SUNNY MOUNTAIN SHOWDOWN

Group One Start

Augie Grasis in No.11 1953 Allard-Cadillac J2X leading Peter Giddings in No.24 1953 Lancia D24/5 on the start of the Group One race.

Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca started out merely overcast rather than foggy, so the activities began right on schedule for the second and last day of the Pre-Reunion. Practice for each group was in the morning, with afternoon races for the ten groups comprised of more than 300 historic race cars. So far only one (large) car part had been retrieved. The actual race fields were smaller than Saturdays, either by attrition or choice.

Local driver, Dave Zurlinden drove his No.25 1953 Tatum GMC Special to victory from second on the grid for the Group One Race-1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars, and set the race’s fastest lap in the process – 1:50.4/73.011 mph. Pole sitter Dyke Ridgley and his No.17 1953 Jaguar C-type finished second, followed by Rob Manson in No.9C 1953 Kurtis 500S, 4.993 seconds behind. The race ran nine laps, with 21 starting the race of the 25 entries. Grasis started ninth and finished eighth. Giddings started eleventh and finished twelfth. The fastest time for the group in Turn One was 121 mph.

Duke Ridgley No.17 Jaguar

No.17 Jaguar C-type. Photo by Alan Mertens.

The second-place Jaguar has an interesting history. It came in second at Le Mans in 1953 with Stirling Moss and Peter Walker at the wheel. It’s a works lightweight car, which was fitted with a 3.8-liter engine, originally a 3.4. Moss finished second at Lisbon later that year. The car was then sold to Ecurie Ecoss in Scotland and was painted blue for awhile. Jimmy Stewart, the older brother of Jackie Stewart, won many races in the car. It continued on its famous racing ways for the next five years, before becoming a street car and used in performance events. It was never in any serious crashes. It was later restored and driven by a famous racer of the time, Keith Schellenberg in English vintage events. Schellenberg was an Olympic bobsled champion in 1956, owns his own island in Scotland (Isle of Eigg) and raced some amazing vintage cars including this Jaguar and Woolf Barnato’s Bentley. That is the same Woolf Barnato for whom a SCCA award is named. The 1986 recipient of the Award, R. David Jones, will be at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion driving a 1962 Lotus 23 in Group 7A for 1963-1973 FIA Manufacturers Championship Cars.

Pole Sitter Alex Hugo won the Group Two Race for 1955-1962 GT Cars, the largest group. He drove his 1962 Porsche 356B and turned the fastest time of 73.872 mph/1.49.1. Jeffrey Abramson started and finished second, 4.102 seconds in arrears, driving No.145 1959 Morgan Babydoll IV. Starting and finishing third was Ned Bacon in No.61 1961 Porsche 356. Thirty-seven of 43 drivers ran the nine-lap race. This group had a majority of drivers from California, although one hailed from New South Wales in Australia, one from Westphalia in Germany, and one from Bogata. The closest was William Kirkwood from nearby Carmel. Kirkwood drove his No.61T 1961 Elva Courier MKII, and finished sixteenth. Kirkwood is a Race Steward with SFR SCCA and also a SCRAMP Assistant Director. There were a couple other drivers from neighboring communities.

Mid-pack start of Group Three Race

Dyke Ridgley thought he’d try it again, in Group Three for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under/over 2 Liters. He had the pole position in his No.66 1960 Chaparral I. Starting second and third were Greg Meyer in No.84 1959 ASLWE MKIV and David Swig in No.16 1959 Scarab MkI. They finished in that order, in the nine-lap race, Ridgley being the fastest at 76.874 mph/1:44.8. He edged Meyer by 4.315 seconds. Thirty-two drivers started, in the nine lap race and thirty finished. Swig is a second-generation vintage racer, being the eldest son of the late Martin Swig and Esta Swig, who both raced the family vintage cars. Younger brother Howard Swig also races vintage cars, although the lads took time out earlier in their careers to run LeMons races in a whacky series that their father denied originating with Jay Lamm. David now is a Car Specialist with Sotheby’s and has to squeeze in his Laguna races between his car auction duties this month.

Group Four Race was for 1958-1960 Formula Jr – the smaller, earlier versions with front engines and drum brakes. It was the smallest field of the weekend, with 19 entries – from here and abroad. Chris Drake of England had the pole position in his No.55 1961 Elva 300 and he won by a considerable margin of 47.736 seconds ahead of Ray Mallock, also of England in his No.32 1960 U2 Mk2. I didn’t find him in time to ascertain is he’s involved with the Mallock race car. Drake was the fastest driver at 77.002 mph/1:44.6. Chip Fudge, who gridded seventeenth in the field based on his Saturday race, finished third in No.28 1961 Cooper T56. Sixteen drivers ran the race, and all but one finished. This group will run again next weekend as it’s one of the featured marques, celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Formula Juniors.

One of the larger fields was Group Five for 1961-1966 GT Cars under 2500cc. The top three drivers finished where they started. Dalmo De Vasconcelos of Rio won in his fast No.185 Lotus Elan, with the fastest lap of 75.205 mph/1:47.1 and a 6.031 Margin of Victory ahead of Dennis Kazmerowski in No.199 1964 Ginetta G4. Robert S. Davis finished third in No.117 1965 Lotus 7. Twenty-nine started and twenty-eight finished the nine-lap race. The winner and another driver, Francisco Lara Resende in No.26 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA hailed from Brazil, another came from England and one from Antwerp. The rest were from California and other states.

Only twenty-six of the 40 Group Six entries raced. This big, loud and splashy group was made up of 1973-1981 FIA and IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT Cars. Polesitter Bruce Canepa again won in No.12 1979 Porsche 935. Mike Thurlow charged from the back to place second in his very colorful No.53 1976 Chevrolet Corvette. Third was Ranson Webster in his pink and white No.42 1976 Porsche 035 K3. Canepa’s Margin of Victory was only 2.713 seconds, and Thurlow turned the fastest lap in his charge to the front, turning a 1:34.0/85.74 mph, the fastest of the day at that point. There were several drop outs due to mechanical and other woes, including Zak Brown in his No.18 1981 Porsche 935. He had gridded second and ran so until he retired.

The second largest Margin of Victory came in Group Seven for 1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc. Alex MacAllister of Indianapolis won from third starting slot in his 1966 Ford GT40. He beat runner-up Lorne Leibel of Canada in his No.96 1965 Cobra AC by 23.625 seconds. Alex MacAllister was the fastest car at 82.997 mph/1:37.1. Third was pole sitter Jeffrey Abramson, a local driver in No.5 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster. Fourth was Chris MacAllister, also from Indy, in No.146 1964 Shelby Cobra. Four cars from Saturday elected not to run, including the very fast Bruce Canepa, who was entered in two different Porsche 962’s.

Smokin' Chris Hines No.58 Corvette

Chris Hines No.78 being pushed by SFR

SCRAMP Directors sweeping

This was a character-building race for Chris Hines of Scottsdale. He lasted five laps before he pulled off at Start-Finish with a blown motor blowing smoke. There was no fire and he was unhurt, but not so for the engine. He was in good hands, between SCRAMP personnel and the SCCA marshals, and he was able to limp back to his pits. He did, however, leave a large souvenir for the volunteers – a large swath of oil to remember him by.

This was the last race of the day. The paddock had started to empty, but soon it will fill back up to capacity for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion which has so many entrants wanting to run that the cut-off was 550 cars. See you there!

More Eye Candy, this time from the Bonham’s Auction display. If you have to ask the starting price, then you can’t afford to bid.

1909 Thomas Flyabout

Thompson Special indy car

1941 Mercedes Cabriolet

Jody Scheckter's Championship 1981 Ferrari F1

Left to Right: 1909 Thomas Flyabout; Thompson Special indy car; 1941 Mercedes Cabriolet; and Jody Scheckter’s 1981 Championship F1 Ferrari

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