars.  You can hear the sounds of cars on track easier than you can see them.  There’s a strong sense of history in the air from the famous racing talent that has driven laps here under the watchful eyes of “il Commendatore” (The Commander) Enzo Ferrari.

With an almost unflagging focus on racing and winning, in 1938 Ferrari started building car parts on his own after a successful 13 year stint with Alfa Romeo running their racing division.  Enzo would often race cars himself but had limited race wins as his mechanical talents and business drive outpaced his driving talents.  Luckily, he knew and befriended many great drivers who stood on winner’s podiums thanks to his cars. Though he made 2 race cars for the 1940 Mille Miglia, WWII and his contract with Alfa Romeo prevented any real car building until 1947 when he formed Ferrari S.p.A..   Success came quickly in Ferrari racing with many different drivers.  The cost of racing is higher than the winnings so the flawed business plan was solved when Enzo’s

Photo by Chuck, The Car Guy

Photo by Chuck, The Car Guy

friend, Luigi Chinetti, a successful racer and former coworker from Alfa Romeo who had emigrated to the USA during WWII, convinced Enzo that if he built street cars, wealthy people would buy them.  The decision saved the company and has provided us numerous great cars throughout the years.

Unfortunately, economic downturns in the 1960s and the OPEC created oil shortages in the 1970s almost ended the exotic car company’s future as Enzo tried everything he could to hold to his exacting standards. Sale of a 50% stake in his company to Fiat helped with cash flow but the use of V12 motors and no compromise engineering was still too expensive.  Reluctantly, Enzo tried a new V8 engine, mid level priced car in the market.  MagnumPIAfter some initial interest, and a perfect product placement in what would become a popular TV show (Magnum PI) sales soared. The pricing of the V8 powered cars enabled additional buyers, and these mid level Ferraris quickly outsold all previous Ferraris combined.

Now, Ferrari still produces some of the most extreme sports cars on the planet, combined with a mid level car that still outperforms most people who try to drive them. Their latest struggle is that Fiat has acquired Chrysler. Cross brand collaboration within the Fiat family of cars has happened many times recently with Maserati (The MC12 and Enzo), Alfa Romeo (8cCompetizione), Lancia (Stratos), and Fiat (500 695 Tributo Ferrari). Luca di Montezemolo, hand picked by Enzo as head of Ferrari, just announced his retirement in frustration with Fiats plan to perhaps stretch that cross brand support into the Chrysler side.

All of the history and current drama aside, touring Modena, the birthplace of Ferrari and the Enzo Ferrari Museum which is dedicated to Enzo’s history, and the Ferrari Galleria dedicated to racing success past and present is clearly exhilarating. These spaces are filled with the cars, items, and history of Ferrari. You had better appreciate the color red, as the places are filled with plenty of it. With the national racing color of Italy being shades of red, where France was light blue, Germany had silver, England used dark green, it helped people to distinguish there home cars while watching races.

ferrarimuseum-18The Enzo Ferrari Museum is built down into the ground and when viewed from above looks much like some sort of race duct on a modern race car. Once inside it is open floor plan with the cars selectively placed on modernistic pedestals and spotlighted from above. Grouped by age, the cars progress from the early Alfas (borrowed from the Museo Alfa Romeo) to the modern Enzo Ferrari, the only car named after the founder. As you walk the museum, the lights suddenly dim, and the entire white ceiling and wall space becomes display screens for movies profiling Enzo and the racing and company history. As the movies talk about a specific car, the spotlights highlight that car on display. The presentation lasts about 25 minutes and then the lights are all back on bright for another 35 minutes. Next door, is the former family home of the Ferrari family and a portion is open with displays of smaller items through the years from logo samples to Enzo’s trademark sunglasses. These displays are designed to remain static and are dedicated to the history of Enzo Ferrari who died in 1988.

Entering the Enzo Ferrari Museum with the Ferrari family home on the right.

Entering the Enzo Ferrari Museum with the Ferrari family home on the right.

1987 F1 car

1987 F1 car

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Part of the movie presentation that displays on the walls and ceiling.

Part of the movie presentation that displays on the walls and ceiling.

1932 Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Spider Corsa with the 1935 Alfa BiMotore behind.  Both products of the Scuderia Ferrari team.

1932 Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Spider Corsa with the 1935 Alfa BiMotore behind. Both products of the Scuderia Ferrari team.

1937 Alfa Romeo 158 built by Scuderia Ferrari, the race division of Alfa Romeo.

1937 Alfa Romeo 158 built by Scuderia Ferrari, the race division of Alfa Romeo.

One of the 2 built, 1940 Auto Avio Costruzioni 815.  It was the first car to be fully designed and built by Enzo Ferrari.

One of the 2 built, 1940 Auto Avio Costruzioni 815. It was the first car to be fully designed and built by Enzo Ferrari.

The 1987 F40 with the yellow 1966 275 GTB4.

The 1987 F40 with the yellow 1966 275 GTB4.

Though shown at the 1980 Turin Auto Show, Enzo Ferrari refused to make a production run of the Ferrari Pinin as it had two too many doors.

Though shown at the 1980 Turin Auto Show, Enzo Ferrari refused to make a production run of the Ferrari Pinin as it had two too many doors.

A perfect Dino GT.

A perfect Dino GT.

An identical recreation of the first Ferrari 125 S from 1947.

An identical recreation of the first Ferrari 125 S from 1947.

A wire frame 250 GTO was the Quality Control jig for the GTO body panels.

A wire frame 250 GTO was the Quality Control jig for the GTO body panels.

The 250 Berlinetta Lusso sits next to its Maserati competition.

The 250 Berlinetta Lusso sits next to its Maserati competition.

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This 1953 ARNO XI Hydroplane with a twin supercharged V12 set a world speed record at 241.7 KPH.

This 1953 ARNO XI Hydroplane with a twin supercharged V12 set a world speed record at 241.7 KPH.

Logo changes throughout the years are displayed

Logo changes throughout the years are displayed

Enzo's trademark sunglasses

Enzo’s trademark sunglasses

Down the road in Maranello, the Ferrari Galleria seems to always be undergoing remodel or expansion… each time I have stopped some construction is going on to add something and this latest visit was no exception. Displays follow the racing of the past, then many of the development cars that lead to either race or street cars, a championship room dedicated to recent Formula 1 success, and then modern race cars from the Sports or GT racing series like Le Mans, Daytona, or the Challenge Series. The Galleria displays will continue to change with time as new cars and successes earn their spot in the limelight.

Galleria entrance

Galleria entrance

Samples of the myriad of Ferrari colors

Samples of the myriad of Ferrari colors

Evolution of the F1 Cockpit

Evolution of the F1 Cockpit

2009 Ferrari F60

2009 Ferrari F60

1989 F1 car

1989 F1 car

1985 F1 156

1985 F1 156

Since the originals were cut up and gone Ferrari recreated a 156 Sharknose

Since the originals were cut up and gone Ferrari recreated a 156 Sharknose

1970 512 M

1970 512 M

Ahhh, the famous butts that sat in these seats.

Ahhh, the famous butts that sat in these seats.

1951 Ferrari 166 F2

1951 Ferrari 166 F2

1951 Ferrari 166 F2

1951 Ferrari 166 F2

Looking inside the 1957 500 TRC.

Looking inside the 1957 500 TRC.

1954 750 Monza

1954 750 Monza

What appears to be a Ferrari P4.

What appears to be a Ferrari P4.

Recreation of Enzo's office.

Recreation of Enzo’s office.

Trophy Wall

Trophy Wall

F1 Championship room

F1 Championship room

2008 F1 Constructor's Championship winner

2008 F1 Constructor’s Championship winner

From back to front:  2003 360 Challenge Stradale, 2013 458 Speciale, 2007 430 Scuderia, 2006 430 GTC-GT2, and the 2011 458 GT2 car built by AF Corsa.

From back to front: 2003 360 Challenge Stradale, 2013 458 Speciale, 2007 430 Scuderia, 2006 430 GTC-GT2, and the 2011 458 GT2 car built by AF Corsa.

1987 Ferrari F40 bi-Turbo Motor

1987 Ferrari F40 bi-Turbo Motor

One of the displays shows race and street wheel development and changes.

One of the displays shows race and street wheel development and changes.

Display of the 2008 India Tour and 2005 China Tour, 612 Scaglietti cars. In the back is the odd green colored 599 test vehicle for the HY-KERS electric motors.

Display of the 2008 India Tour and 2005 China Tour, 612 Scaglietti cars. In the back is the odd green colored 599 test vehicle for the HY-KERS electric motors.

A stretched Ferrari 348 was the rolling test mule for the Enzo V12.

A stretched Ferrari 348 was the rolling test mule for the Enzo V12.

Project F150 cars in the foreground with a final LaFerrari in the back.

Project F150 cars in the foreground with a final LaFerrari in the back.

Project F150  (LaFerrari)development cars.

Project F150 (LaFerrari)development cars.

LaFerrari

LaFerrari

Full size Ferrari sculptures along the walkway next to the Galleria

Full size Ferrari sculptures along the walkway next to the Galleria

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50 Years After the Fairlane Committee

20 Sep

FairlaneInnThe Ford Mustang has lasted for 5o years with the latest car being as highly anticipated as the rush was for the initial car in 1964. The assembled group of young product planners had been hand picked by Lee Iacocca. Named the Fairlane Committee after the new Fairlane Inn where they met weekly in a private dining room, their charter was to help Ford Motor Company create a new identity with an emphasis on the 18 to 34 year old customer. That age group was estimated to be the ones buying 50% of all new cars from 1960-1970.  Per Lee Iacocca’s book “We met at the hotel because a lot of people back at the office were just waiting for us to fall on our faces, I was a young Turk, a new vice president who hadn’t yet proved himself. My guys were talented, but they weren’t always the most popular people in the company.”
They went through tons of market research and targeted their product towards a group that preferred floor shift, included females, the growing middle class, and the new teenage baby boomers. The Fairlane Committee also recognized the value of buyer emotions. Eventually they successfully got the 1962 line up of Fords to have Vinyl roofs, 4 speeds, and more powerful engines and by 1963, had a marketing tagline of Total Performance.
Meanwhile, the Committee had narrowed their targeted customer to 4 possible types; two car families, women who wanted low maintenance cars, low on cash young people, and sporty people. To hit the target, the car would have no expensive engineering, no independent suspension, nor overhead cams. It would need to be a 4 seat car, about the size of a Jaguar, with a long front hood, implying power, and sell for around $2500.
The design teams struggled at first to come up with the right look. In July of 1962, with two weeks to go before the design deadline, Iacocca had all the designers within Ford compete to submit the best design. By mid August, the winning design and clay mockup was complete.
Initially badged and nicknamed Cougar, it was rejected by the corporate decision makers. Eventually, Iacocca won over Henry Ford II with the caveat that, “…you have to sell it. It’s your ass if it you don’t.”IMG_2439
Built on a Falcon, using upgraded parts from the Fairlane. The initial bodies had structural failures and needed stiffening after testing. They were able to keep its weight down to just 2449 pounds, and the cost was within the goal as well. As the car neared completion, the name became the next hurdle. Though Cougar was an option, the list of names was reviewed and Iacocca helped them finalize on Mustang. The logo switched from a cat to a horse.
In a publicity stunt in late 1962, an unrelated special project mid-engine car at Ford was branded as a Mustang and ran hot laps around Watkins Glen racetrack prior to the US Grand Prix with none other than Dan Gurney at the wheel. It had nothing to do with the real Mustang project, 63protobut it did heighten awareness of the upcoming car. The following year, Ford had finished a real Mustang prototype in time to run at Watkins Glen before making the car show circuit. The launch of the car happened on April 17th, preceded by an ad campaign that started the evening prior, with newspaper ads starting the day of.
The first day, Ford sold 22,000 Mustangs. Within a year, they’d sold 418,812 total. Now, after 50 years, total production is nearing 10,000,000 Mustangs and still selling well. It has earned its status as a true American success story.2015-Ford-Mustang-Live-Shot-Main-Art
The latest design has been hyped well, from being placed at the top of the Empire State Bldg, to plenty of photos and details.  Anticipation is high for the actual 2015 launch, which should happen any day now. Nice Mustang legacy.

Putting a Few Miles on Alfa Romeo’s New 4C

3 Sep
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Enjoying the winding roads of the Monterey Peninsula.

The Alfa Romeo 4C has been getting a lot of press coverage of late, and the anticipation of the coming car is huge.  Sure, it has it’s detractors but every car will.  For the most part the coverage has been extremely positive, especially about the fun factor, or DNA as Alfa Romeo calls it.  A few months back, I toured the Maserati factory in Modena, Italy where the Alfa 4C are assembled.  It was extremely cool to see the carbon fibre tub and all the sub sections coming together along with the body panels being installed.  Can’t travel to Italy soon?  You’re in luck as The Science Channel on TV has been showing a very informative episode of How Things Are Made that features the Alfa Romeo 4C.  If you missed it, you can always ask me… I have it saved. 

After my factory tour, they allowed me a little seat time in the car, but as soon as we pulled out onto the roads of Modena, I was told to drive slowly and easily.  After only a short time on peaceful pretty roads just north of town, I was back in the lot at the factory with the car.  No speed runs, fast corners, hard braking, or DNA usage.IMG_7690

That changed in mid August as I pulled out of the parking space in sunny California.  This time, it was a US spec Alfa 4C with no restrictions on speed or style.  All they asked was that I return in an hour and to try to not hurt the car as they had to show it the next day at Concorso Italiano.  I had that in mind as I gently drove off into the scenic countryside on the Monterey Peninsula.  Sharing the car with Sean Russell, an Alfa dealer from San Diego, he endured the view from the passenger seat as I tried to get close, but not quite wreck the car.

The fit and finish of the inside of the car is extremely good, and the look and feel of the interior material is excellent.  Stitching, dash display, controls are all pleasing, sporty, and in view.  Compared to Lotus Elise, Tesla, and other smaller cars, this is a visual treat that fits.  The seat doesn’t adjust, as they are fitted to the owner upon purchase, so some may complain but the setup fit my 6’2” size extremely well, especially for spirited driving.  There is excellent visibility out the sides and front, but enjoy the mirrors to the rear.  I had no problem backing up the car, as I quickly adjusted to what I could see.  The nose drops away but I never felt like any portion of the wide car was a mystery as the car feels the same as its dimensions. 

IMG_7755If I’m going to complain about anything, it will be the transmission and perhaps its simply that I’m old.  After driving a manual transmission since 1974, I really like shifting exactly when I want to.  Even using the DNA Sport setting the car helped me with that decision.  Otherwise, the car will go down as the most fun Alfa I’ve ever driven.  The handling is beyond exception with an incredible balance and sure footed effort around every corner.  Bumps half way through corners provided no tail wag or hop that my GTV6, Sport Sedan, or Milano would provide.   Acceleration was smooth and strong and under most situations the paddle shifting was fast and easy… perhaps too easy.  Downshifts were equally quick throughout the 6 speed shifting.  The engine makes great music as you run up the revs, with each gear change adjusting the tone, you have no need for the infotainment system in the car.  There is no risk of cell phone use or texting as it would distract from the experience with the car. IMG_7733

The low weight of the car is quickly noticed in the responsive steering and easy braking.  Though there is no assist with the steering any forward movement at all and the thick steering wheel turns easily.  The stop pedal gives excellent feedback as the large brakes bring the car to a stop so quickly it made my behind pucker a little. 

Overall, the car is not going nearly as fast as you think you’re going.  Any well dressed guy in BMW M5 will blow your doors off until you get to a corner, then he’ll be worried about his dry cleaning bill while you easily pass on the inside line.   The treat is that the car feels and sounds amazingly fast and you don’t care if it isn’t. 

I was worried about who would be selling these cars at dealerships.  Not any more, as after I climbed out, I realized these will sell themselves.  The looks, handling, sounds are exactly what makes an Alfisti’s heart race.  The car is a ton of fun, even if you’re driving to visit your mother-in-law.  Go place your order as soon as they put up their Alfa dealership sign.

Words by Fred Russell   Photos by Sean Russell

Pasado’s Safe Haven

11 Aug
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500 pounds of pig and our guide greeted us upon entry to Pasado’s Safe Haven.

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A home for a happy blind horse.

On the rural backroads around Monroe, Washington you’ll find nice scenery, farms, pastures, rivers, and Pasado’s Safe Haven.  Touring the facility is wonderful, painful, and educational at the same time.  This Haven is dedicated to ending animal cruelty.  Started thanks to a donation of 85 acres of land, they have built a place where farm animals suffering from abuse, neglect, or even some escaping forest fires, have a place to recover.  With large and small pigs, horses, donkeys, cows, goats, chickens, geese, turkeys, and much more being cared for in carefully thought out spaces and shelters.  One of the horses was blind, but was both confident and friendly as people offered veggie snacks.

They also help rescue dogs and cats.  A house on the property has become the home for around 80 cats.  The rooms have climbing spaces as well as hiding spots.  A tunnel connects to a large outdoor space so whenever they want to, they can head out without getting lost, or becoming dinner in woods.  They even have a very nice isolated space for cats infected with Feline HIV.   Next door to the Cat House is a cage area for feral cats with individual bedding spots providing safety, then cage doors the staff can close at night, and reopen in the morning.

IMG_4301Dogs have dedicated spaces as well, some with their own house and yard.  Though timid, most of the dogs welcomed us to their space and the barking we heard turned out to be the dogs asking us to visit their space.

Our tour guide shared some of the tales of how these animals came to Pasado’s Safe Haven.  A few are dropped off by people who know they cannot care for an elderly or injured pet, many others came from rescues and police agencies that contact them for help.  A few came from rescues at the forest fires going on in Eastern Washington where families had to flee to town, and their animals fled into the wild.

The name of the sanctuary is in honor of the friendly donkey named Pasado who greeted families and friends at Kelsey Creek Farm & Park in Bellevue for many years.  Unfortunately, on April 14, 1992 a few high school boys in the area brought a noose to school and bragged that they were going to hang Pasado.  For whatever reason, nothing was done, and nobody protected a donkey who trusted and welcomed everyone.  pasado_kelseyCreekWEB-454x301[1]Late that night, the three broke in and tortured the poor donkey.  With the rope tied to a tree, the boys were able to beat the donkey with sticks with one of the blows able to crack the skull, and the donkey’s escape only led to being strangled by the noose around his neck.  The late night visit and torture ended after 45 minutes with the death of the donkey.   Three were arrested; Douglas Michael Gans, 20, Adrian Dean Lombardi, 18, and a 16-year-old juvenile.  Though big words were tossed by prosecutors and politicians, the Judge (Michael J Fox) went with minimal penalties based on the laws on the books.   http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19920428&slug=1488831

Why would such a horrific crime have minimal punishment?  The answer became clear once public outcry offered up a comprehensive law, named The Pasado Law that would make it a crime to torture and intentionally treat animals in a cruel way.  Unfortunately, the law was quickly shot down, despite strong public (that means people like me and you) enthusiasm by groups (Per the Pasado information) the “Cattleman’s Association, the Beef Producers, Dairy Farmers, Grown in Washington Egg and Chicken Farmers, the Farm Bureau, and a litany of farmers packing the hearing room and demanded that the law never be passed. The law covered intentional acts of animal cruelty. It didn’t pertain to accidents, such as inadvertently running over an animal with a tractor. The law had provisions for farmers facing monetary difficulty or insolvency who couldn’t afford to feed their flock or herd, resulting in their animals’ starvation.”

The image of farms with cows grazing on bucolic pastureland and ties to the local community, was replaced by the image of farmers operating huge factory enterprises, agri-business with a high-production, minimal cost philosophy. Animal well-being didn’t enter into this modern farming equation.  The agriculture lobby, a well-funded, powerful group, was ardently against this legislative reform. When the legislative session ended, the Pasado Law was dead.

“After another twelve months of work, the Pasado Law finally passed, but with certain key exclusions. All farm animals were exempted from the law. Common practices, such as throwing a live pig into a vat of boiling water, is legal, acceptable animal husbandry. Death by boiling water prevents visible slaughter marks on pigs who are used for cook-outs, and the aesthetic of an unmarked pig outweighs the cruelty of his or her death. Dairy cows who could no longer walk after repeatedly giving birth to provide milk wouldn’t be spared, either. They could still be dragged alive by chain to slaughter, struggling but unable to escape after years of service.”

The end thought is that perhaps we should take the time to consider our choices when we buy our food from something other that just pricing.  Perhaps find where it comes from, who grows it, what chemicals are used and what is not used.  Then consider simply the ethical process of animal treatment.  The tragedy of Pasado was an isolated incident, but what happens in a factory chicken farm, or industry cattle ranch is a daily occurrence.   Find out more at:  http://www.pasadosafehaven.org

 

 

 

The State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees

11 Aug

Never heard of the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame?  You’re probably not alone.  It needs more recognition as it was founded in the early 60’s and honors some amazing NW Sports talent and the personalities behind it.  Their motto is “Recognizing Talented Sports Figures Around Washington” and when I look over the list, it brings back wonderful memories of the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team, many fun Mariner’s baseball moments, the Gold Cup Hydroplane races, and much more.

Fresh off of Saturday’s induction of Sweet Lou (Former Mariner’s Manager; Lou Pinella) into the Mariners Hall Of Fame, and prior to Sunday’s Seattle Mariners game against the Chicago White Sox, they held a formal induction of Chip Hanauer along with Alvin Davis, Detlef Schrempf, and others as part of the 2014 entrants into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame.  Born and raised in Seattle, Lee Edward “Chip” Hanauer wanted to be a car racer as a boy, but with Seattle having a strong connection to Hydroplane racing, he made his way into the water based sport instead.  After graduating with honors from WSU in 1976, Chip started racing boats, and by 1978 it had become a full time profession.  After joining the Atlas Van Lines Unlimited Hydroplane racing team, winning his first race in 1978.  Over the next 18 years, Chip was able to achieve 60 more race wins, 7 National Championships, plus 11 Gold Cup victories here on Lake Washington.  He is one of the winningest Hydroplane racers of all time.  He did sample car racing, even driving for Team Seattle one year to compete at the 24 Hours of Daytona.  Today, Chip resides in the Seattle area, volunteers his time helping disadvantaged children, and disabled American veterans.  He also can be found on his website:   http://www.theboatguy.com       Its obvious from his site that he is a great supporter of the NW and the many wonderful causes and people… this may make him a good inductee for a Hall of Fame… Sports or not!

Another inductee was Alvin Davis who brings back great memories to me when he played so well for the Seattle Mariners as Mr. Mariner.   Alvin started strong in 1984 homering in his first two big league games and then hitting three doubles in his third followed by a good year, earning him Rookie of the Year awards.  He became one of the favorite Mariner players of all time.  He left Seattle in 1992, but has now returned, with his Hall of Fame talents to help the Mariners Farm Teams with player development.  This spring, he was spotted helping in any way he can at Mariner camps, including picking up baseballs, loading dufflebags, or coaching young players.   He’s still simply, Mr. Mariner.

Most of us locals remember Detlef Schrempf when he played for the U of W Huskies Basketball in the early 80’s.  If not, perhaps when he played for the Sonics in the 90’s.  He was always  strong player on both college and professional teams, but more importantly, he started a charitable foundation in 1996 which has raised over $10 million for children’s causes in the NW.

Other 2014 inductees are Keith Jackson (Sportscaster), Jack Thompson (WSU Quarterback), Eddie Feigner (King of softball), and Tom Sneva (1983 Indy 500 winner).   Jack Thompson had been nicknamed the Thrownin Samoan as he set an NCAA record of 7818 yards, becoming the most prolific passer in college football.   Spokane produced the Sneva boys, and one of the 5 was Tom Sneva.  He liked racing and in 1974 devoted himself completely to the sport by moving to Indianapolis, Indiana to race.  By 1975, he was on contract with Penske.  Starting off with a huge crash at Indy might slow some people, but Tom captured his first Indycar win in Michigan just a couple weeks later.  Tom went on to win the 1983 Indy 500 race after finding  a way past both Al Unser Sr. and his rookie son, Al Unser Jr..  Tom won’t win too many awards for being a nice guy, but nobody will question his grit and speed.

Maybe the most impressive inductee this year is Eddie Feigner, the Walla Walla native who may not be a household name.  He is in the world od baseball and especially fastpitch softball.  When Eddie was asked by Sports Illustrated about how he pitched over 900 no-hitters and 238 perfect games in softball, he dismissed it by simply saying, “Its like being the world champion nose blower.”  He travelled the world doing shows known as the King and his Court, consisting of just himself, a first baseman, shortstop, and a catcher taking on a normal 9 player team.  They would take on any and all talent who’d try to hit one of his pitches.  The Shortstop was there incase anyone actually did put a little wood on a ball.  One time in 1967, Eddie struck out the six best pro baseball players of their day; Brooks Robinson, Maury Wills, Roberto Clemente, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, and Willie Mays.  Again, Eddie dismissed the credits by saying, ““It was a mismatch,” in an interview with a publication of the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Science Center. “A baseball batter has no concept how to hit a fastball that rises like mine, or sliders and curves that break 18 inches.” He could pitch perfectly from 2nd base, right field, behind his back, or blindfolded… in fact, on the Tonight Show, he once pitched a cigar out of Johnny Carson’s mouth from across the stage, while blindfolded.  I’m not sure who deserved credit for being braver.. Johnny or Eddie.   When he was asked if it was true that he once threw a underhand fast ball in Yankee Stadium from Right field over Home plate for a perfect strike, he said, “No, it was curve ball and it passed over Second base on the way.”   One more oddity was that as a infant, he had been abandoned and raised by adoptive parents who named him Myrle King.  Later as Eddie joined the Marines in WWII he had to provide parent info and as he researched who his mother was, he found she had lived nearby and as a teenager he’d actually mowed her lawn.   In old age, he continued to pitch saying. “I’m too dumb to quit.”  He earned his place in the Hall of Fame as a talent, and entertaining person.

The State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame already has many wonderful people on the walls.  BTW, they use the Tacoma Dome to hang the plaques for their inductees.  Included are NW greats like Gil Dobie, Fred Hutchinson, Emil Sick, Phil Mahre, Downtown Freddy Brown, Marv Harshman, Earl Anthony, Jim & Lou Whittaker, Dave Neihaus, Jim Zorn, Pete Gross and many more.  Each with great stories and each bringing back fun stories from the Northwest.  Take the time to read through the inductees list and enjoy the info at:  washingtonsportshof.com

BTW… After the 2014 HOF celebration, the Seattle Mariners went on to beat the Chicago White Sox 4 to 2 in a very entertaining game!

 

Snort Sedan Makes Me Smile.

10 Mar

One week ago, I wandered to South Seattle to pickup another Alfa Romeo to add to my yard.  Over the years, I’ve owned a variety of models and styles from a ’76 Alfetta GT, ’74 Spider,  4 GTV6s, to a ’91 164s.  When I heard about a 1978 Sport Sedan that was for sale my imagination quickly pictured the polar opposite conditions that these cars can be in today.  I’ve seen a number of this era Alfa that have succumbed to the rust gods and have little or no hope of driving across town, or the well kept or restored versions that look like new.  It could easily be  either option or lost somewhere in between.  Though some people like a project, that isn’t right for me.  A good car is always my starting point.

As I approached the house, the car was parked out front.  Though the black paint had plenty of dust or dirt hiding it, there was only a couple small flaws or dents.  There on each side, just as Alfa Romeo made it was the script that read Sport Sedan.  The funny part is that the font used doesn’t define or close the bottom of the p very well making it appear a lot like an n instead.  Oh well…   The interior looked a little dirty and the front seats were covered by older sheepskin covers, put on by someone who never read the instructions.  Removing the covers revealed brown leather seats in good shape, including the stitching.  The rear seats were almost as nice with only the threads getting a little loose on the very top back edge from the sun through the back window.  The steering wheel was a nice wooden Momo wheel but I was assured the original wheel was in the trunk.

The car had started life at Alfa of Tacoma, then owned by an elderly customer, then returned years later to Alfa of Tacoma.  Now I was buying it from the family with only 60,000 miles on the odometer, and “everything working like new”.  Though not cared for as a garage queen, it sure looked like a good cleaning would yield a great looking car.  Now if it would simply run as nicely.

The owner handed my the keys and I sat down behind the wheel.  The car is not a low slung sports car or cramped in any way.  The steering wheel is the only clue that the car could be a little sporty, until the engine starts up and you hear the exhaust note.  The car started quickly and idled nicely.   The stiff clutch felt very much like the feel of the Alfas I love.  The motor sounded very nice as the revs came up.  The brakes felt good and the car rolled very nicely.  It pulls strongly away from a stop but won’t shock you since it is probably around 150 HP at best.  The engine is the 2000 cc 4 cylinder with the twin cam head.  It has the original Spica injection and nice Euro headers.  Those headers and the aftermarket tailpipe help produce that distinct Alfa Romeo sound as it drives. The 5 speed trans-axle (it sits in the rear of the car helping to create a nice 50 Front/50 Rear weight ratio) is smooth and quiet, even surprising me with good condition synchros in 2nd gear.  That is almost unheard of in an Alfa Romeo.  The gear ratios are for a hwy cruiser, not a track car but that seems fitting for this sedan and will be a bit better on gas mileage.

The car is now in my driveway and will be enjoyed on Alfa club event days, and any other excuse I can find.   No haggling or bargaining was needed since I felt the price asked was fair.  I was surprised when I went to leave and he gave me a few other extra parts, brochures, and even an extra bike he had in his garage.  What a pleasant transaction and clearly a win for both people.  The only issues with the car is the rear window defroster doesn’t work, the brake rotors and calipers need replacing, the park brake mechanism needs cleaning, and the starter motor needs shims.  It could use new tires, but not immediately.

The best part is that when you drive, it sounds like an Alfa Romeo.  It feels more fun than a Honda or VW.  It has a unique look that already stopped one teenager on his way towards his dad’s Mercedes prompting him to ask, “What kind of car is that?”   I told him, and he responded that it was really “cool”.  It’s nice to drive “cool” as long as I can get used to the idea that it appears to be a Snort Sedan.

Alfa Romeo “GTV” and GTA The Bertone Designed 105 Series Cars

7 Feb

In September 1963, at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Alfa Romeo showed off a prototype penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the fantastic young designer working at Bertone.   The general looks were loosely based on the Alfa Romeo 2000 Sprint that Giugiaro had designed a few years previously to favorable reviews from the automotive world.  Alfa Romeo called their new car, the Giulia Sprint GT and though well liked, the car was somewhat overshadowed at the Frankfurt show by the Porsche 901 concept car, which later became the Porsche 911.

By the time the Giulia Sprint GT, known in Alfa Romeo manufacturing as the 105 Series, started production in 1964 Alfa Romeo had dropped the Sprint title and was called the Giulia GT.  (Though they still used the emblems that had already been made that read Giulia Sprint GT)  The simple neat design combined with straight forward mechanicals and Alfa Romeo’s responsive handling characteristics made this series a very popular seller for years, in spite of the fact that they cost more than a Jaguar XKE or Corvette.  The Alfa Romeo plant in Arese, just north of Milan produced the cars.  As the details on the cars changed, so did the names creating confusion that is typical today.  The 105 Series cars started in 1964 known as the Giulia GT before ending production by 1975 as the GTV 2000.  In between, there were names like GTC , GT Junior, GTV 1750, GTA, GTA Junior, GTA-SA, and GT-Am.

Additionally, heavily modified versions of the 105 Series cars were produced.   Ercola Spada, the chief stylist at Zagato, known for creating the Alfa Romeo TZ, which used many 105 series mechanicals, penned another 105 Series based car, the Alfa Romeo Junior Z which came with either the 1300cc or 1600cc engine depending upon year.  Also at Bertone, Marcello Gandini famous for creating the Lamborghini Miura, also designed the Alfa Romeo Montreal show car onto a widened and modified 105 Series chassis and running gear.  None of these cars looked at all like the car they were based on so few will ever confuse them as a GTV or GTA.

With the many possible versions, enthusiasts, and Alfa Romeo fans can get confused by the cars and often refer to them under the generic GTV name if it’s a street car, or GTA if a full race version.   This is often incorrect so to help provide you the knowledge needed, I’ll try to go over the key differences focusing on the GTAs in comparison to all the others.

To start, since the “A” in GTA stood for Alleggerita, or lightened, the single largest weight savings was that all body panels were made out of Peraluman 25, which is a combination of aluminum, zinc, and manganese.  This meant the standard welds wouldn’t work so where seams are bonded together you’ll find rivets, most noticeably along the drip rails.  This also leads to a method for determining an original GTA from an excellent replica.  With a magnet in hand, carefully hold it close to the cowl just ahead of the front windshield.  If the magnet pulls, it is steel and the car did not start life as a GTA.  Currently, all the other body panels can be purchased in aluminum, but the cowl doesn’t appear to be available to make a replica.  Another quick thing to spot is the GTA door handles are a small aluminum loop just big enough to put a couple fingers into, with a separate push button.  All non-GTA cars have a flush chrome handle about 3 inches wide.

It was at Autodelta SpA, the race prep company headed up by Carlo Chiti which had recently been acquired by Alfa Romeo, where the specs for GTAs were developed.  Chiti had a highly regarded history as an Alfa Romeo / Ferrari designer and engineer.  Cars were being ordered with a number of optional race goodies so there can be mechanical or technical variations.  Examples might be if customers opted for wheel flares, different wheel sizes, fuel tank options…  Some cars were ordered with creative options, with the same said of non-GTAs so this won’t help draw distinction between cars.

A quick look at the front of a GTA, the grill is a black mesh with a small chrome trim surround.  The standard V shaped emblem is also slightly unique in that it was made of stamped stainless steel, plus the flat top fits just under the front body lip.  GTVs have a similar style but it fits slightly higher and overlaps the front panel.  One more emblem detail difference is that the GTA had the standard round Alfa Romeo logo lower in the center emblem, just under the top bar.  Once you’ve seen the difference, even these subtleties are easy to spot.  Just below the grill, GTAs came with two horizontal mesh covered vent openings at approximately 3 x 9 inches with rounded corners.  Similar but slightly smaller versions were only used on the later models of GTV 2000 and GTV 1750, but both of these cars were produced without the “stepnose” look of all GTAs making these easy to distinguish.

Glancing inside the cars there are a number of key details as well.   The GTA steering wheels were three spoke Hellebore brand.  Aftermarket versions of these wheels can be bought, but typically have 7 mounting holes, while the originals had the 6 holes.  The inner door panels were smooth vinyl with simple aluminum door handles, and window crank.  The door pull is a small black vinyl strap with a braided look.  Non GTAs had a variety of textured door panels with sound deadening and larger handles with robust door pulls.  One cool secret is that since most GTA buyers chose the option of Plexiglas windows to save weight, the window lift mechanism was made of lightweight aluminum, after all, it was raising a lightweight “glass”.  Another option that a few customers bought was aluminum flooring.  Since this made the body flex a little too much, it often wasn’t worth the weight savings.  The result is that seat rails are riveted down.  Based on the type of racing that customers were planning to enter, some chose the optional cross brace between the rear wheel wells that added a little stiffening to the body.  While looking at the rear wheel wells, you may note that some GTAs have deeper rear wells to accommodate larger wheels without fender flares.

Under the front hood, a few GTA items are recognizable in both the GTA 1600 and the GTA Junior 1300 cars.  The most obvious is they’re twin spark engines.  The larger valves necessitated a cylinder head design with twin plugs pushed slightly towards the outside, along with a unique Marelli distributor to fire the 8 sparkplugs.   Also needing more air, larger 45DCOE Weber carburetors were fitted with a unique GTA airbox assembly.   Larger exhaust headers were also made, with the GTAs using a carefully crafted, very rare header design.   As well, radiator shrouding was carefully done to ensure best use of airflow for cooling both the radiator and the added oil cooler.  Harder to see, but only used on the GTA cars was weight saving magnesium on items like the camshaft and timing chain covers, bell housing, oil pan and sump.   While in the engine bay, if you spot the chassis numbers, for reference, all GTAs begin with 613xxx or 848xxx.

Even the trunk had some GTA only details.  With the trunk closed, the GTA insignia was noted.  With the trunk open you can see the riveted in aluminum spare tire well.    Some GTAs were fitted with a 23.75 gallon (90 Ltr) fuel tank designed for endurance racing.  This tank was so large it had to be installed from below the car.  Otherwise, the standard GTA fuel tank at 12.1 gallons (46 Ltr) fit inside the trunk.

In all, around 500 each of the GTA 1600 and GTA 1300 Junior were produced in both Stradale (Street) and Corsa (Race) versions.  They dominated sports car racing in 1966, 1967 and 1968 and continued as strong competitors up through the 1970s.  In 1967, the GTA-SA was produced, but only 10 were made.  The SA stood for Sovralimentata; Italian for supercharged.  Produced to compete in Group 5 Touring Car races with overall wins at Hockenheim in 1967 and four more races the following year.  Starting in 1970, the GT-Am race cars, based on the steel bodied GTV 1750  and GTV 2000 were produced in low quantities utilizing extra wide pontoon style fiberglass fender flares.  Though a few GTAs had the pontoon style fender flares, only “stepnose” cars might be a GTA.

By comparison, non-GTAs were sold in much larger volumes.  The Giulia GT, distinguished by the “stepnose” front, single headlights, 1600cc engine w/ twin carbs, had 21,054 produced from 1964 through early 1966.

GTC

In 1965 the GTC, with the C designation for Cabriolet, or convertible, was produced.   Steel bodied cars were pulled from the Arese plant and moved to Carrozzeria Touring for the roof to be cut off and then fitted with a convertible top.  Unfortunately only about 1000 of these very attractive cars were built.  Starting in 1966, Alfa Romeo offered a smaller 1300cc engine option for the Giulia GT and they called it the GT Junior.  These continued with the last ones sold in early 1976.  A total of over 90,000 GT Juniors were sold, with the last 14,299 cars actually using the 1600cc engine.  The later were still “Juniors” because by this time, the GTVs were using the larger 1750cc or 2000cc engines.

Additionally in 1966, the car had the name GTV.  First sold with the “stepnose” front, 1600cc engine w/twin carbs, single headlights, but now having 3 chrome bars across a black front grill.  A round 4-leaf clover badge was added to the rear quarter pillars, improved seats with more support, and the script Veloce on the rear.  In 1966 and 1967 they produced 13,442 of these.  In 1968, no Alfas were imported into the US while the Spica fuel injection system was tested and certified to meet new US emission laws. The improved fuel economy and reduced emissions were the win!  The rest of the world (and the US in 1969) got the larger, fuel injected 1750 engine in the GTV, with dual headlights and a single chrome bar across the black grill.  This was also when the nose bodywork changed slightly… the original “stepnose” design was modified to be a smooth front lip.  The interior upgrades included improved seats as well as the prominent dual round instruments straight in front of the driver and a larger console with gauges and controls.   The GTV 1750 was produced through 1970 with 37,459 total made. 

Still very popular, Alfa Romeo rolled out the GTV 2000 in 1971.  The engine had enlarged to 2000cc, and with slightly reworked rear fender lines, and the front grill had the traditional V shaped logo as a raised design built into the chrome cross bars.   Inside were new seats with the telltale wooden headrest supports, new clustered dash and gauges, added chrome trim.   They sold around 30,000 of this last model, before retiring the 105 Series cars with over 200,000 total being built.

No matter how you try there are plenty of details to remember but hopefully, going forward, you’ll be able to spot differences quickly and impress your Alfa Romeo friends and endear yourself to the car owners.   The other thought is to ask the Alfa owner about their cars.  They usually enjoy talking about the details, history, and why their cars are so unique.  Like the owners, they all are.

Reference book credits:

Alfa Romeo from 1910 to 2010  by Maurizio Tabucchi   ISBN: 978-88-7911-503-2

Fantastic Alfa Romeo  by Luciano Greggio  ISBN: 0-7603-0237-5

Alfa Romeo  Always With Passion  by David Owen  ISBN: 1-84425-117-9

Alleggerita   by Tony Adriaensens  ISBN:  9080119717