Danny Sullivan’s 1985 Indy Spin and Win

IMG_1209I enjoyed a delightful interview with Indy and Formula driver Danny Sullivan at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum this morning. Interesting story about how he got into racing despite his father’s objections and with the mentoring of Dr. Frank Faulkner, famed pediatrician and professional auto racing figure.


IMG_1210Danny was one of the first professional drivers to fully understand that he had to take his image and reputation beyond the racing world and into the more general world in order to find sponsors and rides, even as far as Hollywood and starring on an episode of Miami Vice in 1986 and appearing in other films.


In the 1985 Indy 500, after two prior DNFs, he won for Roger Penske in the never to be forgotten Spin & Win incident, considered one of the most electric moments in Indy history. It was fun hearing him take us through every moment of that incredible event.

Here is a video of his closing comments this morning.

IMG_1212And after the event it was fun to again spend some time viewing the European Model Train Enthusiasts fabulous layout and trains, sponsored again by the Museum as a regular holiday treat.


Pebble Beach Redux

The end of my forgot-my-cell-phone saga at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s the crack of dawn and I don’t realize I don’t have my phone until half-way to Blackhawk Automobile Museum in Danville, CA where I am to take the “field trip” to the event. So I dash into a CVS pharmacy and buy two disposable cameras–yes they still have them. Processing of the film afterwards takes three weeks and the quality of the photos leaves much to be desired. So to the tune of $15 each for the cameras and another $17 each for the processing, I share the results herewith.

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The view from the 18th fairway of Monterey Bay

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Nice parking spot

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Old royalty – Jackie Stewart

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New royalty – Fast and Loud’s Richard Rawlings


Color matches my Alien Green II KIa Soul

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Who wore it best? Moi?

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Or this stunning young spectator?

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Back in the day – lighting the headlights fueled by a butane tank


On the way to the awards area


Wouldn’t you love a ride in this rumble seat?

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The end!


Fast and Loud vs. Slow and Quiet


The Best of Show honor went to an incredible 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Cabriolet.

Life has it’s fast and loud moments and it’s slow and quiet ones. Sunday was one of those days. I ventured off on a field trip to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance sponsored by the Blackhawk Automotive Museum, which entailed 15 hours of bus rides, dealing with my no-cell-phone phobia (warning to the ladies–don’t change purses for special events!), taking photos with two single-use cameras (yes, folks, they’ll have them back to me in 2 weeks, at which point both you and I will have lost interest in the event in question), 80 degree heat, and more glitterati wanna-be’s than you can shake a 5″ heel and Italian bared-chest at.


Richard on the far left with his Packard and the gentlemen who detailed it for the show

My daughter instructed me to take photos of any celebrities. How can I tell, I asked? They have a lot of people following them around, she said. So I see this film crew following a very tanned, slickly groomed, gold fettered, Hollywood-handsome gentleman, complete with entourage who were hustling to keep up with him as he glad-handed his way around the stunning classic cars on the 18th fairway. I took a photo–the one you can see in 2 weeks! Only later did I find out that he was Richard Rawlings of the edgy TV car show Fast and Loud. He strode about like a heat-seeking missile amid adoring fans begging for selfies. His on-the-hoof publicity stunt captured my attention for about 2 minutes.

marc_garyaHours later, after the Best of Show was announced, it took almost 2 hours for our VIP bus to make its way back from the parking area to the Pebble Beach Lodge to take us home. With sore feet and a furrowed brow, I took refuge on a white wooden folding chair in the shade near the Museum’s vendor space. Next to me were two fellow passengers whom I had not met on the way down. It turned out to be Gary Meadors and his lovely wife Marilyn. Turns out that Gary is CEO and Founder of Goodguys Rod and Custom Association, now run by his son. Their fabulously successfully association has tens of thousands of members and dozens of events worldwide for the enthusiastic custom car crowd. We chitchatted for much of that waiting time, enjoying the shade and the quiet that follows a major event, as the exhausted serving staff, musicians, and vendors wended their way home. We talked about our grandchildren–my four and their 12 year old twins, about their growing up on farms in the Central Valley of California, about the simple things in life. They were as down home and real as the American Graffiti world they came from. I’d had a difficult and bone-weary day and their interest in my life and well-being came as a welcome, soothing balm that wiped out every last smidgen of stress.

So, here’s the question. If I had to be stranded on a desert island (which Pebble Beach certainly can be when you’re not part of the glitterati gathered there), do I want to be rescued by Mr. Eyecandy or by two down to earth human beings? I’ll vote for the latter.

dining-taproomAnd not to be forgotten as a highlight of the day, a shout out to Joanne and Richard  from New Jersey. I was standing in line (forever!) to get lunch at The Tap Room at the Lodge and introduced myself, suggesting we join forces to get seated sooner. We had an absolutely lovely conversation over Kobe brie burgers and Roast Beef au jus. Proof that turning strangers to friends is as simple as a “hello”.

I’m going on a field trip!

concours PB

CLICK on POSTER to see all the fabulous POSTER ART created for the Concours over the years

The Blackhawk Automotive Museum is sponsoring a trip to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The perfect “field trip” for this classic car enthusiast. We’ll meet at the Museum in Danville at the crack of dawn on Sunday, August 16th, and return late that night, riding in a VIP coach with all the amenities. They’ve added a travel fee on top of the regular Concours ticket price of $300, but seeing it just once in my lifetime in person is well worth the tariff. There will even be a Museum docent led tour from someone in the know.

My original plan was to attend the Rolex Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca that weekend, but I’ve done that several times. So I’ve chosen quiet elegance over the roar of engines to satisfy my classic car fetish for this year.

For anyone who is jealous and lives in the SF Bay area, there are still some seats left on the bus (there will be pickups in San Jose as well). Just contact the Blackhawk Museum.


The house


The morning view of downtown Oakland and SF Bay beyond from my little patio on the ground floor (behind the lower railing on the house pic

P.S. For those of you who have mentioned my recent lack of posts, I’ve been deep in the throes of a move from Contra Costa County to the Oakland hills, moving in with my daughter and her family so that my bilingual granddaughters can go to kindergarten and preschool at two different French schools in the Oakland/Berkeley area. The little one will attend Ecole Bilingue and the older one the new Francophone Charter School, where her mother will be the curriculum director.  A guided tour to the Concours will be a welcome change from all the weeks of packing and unpacking.


Raffi Minasian…Industrial and automotive design genius


This gallery contains 9 photos.

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

Lyn St. James – race car driver extraordinaire!

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Visiting my “ride” before taking my laps.

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My tall handsome chariot driver!

I had been looking forward to Lyn St. James’ lecture at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, CA in November but then she had to postpone. But an opportunity arose to see her at Sonoma Raceway during the CSRG Charity Challenge. I hung around all morning looking for her and waiting for my 3-lap ride (read “10 minutes of absolutely delicious terror”) around the 12-turn 2.52 mile road track in a 1952 Jaguar XK 120 owned and driven by James Alder. I had been at the track a few weeks earlier watching Helio Castroneves and Will Power navigate their Indy cars around the same track. Hitting Turn 1 at full throttle is fear on steroids! At least for this 71 year old Granny!

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Lyn St. James’ record setting Thunderbird

I did get a gander at Lyn’s 1989 Ford Thunderbird in which she set a myriad of speed records in the track winner’s circle and read a sign about all of her feats, but no sight of its famous female driver.2014-10-04 12.13.22 I was about to give up and strolled over to the cafe for something to eat when I spied her sitting at a picnic table signing her book for a friend.

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Lyn and me at Sonoma raceway

Breathlessly, I introduced myself and ran off into the raceway store to purchase a copy for signing. The most interesting part is that I had read up on her personal history the night before and discovered that she grew up in Willoughby, Ohio, the same small town outside of Cleveland where my grandparents had lived their entire adult lives, where my mother had been born and raised, where many of my other relatives had been prominent citizens, and where I had been baptized, had visited many times, and had even attended second grade. My uncle, Robert Shankland, a famous physicist, had, along with his uncle, served as a trustee of the Andrews School for Girls (now the Andrews Osborne Academy), which Lyn had attended from 7th to 12th grade. My uncle’s father, Sherwood Shankland, had been the school’s first superintendent. Lyn shared about how this school, which was eons ahead of its time in empowering the lives of young women, influenced her character development and ambitions. And we had a lively discussion about her visit next spring to the Museum. I hope to become involved in the preparations for this event. Finally, a volunteer activity that truly captures my attention–a combo of two loves, the excitement of car racing and my passion about the place of women in the fabric of America.

The theme of Women’s History Month in 2015 is Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives. The warp and woof of Lyn’s story is woven with Nomex, a fire-retardant material that is used to make the suit, gloves, socks and shoes worn by race car drivers. But as her website says: “Lyn St. James’ story is not just about being a successful race car driver. It’s a story about goal setting, determination, passion and fully utilizing all her defeats and successes to break into a world no one could have imagined possible: auto racing.” The 2010 revised edition of her book Lyn St. James, An Incredible Journey, is still available. For any woman who was told as a child that she can’t be this or that because it’s a man’s prerogative, this book is a must!