Thursday, November 21, 2013

Frankly Frankl - US Grand Prix in Austin - Frankly Frankl-life, luck, love and automobiles

Austin Anecdotes..

Just as I was ready to board the plane back to San Francisco came the shock news that this time round Bernie Ecclestone could really be on his way out.  The boss of CVC made it crystal clear that if found guilty in one of the many court cases pending. Bernie would be dismissed from his job as the undisputed master of Formula One. Before people start passing judgment just  let them listen to the folks in Austin. They love him. He put the city on the map of great destinations. Just been talking a FORZA subscriber in the departure lounge. Roger is the proud owner of a 246 and a 328. He has been telling me that motels that normally charge  50 dollars a night were asking 500! Like me, he would also like to see some closer racing in 2014. That was certainly the sentiment shared by the Shell people who very kindly invited me for the weekend. The size of their company is simply mind blowing as is their depth of understanding the business. Talking to a charming lady from one of their London offices she was telling me about the various challenges they face from Nigeria to Turkey. I've asked her about the recent Greenpeace Demo at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race they sponsor. Instead of jumping up and down they very wisely chose to ignore it. Much more relevant us their technical knowledge. A few years ago there was a massive explosion at a refinery in the UK  belonging to a rival company. Shell's safety expert were on the scene almost immediately to offer help and with advice to prevent a similar occurrence in the future. 

Coming back to Texas the story of the weekend belongs to Governor Perry. Apparently Ferrari invited him to Maranello with his wife. President Montezemolo duly took her for a spin around the company's Fiorano test track in a California. The car is very nice pronounced the Governor but there is something wrong with it. Puzzled look from Montezemolo. The name is wrong said Perry adding California is the past, Texas is the future. Game, set and match. We don't have to agree with him but I think it was really funny. The look on Luca's face..


But back to the race. Watching from a stand instead of the claustrophobic press office it was fascinating to see the racing live and from above. Vettel's serene progress totally just amazing just as it was great to see Alonso retaking a position with a masterful pass on Hulkenberg. There was a lot of love and sympathy towards Felipe Massa who is leaving for Williams. I think we would all love to see him do well although I am not sure he will ever be the same again as before his horrendous crash back in 2009.

I loved the initiatives of the locals near the track. They were not only offering parking for 20 or 30 dollars but in addition offered to drop the customers at the circuit and collect them after the race. Some of them were even doing BBQs to make some extra money. There were a number of very trendy clubs all over the city and these were all jam packed with well healed customers. The My Yacht group who normally run a very successful weekend during the Monaco GP did a great transplant from the Principality to the building normally occupied by the good folks of the Austin Ballet. It was wonderful to run into Sharon, Sally Swart's daughter. Now this will mean very little to most people but I knew Sally when she was Jim Clark's girlfriend. If you don't know who Jim Clark was then you are reading the wrong blog.

Now it is on to São Paulo and the final race. For most teams the season cannot be over too soon, for once great team such as McLaren the humiliation must have been quite hard to take.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Frankly Frankl - Book Launch Party at Ferrari of San Francisco and Fun in Napa - Frankly Frankl-life, luck, love and automobiles

Well folks, it has been pandemonium here of late. The book-Frankly Frankl- was finally launched last week. I've spent 2 hours signing at Ferrari of SF, in the meantime they made full advantage of the merry crowd-courtesy of Cline wines-and decided to spend a bit of money. So at the end of the day I went to the bank to pay in  800 dollars and they , the sales team also went off to the bank to pay in half a million dollars! Someone said I should have been on commission which is not fair. They gave me a platform and I for one don't blame them for taking full advantage of it. Leah Garchick who writes in the SF Chronicle's datebook found it sufficiently amusing to mention it as did the local paper here in Tiburon.

Once we've all recovered from the party we started planning our next adventure. This was a small gathering of Ferrari enthusiasts from the Pacific Region who decided to drop in on next year's President, Jody Stewart, a seriously big cheese at Napa's Silver Oak winery. Amazing wines and literally a cast of thousands. There were limos as far as the eye can see with customers from all over the World. Clearly well-heeled as nothing happens at Silver Oak at under 70 dollars.
The bit I liked most that after floods some years ago the whole place rebuilt at  a higher elevation and as the Boss said-should there be another flood or earthquake there is room for all the staff. I had a massive treat on the way . A very nice gentleman whose name and address I will not mention for the simple reason that there is no need to advertise something as desirable as a brand spanking new 458 spider -took me all the way to Sonoma. After some very fine, enthusiastic driving it was time for a standing start. I know he won't mind but the truth is that he had the 458 somewhat sideways!