Sunday was again hot at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the fourth and final day of the 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The mysterious patchy clouds hung around – possibly a quirky wind change blowing down lingering forest fire smoke from Northern California.
The schedule was shorter, with only seven Race Groups – all in the B category. The crowds were more manageable, which usually happens on Sunday, while the early birds head to Pebble Beach for the spit and polish of the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. They return back to the race world in the afternoon, and attend the Reunion Awards Ceremonies – which reward excellence, presentation and authenticity – not necessarily race winners or speed.
Group 1B-1927-1951 Racing Cars had the smallest field and an even smaller starting grid for the morning race. Paddins Dowling’s No.3 1939 Maserati 4CL won the race by 02.400 seconds over Jon Shirley’s No.12 1934 Alda Romeo Tipo B (P3). Perennial winner, Peter Giddings, finished third in his well-known No.31 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza. The average race lap was 67.471 mph. Thirteen of the 21-car field took the checkered flag for the nine-lap race.
The trio won again in that order for the afternoon’s Rolex Race. Dowling’s Margin this time was 06.693 seconds, and he turned the fastest race lap of 2.00.507/66.858 mph on Lap 7. The average race lap was 66.157. The same 13 cars ran the nine-lap race.
Group 2B-1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars morning race was won by Cameron Healy of Portland OR in his No.55 1953 Porsche Cooper Pooper. His MOV was 03.256 seconds ahead of Dave Zurlinden’s No.15 Tatum GMC Special. Robert Manson’s No.7 1949 Baldwin Mercury Special. The average race lap was 63.567 mph. All but three of the 30-car field ran the eight-lap race.
Healey won the afternoon Group 2B Rolex Race, this time by only 01.646 seconds ahead of Marcus Bicknell of the UK in his No.15 1952 Streets Manning Special. Third was John Buddenbaum in the No.3 1949 Jaguar Parkinson Special owned by Terry Buffum. Healey turned the fastest race lap of 1;51.374/72.34 mph on Lap 7. The field numbered 24 cars for the seven-lap race.
Local driver Donald Orosco won Group 3B-1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc, racing his No.59 1958 Lotus 15. He beat runner up, Gregory Campbell of Canada in his No.356 1955 Devin Porsche 356 PreA by 05.805 seconds. The average race lap was 75.473 mph, for the ten-lap race. Thirty-four of the 36-car field ran the race.
The afternoon Group 3B Rolex Race was again won by Don Orosco in his Lotus 15. It was a local family sweep Runner-up was Brian Orosco in his No.36 1959 Lola Mk1 and third was Chris Orosco in his No.90 1959 Lola Mk1. The Margin of victory for Don Orosco was 00.711 seconds, the second closest of the afternoon. Brian Orosco turned the fastest race lap of 1:45.737/76.197 mph on Lap 4. The average race lap was 65.951 mph. Thirty-one of thirty-five cars ran the race.
The Group 4B Race for 1961-1966 GT Cars had the largest field of the day – 49 cars. Fred Della Noce of Brazil won in his No.18 1966 Ginetta G12, 04.326 seconds ahead of his Brazilian compadre, Dalmo De Vasconcelos’s Nol.l85 1965 Lotus Elan 26R. Third place went to Michael Malone in his No.37 1965 Lotus 26R. The average race lap was 70.917 mph.
Thirty-eight cars ran the morning race. Young Timothy De Silva only was able to run four laps in the only Mini Cooper this weekend-No.30 1962 Austin Mini Cooper. He is the son of vintage racer Harinda Da Silva, who raced his 1974 Shadow DN3 F1 car in Group 8A.
It was Deja Vu for the afternoon Group 4B Rolex Race – same top three finishers in the same order. Della Noce’s MOV was 05.070 seconds. He turned the fastest race lap of 1:44.685/76.962 mph on the last lap of the eight-lap race. The average race lap was 63.297 mph.
Mike McGovern won the colorful Group 5B morning race for 1963-1968 GT Cars over 2500cc, driving his No.19 1964 Shelby Cobra, a scant 00.709 seconds ahead of runnerup Jeffrey Abronsom’s No.15 1964 Chevrolet Corvtte Roadster. Finishing third was Jim Click’s No.89 1965 Shelby Cobra. The Average Lap was 72.92 mph. The grid comprised 31 cars in a 39-car field for the ten-lap race.
Ironman McGovern did it again in the afternoon Rolex race, finishing 01.278 ahead of Abramson, who was followed by Click – who turned the fastest race lap of 1:42.702/78.448 mph on Lap 7. The average race lap was 77.456 mph.
Not finishing as high in either the morning or after races was Greg Umphenour in his No.81 1964 Mercury Comet, but it certainly was a stylin’ car. It has run the South African Rallye.
The Group 6B Historic Trans-Am Cars-1966-1972 is always a favorite group.The morning race was won by Jim Halsey of Los Angeles in his No.61 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302, finishing 01.359 seconds ahead of veteran vintage racer, Ken Epsman in his No.2 red-white-blue 1971 AMC Javelin. The average race lap was 53.097 mph.
Third was Mike McGovern in his No.16T 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Can you imagine how McGovern felt after running those two races back to back in that heat – nearly 90 degrees. He won the morning 5B race.Hope he had a cool suit.
And to show how tough he is, he ran both of his Rolex races (5B/6B) back to back in the hot afternoon and won both!
For the Trans-Am race, McGovern won, Epsman was second and Halsey was third. The MOV was 00.130 seconds – the closest of the afternoon. McGovern had to work for that victory. Halsey ran the fastest race lap of 1:45.998/76.009 mph on Lap 2.
Richard Dean of the UK won the morning Group 7B Race for 1968-1978 Formula 5000 Cars in Zak Brown’s No.6 1974 Lola T332. His Margin of Victory was 11.750 seconds ahead of Paul Zazryn of Australia, racing his No.24 1974 Lola T332. Third was Steven Ross of New Zealand in is No.5A 1973 McRae GM-1. Those blokes from Down Under know their F5000’s.
The Average race lap, in the 12-lap race, was 90.506 mph, the fastest for the morning races.
The visitors from Down Under took the top three finishing positions for the afternoon Rolex Race. Dean won the race with a 01.726 seconds MOV. Second was Alan Dunkley of New Zealand in his No.42 1968 Lola T140. Paul Zazryn of Australia was relegated to third position by the Chief Steward for Passing under a standing Yellow flag.
Zazryn turned the fastest race lap of 1:27.352/92.234 mph, the fastest of the afternoon Rolex Races. The average race lap was 52.477 mph on the last lap.
During the lunch break the Paddock Stage Presentation was “Legends of the F5000″ with a panel of famous Formula 5000 drivers moderated by Casey Annis, Publisher/Editor of Vintage Racecar/Vintage Roadcar. The drivers included Howden Ganley, John Morton and Brian Redman, along with Shadow Team Owner, Don Nichols. They spoke of the heyday of F5000 racing. The enthused crowd stuck around for an hour in the blazing sun. To my knowledge, at least three of the participants have written books on their racing: Ganley, Morton and Redman.
Left to Right: Don Nichols, Brian Redman and Howden Ganley. Apologies to John Morton for no portrait. Maybe this will do.