The day AFTER Christmas

2014-12-05 21.54.33I find the quiet today a bit disconcerting after eight days amidst the energy and enthusiasm of my four grandchildren. Although I’m still enjoying my annual flamingo Christmas tree.

The holidays began with a six-day trip to Oregon where my son Zach and daughter-in-law Amy are raising my two grandsons, Ryan almost 15 and Sam 11.

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At the beautiful Pittock Mansion in Portland

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Sam’s NinjaBread Cookies!

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The Oyster Themed dining room at the Pittock Mansion

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Zach and Amy whipping up great dinners in their kitchen

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Sam…the real ninja!

 

And I enjoyed watching the “boys” play with their Anki Drive car racing set–played on an iPad with real cars that zipped around the track on the floor. 

Then back to San Ramon for a Christmas Eve of baking…not one but two bûches de Noël plus Grandma Kinnison’s famous Christmas cookies. And Christmas day with Santa coming through with a train around the tree and much “FROZEN” bounty to the delight of the girls.

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Christmas dinner–oysters, salmon, foie gras (shipped in from New York!), caviar, butternut squash soup, filet de mignon and all the fixings

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Aveline and Estelle with some of their favorites.

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“I’m hiding!”

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“Peek-a-boo!”

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Bûche de Noël

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A wonderland of new Dicken’s houses for my daughter.

And finally, a Christmas greeting to my French friends on FB via my bilingual daughter and granddaughters and a French Christmas song by Aveline.

Raffi Minasian…Industrial and automotive design genius

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I had the wonderful opportunity on November 15th to hear a lecture by Designer, Educator and Automotive Historian Raffi Minasian as he explored the fusion of transportation, mobile devices and nanotechnology in automobiles from the past and into the distant … Continue reading

Shake, rattle…and roar!

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This year’s Go-Pro Sonoma Indy drivers, staying in local Napa hotels, got quite the wake-up call on race day this past Sunday. At 3:20 a.m. they were jolted out of their beds by the 6.0 earthquake, some grabbing towels to … Continue reading

ZOOM! ZOOM!

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The Maserati Alfieri Concept car in the early morning fog

A great time at the 2014 Rolex Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca. Drove down from the Bay Area at the crack of dawn to get a good parking space. I was delayed by a big spill of tomatoes on the freeway but because the track was fogged in still arrived in time for the first race run. Found a very wet seat in my favorite stands by Turn 4. By 10 am the seats and the track had dried out. Enjoyed taking a little Track Taxi (run by Veterans to raise funds for Wounded Vets) up to top of the track where you can see a view of the entire track off one side of the hill and see the race cars zoom through the corkscrew turn on the other. The Mark this year was Maserati and it was great to see both the classic versions and this stunning new Alfieri Concept.

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After the race maintenance

Under heavy fog Group 3B Can-Am comes out to play including Craig Bennett in his 1974 Shadow DN4 (scroll down through the photos on this Sports Car Digest article). On the left is a photo I took after the race with the chassis exposed for some repair work. I’d also seen this car up at Sonoma last spring. Great to watch it pull away from the rest of field here at Laguna Seca.

So much fun watching classic race cars zoom through the corkscrew at the top of the hill on a pace lap.

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My friends weren’t able to make it, but never fear, I met a really great guy. Big and fluffy! And hel’ll never give me any back talk!

 

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Look this one up to see the sponsor!!

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My favorite gull-wing classic

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Read all about this Alfa in the photo below

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Beef brisket enchiladas. The best in Mex California cuisine

2014-08-17 15.27.44I hit the road in the early afternoon in order to stop at my favorite restaurant in Willow Glen.

 

 

But look what I missed by leaving early!  Right in front of the stands where I had been sitting. A wheel flying into the stands.

 

 

Off to the races!

This is my favorite time of year. I will be attending the final day of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion historic car races at Laguna Seca on Sunday, August 17th. I’ve talked two of my BBFs into getting up at the crack of dawn and driving down to catch the first race at 8 am.

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Helio in pre-race introductions in 2011

 

 

 

And then on August 24th, I will head north to Sonoma raceway to cheer on my favorite Indy driver, Helio Castroneves, as he tries to get back his lead in the 2014 Indy Championship in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. He was robbed in Ohio, done in by faulty electronics).

It’s all fun. From watching them polish the rims on pit row

To listening to the interviews at the finish…even when Helio came in 3rd in 2012.

Or the bittersweet moment when Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti shared a moment of commiseration back before the terrible accident that ended Dario’s racing days this past year.

 

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A snapshot with Helio’s Number 3 in 2012.

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Mid-race in 2012.

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Helio with his lovely girlfriend and daughter pre-race 2012

Thelma and Louise

hot summer nights

Ah, summer! And Danville, California’s Hot Summer Nights Hot Rod & Classic Car Show. Row after row of the cars we all necked in the back seat of back in the Fifties or wished we could ride in but were too dorky to snag the cool guys who drove them.

 

Mergy I’ve been a car buff since I got my very first car at age 16, a Morris Minor that seemed more like a blue-gray pre-pubescent VW Bug. Of course, I didn’t even drive stick shift on that 16th birthday day and poor “Mergy”–named after my dread of merging into freeway traffic–suffered the arrows and slings of grinding gears for several weeks. But once mastered, Mergy became THE mode of transportation for me and my three best high school friends. It took us to evenings at Oscar’s, the local drive-in restaurant, where root beers and french fries sat on metal trays attached to the window. In my college years, it made the trip up and down the coast of CA to college at Stanford and then UC Berkeley (yes, I went one year each to both of these rivals, causing each to lose Big Game when I attended!).

MercedesUpon graduation from college (by then it was San Diego State, and, yes, much to my mother’s chagrin another school was interposed in between), I somehow talked said mother into car number two, a stunning 1959 Mercedes Benz 190SL. This photo was taken in 1965 just before I drove back to graduate school at the University of Illinois via Route 66. And the thrill of driving the last leg from Salinas, Kansas, without reverse, 1st, or 2nd, and no starting motor. Found a motel on a hill and popped the clutch in 3rd that last morning of the journey.

Alas, the Mercedes succumbed to the evils of Midwestern winters (sold it for $3000 to my father’s milkman–now worth $95,000!) but it was replaced by a 1966 green Mustang, another classic I wish I still had. Check out this ad1966 Ford Mustang Ad-01 from the era.

My era of cool cars disappeared as I entered into marital bliss and was talked into a 1968 Plymouth Fury III in a sickening pea green combo.plymouth But it did have a hot motor to help us escape from the Hawk (the wind blowing off Lake Michigan in the winter).

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THELMA & LOUISE about to go on the lam!

So back to the car show which I attended with my best friend. The owner of a too-cool Thunderbird took pity on us poor old ladies without a ride of their own and took these great photos. So here we are–Thelma and Louise. I actually was hankering after a Jaguar Mark II (of Inspector Morse fame) and my friend got hung up on hood ornaments!

Maybe next year I’ll have my own entry for the show.

hot summer nights

LAVERNE & SHIRLEY at the drive-in!

Who knows what genius lurks in the hearts of men?

2014-05-17 11.50.16The Shadow does! Only this is a tale of three men whose love for racing and inventive minds created a classic car…the Shadow. The three men, Don Nichols the company founder, George Follmer, the first driver, and Trevor Harris, the designer of the first two version shared their story at the Sonoma Historic Motorsport Festival today.

2014-05-17 11.49.42They told a fascinating story of persistence and inventiveness, of getting the extremely small tires made by Firestone, the cramped quarters for the driver, problems with cooling resolved in part by placing radiators on the rear wing, their race successes and failures, and various versions of how the car got its name. A shadow, of course, is only two dimensional and black. And this car had such a low profile that it was almost like a shadow. Two current owners, racing their models in the days classic races, were also present. A wonderful opportunity to hear the history of a unique car from the men who designed and drove it.

2014-05-17 12.06.14Hundreds of classic race cars take part in the event every year. I had great fun following this Morgan after I encountered it on the freeway on its way to the event. It took part in the Morgan Car Club parade run during the lunch hour. I had no doubt where he was headed.

 

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And, of course, I saw quite a few other favorites like this Alfa.

 

 

In contrast, the San Francisco McClaren dealership also had their latest model on display. I think I prefer the classic cars!