GROUP-B RACE RECAP

The sun broke through the fog mid-morning at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the rest of the day was beaut. Because of the fog delay, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Group B cars got a late start, so all eight groups had shortened qualifying races.

Race Group 1B – 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc was won by Brian Orosco in his No.36 1959 Huffaker Genie Mk IV. He took the lead almost immediately, from his P3 start based on his finish in the morning race. Brian Orosco turned the fastest time on the last lap of eight, with a burst of speed to 75.638 mph.

Orosco’s Margin of Victory over Frank Zucchi in his 1960 Piranha Sports Racer was 09.118 seconds.

Pole sitter from the morning race, Edward Lamantia’s 1962 Huffaker Mk V Genie, never ran.

John Wilburn’s No.259 1959 Peerless AmBo gave out on his on the first lap, necessitating a flat bed tow, and three pace laps before the Green Flag. Another casualty was Tom Tuttle and his 1961 Huffaker Genie Mk IV. He started second, and was running fifth when he pitted and retired.

The average race lap was 56.965 mph. Thirty-four cars of 39 ran the morning qualifying race, and twenty-eight in the feature.

Group 2B in Corkscrew

Race 2B for 1963-1972 FIA Mfg.Championship Cars was won by Gray Gregory, who was the pole sitter based on his morning’s finish.

Runner-up was John Goodman and his 1972 Ferrari 312SP Spar, after starting fourth. The Margin of Victory was 09.510 seconds. Third starter and finisher was Cameron Healy and his 1970 Porsche 908/3.

Gregory turned the fastest race lap of 84.502 mph on Lap 2 and 82.584 mph was the average race lap.

The track has two radar gun ‘speed traps’ which measure the car’s speed at that given point. The Zoom-Zoom display on top of the Start-Finish bridge measure the speed going uphill into Turn One. For Group 2B the top speed was 127 mph. The other radar is between Turns Four and Five.

Gregory led almost the entire 13-lap race. At the start, the second-placed starter, Harinda De Silva and his No.196 1965 Elva Mk 8 got the jump on Gregory, but spun out on course in Turn Three, and had to wait out the field before rejoining the pack. He went from back to P6 in no short time, and finished fifth, just ahead of veteran racer, Lyn St James. She started seventh and finished sixth.

St James also was awarded the Rolex Award for excellence in her class, in 2B. The award is selected for each race group by an independent and anonymous group of judges.

Seventh was veteran sports car and endurance racer, Gunnar Jeanette in the REVS car, No.526 1965 Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta, after starting tenth. Wonder how that will show up on the data for which he is wired all over.

No.54 1967 Porsche 911 S

Patrick Long

Porsche factory driver, Patrick Long, started P16 and finished in the No.54 1967 Porsche 911S owned Alan Benjamin out of Boulder, Colorado. The car was a class winner in the 1967 Daytona 24 Hour race. Long described it as small, short wheel base and no aerodynamics. “It’s a bundle of fun and a lot of work.” This is Long’s first Reunion race. He ran Rennsport a few years back, and walked the paddock introducing himself to all the Porsche owners, saying if they ever wanted someone to drive their car, Long was ready, willing and able. It worked and a year or so later, he got the call. He helped set up Benjamin’s other Porsche, an Andial last weekend. Maybe next year Long will drive the Andial.

Craig Bennett and his 1974 Shadow DN4 won the Group 3B race for 1963-1974 Can Am and USRRC Cars, and set the fastest time of 92.604 mph on Lap 3, the top lap time of the day. Car creator, Don Nichols, was at the track this weekend, keeping a low profile. He said he’s 90 years now, and it’s nice to see his Shadow cars still racing.

Group 3 B was fastest all around. The Margin of Victory in the 13-lap race was 18.095 seconds, the average race lap was 85.383 mph – the highest of the day, and the Zoom-Zoom display highest speed was 152 mph – highest all day. Because the cars are out of sight it’s not easy to determine which car sets which speeds.

Thomas Steuer started and finished second in the 1970 McLaren M8C owned by friend, Spencer Trenery, as Trenery’s still in a wheel chair with a broken left leg. Steuer is also racing his own Chevrolet Corvette in another group.

Rick Knoop's No.3 1972 McLaren M8F

Rick Knoop’s No.3 1972 McLaren M8F

Rick Knoop and his wild blue 1972 McLaren M8F came in third. Knoop wore his father’s race suit to drive his father’s car. Knoop just spent the last 31 months putting together an hour+ long documentary on “The Last Race in The Forest” referring to the Pebble Beach race in which his late father, Fred Knoop raced. Many other local SFR SCCA and professional racers were from the area and are featured. The film had a private showing earlier this week, hosted by Pebble Beach. It’s getting good reviews from those who have the good fortune to see the movie.

Chris McAllister's No.5 1971 McLaren M8F-1

Chris McAllister’s No.5 1971 McLaren M8F-1

Chris McAllister and his No.5 McLaren M8F-1 started twenty-second, and moved right on up to fourth place. He received the Rolex Award of Excellence for his race group.

On the cool-off lap, Lilo Zicron crashed his 1966 Lola T70. He got two wheels off Driver’s Right past the Start-Finish Bridge, and shot across the track and hit the concrete wall on Driver’s Left, scattering parts and sending at least one wheel careening across track. The second and third place McLaren’s narrowly avoided the incident and threaded their way through the wreckage. The driver appeared shaken but otherwise OK.

Race 4B was won by second place starter, Mike Miller and his 1970 Chevron B19. World Champion Motorcycle rider, Eddie Lawson had the pole in his No.17 1975 Osella PA 3/5 and led much of the race, until it appeared that he fell back to fourth when he slowed for an Emergency vehicle and those behind did not. He moved back up to finish third by dogging Wade Carter’s 1974 Lola T294. Lawson set the fastest lap of 91.828 mph on Lap 5.

Miller’s Margin of Victory over Carter was 00.847 seconds, and the average race lap was 85.22 mph. The Zoom-Zoom speed was 134. Sixteen of the 22 entrants raced.

Race 5B for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT cars was won by the pole sitting car, No.25 Tatum Special from the UK, driven by Rob Manson of the UK. He also set the fastest time of 72.704 mph on Lap 3.

The Margin of Victory was 00.241 seconds, the closest of the day. The Zoom-Zoom speed topped out at 104 mph.

Second was Cameron Healey, who started in his 1953 Porsche Cooper Pooper. The Margin of Victory was , Third was John Buddenbaum’s 1949 Jaguar Parkinson Special, which started second.

The average lap time for the 11-lap race was 71.03 mph. The Zoom-Zoom speed was 104 mph. Nineteen of 28 entrants competed.

Howard Swig's 1951 Chrysler Saratoga Club Coupe

Howard Swig in the family No.32 1951 Chrysler Saratoga Club Coupe was entered, but did not run due to last minute mechanical problems. His father, the late Martin Swig, raced La Carrera Panamerica Mexico Rallye in the car, a sister car to the one raced by the late John Fitch – who has autographed Swig’s hood.

Loud doesn’t begin to describe Group 6B for 1981-1989 FIA and IMSA GTP, 1980-1991 GTO Cars. And fast. Their Zoom-Zoom top speed was 146 mph. The top three finished where they started 1-2-3.

No.3 1990 Chevrolet Beretta

TK’s No.3 1990 Chevrolet Beretta

Winner Welson Munsey drove his 1992 Mazda RX-t-92P had a Margin of Victory of 05.006 over runner-up Russell Kempnich of Australia in his 1984 Porsche 956C.

Canadian Pieter Baljet finished third in the 1990 Chevrolet Beretta originally raced by veteran driver and four-time Trans-Am Champion, Tommy Kendall. And perhaps coincidently, TK has now rejoined the new Trans-Am Series, racing his second Trans-Am race this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, driving No.11 Dodge Challenger SRT painted Sam Posey green – which replicates the color on Kenny Epsman’s No.77 Historic Trans-Am Dodge Challenger, affectionately called Green Slime.

No fastest lap time was recorded. The average race speed was 81.364 mph. Twenty-six of 38 entrants ran the 8-lap race.

After starting third, Herbert Wetanson won the 7B race for 1061-1966 GT Cars under 2500cc in his 1966 Alfa Romeo Ginetta G4. His Margin of Victory was ahead of Patrick Byrne in his 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Corsa. Byrne started second. Finishing third was Alan Terpin’s 1967 Porsche 911 T/R-he started fourth.

The fastest lap time was set by perhaps the youngest driver of the weekend – Byrne, at 77.195 mph on Lap 7, the Zoom-Zoom speed was 108 mph, and the average race lap was 71.457 mph.

Ken Morgan and his 1968 Chevron B8 started on pole, but something happened on Lap Seven, and he was credited with P31 in a field of 34, of 46 entrants.

The last race of the day and the weekend was 8B for For1974-1980 Formula Atlantics. Pole sitter Ethan Shippert drove his 1976 March 76B to victory.
His Margin of Victory was 02.202 seconds, and his was the fastest race lap with a speed of 93.65 mph.

Those cars can fly. They were the second fastest group of the day, turning a Zoom-zoom speed of 128 mph. The average race lap was 86.082 mph.

Veteran vintage racer Danny Baker of San Francisco started and finished second in his 1979 Ralt RT-1. He received the Rolex Award of Excellence for his race group.

Danny’s father, Robert Baker ran and finished fifteenth after starting seventeenth. Robert also won the prestigious President’s Award, for being the person who richly personifies historic racing. He received the original Bill Patterson painting which graced the program cover and posters.

Third was Wade Carter’s 1976 March 76B. The race was 12 laps, with nineteen competitors of the 27 entrants.

Jon Norman of Berkeley CA was one of the founders of the original Formula Atlantic Series. He campaigned long and hard to have a Formula Atlantic class at the Reunion. Two years ago Norman must have worn down the promoters as the class got its very own race. The class rotates with the Formula Juniors and Formula Ones.

Norman bought back his old No.58 1971 Lotus 69, but not without effort. When Norman sold it, the owner really liked it but didn’t race it. Norman tried unsuccessfully several times to buy it back, and then from the relatives after his death. After several tries, Norman’s long-time buddy and partner in crime, Phil Reilly said ‘ “Let’s go get that car.” So Norman and Reilly drove to the brother’s place, and dickered until they reached an agreement. The car was suspended from the rafters of a barn. Why is it the beautifully restored cars we see these days were once languishing in a field, barn or garage?

Anyhow, the car was restored, and Norman is enjoying racing it, although admittedly not quite as fast as in the olden days. He started and finished ninth, although he ran as high as ninth.

Lyn St. James raced a 1972 March 722, starting twelfth and finishing eleventh.

At the Awards Ceremonies after the races, next year’s featured marque was not announced … specifically. There were several not-so-veiled asides, such as “Oh look, here is a stunning P51 Mustang flying overhead. Next year we will be celebrating a very special 50th model anniversary with a manufacturer you all know for performance on the track.” And on cue, a vintage airplane – P51 Mustang, flew over. And Ford Motor Company just so happens to be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Mustang car next year, and the 2015 car was on display in the paddock. Also available were souvenir small replica cars.

2015 Mustang sign.

So … you figure it out.

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FOGGY MOUNTAIN BREAKDOWN

MRLS Start-Finish Bridge

This view at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca greeted the drivers in Group 1B Sunday morning of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Somewhere in one of those photos are the Group 1A cars. A lower than usual fog enveloped the track, and as it’s wont to do, it shape shifted. Eventually, after 35 minutes, visibility increased to allow cars on course.

Sunday has eight B Race Groups, with Maserati Corral Parade Laps and VIP Hot Laps during the Lunch Break, and the Awards Ceremonies following the last checkered flag.

MRLS Front Straight

MRLS Front Straight

MRLS Front Straight

To brighten up your day, here are some photos of sunnier times.

Thursday night on Italian Island was the annual Welcome Party and this time it was ‘La Dolce Vita’ – all things Italian … within reason. All Reunion participants were invited, and even someone with Consul license plates enjoyed the evening of Italian food and music.

A restored gondola was available for photo ops, and seizing this opportunity for fun and games, Gill Campbell, President/CEO of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca played at being gondolier, for her predecessor, Scott Atherton and wife. Atherton has long since with with IMSA and now the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship as IMSA President and COO.

Enjoying his very first vintage race at Laguna Seca was all-around veteran racer, Scott Pruett, who is now running in the TUDOR series. In the past, there was always a racing conflict which kept him from attending this weekend.

I got a look Thursday night at the Emergency Crew helmet signed by Sir Jackie Stewart when the Pebble Beach Tour did its Parade Laps around the famed 2.238-mile elevated road course. Not one to seek autographs, friends and relatives of Karen Crew gave the helmet to Stewart to sign for Cantu. He told her that he wasn’t personalizing the autograph, as “it was more valuable with just his signature.” Cantu said she would never sell it, and Stewart joked “But your kids might.”

Gill Campbell, with Mr & Mrs Scott Atherton

Gill Campbell, with Mr & Mrs Scott Atherton

Scott Pruett

Scott Pruett

Jackie Stewart autographed E Crew Helmet

Jackie Stewart autographed E Crew Helmet

Consul Plates

Consul Plates

GROUP-A FEATURE RACES

In Race Group 1A for Pre-War Sports Racing and Touring Cars, Bruce McCaw won in his 1929 Bentley 4.5 liter LeMans rep. He finished third in the morning’s race. His Margin of Victory was the closest of the day at 00.626 seconds. Runner-up Richard Jeffrey’s 1936 Triumph Special 9 had the fastest race lap of 54.023 mph on Lap 5 of the eight-lap race. The morning’s race winner, Pete Thelander, finished third in his 1934 MG NE. Twenty-one cars competed, and the average race time was 52.117 mph.

Not having such a good day was perennial favorite, Ed Archer of Hayward CA. He lost the left rear wheel of his bright yellow 1915 Ford Roadster, and had to be towed in from Turn 10. Unless he can get it repaired overnight, he might have to call Triple A, as Archer is probably one of the few, if not the only, competitor to drive his race car to and from the track. He does it up right, complete with period-appropriate attire. Archer won last year’s Henry Ford Trophy for the most significant Ford-powered entry.

Dick Deluna's No.9 1912 Franklin Torpedo Phaeton

Also towed in on the first lap was Dick Deluna and his magnificent 1912 Franklin Torpedo Phaeton. Deluna collects cars and specializes in ancient cars, and is quite the sight in his antique vehicle wearing up to date modern race gear. He enters concours here and abroad, and is fond of showing off his cars. A retired CEO, who explains his hobby as such: “Why do I do this?” It’s golf and tennis all rolled up in one. I always considered myself a bad athlete.”

Dick Deluna's No9 1912 Franklin Torpedo Phaeton

Dick Deluna’s No9 1912 Franklin Torpedo Phaeton

Jos Koster of Germany owns Group 2A for 1927-1951 Racing Cars. Not quite sure how the two younger Maserati cars were assigned to this group. His 1957 Maserati 250F won from the pole, with an even larger Margin of Victory than in the morning qualifying race. Koster had the fastest lap of 72.858 mph on Lap 10 of the 11-lap race. He finished 15.531 seconds ahead of runner-up Jeffrey O’Neill in his 1957 Maserati 250F. Third place was Paddins Dowling in his 1939 Maserati 4CL, making up for the morning’s DNF after mechanical problems on Lap One. The average race time was 70.282 mph for the 25-car field.

The Group 3A race for 1955-1962 GT Cars was won by Kaid Marouf in his 1960 Alfa Romeo SZ with a Margin of Victory of 04.453 seconds. Second and third were Adrian Van Der Kroft of Belgium in his 1959 Morgan 4, and Alec Hugo in his 1962 PorscheDyke Ridgley’ and his No.173 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta turned the fastest time of 72.494 mph on Lap 4 of the 11-lap race. He had won the morning’s race. Third overall was Alex Hugo in his 1962 Porsche 356B. The average race time was 70.852 mph. Thirty-five of the 49 entrants competed. One driver hailed from Australia.

SFR SCCA Communications Chief Bill Kirkwood of nearby Carmel took time off from his volunteer race official duties to race his stock 1961 Elva Courier Mk II with 1622cc, up against five Corvettes, a Maserati Tipo 151 and some other big cars. He started and finished mid pack in both of his races Saturday, and was happy to have had his entry accepted and the opportunity to race both Reunion weekends. When next seen, Kirkwood will be back up in Race Control for the next SCCA race at Laguna Seca.

Jeffrey Abramson in his 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Ro won Group 4A for 1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc. He beat John McKenna’s 1963 Shelby Cobra by 23.084 seconds, the largest Margin of Victory all day. Third place was Dale Akuszewski’s 1965 Sunbeam Tiger. Tommy Steuer had the fastest race lap in Spencer Trenery’s 1965 Chevrolet Corvette. The average race time was 77.811 mph. Thirty-nine of the 45 entrants raced in the 12-lap race.

Group 5A race for 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT,GTU cars started out as a good race between Ken Epsman in his No.20 1976 Dekon Monza and Bruce Canepa’s No.12 1979 Porsche 935. Epsman won the morning race, and Canepa finished third behind John Hildebrand’s No.56 1978 Chevrolet Camaro.

On Lap Five Epsman lost a wheel in Turn Four, while leading and hit the tire wall, ending his race. He was unhurt. The race was Red Flagged due to Epsman’s hazardous location. The wheel flew over the wall but landed safely in the grandstand, as the spectators saw it coming and all moved. Once landed, there was an Oklahoma land rush to get the wheel – as though it was a baseball. A SCRAMP official took a photo of the lucky retriever. The wheel was returned to Epsman, who took it all in stride as he walked back to the paddock. The Emergency Crew caught up with him to see if he was OK, and he replied with his own special brand of humour.

Meanwhile, Canepa pulled off on the front Straight in front of the Starter with a dead battery. His crew found one and got him restarted, and he joined the pack right after the single file restart behind the Pace Car.

Actor comedian Adam Carolla led the field behind the Pace Car, in his 1988 Nissan 300 ZX; but by the time the green flag flew Hildebrand shot out in front, as did veteran racer, John Morton, in No.01 1982 Ford Mustang. Two laps later Hildebrand took the checkered flag, followed by Morton. Hildebrand’s son, racer JR Hildebrand must be proud.

Third place went to Ranston Webster’s 42 1976 Porsche 935 K3. Bruce Canepa set the fastest race time of 87.052 mph on Lap 3, and he finished fourteenth overall, on the lead lap. The average race time was 69,564 mph, no doubt slowed by the Red Flag. thirty-nine of 45 drivers ran. The race lasted eight laps.

No.10 Gulf Mirage GR8

No.10 Gulf Mirage GR8

Sports car racer, Marino Franchitti in No.10 Gulf MirageGR8, didn’t run in the afternoon, and only got four laps in the morning race. The beautiful big car had mechanical problems all weekend.

Don Orosco’s won the Group 6A Race for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc in his No.59 1958 Lotus 15, finishing 04.822 seconds ahead of Bruce Canepa, who had a busy back-to-back afternoon, running from one race car to another. Jurgen Boden of Germany placed third in his Maserati Tipo 63.

Orosco set the fastest time on Lap Four at 76.311 mph. The average race speed was 71.465 mph. Twenty four drivers of 31 ran the race.

Three cars spun out in coolant left in Turn Three but avoided hitting each other. One continued and the other two sat out the rest of the race, visibly unhappy. With help from the Emergency Crew, the cars were pulled free and continued on their way back to the pits after the race. They were Erickson Shirley’s No.25 1951 Lister Costin, and David Swig in No.35 1957 Monsterati Special, who had moved up from ninth starting to run a strong seventh. They were credited with P16 and P17, respectively, one lap down in the nine-lap race.

The field got a second pace lap for a car off mechanical exit of Turn 6 up against the tire wall.

Epsman got his back in Race Group 7, again winning the Historic Trans-Am race for 1966-1972 cars, driving his familiar Red/White/Blue AMC Javelin It was an exciting race with lead changes almost every lap, sometimes official at S-F, and sometimes around the course. Clearly, it was the most exciting race of the afternoon. The Trans-Am group knows how to put on a good show, and it was all good, clean fun.

Epsman set the fastest time at 78.149 mph on Lap Five. The average race time was 70.935 mph.

Jim Hague led at least once in his No.16 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and finished second, 00.092 seconds behind Epsman, a photo finish. Third was Mike McGovern in his No.1 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302.

Jim Halsey led several times in his No.61 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302, and finished fourth.

Thirty-one of the 41 drivers raced. One who didn’t was Bruce Canepa and his No.92 1970 Pontiac Firebird. Maybe three races in a row was asking a bit much.

Sunday is the last day of the four-day Reunion weekend. The schedule calls for eight Group B races, followed by the always entertaining Awards Ceremonies, with Mike Joy as Emcee.

RACE-A RECAP

Group 1A Start

Saturday morning at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Groups One through Seven A ran qualifying races. They ran in numerical order, and then there was a lunch break before the afternoon races.

The first race Saturday morning at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was Group 1A – Pre 1940 Sports Racing and Touring Cars. Pete Thelander started third and won in his 1934 MG NE. His Margin of Victory over Leif Jacobson’s 1934 MG NA Magnette was 3.274 seconds. Bruce McCaw’s 1929 Bentley 4.5 liter LeMans rep was third. The average race time for the six-lap race was 51.384 mph. Twenty-two cars took the checkered flag, in a field of 26. All the drivers were from the West Coast, no doubt used to the Monterey Peninsula summer morning low fog.

Race 2A – 1927-1971 Racing Cars was won by One – Car #1 1958 Maserati 250F owned and driven by pole sitter Jos Koster of Germany. He led flag to flag, with a 14.687 seconds Margin of Victory. Runner-up was Jeffrey O’Neill/s No.4 1957 Maserati 250F, with Charles McCabe’s No.71 1936 ERA B coming in third. The average race speed was 70.282 mph. The race had 26 drivers of the 28 entries. The majority of drivers hailed from the West Coast.

Gregory Whitten’s Group 2A 1935 ERA Type B stalled under the Starter’s Stand on the front straight and was towed to safety during the ensuing caution. He had started seventh.

The Bonhams 1793 Cup Race 3A – 1955-1962 GT Cars was won Dyke Ridgley and his No.173 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta in the eleven-lap race. His Margin of Victory over young Patrick Byrne’s No.17 1958 Alfa Romeo Giuletta Sprint Veloce 750 was 09.371 seconds. Finishing third was Charles McCabe in his 1936 ERA B. The average race speed was 71.083 mph.

Race Group 4A for 1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc was won by James Farley in his 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra, with a Margin of Victory of 01.920 seconds ahead of pole sitter Tommy Steuer of Columbia in the 1965 Chevrolet Corvette, owned by Spencer Trenery. Steuer stepped in at the last minute in this and another of Trenery’s cars, as the young lad is recuperating from a broken left leg. Third was Jefrey Abramson in his 1964 Chevrolet Corvette.The average race speed was 73.058 mph.

Kenny Epsman

Kenny Epsman

Kenny Epsman sat on pole and won the Group 5A race for 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT, GTU Cars. He drove his bright red 1976 Dekon Monza IMSA car, with a 12.127 second MOV over John Hildebrand in his 1978 Chevrolet Camaro. Bruce Canepa’s 1979 Porsche 935 was third. The average race time was 79.84 mph in the 12-lap race.

Don Orosco drove his 1958 Lotus 15 to victory in Group 6A for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc. Pole sitter Dyke Ridgley finished second, 05.023 seconds behind. Bruce Canepa finished third in his 1959 Maserati Tipo 61. The average race lap was 67.458 mph in the ten-lap race.

One of the crowd-pleasing races, Group 7A race for Trans Am cars 1966-1972, ran its first three laps under caution. Steve Link’s No.72 1969 Chevrolet Camaro broke in Turn Six on the first Lap bringing out the double yellows. Then the horses flew on Lap Four, with the fastest cars reaching upward of 120 mph under the Mazda Zoom-Zoom radar indicator.

Kenny Epsman's No.2 1971 AMC Javelin Trans-Am

Kenny Epsman’s No.2 1971 AMC Javelin Trans-Am

The 12-lap race was ultimately won by Ken Epsman and his No.2 1971 AMC Javelin. The lead changed officially at least six times, and more often around the track. The other leaders were Jim Hague’s No.16 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302, originally raced by Peter Gregg and Jim Halsey’s No.61 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302.

After the race, Epsman gave fans a ‘guided tour” of all of his race cars and his Paddock Classic Car. The crew tells me that the No.2 car is Epsman’s favorite. It originally started out as a Team Penske car with Mark Donohue as driver. Then Penske gave it to Roy Woods who was one of its drivers.

Gordon Gimbel’s No.83 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 had bad luck on the cool-off lap. His rear end seemed to have problems, he swerved back and forth and into the concrete wall driver’s right in Turn 11, and then coasted back to touch the concrete wall drivers left. He was alright.

Radio and TV broadcaster Mike Joy in Kenny Epsman’s No.89 1966 Ford Mustang had mechanical problems involving the motor, necessitating a tow up to the top of the hill at Turn Eight where he was cut loose and coasted home.

The Trans-Am group personifies the spirit of vintage racing, as echoed by Vic Elford who started and finished mid-pack in his No.16 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 – “We don’t race to win, we race to have fun.”

SUNNY SATURDAY

Maserati Display

Maserati Display

Trans-Am Display

Trans-Am Display

By Race Group 2A, the sun started pushing through the ever-present morning low fog at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the breeze woke up and the humidity was 87 percent.

Saturday’s schedule calls for Groups 1-7A qualifying races, followed by Races 1-7A after the long lunch break. The grid for the morning races was set by merging the practice and qualifying results from Thursday and Friday. The mix of fast times was about even between P1 and P2, although as the classes rose in size and horsepower and ran later in the day seemed to have faster times on Thursdays.

To answer – again – why there are no lap times shown on the results sheets, the reason is that this is not a competition.

Maserati Mc12 Stradale

And just because there are no cars on track during the lunch breaks of the race days doesn’t mean there wasn’t activity. Ceremonial Laps, VIP Hot Laps in the track Safety Car as well in Maserati cars – street and the Maserati MC12 Stradale race car, of which only three were built. The Maserati factory drivers are Nick Hommerson and Leon Ebeling in the race car, and Michael Bartels in the street car. Mazda drivers pilot the track Official Mazda Pace Cars.

Four months before he died, the late Phil Hill got a ride in the Maserati Mc12, with son Derek Hill driving. “Being able to drive hi around like I did was absolutely fantastic. At first I was concerned I might have been scaring him, but I saw he had a smile on his face, so I knew he enjoyed it.”

One of the things young Derek does in his spare time is drive Cadillacs on winding roads for TV commercials. He drove on some very treacherous roads in foreign countries, and the highlight for him was seeing the commercials run during the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. At the time, he admitted, “I had no idea production was such hard work. It was four long days and very short nights working from dawn to dark, with a commute to a small hotel nearly two hours away. But, in retrospect, it was a lot of fun.”

The Maserati Corral Parade Laps is also part of the lunch break for both days. There are a variety of car corrals out on Italian Island, and Friday evening after the last checkered flag, a long parade of Sunbeam Tigers took to the track for their day in the sun.

Maserati scheduled a Press Briefing for mid-morning Saturday to unveil its new street cars.

The Scrutineering process for 538 cars is long and tedious. The sanctioning body, HMSA – Historic Motor Sports Association, provides Scrutineers, nine in all. The process for each car takes 10-15 minutes. Two hundred or so of the cars went through the process last week at the Pre-Reunion. For those not yet processed started Wednesday of this week and continued through Friday.

After each car receives its event-appropriate Tech sticker, the Scrutineers turn their eyes toward impound and mechanical checks. Some of the drivers get aggressive in their motorized works of art, and there were five impounds on Friday. Cars may have been hurt, but no drivers were.

Bob Varsha at work

Bob Varsha relaxing

Bob Varsha is the host for the FoxSports TV hour-long show for Monterey Car week, with 45 minutes devoted to the Reunion. The airing will be later this summer, with multiple showings. Stay tuned.

Bill Doyle's 1984 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am owned by Kenny Epsman

No.53 Wheel Covers

One of Kenny Epsman’s stable is the No.53 1984 Pontiac Firebird originally raced by Bill Doyle in Trans Am. The wheel covers were handmade by Joe Huffaker.

Reunion Paddock Road Signs

PADDOCK PATROL

The weather gods shone down, literally as well as figuratively, on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the 2014 Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion.

The sun brought out all the highlights in the more than 530 vintage and historic cars in the paddock and on display. Additionally there was a paddock panoply of classic vehicles of all sorts, scattered among the many race cars. The track/race promoter has seen the wisdom in allowing entrants to display their pride and joys. The gamut ranges from Mokes and Cushmans to a street McLaren. There also were some Auction cars from some of the many car auctions being held this week – day and night.

Moke

Cushman

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McLaren

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IMG_2210

IMG_2217

Barrett-Jackson Bugatti

Silver Car

1967 'Monte Mini' Monte Carlo Rally Winner

US State Department Consul Plates

Austin Healey

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Bonham's Speedwell

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MASERATI AND MORE

Start-Finish

Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was beautiful for Day Two of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The fog lifted early, the sun was bright the wind was desultory, and the cars on and off track were beautiful. What’s not to like.

Derek Hill and Maserati Tipo 151

One of the famed Maserati cars entered this weekend is the only remaining Maserati Tipo 151, of three, is being raced in Group 3A for 1955-1962 GT Cars. The driver is Derek Hill, son of the late Phil Hill. The car is from the Lawrence Auriana Collection, and entered by Fratelli Auriana Racing. Since its full restoration, it has driven in three consecutive Goodwood Revivals, and will fly after this race to New York and then onto England for the 2014 Goodwood Revival. The car also raced in the 2013 LeMans Legends Race.

Francois Sicard

The Tipo mechanic this weekend is Francois Sicard, who worked for the original factory on the sister car back in the day driven by a French factory driver. He says the drivers were different back then – more interested in racing and tradition. Francois said this weekend is a good test for Goodwood, in addition to the English test planned prior to Goodwood.

Thursday Hill was top of the charts of 41 cars. Friday the car remained on display while Hill was busy on Italian Island doing a Meet and Greet session with the fans.

Another legendary Maserati cars this weekend is No.1 1958 Maserati 250F originally raced by American F1 driver, Masten Gregory, aka ‘The Kansas City Flash.’ In the early fifties Gregory competed in Europe, won the inaugural Nassau Trophy in the 1954 Bahamas Speedweek, and returned to America to race in SCCA. After winning the Argentine 1000 km race in 1957, he drew the attention of Mimo Dei’s Scuderia Centro, a privateer Formula One team running a Maserati 250F. Gregory’s first-ever F1 race was the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix, where he finished third in the car painted in the American blue and white colors. The finish was even more record-breaking – the first ever podium for an American in a F1 Grand Prix.

Bill Patterson painting 1958 Maserati 250F - before

No.1 1958 Maserati 250F

Bill Patterson's painting of 1958 Maserati 250F - after

This weekend the car is being driven by Jos Koster of Koein, Germany. He was first in Friday’s practice of 24 cars, and fourth fastest in Thursday’s practice, of 23 cars.

MASERATI MANIA

Maserati Emblem

Day One of the four-day annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a gathering of 538 vintage, historic and classic cars. This year the Reunion is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Maserati, with a large display of current and vintage cars. There are also many racing in the various fifteen classes.

Seventeen Maserati cars are entered to race. More are on display throughout the paddock and in the Master Display in the paddock.

Maserati Tipo 151

One of those racing Maseratis is the last surviving Maserati Tipo 151, driving by Derek Hill, son of the late Phil Hill, in Group 6A for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000 cc. Only three of the Tipo 151 cars were ever made

The Reunion and the nearby Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance and all the car auctions bring out not only the Beautiful People, but many automotive afficionados, racers current and retired, various celebrities, and lots of folks who appreciate the rolling museums on track and on display throughout the event.

The weather started out with the usual fog; but it was clear enough to start on schedule. The rest of the day turned out to be sunny and warm with a bit of a breeze.

Bob Varsha of FoxSports TV has the unenviable task of trying to reduce this weekend into 45 minutes for the hour-long broadcast to be aired at a later date. The remaining 15 minutes has been saved for covering all the car auctions.

DelehayeOne treat for the Thursday fans was a Parade Lap of all the Pebble Beach Tour D’Elegance Group. The cars came onto the track at Turn 11, right by the Emergency and Safety Crew staging area. The Concours cars were gorgeous and drove slowly for all to see. One unfortunate Delehaye driver couldn’t get started and had to park behind the Turn 11 wall by Emergency Crew, with a SFR SCCA Race Official standing by as required in a ‘Hot Spot.’ He was able to get started and continued on.

Another visitor to the Emergency Crew area by Turn 11 while the Concours cars were parading was Sir Jackie Stewart, who chatted away with the SFR volunteer race officials, chatting away. One lucky Emergency Worker, Karen Cantu, got her (mandatory) helmet signed by the wee Scot.

Among the professional racers on site already are: all-around racer and now published author, John Morton, who is racing three cars, but not the REVS car because, he joked, “they wanted a younger guy this weekend.” He drove the REVS car last weekend at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion and also the past two years. Morton is racing No.74 1964 Sunbeam Tiger in Group 4A for 1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc, No.11 1982 Ford Mustang in Group 5A for 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT, GTU Cars, and No.50 1982 Pontiac TransAm in Group 6B.

Others include:

Actor/Comedian/racer Adam Carolla in No.33 1988 Nissan 300 ZX in Group 5A; retired IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, here with his brother/sports-car racer, Marino, who is racing No.10 1975 Gulf Mirage GR8 in Group 5A; IMSA/World Challenge/SCCA Champion, Randy Pobst, in No.2T 1973 BMW CSL in Group 5A

Derek Bell in No.6 1957 Maserati 300S in Group 6A.

No.89 1966 Ford Mustang TransAm

Motorsports TV/Radio Broadcaster, Mike Joy in Kenny Epsman’s No.89 1966 Ford Mustang in Group 7A for 1966-1972 Historic TransAm Cars.

Factory Porsche driver, Patrick Long, driving No.54 1967 Porsche 911S in Group 2B for 1963-1972 FIA Mfg. Championship cars; Sports car racer, Gunnar Jeannette, who is driving the No.526 REVS 1965 Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta GT in Group 2B;

Indy/TransAm/etc driver and author, Lyn St James, racing No.67 1963 Lotus 23B in Group 2B; IMSA/LeMans racer, as well as No.44 1972 March 722 in Group 8B 1974-1980 Formula Atlantics.

IMSA/LeMans driver, Rick Knoop in No.3T 1972 McLaren M8F in Group 3B for 1963-1974 Can Am and USRRC cars.

Motorcycle World Champion, Eddie Lawson in No.17 1975 Osella PA 3/5 in Group 4B for 1970-1979 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc, and No.17 1978 March 78B Group 8B.

Off-road champion/drifter, Steve Millen in No.75 1990 Nissan 300Z in Group 6B for 1981-1989 FIA and IMSA GTP, 1980-1991 GTO Cars, and No.7 1977 Ralt TR1 in Group 8B.

Longtime sportscar team owner, Alex Job of Alex Job Racing, is thoroughly enjoying his first-ever vintage car race at Laguna Seca. He is ‘running’ the No.22 1974 911 RSR owned and raced by Cooper MacNeil. Job is running across all kinds of friends and colleagues, and savoring the atmosphere.

And those are just the ones I’ve found so far. The Entry List is a moving target with driver changes and late entries.

Let the fun begin!

FAST DRIVERS … FAST LAPS

Rolex Sign

The weather was foggier later and then earlier at otherwise sunny, warm Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the second/final day of the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion races. Twelve groups raced after eleven of the twelve groups practiced/warmed-up in the morning. Sunday’s starting positions were based on Saturday’s race finishes.

Cameron Healy of Portland Oregon raced his 1953 Porsche Cooper Pooper in Group One for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars. His Margin of Victory was 13.252 seconds and his was the fastest lap, at 1:51.592 on Lap 3 at 72.199 mph. Nine Americans and one Brit were entered and eight of the ten raced.

Dyke Ridgley of Scottsdale AZ won Group 2 for 1955-1962 GT Cars, driving his 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. His time on Lap 5 was the fastest at 73.548 mph, and it was a close race with young Patrick Byrne of Spokane WA, driving his 1958 Alfa Romeo Giuletta Sprint Veloce. The Margin of Victory was 00.935 seconds. Byrne had won Saturday’s race.

Thirty-eight cars, made up Group 2, mostly from the US, but also England and Canada, were entered and 28 raced.

David Swig

David Swig of Sausalito CA started third in Bill Jankowski’s 1957 Monsterati Special for Group 3 – 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under and over 2000 cc. By the time he was under the Start-Finish bridge, he had moved up to second and then took the lead, all before he completed the first lap. He led the entire race, even after a caution bunched up the field after Brian Orosco of Monterey drove off course in Turn Five in his 1959 Lola Mk 1. The Green Flag came back out one lap prior to the finish.

Swig ran the fastest lap time – 1:46.444 on Lap 7 at 75.691 mph. His Margin of Victory over Don Orosco’s 1058 Lotus 15 was 01.052

The group of 37 entries had cars big and small, from 300cc to 5868 cc. Twenty seven of them raced, and all were from the US.

Healey was a two-time winner Sunday, after winning Group 4′s race for 1963-1972 FIA Mfg. Championship cars. Healey drove his 1970 Porsche 908/3 and turned the fastest race lap time of 1:25.791 on Lap 8 at 84.108 mph, and his Margin of Victory was 06.819 seconds ahead of Grey Gregory’s 1969 Chevron B16

Of the 40 Group 4 entries, 29 raced, and all were from the US.

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne won Group 5 for 1961-1966 GT Cars under 2500 cc. This time he was driving his 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Corsa. As it was with all the previous victors, he turned the fastest race lap time. Byrne’s time was 1:46.068 on Lap 2 at 75.959 mph, and he beat Gilbert Hakin’s 1967 Porsche 911 by 03.599 seconds. All but three of the 23 entrants raced, with one driver from Brazil and the rest from the US.

Byrne, at age 24, could be the youngest driver for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion and Reunion, although he thinks there a couple of other young guys. Byrne, a second-generation racer, competes in historic races in two cars, the other being a Group 5 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Corsa – in which he won Saturday’s race for 1961-1966 GT cars under 2500 cc. Byrne is a second-generation racer, with his Father Bill also vintage racing – but not for these two Rolex race weekends.

Patrick and Bill started vintage racing a year ago. Patrick started going to racing schools as soon as he turned 15. Three years ago he started doing support races, such as Ferrari Challenge Series. This year Maserati is sponsoring him to run the Maserati Corse Trofeo World Series. So he’s mixing the vintage with ‘the new stuff and we’ve found the right combination.’

Group Six was won by Mike McGovern of Tucson Arizona driving his 1964 Shelby Cobra, with 1963-1966 Cars over 2500 cc, beating Jeffrey Abramson’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster by 03.043 seconds. His Lap time of 1:40.553 on Lap 3 at 80.125 mph was the fastest of the nine-lap race. Twenty-six of the 31 drivers ran the race. One driver was from Australia and one from Canada.

The winner and fastest driver in Group 7 was Jim Halsey of Los Angeles. He drove his 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 in a field of 21 1966-1972 Historic TransAm Cars. His lap time was 1:43.624 on Lap 2 at 77.75 mph. Except for one lone 1957 Maserati 200 Si – which didn’t run, the field was all big thumping American cars. Halsey’s Margin of Victory was 19.955 seconds ahead of Jim Reed’s 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.

Tom Malloy of Villa Park CA drove his 1991 AAR Eagle GTP to victory in the Group 8F race for 1973-1989 FIA, IMSA GTX, AAGT, GTU and GTP cars. His Margin of Victory over John Hildebrand of Sausalito (yes, the father of IndyCar driver, JR Hildebrand) was 17.068 seconds. Malloy turned the fastest race lap time of 1:32.465 on Lap 4 at 878.134 mph. Forty-one drivers entered, from all over the US, plus Belgium, Germany and two from Australia. Twenty drivers actually raced.

Spencer Trenery's No.37 1970 McLaren M8C

Group 9 for 1963-1973 Can-Am and USRRC Cars was won by Craig Bennett of Wixom MI, in his 1974 Shadow DN4. His fastest lap time was 1:26.606 on Lap 7 at 93.028 mph – the fastest lap all day. His Margin of Victory over Chris MacAllister’s 1971 McLaren M8F-1 was 07.330 seconds. Twelve of the 17 drivers raced. Thomas Steuer of Bogata, Colombia finished third, substituting for the orthopedically-challenged Spencer Trenery in Trenery’s No.37 1970 McLaren M8C. Steuer is substituting this week and next, while Trenery recuperates from a broken left leg. He wants to heal quickly so he can run the October SCCA National Runoffs, being held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the first time – at the track, and 50 years since it ran on the West Coast at Riverside Raceway.

Keith Freiser of St. Alberta, Canada won in Group 10 for 1970-1979 Sports Racing Cars under 2000 cc, driving his 1972 Lola T290, and turning the fastest lap time of 1:28.140 on Lap 9 at 91.409 mph. He bested Gray Gregory of Houston TX, driving his 1973 Chevron B26, by 08.591 seconds.

The Group 11 Formula Atlantics 1974-1980 race was the shortest – three laps. Martin Lauber of Tiburon CA was declared the winner in his 1977 Chevron B39. The Margin of Victory over runnerup John Hill of Seattle Wa in his 1975 Chevron B29 was 04.421. Lauber’s fastest race lap time was 1:29.950 on Lap 2 at 89.57 mph.

The Safety Car was on course after Allen Nicolas’s 1978 March 78B had gone off course. Then there was a three-car pileup in Turn 11 and the race was called. Brent Smith spun his 1980 March 80A spun in Turn 11 and was hit by Steve Smith’s 1980 March 80A and Jim Kelleher’s 1980 March 80A. All the drivers are alright, but their cars are not.

Earlier in the day, Peter Giddings of Danville California won Group 12 for Pre-1951 Sports Racing and Touring Cars, in his familiar 1935 Alfa Tipo C8C 35. He turned the fastest lap – 1:59.815 on Lap 5 at 67.244 mph. His Margin of Victory was 30.126 seconds. Eight of the 14 entries drove in the eight-lap race. Everyone in the group was from the US.

Next week’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion begins on Thursday, with four-filled days of activities besides racing, such as gatherings, live art, displays, picnics, book signings and Meeting the Authors, auctions, Meet and Greets, fuel runs, Press Briefings, and more. Sensory Overload.

A large group of 500+ drivers queued up Sunday afternoon to register for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion next weekend, and the long bank of Registrars was busy, busy, busy.

MONTEREY & MASERATI

Maserati Transporter

It’s August at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and time for the annual gathering of vintage and historic cars in Monterey. And has been the tradition for the past many years, there are so many entries, that the event has grown to two weekends – The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. This year the Reunion is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Maserati.

For the Pre-Reunion, there are 312 cars divided among 12 classes, and 531 entries in fifteen classes were accepted for the Reunion – a list painfully whittled down from 800 entries. The classes run the gamut, spanning 81 years from early pre-war cars to more modern-day race cars.

Maserati

Maserati

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Already on site are ten Maserati race cars in three race groups, and several Classic Cars on display in the paddock.

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Maserati

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Also ready for setup in the Maserati Heritage Display is a vintage 1952 Fiat 642 Maserati race car transporter. It made the seven-day trip across country from Connecticut on a flat bed truck, brought by noted Italian car collector, Lawerence Auriana. He also will be entering key race and passenger cars.

Maserati Transporter

Maserati Transporter

Maserati Transporter

Maserati used the transporter to carry its sports cars and Formula 1 cars to racetracks throughout Europe. Included the famous cars were the 1953 and 1957 Maserati 250F F1 World Championship cars of Juan Manuel Fangio.

Lance Reventlow bought the transporter in 1958 for his SCARAB race team – SCARAB being the first post-war American-built F1 car. Reventlow used the transporter until 1962.

Auriana found the neglected car at auction in 2002, and did a full restoration in Modena, Italy. Adolfo Orsi owned Maserati from 1937 to 1968, and his grandson/historian with the same name, supervised the restoration.

Saturday there was Practice for each of the 12 Groups, which set the grids for the afternoon races – for all but Group 12.

Sunday’s schedule calls for somewhat more of the same – Practice for 11 Groups and the race for Group 12. After lunch, all 11 remaining groups will race, with grids set by Saturday’s finish … or so I’m told.

Saturday’s weather was clear, bright and sunny, with a chilly wind blowing off the Monterey Bay. Around 4pm the fog rolled in and things chilled up, but the racing was hot.