Saturday’s activities at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca had all eight of the A Groups on track for races. Two of the groups included BMW’s. Group 4A for the 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT and GTU Cars had 21 BMW’s from 1971 to 1980, which included well known drivers such as Al Arciero, Jim Busby, Bruce Canepa, and John Morton, among others. This was a fast group which also saw Porsches, Mustangs, Shelbys, Monza’s, Ferrari’s and Corvettes. In practice the unofficial radar gun in Turn One indicated top speeds upwards of 133 mph.
Group 4A is the Bonham’s 1793 Cup Race, and Cooper MaxNeil of Florida has pole position for the afternoon Rolex race based on his finish in Saturday morning’s race, driing his 1980 Porsche 935. The top BMW was Chris Bowden of Queensland, Australia driving No.21 1979 BMW M1 ProCar. The average race speed was 84.954 mph, and there were 41 cars in the 12-lap race.
Group 1 A for Pre 1940 Sports Racing/Touring Cars & 1927-1951 Racing Cars had five BMW’s – a 1935 315/1 Willis Special and four 1937 BMW 328’s. Paddins Dowling of nearby Carmel won this race in his 1934 ERA R2A, beating Derek Hill (son of the late Phil Hill) driving a 1927 Delage ERA by 04.985 seconds. The top BMW in this race was Thomas Feierabend of Bavaria driving No.328A 1937 BMW 328, to finish seventh. The average race speed was 56.011 mph. Forty-one cars ran the nine-lap race.
There are a wide variety of BMWs on display throughout the paddock. In the Display Tent is the Ralf Schumacher 2000 BMW Williams FW22-02 Formula One Car, bringing BMW back into F1 where it had been absent since the eighties. Schumacher finished fifth that season in the points, teaming with Jenson Button, who finished third for the year. At the other end of the spectrum is the quirky little BMW Town Car, outside but near the Display Tent.
It’s always a treat to see a young vintage driver, often younger than the car he’s driving. One such instance is Tim de Silva of Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. He’s driving No.25 1978 Osella-BMW PA8 in Group 6A for 1970-1984 Sports Racing Cars under 2100cc. That BMW, by the way, revises upwards by one, my count of BMWs racing this weekend to 56. He’ll start Saturday’s Rolex race from the pole position, having finished first in his Saturday morning race. Tim is also racing back to back Saturday, as he is driving No.22 1974 Sting Can Am in Group 7A, where he will start sixth out of 27 cars. Tim is a San Francisco Region SCCA driver, competing in the Pacific F2000 Series, in which he just wrapped up the championship at the Sonoma race in July. The young lion is one of ten finalists in the Team USA Scholarship, which provides opportunities for talented American race drivers in the early stages of their careers. One of the long-time sponsors and supporters of Team USA is Doug Mockett, who is racing this weekend in the Historic Formula One Cars group (1967-1984.) Mockett, from Christiansted Virgin Islands, races his red, white and blue 1976 Penske PC4. Mockett’s races are Sunday so his car is getting its tune-up Saturday.
One of the joys of the Reunion is Paddock Strolling, taking in all the sights and enjoying the Eye Candy.