Tag Archives: Momo Moretti

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Long Island View

At DDC Towers we welcome another contributor, our old friend Andy Hartwell. Andy was one of the  regulars on the ALMS beat at the turn of the century. Here he gives an overview of what drew him to  this area of motor sport. Hopefully this will the first of many contributions from Long Island.

A Personal Journey Through A Golden Age
©Andrew S. Hartwell

It was 1995 and Major League Baseball (USA) decided to cancel the World Series over player/owner disputes.  For this lifelong fan, that action was enough to turn me off to the game we had so often played for hours in the streets where I grew up.  It was time to look to other interests and, as luck would have it, a man from Italy would persuade a famous car maker that the time had come to return to the world of sports car racing.  The man was Gianpiero Moretti and the car he championed Ferrari to build was the 333 SP.

Growing up, when I wasn’t playing ball – pretending to be any one of a number of my favorite New York Yankee players every time I stepped up to bat – the other thing that I was most interested in was sports car racing. I loved seeing the Jim Hall Chaparrals, the Lola T-70s, the McLaren Can-Am cars and all the modern open top racers featured in the racing magazines of the time. There was Road & Track, Sports Car Graphic, Car and Driver, Autoweek/Competition Press, and later, On Track and Auto Racing Digest. Money I earned from delivering papers, along with meager parental allowance monies, would often go towards buying the latest issues. (Along with a box of chocolates or two.) I couldn’t wait to see who was racing what and where. I was in awe of these champions of courage, and in love with the idea of going fast around corners in both directions, not just in a straight line or to the left over and over. 

When I finally was old enough to have a car of my own, Dad found a 1957 Chevy for me and I would tear that baby up and down twisty and narrow River Road thinking, as I had when playing baseball, that I was really Stirling Moss or Jim Hall or Mark Donohue and corners were to be cut, not driven around. I sometimes wished the Chevy was a Triumph or an MG but hey, I was driving and enjoying myself regardless.

In the mid-1960s, Dad and my Brother Steve and I went to a few races at our home track, Bridgehampton. We saw the USRRC, Trans-Am and Can-Am races at that under-developed, bare bones circuit, but the venues condition didn’t matter.  We were seeing my heroes in the flesh and not too far from home to boot.  This was the real thing, not a static image on a page.  It was a time when I came to feel I needed to have a future in this sport.  Not as a driver or mechanic, but as a journalist or photographer. I wanted to see, hear and feel more about what went on within this magical world.

The idea was further cemented in my mind when, at the 1968 Bridgehampton Can-Am race, I cheered on my favorite, Jim Hall when he took the lead from Bruce and Denny in their identical McLaren MK8As.  When the race ended, and the last car crossed the finish line, this 17 year old fan leaped over the fence, ran across the track, and stood in the pits as Hall pulled up right next to me! I reached in and was the first to shake his hand to congratulate him on his second place finish! He wore an open face helmet and I can still see the blood and marks on his face from all the sand that had been thrown up during the race.  Shaking his hand was a seminal moment for me. I knew then I had to have a place in this exciting world!

(Note: 40 years after that race I found a photo someone took of Jim at that moment. In the photo, I am the kid in the white T-Shirt and sunglasses on Jim’s right!  The photo also captured my Dad, in the crowd over Jim’s left shoulder.  And the elbow you see sticking out behind Jim’s left arm belongs to my brother, Steve!  What are the chances of every finding a photo of that magic moment?)

Well, sometimes what you feel you want is the very thing you have to wait the longest to receive. While working a full time job in retailing, I gave journalism a shot, writing short pieces for a Long Island weekly newspaper. I covered a few local club rallies, wrote about the world of racing at Bridgehampton, and submitted a piece or two on Lime Rock and Watkins Glen events. This early involvement came to a sudden halt when the paper’s interests waned in affording print space to a sport that was never really in the mainstream of public awareness.  My journalistic desires were put on hold. I then fell back on my other first love, baseball. I was a Yankee fan again. Moreover, I was reborn as a fan of the game.  Well, that is, until 1995.

Besides baseball, which you could watch on TV for free – an amount equal to my ability to pay,  the years of the mid 1970s through to 1995 were devoted to family, career and economic concerns that put the idea of a journalism or photography career on the back burner.  In fact, I tuned out of the whole racing scene for close to 20 years or so. When others talk of the GTP era, or the Ayrton Senna years, I feel no emotional attachment.  I simply didn’t follow the sport back then.

As the years passed, and our economic status improved, and baseball went stupid and shut down when it should have been celebrating a pair of champions, I decided to pick up a car magazine again. In the pages of Road & Track I saw a picture of the new Ferrari 333 SP.  I immediately had a flashback to the glory days of the Can-Am series and the beautiful prototypes built by Bruce McLaren and Lola and Chaparral. The spark was reignited.

I worked out getting credentials to Lime Rock and later other circuits, so I could be on the scene shooting photos and writing about this new era in racing.  Those early stories in the local paper helped pave the way for me.

In 1996, I had the opportunity to interview Wayne Taylor. This was the year he would go on to win both the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, in his Riley & Scott MKIII with Oldsmobile power.  That blue and white and yellow paint scheme was often what the fans saw come across their line of sight first, provided a certain red Ferrari hadn’t stolen the lead.

That interview with Wayne – which he told me at the conclusion was, I quote, “The best interview I’ve ever had”- would lead to his setting me up with credentials to the inaugural Petit Le Mans (1998). 

When the internet became a thing, I found a website called Sportscarworld and reached out to its creator, Malcolm Cracknell, to see if he could use a little help with the content side of the business.  My first submission to Malcolm at Sportscarworld.com was a picture of the Porsche GT1-98 that would later go airborne, ending the race on a flatbed tow.  We connected well and Malcolm became a friend. I would go on to contribute for years to that first site and the many iterations that would follow. This was at a time when most folks only had slow dial up internet service so the pictures were small and I was ‘advised’ to abandon my thoughts of submitting short videos for posting.  (I think what Malcom said was ‘NO MORE $#%^ VIDEOS!)

I would also go on to become a contributor to TheRaceSite.com and many of my ‘Through The Esses’ columns appeared there, and are still accessible today. A short stint writing for AllRaceMagazine (defunct) happened as well but I’d rather not talk about that experience, thank you.

For the next 20 +/- years I would go on to cover the Petit again for several more years, along with days spent covering racing at Sebring, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Mosport, Watkins Glen and VIR.  Never made it to Road America but I just might someday. Along the way I met a lot of wonderful professionals who covered the races as photographers, journalists or public relations specialists.  I’m sure I am leaving some great names off this list, and for that I apologize in advance, but some of the names were Barbara Burns, Craig van Eaton, Sylvia Proudfoot, Regis Lefebure, John Brooks, Janos Wimpffen, Lyndon Fox, Gary Horrocks, Brian Mitchell, Richard Prince, Rick Dole, Chris and Rob Dyson and many more.  Each of them having played significant roles in the sport and in my development from novice to (nearly) professional status.

During my time of active involvement, I was able to talk with and write about many great people in the sport.  I am pleased to say my time – albeit as a part time journalist/photographer – found me watching the emergence of some incredibly talented drivers and teams.  People like Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Mike Borkowski, Guy Cosmo, Mark Wilkins, Jeff Segal and more were just making a name for themselves and I was there to talk with them early in their careers and write about their desires and ambitions to succeed in the sport.

It was also during this time that I found a great friend in Dennis Spencer. He and I would spend a lot of time talking in the paddock about almost anything. He was a great man who seemed – to me, anyway – to have no sense of what fear can do to a mind.  He was smart, intelligent, brave and a man with a big heart.  His sense of humor and his ability to mentor others were remarkable traits that I admired greatly. When he passed the sport lost a magnificent competitor and I lost a good friend.

Dissipating brain cells have led to gaps in memory over all that I enjoyed about the sport. In no particular order I do remember covering the NASAMAX team at Sebring; doing the race reports and press releases for Stevenson Motorsports for a little over seven years; covering the Red Bull Racing team at Daytona and, I think, Sebring;  Meeting and reporting on George Robinson’s 74 Ranch team when Jack Baldwin had the lead driving role; Sharing hotel rooms and rides with Janos Wimpffen and later, Lyndon Fox;  Sharing space at a private home in Sebring with several fellow enthusiasts;  Having a hotel or two on the beach at Daytona;  Staying in less than stellar accommodations for Sebring; Flight delays; Losing my dailysportscar jacket at the airport;  Staring down a pig/boar late at night on the way back to Sebring;  Dropping my camera bag into the only puddle within 50 feet of me at Watkins Glen.

Yes, it’s been a fun ride and I feel so very fortunate to have been there during what many folks consider a golden age of sports car racing.  Today, I find myself more attracted to Vintage Racing and seeing some of the cars of the past – both recent and ancient – doing what they were built to do.

Yes, 1995 was a seminal year for this journalist/photographer. But, I wonder if you can guess what my interests today include outside of racing?  Can you say, “Batter up!”?

Andrew S. Hartwell February 2019

Thirty Year Itch

The Daytona 24 Hours in 1987 was an almost exclusively Porsche affair in the leading GTP class, no less than nine 962s chased victory. Five of these were powered by a 2.8 litre flat six and the other four a 3.0 litre version of the classic Porsche unit, power was traded off for less fuel stops, a bit of a leap of faith at Daytona.

Leading the charge was Jochen Mass in Bruce Leven’s 962 posting a pole lap of 1:41.005. The German star shared the car with the owner and Klaus Ludwig. They led the first four hours or so of the race but contact while passing a back marker on the banking led to a big shunt and retirement.

Also in the wars early in the race was the other front row Porsche of Jim Busby sharing with Bob Wollek and Darin Brassfield. Valve failure after 89 laps put the BFGoodrich 962 out.

Three 962s were left at the top contesting victory. The American road-racing royalty of Rob Dyson, A.J. Foyt and Al Holbert each had a car capable of winning. Dyson shared with his regular co-driver Price Cobb and they were supported by Vern Schuppan.

Holbert, running the same #103 chassis that had been the winner in the 1986 race, was on a roll, chasing a third consecutive 24 hour win with co-driver Derek Bell, having triumphed at Le Mans the previous June. Initially Holbert did not plan to drive leaving that to Al Unser Jr., Chip Robinson and Mr Bell. The demands of the race would change that strategy

The legendary A. J. Foyt, twice a winner at the Daytona 24 Hours was looking for his third win, running with Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Sr. The race would come down a dog fight between the #1 and #14.

Best of the non-Porsches was the Chevrolet Corvette GTP-T710 of Sarel van der Merwe and Doc Bundy but they went out in the night with engine failure after running in the leading pack.

Another car that succumbed in the darkness to engine problems following a fire was the Jaguar XJR-7 of Bob Tullius, Hurley Haywood and John Morton after running as high as second.

Less impressive in the GTP ranks was the Zakspeed Ford Probe GTP of David Hobbs, Whitney Ganz and Momo Moretti. Not really competitive, they also disappeared in the night with engine maladies.

IMSA GTP Lights were the property of the factory entered Spice-Pontiac Fiero.

Bob Earl, Don Bell and Jeff Kline overcame electrical issues in the night to run out winners.

IMSA GTO class was hotly contested. The Roush Ford Mustang was chasing a hat trick of wins at Daytona. NASCAR star Bill Elliott ran with Scott Pruett, Lyn St. James and Tom Gloy.

More NASCAR talent was on show in the Protofab Chevrolet Camaro of Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte and Greg Pickett. They led the class at the halfway point but lost a wheel out on track and that was that.

Another strong Camaro was the Rick Hendrick-entered Peerless version for Jack Baldwin and Eppie Wietzes but they were another victim of engine issues.

Dan Gurney had a pair of Toyota Celicas, #98 for Chris Cord and Steve Millen, #99 had Ricky Rudd, Jerrill Rice and Juan Manuel Fangio ll on driving duties.

Problems late in the race struck both All American Racing cars with #99 retiring  and #98 clinging on to second spot despite rear suspension issues.

All of which propelled #11 to the top step of the podium. A sweet victory for the Roush Ford outfit.

Back at the head of the field things appeared to be going the way of Foyt’s 962 but there was not much margin in it. The Unsers engaged in an early morning Father and Son duel after which they had breakfast together. There were epic battles between the two teams and any advantage gained was soon pulled back.

Al Holbert had to change his strategy as both Al Unser Jr. and Chip Robinson were exhausted and Derek Bell needed time to recover for the final stint. Al jumped into the Porsche to take the fight to rival 962.

The race was decided in the final hour when the normally bullet-proof Porsche motor in the #1 car let go with 50 minutes left to run. Victory for the Holbert car, huge disappointment for Foyt’s outfit.

Second place fell to the Brun Motorsport 962 that had lost 14 laps in the first hour with a faulty weld on a pipe. Once that was fixed they began the long climb back from 54th place. They were the quickest car on track during the night, sometimes as much as five seconds a lap! Once the Foyt car stopped they were elevated to the podium just ahead of the Dyson 962 with the unfortunate Texan effort classified as fourth. It was a just reward for Walter’s team of Oscar Larrauri, Massimo Sigala and Gianfranco Brancatelli.

Messrs Holbert, Bell, Robinson and Unser Jr. celebrated a famous victory, a really tough race for them. The race was flat out from the start and the winning crew covered 753 laps breaking the previous record set in 1986 by 41 laps or 146 miles. The race average speed was 111.6mph, a champion performance by any standards.

John Brooks, January 2017

Living The Dream

Very ‘appy

Back in late 1997 I decided to leave work and go motor racing. I would earn a crust as a photographer, well it should be easy enough, look at all the guys in F1, driving flash cars and living in big houses.

In common with most snappers of the time I was technologically illiterate and failed to see the massive iceberg on the horizon, the cheap DSLR. Sure there were some strange contraptions around that were “digital” but they cost a year’s salary and produced tiny images, OK for the Fleet Street Boys but not for us artists. Kodachrome and Velvia were our weapons of choice. It proved to be taking a knife to a gun fight. Since then, Titanic-like, we have sailed at full pelt into this object, wrecking our businesses in the process. It was going to be great, no more loading or buying  film, no more processing, no more chemicals, no more screwed up shots. It was all going to be easy.

Well that bit we got right, but the law of unintended consequences also followed. If it got easier for us, then the same would apply to those who wished to enjoy the hero status of being a professional motorsport photographer, now you struggle to give work away.

Red On Green

But at least we were living the dream.

Momo

The first race I shot as a full time Pro was the 1998 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. It seemed a great adventure at the time, my costs paid for by the charming Laurence Pearce of Lister Cars fame. I thought that this was how it was going to be, travelling around at someone else’s expense, shooting race cars and getting paid for it. What a fool believes……………….

Keep The Flame Burning

The winner of that race in Florida was one Gianpiero Moretti, who owned the fabulous Ferrari 333 SP that he drove to victory with Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyk and Didier Theys. “Momo” had chased success over many years in IMSA and 1998 he won the Big Three, Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen. Not bad for a guy in his late-50’s.

The news came down the Mojo wire at the weekend that Moretti had passed away, another good man gone. Living The Dream…….some get to do it better than others…………Rest In Peace, Momo.

John Brooks, January 2012

Time Machine

It is held that the past is a foreign land, once visited, but one that we are destined never to return to. Well, that may be true but sometimes, in special circumstances, we can bring the past to us in the here and now.

“He was the craziest devil I ever came across in Formula 1” Niki Lauda on Gilles Villeneuve

It is hard to imagine that Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton will be racing on Italy’s roads in late October but some 30 years ago that is what happened. Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari’s Grand Prix star and runner up to Jody Scheckter in the 1979 F1 World Championship took part in the Giro d’Italia that autumn.

Gilles…………..

The Giro d’Italia was a madhouse event, part rally, part race held on the roads and tracks of Italy from 1973 to 1980.

I’ll have mustard with that………

Italy will be celebrating 150 years of unification  in 2011, so some bright spark had the idea of reviving the Giro to add to the nation’s gaiety. How inspired. I am planning  to cover the event when it happens in late October.

So when the organisers of the 2011 event put out a series of photos from the 1979 and 1980 events it seemed a good excuse to run some Group 5 goodness.

Villeneuve’s co-drivers on the 1979 event were  Walter Röhrl and Christian Geistdöfer, here enjoying 70’s style hospitality.

Stratos

The star trio finished top of the pile in their Lancia  but were later disqualified, the reason I am informed, is driving on a motorway!

Group 5 Madness

Also disqualified was the other factory Lancia, which finished second on the road.

Lancia Battle

Here is the Lancia on one of the circuits.

Patrese and Son

The second car was driven by Riccardo Patrese.

Patrese was driving for Arrows in F1 that year.

Now Maximum Attack

His co-drivers were Markku Alén and Ilkka Kivimäki, the reigning World Rally Drivers Champion.

The Serious Bit

The Lancias were the class of the field.

Momo

After the exclusion of the Italian pair, victory fell to that great expat Italian in US Sportscar racing, Giampiero Moretti.

935 K3

Moretti was accompanied in Italy by Giorgio Schon and Emilio Radaelli (ITA) in his Porsche 935 TT biturbo. He is famous for winning the 1998 Daytona 24 Hours and, of course, was founder of the Momo brand of racing accessories.

Porsche Power

The 935 would have been a handful of the roads.

Attilio Bettega

Factory Fiat/Lancia rally driver Attilio Bettega along with Maurizio Perissinot and Enzo De Vito in the Fiat Abarth Ritmo 75 Alitalia.

Tour de France?

Another rally star, Guy Frequelin ran in a Renault 5 turbo

Simian?

F1 star, Vittorio Brambilla, also known as The Monza Gorilla,  raced in an Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV 2000.

GTV

His co-drivers were Mauro Pregliasco and Vittorio Reisoli.

Porsche v Alfa

Here the Alfa encounters another 935.

Andrea de Cesaris

A 70’s classic Italian super car, the Lancia Stratos HF, entered by The Jolly Club.

Jolly Japes

Top Italian rally pair, Tony Carello and Renato Meiohas were joined by Grand Prix aspirant, Andrea De Cesaris, in the Stratos.

That is it for 1979. 1980 will be along some time soon.

John Brooks, September 2011. Photos courtesy of and copyright Giro d’Italia/Photo 4