There is something for everyone at the 8th Annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. This weekend’s Reunion is featuring the 60th Anniversary of Laguna Seca, with a big display of representative race cars from the different decades and large murals.
There are 15 run Groups, ranging from Pre 1940/Pre-War cars to 1991 IMSA cars. The largest group is 3B with 51 cars – 1961 to 1966 GT Cars under 2500cc. They were double parked in Pit Lane. The smallest group is 8A for 1981-1991 IMSA GTP with 19 cars, the newest cars; but they do make up for it by being loud and fast.
There also are Parade Laps, Fast F1 Laps with Mika Hakkinen, Informal Celebrity Presentations, Bill Patterson Poster Signings, Vendor Island, Picnic in the Paddock with Tom Kristensen, Pete Lovely Book Signings, and of course retail therapy in the Souvenir Shop. And there’s always the sensory overload of all those beautiful cars on display – most of which are seen on track during the weekend, plus all the participant street vehicles instead of generic rental cars, which range from sensuous, exotic and expensive to wild and crazy or just darned cute. It takes four days to embrace and experience it all.
Thursday was overcast until mid-morning when the sun broke out, and then it was sunny and mild all day. The weather was bright and beautiful for the Welcome Party hosted by the track, with the theme “1957.” Local food and wine were aplenty, with a nice musical quartet in the background. Drivers, crew, volunteer SCCA & SCRAMP workers mingled with track staff, and a good time was had by all.
Friday the weather was sunny from the get-go. How refreshing to wear sunglasses while stuck in the notorious early-morning Highway 68 commute traffic. But it was a better class of cars surrounding one this time – classy classics and sporty roadsters prevailed.
Thursday and Friday was Practice/Qualifying. Thursday’s positions (no times on the results sheets) were merged with Fridays, which will then set the grid for the morning races. The eight A Groups race on Saturday and the seven B Groups race on Sunday. The weekend morning races set the grid for the afternoon Rolex races.
The first Laguna Seca race was in 1957. Prior to that, until the Pebble Beach venue’s demise in 1956, the races were run in the Del Monte Forest. In the Laguna paddock this weekend, in Row Q, are cars of that era, which ran or could have run the Del Monte races. They all run in Bonhams Cup Group 5A for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars.
So far the fastest car in The Del Monte Trophy Group (5A) is Dave Zurlinden, who is driving Rob Manson’s 1953 Tatum-GMC Special, built by Chuck Tatum, who raced it in ‘the Forest.’ The car was invited to be shown in Sunday’s prestigious Pebble Beach Concours, along with several other Del Monte Trophy cars. It’s a 6-cylinder 300 hp car, called ‘The Beast.’ Zurlinden said the car has no grip and no brakes. The engine was built by Wayne Engineering in Southern California, which became a sponsor of Tatum when he raced it.
Tatum’s son, Blake Tatum, is a local club racer with San Francisco Region SCCA and editor of its publication, The Wheel. Zurlinden is a SFR SCCA racer, dating back to 1989 when he started racing Formula Vee’s. He ran a Piper Formula F to win the 2014 SCCA West Coast Majors Championship Majors, and has since sold it to Skip Streets. Zurlinden now plans to drive his newly restored 1969 Formula F Merlyn Mk17 in vintage events, as well as in SFR SCCA.
Talking about degrees of separation: Skip Streets’ father, John Streets, used to own and race the No.32 1960 U2 Mk2 Mallock at the Monterey Historics and Rolex Reunions. John Streets has since sold the car back to Ray Mallock, son of designer and builder Major Arthur Mallock, who is driving it in Group 2B for Formula Junior Cars 1958-1960 – front engine and disc brakes. The U2 is based on the Charles Atlas advertising campaign of “You too can have a body like mine.” Mallock wanted it to be an affordable race car driven by the common man, a Clubman’s car. John Harwood campaigned it successfully in Europe for years and had a wild victory in the rain in October 1960 at Nurburgring. For awhile it was raced by Bob Costanduros, now a motorsports broadcaster in Australia. He sold it back to the Mallock family in 1980. For the next twenty or so years it was raced by Mallock’s good friend, John Streets, and Arthur Mallock whose last race was the Monterey Historics in 1990. He passed away in 1993. In 2011 the car came back to Ray Mallock, who restored it back to its original 1960 specifications, including the original distinctive boxy, stubby nose.
Based on his Thursday practice & qualifying times, Ray Mallock will start second in Sunday’s Group 2 B races. He was second fastest Thursday and wasn’t at the track Friday.
Group 2B and Group 5B are both Formula Junior classes, and a large number have turned out to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Formula Juniors, which is also being featured at this weekend’s Reunion. There are 25 FJs in Group 2B and 39 in Group 5B. They come from all over the US, Europe and Down-Under.
This weekend’s events will be live streamed (TV broadcast show quality) Saturday and Sunday 1-6pm on the Motor Trend YouTube channel, with Jonny Liebermann Ed Lohn, and Angus MacKenzie, so I’m told. Also the CBS TV show talent will also be involved, and they are Justin Bell, Alain de Cadenet, Mike Joy, Ralph Shaheen, and Bob Varsha. Somehow the TV production company will find a way to winnow down all the weekend’s events into a one-hour show airing later this year on CBS Sports.