Friday the weather at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was even more beautiful for the second day of the 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion. Nice warm weather, clear blue skies, and a nice breeze to keep it tolerable.
The Friday schedule was practice for all fifteen classes, 1-8A and 1-7B. The practice times for Thursday and Friday are combined to make the race grids. But no times are on the result sheets as this weekend is not a “competition event.”
Parker Johnstone was once the winningest driver in IMSA, winning 54 races and had the record for 14 consecutive pole positions. This weekend he is driving his old IMSA car – No.49 1991 Acura Spice GTP Light. It’s been in the Acura Museum just as Johnstone left it after the car retired 23 years ago. He got into it this weekend and said it felt like he just raced it last week.
Johnstone’s old CompTech partner, Doug Peterson, worked on and set up the car, and Johnson was the fastest car Friday morning in Group 7A for 1981-1991 FIA/IMSA GTP, GTO Cars, and based on his aggregate times for both practice sessions, he has the pole position for Saturday afternoon’s race in a field of 35 cars. This weekend is the 30th year Anniversary of Honda racing.
Johnstone has been keeping busy with SCCA Club Racing his H Prod 1964 Huffaker Midget in Oregon Region and also vintage racing. This weekend is his seventh race weekend in nine weeks, and the fourteenth race this season so far. He rotates vintage racing among some of the cars he has in Oregon including two of his old IndyCars, a 1977 March Formula Atlantic and a 1967 Austin Healey Sprite.
Johnstone and Peterson are ensconced in the Accura Garage on Pit Lane. Stopping by for a reunion chat was Tomas Lopez Rocha of Mexico, who raced IMSA with Johnstone back in the day. Lopez retired from professional racing, but has come back to the sport recently, running the Panamericana Carrera-a Mexican sports car race with fields of 75 or more cars from around the world. In five races Lopez had five top-five finishes, including two victories. He races a 600 hp, tube-frame Studebaker, a la OSCA.
Another driver who ran and won the Panamericana Carrera, in 2002, is Doug Mockett of the US Virgin Islands. This weekend he’s racing his 1976 Penske PC4 in Group 8A for 1967-1984 Formula One Cars. Another thing Mockett does is strongly supporting young up and coming race drivers, including the Team USA Scholarship.
Veteran and now retired road racer and car builder, Irv Hoerr was visiting his old No.6 1991 Oldsmobile Trans-Am Cutlass Supreme Trans-Am race car, now being driven for the first time by Gordon Johnson in Group 7A for FIA/IMSA Cars. Hoerr was asked by car owner Jere Clark to drive his white No.67 1968 Chevrolet Camaro in Group 6B Friday afternoon – the 1966-1972 Historic Trans-AM cars. However, Hoerr declined, citing it’s been too long since he’s been in a race car. When last seen, Lyn St. James was trying the car on for size. Stay tuned.
Another race driver/team owner coming back, so to speak, is Dominic Dobson, who had a rich and varied career in indy cars, IMSA and NASCAR. This weekend he’s racing (for the first time) the No.61 1961 Cooper Monaco Mk III owned by Jeffrey Heller, originally raced by Bruce McLaren. The car runs in Group 5A for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc.
Dobson recently raced a Radical V8 at Pike’s Peak and won the Unlimited Class. He also won Rookie of the Year for the event.
Also running in Group 5A is Derek Hill in a 1962 Maserati Tipo 151, who has the pole position for Saturday’s race. Derek Bell is entered to run the No.96 1959 Maserati T-61 owned by Jack Croul, but so far he’s been busy elsewhere in the area with other commitments including The Quail. Veteran Alfa Romeo driver, Jon Norman, has been filling in and qualified the car tenth of 25 cars.
So Many Cars … So Little Time!