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Vantage GT3 Technical S pecifications ENGINE Lightweight V12 Dry sump oil system Engine repositioned to optimize weight distribution 720 maximum unrestricted horse power Target torque 700 Nm TRANSMISSION Xtrac six speed sequential transmission Racing clutch Limited slip ramp/plate differential Easily accessible drop gears Semi-automatic paddle shift gear change Carbon fiber propshaft CHASSIS Lightweight aluminum chassis Steel roll cage to FIA safety standards High speed pneumatic jack system SUSPENSION Double wishbone suspension type with uniball bearings Two-way adjustable dampers front and rear Optimized geometry for lower race ride height STEERING Hydraulic power assisted steering Quick release steering wheel FUEL SYSTEM 110| Fuel cell to FIA safety standards Twin quick release couplings WHEELS Front 12.5” x 18” Rear 13” x 18”

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BRAKES Six pot front calipers Ventilated front brake disc Four pot rear caliper Ventilated rear brake disc Floor mounted pedal box Manually adjustable front/rear brake bias Adjustable motorsport ABS and traction control COCKPIT Six-point safety harness Adjustable seat position Adjustable pedal box position Lightweight battery Carbon fiber dash Fire extinguisher system Driver display and shift lights AERODYNAMICS Front splitter Adjustable full width carbon fiber rear wing Aerodynamically optimized bumpers, side sills and rear fenders BODY Removable carbon-fiber body panels Aluminum Roof Painted in Aston Martin Solid White as standard WEIGHT Target dry weight 1250kg


he Aston Martin V!@ Vantage GT3 was developed from the ground up leveraging the rich racing heritage of both Aston Martin Racing and Prodrive, as well as cutting-edge technology developed in F1,WRC, and others. The Le Mans wining DBR9 laid the groundwork for the modern day GT3 and GTE models, including the 6.0 liter V12 engine that produces well in excess of 700 bhp and 700Nm of torque when run without restriction. The engine sits low and to rear of the engine bay, drastically reducing the center of gravity and improving handling performance along with the race suspension setups. A carbon fiber driveshaft connects the V12 monster to the six-speed Xtrac gearbox, which is pneumatically shifted and controlled through carbon fiber steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Keeping in line with the light weight of the car, the aluminum chassis from the Vantage is used as the building block for the GT3 model, offering an incredibly light, strong, and stiff structure. Safety is paramount across the entire Aston Martin Racing line with FIA-approved roll cages, centrally-mounted quick fill bagged fuel cells, and FIA approved fire suppression system standard in every model, including the V12 Vantage GT3. F1 developed traction control and ABS are available, furthering the capabilities and stretching the performance ever further for drivers both pro and am. The striking lines of the GT3 are not just for looks, but contribute substantially to the handling and performance of the V12 Vantage GT3 on track. The V12 Vantage GT3 is eligible for racing series across the globe, including IMSA TUDOR United Sportscar Challenge, Pirelli World Challenge, the Blancpain Endurance Series, and others. BlackTie • Number 15 - Issue 4 3

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BlackTie Live life well

Out Team... President - COO, Founder: Alabama Charlie Creative Director: Ian Johnson Master Photographer: Roland Moriarty Senior Editor: Darrell Ritchie Editor: Will Rabb Graphic Designer: Greg King Business Development: Bob Grisoff Advertising Sales: Joe Phillips Website Development/Hosting: G6 Technical Solutions European Photographer: Dario Dominin European Contributor: Luca Ecari - Publisher of Italian Traditions Sales, Advertising and Event information: Written and Produced in Destin, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia Corporate Headquarters: BlackTie Motorsport - 4639 Gulfstarr Drive - Destin, Florida 32541 Find us at:

All things are possible through Jesus Christ

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The Steppin Stones Hannah

From the Publisher Rock & Roll: Is The Ride Over? From time to time, mostly as of late, we hear that rock and roll is dead or dying in the music industry and in the hearts of new listeners. We’ve also heard, with all the upheaval in the media these days, that the print industry (newspapers and magazines) is also on the way out, just like the 8-track, disco, or the days when MTV actually played music. Here at BlackTie, we believe that the death of many magazines, like rock and roll, be greatly exaggerated. What is BlackTie? Simply put, we believe it is the timeless story of living life well. This publication began as one dedicated strictly to exotic cars. Sure, we’ll always cover anything with a motor, but this publication has quickly evolved into one with coverage of creative eats, fine wines, great hobbies, any and all manner of adventure travel and yes, even rock and roll from time to time. We strive to keep every issue fresh, with unique subject matter, lively writing, and eye-catching visuals. Reading BlackTie should be a journey into adventure. BlackTie is not about money; it’s about living THE life. Those readers that are experiencing what’s covered within our pages are truly living a “rock star” life. Life is a ride and we hope the Aston Martin on the front cover in many ways conveys that. Competing in a full-blown, competition ready Aston Martin is not only about racing a highly engineered, insanely fast automobile, but as much about being part of a global, iconic brand with a motor-racing heritage that travels back for some odd ninety years. It is natural for humans to strive to be part of something much larger than ourselves, part of a club, team, legacy or movement. Reading BlackTie is supposed to offer our readers that chance to be part of something that’s larger than life and still growing. As I write this, rock and roll may in fact not be growing, although it will never die. At BlackTie, we believe the print industry (the magazine business specifically) is here to stay. We know to give our online readers their own version as well, but we haven’t forgotten the purist who, like us, loves everything about a printed magazine. The year 2015 is our second year of publication, and we will stay alive for those who still appreciate physically holding their reading material in their hands. Just like rock and roll that has been entertaining us for over half a century, BlackTie looks forward to sticking around for many, many more years of good times. “Alabama Charlie” Andrew - Justice

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Table of Context

Featured Article XX

Tennessee White Whiskey


A Bit of French-Style Racing in Georgia

XX Unexpected Stop in Florence

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Motorsport XX

A Bit of French-Style Racing in Georgia


One of the Greatest Cars You’ll Never See


Bugatti 1937


The Hilton Head Island

Table of Context

Arts & Culture XX

Me and My Licker

Food & Wine XX Unexpected Stop In Florence

XX Hans Erni, The World Renowned Swiss Artists XX Amarine Della Valpikices The Bitter-Sweet Wine of The Ancients XX Butch, Lady Lex and the Betty’ XX Just the Cook XX Truth Audio XX 343 Kelsey Barnard XX The Camera Hasselblad has made fro Just 200 Aficionados

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A Bit of French-Style Racing in Georgia

(NASCAR), nor is it as popular as he Petit Le Mans is a sports Indy car or Formula One racing. car race. It is not on television ev- These other more popular series ery weekend like stock car racing seem to be way over the top with

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sponsors, celebrities, big-name drivers and tons of funding via big sponsorship deals. By comparison, sports car racing is not

Motorsport Written by: Chad Ensz Photos by: Alabama Charlie as widespread or as wealthy, but it holds a special charm as many still see this as one of the last bastions of pure racing. Although the word “purity “can be a bit misleading, since the technol-

ogy that is infused into modern sports car racing is as advanced as any series on the planet. Sports car racing can be broken down into two main components— prototype racers

(these look nothing like what we all drive on the streets) and the GT Class (which actually highly resemble the world’s most popular high performance cars). It is this GT Class that is the diamond in the rough, for it is here that we see the world’s fastest production-based cars duking it out and the best part is these competitors really look like the sports cars in our garages. NASCAR races sedans that, in reality, are loosely accurate family car skins over very heavy and very powerful chassis This is where NASACAR goes wrong; who really cares if a Chevrolet SS is faster than aFord Fusion or a Toyota Camry? Then there is Formula One and Indycar wherein the cars are of only three components — tires, cockpits, engines and way too many wings and aerodynamic tricks. Who can relate to those and even more challenging, relate them to your car? I dare you to find any real similarities. Sports car racing is a form of competition that we can all relate to, whether we have a sports car or dream of sports cars. Sports car racing has long been labelled “Gentleman’s Racing” and comes from roots wherein a fast sports car was modified for racing by anyone who dared challenge themselves or the cars. Sure, today there are all top-shelf pilots behind the wheel, but the roots are pure. These cars are what we should go and pay to see perform! Personally, watching Porsche, Fer-

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rari, Viper, Corvette, Aston Martin and BMW duke it out in the GT Class is exactly what is going on in the minds of each of these types of sports car owners on the street when they pass one another on the highway. I believe the organizers see their prototype class cars as the stars of the show, but I cannot begin to count how many of us care most about those sports cars in the GT class. Whichever you prefer (prototype or production-based sports cars) this series will pull the curtain back on the more popular racing formats and have you questioning why we support them to the extent that we do. The foreign flavor of this race we attended is immediately apparent when you hear the bagpipes marching up the front straightaway as part of the prerace ceremonies. Sure, bagpipes are not French but Scottish, but the international touches are obvious. The Petit Le Mans is based on the world’s best known sports car endurance race — the French Le Mans. “Petit” as it’s called, tries to follow Le Mans traditions. The rules at Petit are similar, as is the flavor. In fact, the Petit Le Mans is French for “Little Le Mans” and this race is truly a little Le Mans. Now true motorsport junkies know that the actual “Le Mans” is a city in France. Located on the Sarthe River, automobiles have raced there since the early 1920s. No one in the racing community can argue that LeMans is the granddaddy of all

sports car races. Conversely, the “Petit” is yet a fledgling contender at only sixteen years old. The Petit is not run in Europe but on a circuit called Road Atlanta in, of all places, Braselton, Georgia. You probably will not confuse Georgia and France in any way. However, when the competitors are whipping around Road Atlanta for the Petit, the racing is quite similar. Sure, the French race is twenty-four hours long and the cars complete just over 3,000 miles; by comparison the Petit participants rack up just over 1,000 miles in ten hours. Many would ask, “Why choose this American, East Coast solution?” The problem lies in the fact that France is a long, expensive distance away. So, if you want real sports car racing on an amazing track here in the good ole USA, then the Petit Le Mans will do quite well, quite well indeed. You will savor the French flavor at a massive fraction of the cost and with Atlanta being the busiest airport in the world; travel logistics are short and easy. The Petit is a great event and the clearly growing audience is proof that this form of racing is gaining momentum. But, there are issues. First, let us get this out of the way — the track they call Road Atlanta does not even remotely deserve of any criticism. It just isn’t the problem, period. What a course it is! What IS the problem WAS actually everyone’s idea of a solution… to a large extent. There was once a strong

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and viable sports car series in America but the powers that be corrupted it and then it was divided. We ended up with two sanctioning bodies, the ALMS (American Le Mans Series) and Grand Am (controlled by NASCAR). The ALMS was the traditional European type of all-out racing and costs went essentially


unchecked. Grand Am was conceived to offer close racing with a tighter budget to create more equality among competitors. Did we need to lessen costs to the teams? Probably. Did we need to ruin this type of racing to get there? Probably not. Philosophies aside, what happens when any entity is di-

vided? It is weakened and can be more easily conquered; never will the two halves be as powerful as the once united whole. So basically, we ended up with two wounded series practicing their own ideologies with neither flourishing. The plan was to reunify which, in theory, sounds entic-

ing. What was not as attractive was the solution that was agreed upon. Because both series had some sense of accomplishment and neither really failed, each party came to the table with intentions of keeping at least a portion of their individual doctrines. When an unconditional surrender is not reached there is often

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a compromise that can be worse than the principle disagreements that caused the war. The best way to describe the realignment of these two groups was more of a partnership under one name. We as race fans do receive the best of both series, but still have problems that were not squashed in the merger. Simply put, we have some classes that are the same but different (which can lead to confusion) and we now are further divided from our European counterparts in the sports car endurance racing family. The motorsport world now has to watch multiples within multiple class racing. The solution almost feels like a con on the public in that it appears that two series are racing independently under one name — and confu-

sion reigns. In this one case the GTLM and GT Daytona cars race in completely different classes while looking absolutely identical to one another. Differentiation is not easy, even for tried and true race fans. All of this is more of an irritant than a true problem for the veteran racing enthusiast. But, for the novice or that all so important “new fan” (you know, the group that motorsports are trying to lure in), well, they cannot possibly know what is what and who is who. I was once told if a joke has to be explained, then it just isn’t funny. So trying to confuse a new or potential fan with the realities of how these classes work isn’t going to have a positive effect either. Even my ace seasoned father who’s watched

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racing for fifty-plus years was not completely in tune with all of the subtleties of the types of cars and how they were classified. Worse is the fact that I know how the cars were organized and still struggle to have it make sense when attempting to explain it. Then take all of this already established bewilderment and compound it to the umpteenth power because the WEC (World Endurance Championship) cars were there from Europe and also on track — IN YET ADDITIONAL CLASSES! Maybe the worst travesty here is not the fact that we cannot properly organize our own North American product, but that we cannot figure out any meaningful way to combine our series with the World’s formula. When you realize the planet’s most


identifiable and legendary endurance teams will not fit into ANY of our classes, then one has to beg the question, “Why can we not fix this?” There must be some wiggle room in the rules to secure some reasonable clarity. If we can fix these glitches, then just maybe the prominent race teams in Europe will once again clamor to make America’s big three races; Daytona, Sebring and the Petit Le Mans. Today they are simply absent , and that is a crying shame. As an avid race fan, my level of awe at the Petit is lessened without the French Le Mans frontrunners. The word’s winningest endurance racers were competing at the Petit Le Mans in 2011, and they have not been back since. With confusion reigning

why not add icing to the cake… It’s no longer Grand Am, no longer the ALMS but the Tudor United Sports Car Championship, okay right? Nope, with this “united” series it cannot be that simple, fans still call it IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) and that well-known logo is still found everywhere along with the new Tudor logo. The bigger mess involves folks calling it the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup — what? Parts of this are actually somewhat simple; the “Tudor” watch company is the sponsor for a series called the “United SportsCar Championship” and IMSA is the sanctioning body. That is far easier to explain than the Patron deal, but I will try. Patron is the title sponsor for a series of longer distance rac-

es within the schedule so it is a chance to win a title within a title. Patron is a great product and has been a loyal sponsor for sportswear racing, yet this deal with IMSA potentially adds to the already present confusion for fans. Some of this mess comes to the surface in instances where fans may desire to reference live timing and scoring from the race using their iPhones or computers. Who knows what to Google or where exactly to go on the web to get what they are looking for? Should one search Patron, Tudor, the actual track, IMSA or something else? With NASCAR you search, Formula One is and Indycar is No other series manages to confuse their audience quite like sportscar racing. With criticism piling up, I

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Face the Racers

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will say that I am told that the sanctioning body is aware of many of these flaws and solutions are being discussed. These conversations with the sanctioning party do give all of us hope for a clearer future. However, many problems will persist for 2015 and beyond, namely fans will still see the GTLM and the GTD (GT Daytona) classes which are essentially the same cars, continue to run separately. Is this writer being overly condemning? Yes. But do not lose track of this important message — sportscar racing needs to flourish and I for one want to do my part to help that growth process. Growth will lead to a far better television deal. Currently, many race fans do not even receive the elusive Fox Sports 2 so putting their product on this channel is a big mistake. To compound the problem, when intangible Fox Sports 2 is broad- casting the race, IMSA’s website stops streaming the race! Congratulations, the majority of your audience is now unable to watch your product. Why not demand a presents on Fox Sports 1? I mean IMSA is a high level motorsports event but the powers that be seem to prefer to air a rerun of Poker Masters, soccer from two obscure European teams or cliff diving. Hello, Tudor United Sports- Car Championship or IMSA (I truly do not know who to address), please wake up now because fans of NASCAR and Formula One are becoming more and more and more disenchanted — THIS is your opportunity! I have been as straightforward with you, our readers, as I can be. When covering events as a member of the media it is our job to honestly critique the product. In this, the readers can form an opinion and gauge their personal interest based on, in part, what we write. Would this article be as interesting if I wrote an entire article that basically said the weather was good and the cars were fast? All the diagnostic grumbling aside, there is really only one real question at hand, “Should you watch/follow/attend one of these sportscar races?” The answer is shockingly simple —


ABSOLUTELY! I especially recommend Road Atlanta as the place to do it. After ten hours of racing, some classes are only separated by mere seconds. “Racing” just does not get any better than that. What is not to like about exotic-looking prototypes and semi-stock appearing sports cars going at each other — HARD —for a FULL day? How do you feel about a prerace ceremony where ALL spectators can walk up and touch the cars and shake the hands of the drivers and crew? (Meeting Max Papis and seeing Boris Said again was a real treat!) Are you picky about where you should sit to view the race? No worries, there are two and a half miles of track, bring your lawn chair or blanket and find that perfect spot. Heck, there are even bleachers. Think you will get bored watching ten hours of racing? Nope. Come and go as you please or go into the infield and there is a plethora of vendors

ready to sell you toys, art, apparel, books, food, even a new car. My family even spread out a quilt and took a short power nap rejuvenating us for the second half of the race. Need an excuse to get your “cool” car out of the garage and fraternize with other guys with cool cars? Road Atlanta has an organized Porsche, Corvette, Audi and BMW corral section. These corrals make for the formation of small-scale cars shows within the confines of the track, yet even more entertainment for spectators. All of these positive characteristics also apply to the twelve hours of Sebring. Another wonderful race, circuit and track staff. Mark your calendars to see both Sebring and the Petit Le Mans. In an effort to end on a positive and not overwhelm my proud endorsements I will not belabor the next issue. But, you can rest assured we will NOT cover the 24 Hours of Daytona as the administrators of the track

itself need to learn a thing or two about hospitality. This is in fact the power of the pen trying to expose Daytona’s unwillingness to mend an unfriendly, uninspiring and lack of any forward thinking with reference to the media. That all said, at this point we will not attend, cover, watch or recommend participation. But rather than excoriate Daytona’s media department any further, let us thank Sebring and Road Atlanta for their welcoming and gracious spirit. You can count on the media to extol your greatness as the astounding racing venues you truly are. So the form of racing made famous in France has a good home here in the Georgia. I will be back to watch the Petit Le Mans, not because it is an hour from our home, but because it is an event worth attending. My five year old son said it best, “Daddy, I’m having so much fun, this race is really… really cool!”

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One of the Greatest Cars You’ll Never See


ith just 69 built each year, the favored odds are that you are never going to see one up close, drive one, own one, or even hear about one of the greatest drag strip race cars ever made: Chevrolet’s COPO Camaro. This VSN 2014COPO-055 COPO Cama-

ro is perfectly illegal for use as a daily driver, or on the street in any capacity, but rather intended to be used only for drag racing. I was one of the lucky ones who got to experience this awe inspiring ride up close in Destin, Florida at the BlackTie Motorsport photography studio. As the pro-

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duction number implies, the new COPO Camaro is an homage to Chevrolet’s 1969 special edition Camaro which featured the Corvette’s big block engine and took the drag racing world by storm. After a four decade absence, the COPO was relaunched in 2012, with the latest version featuring


BlackTie Motorsport provides an insider’s look at the COPO Camaro drag racer. two engine options: a naturally aspirated 427 cubic inch power plant, and a supercharged 327. Both offer a three speed automatic transmission, racing seats, a new wheel design and an eye catching graphics package. Each car comes standard with a full array of National Hot Rod As-

sociation approved safety items, including a roll cage. Other strip inspired tweaks include a parachute, carbon-fiber hood, solid rear axle, independent rear suspension, and of course, those massive rear tires. Classified by the NHRA as a Stock Eliminator, the new

COPO is born ready for the drag strip. Purchases can be made only through a random selection process, and it will cost you a cool $200,000 to get in on the fun. The original Chevrolet COPO Camaro dragster was the stuff of Chevy hot rodding leg-

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Photo cutline: Bob Grisoff and his 2014 COPO Camaro.

end….mostly. It all began when famed driver Don Yenko modified one of the newest Camaros in 1967. At the time, Chevrolet wouldn’t allow the larger, 427 cubic inch Corvette engines to be used in Camaros, which put Chevy’s newest muscle car at a significant disadvantage behind the Ford Mustang and Dodge Dart. Yenko took matters into his own hands however, bolting the larger V8s into his Camaros, adding the “Stinger” hood found on the 1967 Corvettes and generally creating a monster built on Chevy’s new F-body platform. Unfortunately, these modified Camaros were disqualified from racing for Chevrolet due to the inescapable fact they weren’t actually built by Chevrolet. By 1969, Chevrolet took the hint and began limited production of a similar dragster, now dubbed the COPO, which stands for Central Office Production Order. For 2015, the hand built 2014 COPO is considered a top rated drag racing machine, burning up the quarter mile in a quick 8.88 seconds. It’s a shame more people won’t have the opportunity to drive one, and it’s even more of shame I was only able to sit in it without benefit of a test drive. But at least I can say I’ve been behind the wheel of one of the greatest drag strip legends in the automotive world.

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The Hilton Head Island

Seeking Elegance in the Lowcountry By: Chad Ensz


Concours d’Elegance simply means a competition of elegance — with “elegance” being the key word. What is interesting is that too many events using the nomenclature “Concours d’Elegance” no longer parade out much in the way of truly “elegant” cars. Sure the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance lives up to its billing with droves of “elegant” cars in a posh and “elegant” set-

ting, but most Concours d’Elegances often fall far short of their title. I went to a Concours d’Elegance and a 1970s, American muscle car took home top honors. Did I love the car? Yes, absolutely. Was it elegant? Nope, not in the least. Now, it may be a relative term but “elegance” does have a specific meaning and with that said, almost every automobile

produced in the last fifty years are in fact, not elegant. Unfortunately, there is a trend that exquisitely elegant cars are not in the crosshairs of anyone without gray hair (or any hair at all). The age of true elegance for the automobile has sadly passed. Contemporary cars like Mercedes Benz, Cadillac and Bentley stake a claim to elegance, but compared to classic automobiles of

Produced from 1936-1940 — the Bugatti Type 57C had a lightweight aluminum body pared with a supercharged in-line 8-cylinder power plant making it a supercar of its time. This particular car participated at the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2011 even taking home a coveted class award. 26 BlackTie • Number 15 - Issue 4


Concourse d’elegance the past which were formed by the wind of art itself, well, they simply come off as boxy and boring by comparison. At what point did the elegance actually die? Most would say a bit after WWII, in or around the 1950s. But there are exceptions and elegance can be seen in the many details of post-war cars. Ultimately, when engineering became more important than design and/or when efficiency became a greater concern than beauty, we lost elegance in its purest sense. Unfortunately, we are left with a bit of a quandary. If Concours d’Elegances are to be held, but less and less elegant cars are displayed, then maybe their long term sustainability is doomed to failure. Do we allow non-elegant cars to enter, but still apply the title of Concours d’Elegance? Well, truth be told we now have hybrid Concours d’Elegances. Look no further than one of the world’s greatest Concours d’Elegances, the Amelia Island Concours. Here can be seen some of the world’s best and most interesting automobiles, but not all of the entries are elegant and that doesn’t matter in the least. Maybe it’s because, although cars may no longer be elegant in an overall sense, the desire to still see elegance has not completely passed. There will always be elegant features on automobiles, people exist that can look at the tubing under the hood of particular cars and find elegance in the bending and winding of those steel or copper lines to a carburetor. Art is truly in the eyes of the beholder and isn’t elegance synonymous with art? Not every vehicle on display of the most recent installment of the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance was elegant and you could say it is a “hybrid” event (like Amelia Island) with diversity well represented. Make no mistake, there are elegant cars on display at this event but here’s a twist…the setting is what makes this event elegant. Now situated on a golf course BlackTie • Number 15 - Issue 4 27


nestled on the scenic Lowcountry coastline, the days of the event being held on a dusty field called Honey Horn are happily part of the event’s past. With this setting of cars strewn along the fairways and greens of one of the county’s favorite golf destinations, combined with the perfect mood music broadcast over the crowds, the organizers have created a most elegant setting indeed for their event. You would have to understand the South Carolina Lowcountry culture to feel the full effect of this southern charm. But suffice to say, the live oak trees draped with hanging Spanish moss on perfectly manicured golf courses and the smell of fresh sea breeze makes it abundantly clear that this is indeed a memorable location. This event is a lot bigger than common perceptions. In fact, it’s actually called the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’Elegance. The hefty title encompasses a vintage car racing event and a Car Club Jamboree, which is a car show for nice cars but maybe not ones you’d expect to see on the concours lawn the next day. This year’s featured marque was Jaguar and as any car person knows older Jaguars can be quite elegant. At this year’s event, someone showed up with the epitome of elegance — a vintage Bugatti. Their efforts were rewarded with the coveted Best-of-Show for their Bugatti 1938 Type 57C. 28 BlackTie • Number 15 - Issue 4

Some patrons aren’t looking for “elegance”, especially the younger ones. Have no fear; there are all manner of 1950s through 1970s automobiles to peruse. Any major event (and most quaint ones) have at least one of the expected mid-fifties Chevrolets on display. Many folks call this time of Chevrolet dominance the “Tri-Five” era and it refers specifically to the 1955, 1956 and 1957 Chevys. Hilton Head Island had “Tri-Five” represented there with the “big-daddy” — an iconic 1957 Fuel Injected Bel Air. Muscle cars were also well represented with the most likely suspects — Shelby Mustangs, Pontiac GTOs and even a few Dodge Daytonas but the one that caught my eye was a striking 1970 Chevelle SS Convertible. This superb muscle car was draped in black with white racing stripes and a dark red interior… absolutely gorgeous… and a color combination rarely seen. In a society that has an increasing preoccupation with the strange and bizarre, have no fear …the automotive world has its share of these oddities. The micro car gang proudly carried the banner for the peculiar. So, when is the last time you saw a NSU Wankel Spider, Panhard PL17 Cabriolet, Berkley SE492 or an Autobianchi Bianchini Transformible Prima Serie? Still can’t find any vehicles that fit your fancy? I’d find that hard to believe, but maybe


you are one who prefers the two wheeled variants. Motorcycle junkies have nothing to fear in Hilton Head as there are plenty of cycles here for your viewing pleasure. Here’s a query I’ve posed for many years….Where are all of the Ferraris? I cannot explain the lack of Maranello’s finest at this cozy event, and I’m certain work can be accomplished to lure more Ferraris to the Lowcountry, but results up to this point have so far been abysmal. However, we’ll look at this year’s turnout as a small step in the right direction. This year I counted five Ferraris — two on display and three entered. Just to be polarizing, there was actually only one true “Ferrari” entered -- a 250 GTE 2+2 in silver with “pumpkin” colored interior. I had no choice but to discount the other two entries on a technicality — they were Dinos and for the record, Dinos are not Ferraris (they don’t say “Ferrari”

anywhere on them). But time has been kind to these many little Dinos and today they have become indistinguishable from their big brothers in just about every instance. Welcomed at any current event as a Ferrari, who are we to argue their modern-day acceptance? So tally up those additional two as “Ferraris”. One is a blue 1973 Dino 246 GTS and the other a 1972 Dino 246 GT in — what else but — red. The display Ferraris were a Mondial and a new FF. When studying these two Dinos, the blue GTS would definitely get the aficionados’ adrenaline pumping and their wallets wide open because of its removable roof panel. That said, the red GT would be the one I’d have since there is something aesthetically special about the unspoiled roof line. To the detail oriented, when stylists and engineers designed the removable roof panel they did change the

shape and some features of the car. Another luring aspect for this car was the color combinations. Note the traditional red paint with black carpets and tan Daytona-style seats which feature black seat strips. This specific visual mixture makes the car “pop” and pleasing to about any automotive eye. So as I left the 2014 Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, charmed with the sense of elegance and pondering an obvious realization… why aren’t more folks bringing their fine automobiles, why aren’t more major publications making space within their pages, why are there not more travel plans making sure they are paid spectators and at minimum, why aren’t more people at least talking about this fine and impressive gathering? Hey, I just discovered the lead for next year’s article on the 2015 Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance and Motoring Festival.

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1937 Bugatti Atlantic R 350

hp, 5 liter fuel injected V12, 4-speed automatic transmission, front and rear semi elliptic leaf springs. Wheelbase: 127 inches The Model... Distinguished by its “dorsal fin”-used to rivet the body panels together, the Bugatti type 57 Atlantic was the work, and some would say masterpiece of the famed Jean Bugatti. The type 57 Bugatti was given a highly modified version of the type 49 engine, throwing away the chains that formerly drove the twin cams and replacing them with a

much more precise gear drive system. Bugatti only produced four of the aluminum bodied Atlantics and only two still exist. One of the existing examples is owned by Ralph Lauren and has been valued at over 40 million dollars. The other is being kept in the Mullin Museum in Oxnard, California. With only two examples available, and a presumably cost prohibitive price tag the door has been left wide open for custom built interpretations of this beautiful design. The Car... When Terry Cook--former editor of

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Hot Rod magazine and Car Craft magazine--took on the task of building this car, he brought years of custom car knowledge with him. He knew that what he wanted was not an exact copy of Jean Bugatti’s car, but rather a sort of rolling sculpture that would pay homage to both its designer and its most well-known owner, Ralph Lauren. The process of hand sculpting a final product out of carbon fiber was a process that would take builders four years to complete--ending with several coats of House of Kolor jet


black paint. The Pacific is noticeably longer than the original--10 inches to be exact--giving the interior a spacious feel that is roomy enough for any of the NBA’s s tarting forwards. After scouring New York for the upholstery, Mr. Cook eventually found the brocade fabric in an antique warehouse; he fabric was then laid over the exact copies of the tubular stain-

less steel seat frames that were used in Lauren’s Bugatti. A graceful BMW V12 resides under the hood and is no less pleasant to look at than the sweeping lines of the body. Paired with an electronic 4 speed transmission, the power is finally passed to the wire wheels through a Ford nine inch gear. This Bugatti exudes grace and beauty. It has even been remarked, sev-

eral times, that this stunning piece with its wider body and longer flowing lines, may perhaps be even more stunning than Bugatti’s design. If your collection lacks a Bugatti, or you simply cannot stand it when someone shows up in that same type of car as you, the Pacific might just be the car you. Article provided by: Delahaye USA

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Art & Culture

‘Me and My Licker’ Popcorn’s Gone, But His Famous Backwoods Moonshine Is Now Legal By Alabama Charlie

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Art & Culture

Some of the most legendary moonshine ever made can now be purchased legally all across the South, under the name of Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey. For those who haven’t seen the cult-classic films or heard the Hank Williams III song based on his legacy, Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton was the undisputed king of illegal liquor. He made no attempt to hide the fact that he was making large quantities of moonshine in the backwoods just outside Parrotsville, Tennessee, not far from the North Carolina state line. Sutton wrote an autobiography and made a video showing others how to produce what was widely considered to be some of the best “likker” around, according to news reports and a documentary about his life. Friends and family all agree that Popcorn, a name he earned after taking a pool cue to a bar’s balky popcorn machine in the 1960s, lived on his own terms, did what he pleased and said what he felt like saying, with little regard for decorum or etiquette. In 2008, federal authorities caught up with Sutton

and charged him with, among other things, illegally distilling spirits. According to Federal agents, at the time of the arrest, they had found oneof the largest moonshine operations – more than a thousand gallons – they had ever seen. Sutton was convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in prison, but just

days before he was to begin serving time in March 2009, he committed suicide. Sutton’s love for good spirits and good times would soon be validated, however. About eighteen months later, country music legend Hank Williams Jr. , along with Sutton’s widow Pam and Jamey

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Art & Culture Grosser of J&M Concepts, began production on the legal version of the famous brew. The whiskey is reportedly produced in stills that were built from Sutton’s original designs and using Sutton’s family recipe. At the marketing launch for the product, a number of country music artists were on hand, including Martina McBride, Zac Brown, Little Big Town, Lee Brice, and appropriately enough, outlaw country rockers The Kentucky Headhunters. Headhunter drummer Doug Phelps talked to Blacktie Motorsports about

the launch, explaining that Williams summoned dozens of country music’s biggest stars to Tennessee for an unnamed, mysterious event. Upon arrival, they were all promptly loaded on a bus with blacked out windows, and never told where they were headed. Eventually, between sips of crystal clear whiskey, the true nature of the excursion became apparent. “It was a good time and some really good moonshine,” Phelps said. Parrotsville, population 263, and nearby Newport were the first locations where

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Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey could be purchased, but it is now available at most liquor stores around the South. In an ironic twist, although Sutton had faced federal charges, recent changes in Tennessee law have made it legal to produce and sell moonshine for public consumption. Even now, decades after he first made headlines with his rebellious attitude and true redneck spirit, Popcorn Sutton’s notoriety lives on. His tombstone sums up his infamous and infectious view of life: “Popcorn Said %@#$ You.”

Art & Culture

POPCORN’S PORSCHE No Popcorn did NOT drive a Porsche. Although, Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey made numerous appearances this year on the hood and/or doors of the Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GTs.4 These cars compete in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Series. Although Muehlner Motorsports never took Popcorn into victory lane -- Popcorn’s likeness was seen zipping by at insane speeds at legendary tracks like Daytona, Indianapolis and The Petit LeMans (Road Atlanta), amongst other venues. If his likeness was not on the hood of the race car, then you’d see his face on each door with the words. “AMERICA’S REBEL SPIRIT - POPCORN SUTTON.” BlackTie was at this year’s Petit LeMans held at Road Atlanta. Luckily our publisher snapped a random image and upon a later inspection of these shots, we found Popcorn Sutton’s Porsche and his image.

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Art & Culture

Hans Erni, the World-Renowned Swiss Artist, Creates Design for the Pilatus PC-12 NG Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. was incorporated in Stans, Switzerland, 75 years ago, in December, 1939. Providing a perfect finale to the anniversary year of 2014, Hans Erni, the world-renowned Swiss painter, designed the color scheme for our new PC-12 NG demo aircraft. Hans Erni was born in 1909 in Lucerne. Now

thereby ensuring that this particular aircraft, series number 1515, remains absolutely unique.   On the same occasion, Oscar J. Schwenk, chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus, presented Erni with a model of the PC-12 as a souvenir of his work. Erni spoke with pride of his involvement:

105, he is a painter, graphic artist and sculptor of international renown. He has created countless lithographs, more than 300 posters and several murals for the Swiss Red Cross, the IOC, UNO, UNESCO and the ICAO, as well as numerous public and private businesses. Erni qualified as a private pilot in 1946 and many of his works of art are dedicated to aviation. The royal blue background of the PC-12 NG is decorated with white horses, doves of peace and a depiction of Pegasus, all drawn by Erni. The animals were chosen to symbolize the PC-12 NG’s credentials as a workhorse whilst also underlining its excellent flight characteristics. Today, putting the finishing touch to his work, Erni added his signature and the date to the PC-12 NG’s engine cowling at his workshop in Lucerne,

“I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on many exceptional things in my life, but never yet on such a fantastic aircraft! I’m proud to think that my drawings are now destined to fly around the world!”   Schwenk was equally enthusiastic about the new PC-12 NG: “This is the first time that such a well-known artist has been involved with the design of one of our aircraft,” Schwenk said. “This aircraft is symbolic of an innovative Swiss company: Pilatus. We are proud that the name Hans Erni will be associated with our aircraft on its demo assignments in 2015, delighting our customers and fans on every continent.   “On behalf of Pilatus, I would like to express my warm thanks to Hans Erni for his work, and for this wonderful result.”

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Art & Culture

Butch, Lady Lex and the bettys America’s First Air Ace of WWII was a Reluctant Hero By Robert M. Coker


ess than two months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy was in the South Pacific, looking to strike against the Japanese. Admiral Wilson Brown was in charge of Task Force 11, consisting of the carrier Lexington, the cruisers U.S.S. Minneapolis and U.S.S. Indianapolis, along with seven destroyers. Admiral Brown decided to attack Rabaul in an attempt to foil Japanese attempts to fortify the port. Believing that the Japanese fleet carriers were in the waters off the Dutch East Indies, he felt confident that TF11 could effectively attack with aircraft and bombard with surface ships. His plan was to pass east of the Solomons to a position where he could launch an attack from 150 miles northeast. With surprise on his side, he could eliminate any air resistance while it was still on the ground and have the bonus of sinking shipping vessels caught at anchor. Early on the morning of February 20, 3 Japanese reconnaissance planes were sent out to search sectors that reached out 500 miles east from Rabaul. At 1030, the Americans lost the element of surprise when one of the flying boats spotted TF11 at 460 miles northeast of Rabaul. Navy F4F Wildcats brought two of the elusive recon planes down in pillars of flame and black smoke. With surprise lost and too far out to launch an attack that day, Brown decided to scrap the strike. Instead, to salvage some purpose by feigning attack on Rabaul and thereby divert the Japanese fleet from the East Indies, TF11 continued on course southwest directly towards Rabaul. Japanese command at Rabaul felt certain that the Americans

would be bombing them the next morning if they didn’t act first. The 4th Air Group based at Vunakanau field outside Rabaul flew the new Mitsubishi G4M1 Type 1 twin-engine medium bomber later code named by the allies as “Betty”. Very fast and with exceptional range, the Betty could carry a respectable 2,000 lb bomb load or one aerial torpedo. Defensive arma-

ment consisted of one 7.7mm Lewis gun (built under license!) each in the glazed nose, dorsal and twin side blisters and a potent 20mm cannon in the tail. The Betty’s Achilles’ heel was the same issue that plagued all early Japanese aircraft: no self-sealing fuel tanks and no crew armor. With the usual Japanese aircraft propensity to “flame” when hit with tracers, its

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own crews later dubbed it the “Type 1 lighter”. Since no torpedoes had yet to arrive at Rabaul, at 1420 seventeen G4Ms took off, each loaded with bombs. A tropical storm forced the Japanese to split their formation to search for the Americans. Spotted on radar, the Lexington’s Fighter Direction Officer (FDO) vectored his Combat Air Patrol (CAP) Wildcats out to intercept an incoming strike force of nine planes. Engaging the bombers at approximately 1640 hours, the Wildcats began tearing into the Japanese with textbook gunnery passes. Three bombers fell in two minutes as the battle came into sight of the Lex. Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare and the remaining Wildcat and SBD (Scout Bomber, Douglas) crews sat on deck in their aircraft watching the trails of smoke as each bomber fell. Scrambling to launch all her fueled and loaded aircraft, Lexington turned up her screws to 30 knots and came about into the wind. The F4Fs led SBDs into the air. O’Hare in Wildcat #15 and his wingman Lt.(jg) Marion Dufilho in #4. Meanwhile, a fourth, then a fifth G4M fell to the Wildcats as the remaining bombers closed the gap on the fleeing carrier. Captain Sherman brilliantly anticipated the Japanese moves and maneuvered his huge ship to throw off their aim. Their lead bomber (and conse-

quently, lead bombardier) shot down, the remaining bombers ineffectually dropped their bombs. The nearest explosion was 3,000 yards from the Lexington’s deck. Another Betty fell as the bombers tried to escape the murderous stings of the swarming fighters. The F4Fs chased the last three bombers as they split up and dove toward the water to gain speed. All were eventually caught and splashed. A dozen miles northeast of the Lexington at 15,000 feet, the other eight G4Ms broke out of scattered clouds to spot the American ships. These Japanese were amazed at their luck, for no fighters were visible anywhere to oppose them.. On the Lex, the FDO had a plot littered with contacts and no way to know which were his. At 1700 he realized that the new bogeys were bearing down on him. O’Hare and his wingman Dufilho were all he had in that sector so they were vectored to meet the new threat. The Wildcats turned into the bombers from above and began firing runs. Approaching from head on, the two fighters allowed the flight of bombers to pass underneath then rolled over for an attack from the formation’s high right side. O’Hare bored in on the trailing right-hand bomber and poured heavy .50 caliber slugs into its starboard

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engine nacelle. Immediately, smoke and oil spewed forth as the bomber lost speed and fell. Still bearing down, O’Hare switched his focus to the other trailing Betty in this “Vee” of three. Having “boomed”, right-to-left across the bomber formation, Butch pulled up to zoom around for another attack. As he looked back, it seemed that Dufilho had vanished. Dufilho’s guns had jammed, probably during the high-G turn as they rolled over for the attack. Seething, he decided to stay out of his section leader’s way but followed him through the formation in attempt to draw fire. After the first pass he pulled away and furiously tried to clear his guns. The left side Vee was actually a Vee of three but with another two more trailing behind and to the left. Butch now focused in on the trailing bomber on the left side. Firing until flame erupted, he adjusted his course toward the next bomber ahead as the first skidded and fell out. (This Betty actually made it back to Rabaul after the crew extinguished its fires.) Ripping into the next G4M off the left wing of the lead bomber, O’Hare

Art & Culture

expertly ignited its port engine, causing it to pull sharply left and fall into a dive. By now all the Japanese gunners were trying to kill their tormentor, but Butch continued. His highside attacks kept him out of the fire of the 20mm “stingers’ in the Betty’s tails. Pulling around again, for his third pass, O’Hare took aim on the lead bomber as the formation came into range of anti-aircraft fire from the ships below. Ignoring the shellbursts, Butch fired so accurately, the port side engine of the lead bomber torqued free of its mountings and fell from the aircraft in a violent explosion. At one point, three flaming bombers were seen falling at once. As the lead plane dropped away, the remaining four bombers dropped their bombs. More accurate than the first flight of bombers, these bombs nonetheless missed, albeit by only 100 feet! Admiral Sherman had once again wrenched his huge flattop into violent evasive maneuvers that kept his ship undamaged. In the span of four minutes, O’Hare had actually shot down three bombers single handedly and severely damaged three others, one of which crashed within minutes of the mêlée. He was credited with five bombers destroyed and

one damaged. Only two eventually were able to return to Rabaul. Another ditched in Simpson harbor but of the seventeen Bombers sent out that afternoon from Rabaul, only two survived. The lead bomber, whose engine was amputated, did not immediately crash. Its pilot managed to regain control for a suicide run against the Lexington. Despite a gallant and superhuman effort to manhandle the crippled bomber, he crashed 1500 yards off her port bow. The surviving Japanese reported optimistically that they had sunk one enemy cruiser or destroyer and had set an aircraft carrier on fire. They claimed eight Wildcats shot down. Upon examination of his F4F, only one bullet hole was found in O’Hare’s wing that disabled his airspeed indicator. Two Wildcats were lost that day. One pilot was killed and the other recovered after they caught 20mm fire from the Betty’s stingers. When he landed back on Lexington, deck crew climbed up on his wing to check on him. “I’m O.K. Just load those ammo belts and I’ll get back up. But first I want a drink of water. My throat feels swelled shut.” Advised that he wouldn’t be relaunched, he pulled himself, soaked through with sweat, from the cockpit. At first, it wasn’t understood that only Butch had thwarted the second wave. It wasn’t until later, after action reports were taken

orally by Thatch that the full picture of the day’s events had emerged. Suddenly he was the center of attention; a place where he was most uncomfortable. Distinguished Flying Crosses and Navy Medals (second only to the Medal of Honor) were recommended for Butch and a number of other pilots, including his C.O., Jimmy Thatch. Butch turned to Thatch. “I don’t want a medal, the other officers in the squadron would have done the same thing and we all know it!” Thatch later described how Butch pleaded with him “for one whole evening not to recommend him” When the recommendations hit Washington, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and Admiral King put Butch in for the Medal of Honor. In these early days of the war America needed a hero and here one was. It didn’t hurt that he was good looking and modest.

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Art & Culture

Truth Audio: The Homegrown Company That Married Art and Technology from Truth Audio and Blacktie It wasn’t in Silicon Valley. It wasn’t in New York or L.A., or even Nashville. It was a couple of guys in Dothan, Alabama, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida, who seem to have come up with some of the most accurate studio sound monitors ever made. This high-tech speaker system, for lack of a better term, has pretty much transformed the recording industry, winning one accolade after another. “It was possible to pinpoint where the first violinist sat, that the French horns were sitting behind the

flute, and to hear the delicate distinction between low oboe and high English horn – without reading along with the score,” Recording Magazine wrote in a review of some of the earliest versions of these monitors. The company is known as Truth Audio, Inc., because its founders believe the technology reflects the actual, recorded sound better than any other system. The breakthrough was born out of sheer frustration. Musician and studio owner Shannon Wallace said he was un-

able to find a speaker system that would reflect “accurate” sound, not just “good” sound, which can be misleading to the musicians and sound engineers. He had been struggling along, using multiple sets of speakers to accomplish one simple task: “To deliver an accurate studio mix that translates sound the same way on all speakers systems,” he said. After more than a year of experimentation, research, testing and development, using non-echo sound chambers and computer-guided software, Wallace and fellow studio guru Michael

R.C.S. is our department dedicated to “Really Cool Stuff ”. We explore the web constantly searching for the most unique things, interesting tidbits, cool gear and more. If you come across something you’d like to share -- please let us know. Enjoy! 44 BlackTie • Number 15 - Issue 4

Art & Culture

Boyd in 1998 came up with two different systems. “We could not decide which set we liked best so we did a blind taste test, using only our ears,” Wallace recalled. Finally, Wallace and Boyd settled on what they called the TA-1P NearField Monitoring System, and launched Truth Audio. The reviews and awards came pouring in. “A studio monitor should be a tool, not an entertainment device,” Recording Magazine’s Bob Ross wrote in his review. “If your monitors make those noisy, distorted, unbalanced, flat recordings sound ‘better’ than they really are... it’s doing you a disservice.” The TA-1Ps quickly became famous for unvarnished, spot-on reproduction. “Our first year was far more successful that we could have imagined,” Wallace said. “Four of the top five major recording publications tested our products and gave rave reviews.” “Don’t get me wrong, it has not been easy,” Wallace said. “In fact, it is the hardest thing I have attempted in the business world, and if I did not believe

the product was a valuable tool worthy to be used by the professional recording community, I would have quit long ago.” Truth Audio products are now used in the Jimi Hendrix studio known as Electric Ladyland, Oprah Winfrey Networks’ production facility, and other well-known studios. Wallace is now the sole owner of Truth Audio and lately has been working with Ron Wolverton, who owns a computer numerical control machining shop in Fort Walton Beach known as Emerald Coast CNC. The new design is carved out of a solid slab of aluminum. The aluminum enclosure has hardly any acoustic characteristics of its own, so it isolates the speaker components and true sound without introducing the resonance characteristics of wood or other material, the company said. This is the first glimpse of what Truth Audio calls its “Reflexion.” And they’re not just for the recording industry, Wallace said. “These speakers can also be used in a home, if you are just a serious sound enthusiast or audiophile,” he said.

It wasn’t in Silicon Valley. It wasn’t in New York or L.A., or even Nashville. Where is it, you ask? It is where art meets sound and it took couple of guys in Dothan, Alabama, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida to come up with some of the most accurate studio sound monitors ever made. This high tech speaker system, for lack of a better term, has pretty much transformed the recording industry, winning one accolade after another. “It was possible to pinpoint where the first violinist sat, that the French horns were sitting behind the flutes, and to hear the delicate distinctions between low oboe and high English horn, all without reading along with the score,” Recording Magazine wrote in their review of the earliest versions of these monitors.

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Art & Culture

The camera Hasselblad has made for just 200 aficionados Hasselblad has announced the launch of a brand new camera - but only 200 people in the world will ever get to own one.

The Hasselblad Lunar Lim-

ited Edition, bristling with latest capture technology and crafted in lightweight titanium, boasts a sumptuous, unique red Tuscan leather grip; a black leather shoulder strap accented with red stitching and an exclusive PVD matte gold-treated top plate - and comes with a ‘before tax’ price tag of €7,200. Hasselblad has timed

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Art & Culture

the launch of the latest edition in its highly popular Lunar range to coincide with Chinese New Year (Jan 31st). Said Hasselblad CEO Ian Rawcliffe: “We wanted to celebrate what, coincidentally, is also known as The Lunar New Year, with a unique and iconic limited edition camera which we believe will be revered as a true example of camera art by photo-connoisseurs and collectors across

the world. Only two hundred have been developed in our Italy-based design centre and the exclusive red and gold colours on the grip and body underpin the traditional Chinese belief that these shades represent good fortune and joy. “Our Lunar mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera range embraces all the advanced technology found in top DSLR models and each unit in this latest Limited Edi-

tion version is offered sequentially numbered.” He added: “This is a unique opportunity for a very small number of discerning photographers who want high-spec shooting capability linked with matchless Italian craftsmanship in a point and shoot camera, to invest in a photo-capture icon.” The feature-rich 24 megapixel Hasselblad Lunar Limited Edition camera incorporates Full HD Video capability and bundles with a black E-mount 18-55mm lens. The camera’s wide range ISO sensitivity allows the user to shoot in almost any light. The unit’s special PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) finish provides hardness that is second only to diamond. Hasselblad’s Lunar range, first launched last year, was inspired by the company’s first camera in space the now legendary Hasselblad 500C.

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Food & Wine

Unexpected Stop in Florence Opens the Door to a Culinary Renaissance


By Ashley Boykin

ometimes, improvising leads one to discover something incredible. In my case, it was a last-minute decision to venture to Florence, Italy, instead of my original plan to stay in Vienna, Austria. One of the great hallmarks of Europe is the ease of transportation across the continent. Thus, I was determined to take advantage of that and add an excursion to the seat of the Renaissance. Upon landing, I was immediately smitten, but I did not anticipate how my quick decision would lead me to one of the paramount memories of my lifetime. It was there, in the midst of the city’s captivating history, renowned architecture and impeccable fashion that an unassuming storefront would hide one of the city’s best secrets. One night, after a fantastic meal at a place in the Piazza del Duomo, I headed towards the Arno River to find an enjoyable spot to have dessert. As fate would have it,

I stumbled across an unassuming storefront that is ground zero for Tuscany’s culinary Renaissance. Upon entering the establishment, I was greeted with a sleek yet rustic design. I knew that if the food was as good as the décor, then I was in for a treat. It wasn’t long before my cheese plate appeared and I met Fabio Gerini, the managing director for Il Borro Tuscan Bistro. Il Borro, which means “deep gorge,” is a Florentine gem and Mr. Gerini and the executive chef, Andrea Campani, are the men making the magic happen. The restaurant is owned by the dynastic Ferragamo fashion family, which has called Florence home for generations. Il Borro Toscana is a stunning Relais & Chateau property, which the family also owns. As a result, with that illustrious DNA, it is no surprise that that the bistro’s interior is well-appointed. Yet, its aesthetics are only the beginning, because the food holds its own. Il Borro’s menu is unlike al-

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most anything would find anywhere in Tuscany. The restaurant takes rustic Italian cuisine and transforms it into an upscale, yet welcoming experience. The menu is simple, the portions are perfect, and it has just as many locals dining there as it does tourists. Some of the most popular dishes include local chicken in eggs and sour sauce, roasted Chianina beef, and fried codfish. “We are going for innovation, excellence and simplicity,” Mr. Gerini said. Nothing at Il Borro is overwrought. Instead, the restaurant’s focus is on locally sourcing its pro-

duce with an eye on sustainability, all to maintain the high quality for which it is famous. Naturally, no good Italian restaurant worth its salt neglects wine, and Il Borro is no different. The staff meticulously selects every wine, most of it from the surrounding region, before it is permitted to enter the cellars. The Tuscan vintners are renowned for paying close attention to the soil, because the wine reflects the soil. Poor soil yields poor wine. Thankfully, Tuscan soil is hearty and produces some of the best wines in the world.

The vino I had, one on a long list of premier Italian wines, was a perfect complement to my cheese plate, and I was thrilled when Mr. Gerini invited me back the next day. I arrived after an early morning shopping excursion to take in the full beauty of the establishment. It was during this meeting that I was able to delve deeper into Il Borro’s concept. Now, if one is familiar with the Ferragamo family’s aesthetic, one will understand that Il Borro is an artistic viewpoint in culinary form. Mr. Gerini states: “The aesthetic is there to enhance the taste of the food. Everything is simple, yet cosmopolitan, just like our food.” Il Borro is an experience that cannot be summed up without appraising all of its parts. The beauty of Il Borro is within the senses. You have to see it, you have to taste it, you have to touch it, and you have to smell it to completely understand, savor and appreciate its culinary excellence. Sometimes we discover adventure and memories where we least expect them. In my case, one small choice led me to a place that is unlike any other in Florence and possibly the world. Next time you’re in Florence, take a walk by the River Arno, between the Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita. Look for the simple storefront with “Il Borro Tuscan Bistro” on it. If you’re lucky enough to see Mr. Gerini there, stop by and say hello. Then prepare to be enchanted by what you find inside.

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Food & Wine


eople come to Italy for the art and the architecture, the history and the deep human touch of its inhabitants. But it’s the excellence of the food and wine that keeps people coming back, again and again. In Italy, the word “typical” means “true to itself” and “authentic,” and it is the reason why so many become so easily addicted to Italian food. And Amarone wine is one of the most typical expressions of the Northern Italian culinary culture. Also known as the “King of the Valpolicella” region of Veneto in northeastern Italy, Amarone is known as strong-yet-smooth, sweet-yet-bitter, easy-to-drink, yet highly sophisticated red wine. The word literally means “great bitterness.” But don’t let that fool you: The sweetness is right there with it. The scenery in these famed vineyards is equally spectacular, with lush hills covered by meticulously organized vines. Valpolicella makes for a perfect opportunity for (fit) cyclists with a nose for good wine – or anyone willing to pull off the road and take in the panorama. Amarone is arguably one of the prime actors in the re-discovery of the made-in-Italy wine movement that has now swept the world, and is an example of vintners who combine artisanal know-how with artistic expression. The variety was commercially used by the winemaker Bolla for the first time in 1953, and was produced on a widespread commercial basis in the late 1960s, when the Italian winemaking underwent a real transformation to satisfy the global market. But the technique for making this bittersweet spirit and the importance of its grapes is documented in writings that date back at least to 1000 A.D. At the time, Amarone was considered equal to money for the payment of feudal rights. Prob-

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Food & Wine

AMARONE della Valpolicella, The bitter-sweet wine of the ancients By Luca Ecari

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Food & Wine ably the first to use the word “amaro” (bitter) was Scipione Maffei, an Italian literate from the Age of the Enlightenment. It should be no surprise, then, that Amarone is one of the most expensive Italian red wines, with a plethora of small and bigger winemakers in the Valpolicella region boast their own properties, vineyards and often historical properties in producing their own brands. A few notes about this famous wine: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Negrara are the purely Italian grape varieties which, accurately merged, give birth to the Amarone. The transformation technique of the grapes, known as “appassimento,” calls for a staged and closely monitored drying process, most typically performed on the traditional “graticci” grates on which the grapes are laid, to be exposed to air circulation, usually under the roofs of barns. The appassimento guarantees that the grapes reach a higher content of aroma and sugar. For this very same reason, the grapes must be hand picked and carefully selected to guarantee their integrity. The pressing (“pigiatura”) of the grapes cannot take place before the month of January following the harvest, and the wort (“mosto” in Italian) is so concentrated that the fermentation takes place at a slower pace than most wines. With an average of 15 percent alcohol content (Italian law dictates a minimum of 14 percent) Amarone is arguably one of the strongest red wines in the world. Despite its high alcoholic tenor, Amarone accompanies well a vast number of dishes, including roasted meats, desserts (try it 54 BlackTie • Number 15 - Issue 4

Food & Wine with a chocolate or even cheese cake). This is an example of what goes in Italy under the name of “vini da meditazione” (meditation wines), characterizing full-bodied, usually (but not exclusively) sweet wines. Meditation wines are usually consumed, not strictly as a food companion, but with the requisite leisure -- “alone to enjoy” as the locals say. The famous Italian wine writer Luigi Luigi Veronelli (1926-2004) described them as “very complex and unusual wines, which are to be enjoyed in a long winter evening, sip for sip by the fireside.” Many of the wine cellars in Valpolicella are open to the publc. Some occupy ancient and sumptuous villas, or former benedictine monasteries, while others are utterly modern complexes at the forefront of current architecture. Our recommendation is to procure yourself a bottle of Amarone. Open the bottle and let it “breathe” for no less than half an hour. Get a wide, ample glass and pour a single sip of wine to rinse the glass with a circular movement. Empty the glass, then pour Amarone about a fourth of the way up the glass, to the widest spot, in order to maximize the aromas, thanks to the oxygenation. Serve at an ideal temperature between 64 to 68 degrees F. Leave a glass to taste after dinner, like a proper meditation wine, immersed in your armchair, facing a crackling fire or on the porch under a moonlit sky. Valpolicella has all the elements of a great wine tourism experience, and tourists needing a place to stay have many attractive options, from basic to luxurious, five-star experiences. BlackTie •• Number Number 15 15 -- Issue Issue 4 4 55 55 BlackTie

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Food & Wine

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Food & Wine

By Alabama Charlie

Ernie Hall, AKA Just The Cook

has a lot of passions in life as the forward reveals, yet today he is reveling in his role as Just the Cook. I had the privilege of meeting Ernie while sitting on boat dock over at the scenic Marina Village & Yacht Club at LaGrange Bayou. Ernie was drinking a bottle of Schlitz and oddly studying a boat that appeared to be in need of repairs. As it turned out this was

Hall’s runabout and these particular mechanical gremlins proved fortuitous for BlackTie. You see, this man looked familiar, very familiar. The broken-down boat bought time, allowing me to search my

brain in order to figure out just who this man was, then it hit me. I recalled him from appearances on the Food Channel. This man with a boat problem and a Schlitz is Just the Cook. Always open to meeting new and interesting people, I approach him and he shares that his restaurant is docked nearby at the St. Andrews Marina. As it turns out, Hall’s restaurant is a simple house

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Food & Wine

boat accompanied by a few sets of collapsable tables, patio chairs, white tablecloths and the such. Although securely moored, one might come across Hall’s Just the Cook out and about near Shell Island or possibly on the sandy white beaches in Panama City, all depending on schedules and weather conditions of course. Meeting a culinary celebrity meant only one thing — the sooner I can be sampling his savory creations, the better. Soon there after, all of the proper arrangements were made. Next I was indulging on one of Hall’s eatable arrangements. My selection consisted of a boneless pork loin, baked and resting in a

grape reduction sauce, topped with a parmesan crisp and served with a side of deep fried zucchini sticks. However, the most unique part of the evening was the free beer! At first Hall could not secure a liquor license, so like any good Marine he improvised and simply gave away beer and wine with each meal — problem solved. Just the Cook manages to drive the point home by having a sign that states. “Coke $1, water $1 and beer is free.” Too good to be true you ask? No joking, there is a cooler just sitting there — full of beer — ready for the taking. You will need to buy a meal though, no worries, the food is even better than the free beer!

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Ernie’s a real stickler as he cannot escape the detail-oriented Marine within him. His menu is indicative of his attention to detail and there is no deviation to his top food selections, but alongside the staples in his menu are his creative specials. These visionary food innovations are unparalleled in my culinary experiences. I had the an appetizer that consisted of risotto with bacon, brie, grapes, and a deliciously tangy (secret recipe) homemade sauce. The plating was impeccable and the taste was absolutely spectacular! Way too good for just one visit, I had to experience Just the Cook again. It was during this second visit that I ordered the Dan-D

Food & Wine

Donut Burger (named after Dan-DDonuts and Deli, the place where Hall purchases his doughnuts) as my main dish. Hall’s burger is a moderate five ounces because if it was any larger, it would simply over-power the bun. Though he initially tried to use a single glazed doughnut that was sliced in half to serve as the bun, he found that wasn’t substantial enough to hold the patty as well as the toppings. Thus, he upped the ante and utilizes two glazed doughnuts to make one bun. Does one choose to count calories or enjoy their meal? In an interesting discovery, Hall learned to age his doughnuts a day or two in the fridge, yes — like fine wine and cheese — Just

the Cook ages donuts. This method proves necessary as a fresh doughnut will simply fall apart as young donuts just lack the proper firmness to hold one of Hall’s burgers. Ernie takes these mature donuts and removes a sliver off the top and proceeded to grill them facedown. Hall’s real masterpiece comes between the donuts via a rosemary infused burger, a spring mix, Canadian bacon, Swiss and bleu cheeses and roasted red peppers. Obviously, the popular collaboration ends up massively tall, which requires the use of a skewer. Yet, tall and precarious, Hall insists that everything on his Dan-D Donut Burger has to be there as each in-

gredient serves a purpose. The delicious meals that Hall prepared for BlackTie was some of the best food I have personally ever tasted! Why should that surprise us, we just had a meal served by one the “Top Sixteen Cooks in America” as selected by the Food Network. There is no questioning the importance of the food itself when judging a meal, but if you strive to LIVE LIFE WELL and join the BlackTie culture, then you must appreciate any meal cooked on a house boat by a U.S. Marine. The fact that you can do this all while soaking up the sunny Florida coast is just a bonus from the Just the Cook.

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Food & Wine

343 Kelsey Barnard by Alabama Charlie

Kelsey’s story is a classic

est 2008


came across a job at Café transformed Kelsey from a

tale of a small-town South- Boulud and at Dovetail shy food lover into an as-

ern girl, educated at the restaurants in Manhattan, sertive leader with worldfinest school in New York, where she honed her craft class culinary skills. At the

only to bring her knowl- under the watchful eyes of same time, she realized edge back home. While Chef Gavin Kaysen and just how popular tradition-

attending the Culinary In- the world-renowned Chef al, simple, Southern food, stitute of America in Hyde Daniel Boulud. Park, New York, Kelsey The

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including grits and slaw,

experience are, even to the worldly

Food & Wine

Kelsey Barnard is an up-and-coming chef bringing the creative energy of New York’s culinary scene to her KBC Butcher Block & Market in Dothan, Alabama.

clientele of New York.“I from downtown. The one love of meats, smoked or realized that in New York, item that regular custom- not. If a place can make a

there was an abundance ers say must be tried is hearty and perfectly seaof restaurants with authen- The Brisket. It is a huge soned sandwich, it can tic Southern food, which hunk of house-smoked keep customers coming

wasn’t made by Southern- beef with barbecue sauce back for more. This is the ers,”said Kelsey.

on a toasted and sweet essence of Kelsey Bar-

In early 2014, she sourdough bun, complet- nard’s KBC Butcher Block

brought it home to Do- ed with a side of vinegar on than, and opened the slaw. Butcher Block and Mar-





Of course, South- with a worldly touch.


ket just a couple of miles erners are known for their

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Profile for Alabama Charlie

Blacktie Motorsport Number 4  

Blacktie Motorsport Number 4  


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