Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cherokee Removal Around The Tail Of The Dragon (Local History)

John Ross, Principal Chief in the decades leading
up to Cherokee Removal in 1838.
Andrew Jackson, the President I have loved to hate for
so many reasons for 50 years--now even more.

An interest in local history is a lifelong weakness of mine.  Oddly, this always seems to involve Native Americans.  When I lived in Minnesota, I learned about the Sioux Uprising in 1862 and the fur trade in the Rockies in the 1820's and 1830's.  This included a memorable road trip to South Pass in Wyoming. When I moved to Illinois, I learned about the Black Hawk War (1832).  Now that I spend time on the Tail of the Dragon, I've looked into Cherokee history.

One portal was a YouTube video shot by a trail bike rider on Long Creek and Tatham Gap Roads, between Robbinsville and Andrews NC.  He noted that Cherokees removed from the Robbinsville area followed this route (there's a small plaque).  Then I read Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and A Great American Land Grab, by Steve Inskeep.  Some of the information in this post comes from that book, which is OK.  My main complaint is that it's written like a radio script in places.  The part relevant to Robbinsville is Chapter 33, especially pages 324-326.

Cherokee history is well-documented in western NC.  Franklin was an ancient Cherokee site.  Loudon TN and the lower Little Tennessee Valley also contain documented Cherokee sites.  Cherokees hunted in Cades Cove but there is no evidence of settlement.  Whites settled Cades Cove in 1818-1821.  Gatlinburg was settled by whites as early as 1806.  Many of them were North Carolina soldiers given land patents for service in the Revolution and the War of 1812.  "In lieu of pay," as Gov. Lepetomane puts it in Blazing Saddles.

By and large, Jacksonland explains, the Cherokees were effective in protecting their northwestern border from white incursion.  White settlement was confined to the right bank of the Tennessee River. The pressure came on the southern border by Georgians.  Citizens and State authorities alike coveted the land which now encompasses Ringgold, Rome, Indian Springs, and Chattanooga.  The policy of the Cherokees and particularly John Ross was "not one more inch."  This might have worked if the Federal government was willing to confront Georgia, which it wasn't in John Quincy Adams's Presidency.

The policy failed spectacularly when Andrew Jackson became President.  His policy, which he considered humane, was complete removal of all Indians, "civilized" like the Cherokee or not, from land east of the Mississippi River.  Jackson not only refused to confront Georgia, as Adams had, he told the Cherokee they must go.  Removal did not happen until Martin Van Buren was President, but the real, political, resolution of the confrontation occurred in the Jackson administration.

The Cherokee strategy ('civilize' and cede no land) was high-risk, but not necessarily doomed.  As Inskeep writes, it was a jujitsu move: take Federal treaties and policy at face value and give the national government no excuse to change it.  Ross even considered applying for Statehood.  But this would have required land claims cessions by Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  This was not going to happen in the political environment of the early 1830's.  The Supreme Court confirmed Cherokee land claims under Federal law.  Jackson never said, exactly, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."  But he said and wrote equivalent sentiments several times.  And he refused to meet with Ross.

The population of the Cherokee Nation was 16,542 in an 1835 special census, the best figure available before removal began in May of 1838.  In June, Captain L. B. Webster of the First U.S. Artillery (who was also, confusingly, a volunteer from Tennessee) was tasked to remove the Cherokee in far western North Carolina.  He wrote an account of what he did and saw to his wife.  It weighed on his conscience. Not all opponents of removal were self-righteous New Englanders with no skin in the game.

One of the main emigration camps was in Calhoun TN, from which the Cherokees went down the Hiawassee River to the Tennessee.  About 800 people arrived at Calhoun from far western NC, to which 100 were added along the way.  A population this large must have included Cherokees from the greater Bryson City area, who probably went straight up the Nanatahala Valley (not over the pass between Robbinsville and Andrews).  About 10-12 groups left for Oklahoma in the fall and winter of 1838, some entirely by water, some partly overland around Muscle Shoals and via southern Indiana and Illinois.  While many Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears, it now appears that even more died from diseases in the emigration camps which were, literally, concentration camps.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Happy 60th, Road America

I love this course.  It is so bloody fast.  Watching CART race at Road America in the '80's and '90's was a peak experience.  Bob Varsha recently called Road America "America's Nurburgring."  A better comparison was made in the '80's and '90's by drivers who had raced on both sides of the Atlantic.  They said it reminded them of Spa-Francorchamps.

Most of the bends are fast.  In the CART days, the key to a fast lap was to be able to take The Kink flat out.  It's a testimony to the speed those cars were carrying that today's ALMS GT racers, the most advanced street car-based racers, with plenty of aero, must lift or even tap the brakes to get through The Kink at a much slower entry speed.  Turns 3, 5, 8, and 12 (Canada Corner) are slow.  Here are some pictures taken at Turn 5 over the decades.

This picture was taken in 1963, but it could have been in '55, the inaugural year.

Phil Hill in Turn 5 on his victory lap in 1957.  He also won the inaugural race in 1955.  Ferrari 315 S.

Mario Andretti in Turn 5 in his Game, Set, Match year of 1987: pole position, led all laps, won.  This was my own first
visit to Road America, and it was a great spectating experience.  You could walk most of the course and be close to the
cars in most corners and on the middle straight.  I could easily be in the crowd in this picture.  At the time, CART cars
braked from about 185 m.p.h. to take Turn 5 at about 40-45 m.p.h.

Turn 5 today, at a recent NASCAR race.  The spectating is OK from the grandstand, which didn't exist in 1987, but it's
"...meh..." at best from the grass.  Note the Jersey Barriers and high catch fence.  Probably the best viewing areas at
Road America today are at Canada Corner (Turn 12), the Carousel, and the outside of the Carousel looking toward
The Kink.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eye Candy: Bertone Ferrari 250 GT Sharknose

I've posted about this car before, but, which linked to these pix (via his Facebook page), gives me an excuse to do it again.  The car will be for sale at the Gooding & Co. auction at Pebble Beach. It is back in its original Geneva Auto Show colors of dark blue with an oxblood interior.  It came to the States soon after the Geneva show, and for decades was on the West Coast in light metallic green or silver.

Bertone, who was not one of Ferrari's go-to coachbuilders, did this car as a one-off for the show.  It was a homage to the race cars of 1961.  Maybe Bertone was trying to attract some individual customers, or maybe he was trying to get Enzo's attention.  Or both.  It didn't work: the car remains a one-off.

This is one of the most beautiful and unique 250 GT's.  It wasn't easy to be different from the (already lovely and iconic) standard 250 GT SWB and nail the proportions.  I'm of two minds about restoration to the original Geneva Show look.  Originality gets all props from me, but dark blue tends to obscure some of the car's subtle curves, and to add visual mass, taking attention away from the airy cabin.  It looks great with the oxblood interior.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Superb, Indeed (1972 Can Am Road Atlanta 8 mm. Film)

The resolution is great and even the music is perfect for Can-Am.  Anciens: how many hot shoes can you name from the quick cuts?  Thanks to The Chicane Blog for the link:

This picture is from 1971, the year before the video, but it captures the flavor.  And I wanted a pretext to post a pic of
a Can-Am field going through the esses at Road Atlanta.  ;-) 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Datsun 510 Skyline Coupe ("Who Knew?")

Side-by-side comparison of the coupe and the two-door sedan.  Scrumptious!

One of several things that impressed me about the Datsun 510 was its very clean lines.  In 1972 my ex and I needed a 4-door because we had a family on the way.  I drove it happily for seven years until road salt in the Great Lakes area defeated it.

But, if Nissan had imported the Skyline Coupe on the same platform, I'd have been sorely tempted to wrestle our "kid stuff" and both kids into the back seat through its two doors.  What a sharp-looking car!  The roof line reminds me a bit of the "sport roof" that Ford offered on the Galaxy and Falcon in the mid-1960's.  But it works even better on the Skyline because the rest of the car is squared-off in similar fashion (the Fords had some rounded lower body lines).

Here's a video:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Thing Of Beauty

Above and below: engine of a Honda S-2000 with the cam cover removed.  My 2009 Civic
Si shares the smaller, 2.0 liter, F 20 C version of this engine.

As the saying goes, "form follows function."  I was recently reminded that this engine produced the highest specific power out of any normally aspirated gasoline engine for a decade or more until it was recently surpassed by the 4.5 liter V-8 in the Ferrari 458 Italia.  The engine in my Civic Si is butter-smooth and an absolute joy to drive.

Friday, July 10, 2015

How To Ruin A Ferrari

Photo via Etceterini Facebook page.

I didn't know it was possible to do a bad Ferrari body when Enzo was in charge.  His famous quote on the subject was "My cars must not only act the part, but look the part."  He gave the coachwork contracts to people he trusted: almost always PininFarina, Turin,  Bertone, and Scaglietti.  True, there were a few brief excursions into eccentricity in the 1950's  (Buick-like portholes, for example).  But even the oddities and one-offs were interesting; none were terrible.

One commenter says this body is by Carrozzeria Sports on a 330 GT 2+2 chassis.  Another says it's a Drogo NART Speciale on a 250 GTE chassis (which appears to be the case from the script on the trunk). Either way, it looks like a badly customized AMC AMX: start with bad proportions, add hideous, stir until irretrievable.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Incurable Romantic (2015 British Grand Prix)

At the start of the British Grand Prix, Felipe Massa and Valttteri Bottas rocketed into the lead past the two Mercedes (which were of course on pole).  Then Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes caught Bottas, who radioed his team to have Massa let him by.  This has happened to Massa once before, when he was leading a Grand Prix.  He was told to let his teammate by, and he followed orders.  Some say that took as much out of his motivation as his earlier serious injury or his loss of the championship in 2008 by one point.  Clearly, when he went to Williams, Massa's motivational tank was refilled.  At Williams,  Bottas has often--but not always--been faster than Massa.

Silence for a lap or more.  Then Williams radioed back to Bottas "It must be a clean pass."  In other words, don't stuff it up into Felipe's line,  but if you can get by, fine.  They raced without change of position until the first pit stops.  Bottas couldn't get past Massa and Hamilton couldn't get past Bottas.

Williams didn't manage their pit stops and tires as well as Mercedes and Ferrari, and the Williams cars didn't perform as well in dirty air as the Mercedes.  The finishing order was Mercedes-Mercedes-Ferrari-Williams-Williams.  The Williams Facebook page says they've received a lot of intensely emotional fan comment about the decision to not enforce "team orders," both pro and con.  During the race, the NBC commentators said that the team's decision may have cost it a victory.  And wins are hard to come by in these days of Mercedes domination.

My vote is Two Thumbs Up for Claire Williams and her team for letting the boys race.  If Williams had managed its pit stops and tires better, one or both drivers might have finished higher.  Or not. Williams does not have a Designated Number One driver (and I'm glad they don't).  Bottas never got by Massa, and Massa never blocked him.  Let's hear it for old-fashioned sportsmanship.

Amazing factoid: with his win at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton beat Jackie Stewart's record of leading 18 consecutive Grands Prix.  Fangio didn't do that.  Or Clark or Fittipaldi or Lauda.  Nor, in the modern era (with far more races on the calendar), Prost or Senna or Mansell or Schumacher.  Who knew?  Jackie Stewart was even more dominant than he seemed at the time.

Monday, July 6, 2015

John Saccameno's Caterham 7 (Alfa/Austin Healy Clubs Meet at Blackhawk Farms, 06/15)

I have A Thing for John Saccameno's cars.  Not only are they makes/models that I admire, and their overall presentation visually appealing, but they are what we used to call "sanitary:" well-engineered mods using high quality parts.  There are other cars that race with John that are just as well-prepared.  Many are not.

His (new) Caterham 7 is interesting for another reason.  It was a race car when he bought it.  He converted it to a street car.  Now he's got it set up to be dual-purpose.  He can convert it from street car to vintage-legal race car and back again in about two hours.  That throwback to the earliest days of sports car racing makes me smile.  Drive it to the track, race, drive home.  Maybe, if John tries to get through tech in a tweed cap and string-backed driving gloves, we'll have to intervene.  ;-)

Come to think of it, he could reverse the process: tow this little gem down to the Tail of the Dragon.
It's street-legal.  The entry fee is zero, and the track time is unlimited.  I foresee some smiles if he tries it.

Hotshoe and I watched John's first outing in the car from Turn 1.  I don't remember nose-dive under braking (seen here).
What I noticed was dead-flat cornering and John getting the power down earlier as he got more familiar with the car.

Hotshoe admires the car while John jokes with his next-door neighbor in the paddock.  We asked him what the Caterham
was like to drive.  "It's very precise, and requires you to be precise.  I can bank the Alfa off the curb in Turn 2 and it
will more or less set itself up for 3.  The Caterham goes where you point it, and you'd better point it or it will keep
going where it is pointed.  And it has nothin' below 4000 r.p.m.  It wants to be closer to the 7000 red-line."

Above and below: John had his Sport & Specialty business banner flying proudly, but the best advertisements for his shop
are his own cars.  This is the street roll bar, which was installed to allow him to give friends and family rides.  He has
another bar for racing, with a tube that braces to the chassis diagonally across the passenger seat.  Either way, when
it rains, you get wet.  And the cockpit is very cozy.  The top of the shift knob is just below the dash panel.  You learn
drive this Caterham with your hand around the side of the knob, or you miss shifts.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Brits And One Polish-American Cousin (Pix from the Alfa/Austin Healey Club Meet at Blackhawk Farms, 06/15)

Above and below: Jaguar XK-120.  It looks charmingly retro now.  But imagine a world with no Corvettes or Mustangs.
Imagine you'd just bought a 1948 Caddy or Lincoln or Chrysler convertible, and you could have had this.  Facepalm.

Above and below: What's better-looking than a Big Healey?  A Big Healey with a folding windshield,
no bumpers, and driving lights.

Above and below: the Austin Healey 100-6 prepared by Sport & Specialty for vintage racing.

Well... sort of British, by heritage: a Kirkham FIA Cobra replica, made in Poland and assembled in Utah.

Above and below: engine and chassis plate.

Yes, it requires racing gas, and yes, it is just as squirrely to drive as the Shelby factory cars of 1964-1965.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cruel Punishment (Not So Unusual)

Watchtower linked me to another air-cooled 911 video.   Says he wants the car, will spend his winnings on it after he starts playing the lottery.  I know better.  He sends this stuff just to torment me.  Dat sound!  This vid even has particularly good rasp on overrun when the driver lifts off.  Damn you, Watchtower!  ;-)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Alfa Pix (Alfa/Austin Healey Meet At Blackhawk Farms, 06/15)

It strikes me that the new Alfa Romeo 4 C is a worthy successor to the Giuliettas and Giulias I loved in my youth.  That is, advanced engineering, great looks, expensive, and very fast for its size.  The Alfas of the '50's and 60's have always pushed my buttons.

Giulietta (1.3 liter) Spider.  These were the cars to have in the SCCA's G, D, and E Production classes in the late 1950's.
Note the modern Fiat 500 next to this one for size comparison.

Cockpit, same car.  It was gratifying to see that the seats and interior trim have been restored to their original look on this
car.  If you have wondered where the inspiration for the instrument layout of the Porsche 911 and the Mazda RX-7 came
from, you're looking at it.  This was a very comfortable place to be, and drive hard, compared to British cars of the era.

Front view, with a bonus helping of a GTA/GTV.

Above and below: another GTA/GTV and its cockpit.  I applaud bumper removal; would have gone with Panasport
Minilite-like wheels myself.  But let us not quibble.  I didn't take any pix of Duettos (of which there were few).  I'm
with Princess Vespa in Spaceballs on the Duetto: "It just doesn't do it for me."  ;-)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Purdy Car, Purdy Picture, Amazing Result

Through a village, past the graffiti.  The W signifies "Viva Vaccarella," the local hero and superb Targa Forio specialist.

This is the 1967 Targa Florio entry by Ford of France, driven by Henri Greder and Jean-Michel Giorgi. Neither was a front-rank sports car driver, let alone a Targa specialist.  The GT 40 was a big, heavy, closed car: muscle-bound at the Targa.  The 10-lap race was won overall by Paul Hawkins and Rolf Stommelen in a 2-liter Porsche 910, running in the Prototype class.  Both were front-rank drivers and Stommelen was fast on courses like the Nurburgring and the Targa Florio.  Greder and Giorgi finished on the same lap and won their Sports [production] class.