MORE REUNION RACING

Laguna Seca 60 Years

The last day of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca started out as most with a heavy palpable layer of fog; but it was high enough so the racing started on schedule. The sun broke through at noon and the skies were clear and blue all afternoon, with a gentle breeze. Sunday’s races were for the seven B Groups. The schedule was shorter than the rest, as the weekend concludes with the traditional Awards Ceremony. Even the lunch break was shorter – so short the SFR SCCA volunteers had to have their lunches delivered to their stations.

Black Mercedes Shuttle Van

Everything is classier at the Rolex Reunion – even the Shuttle – a huge black Mercedes Benz Van.

Group 1B was for 1955-1962 GT Cars, with a field of 48. Forty-two ran the Rolex Race. Kevin Adair in No.171 1959 Austin Healey 3000 won the race and turned the best time of 1:52.0 on Lap Five of the nine-lap race. Ron Goodman from Australia was second driving No.23 1954 Porsche 356, followed by Wolfgang Friedrichs from Westphalia in No.51T 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT. Fourth and fifth were Ranson Webster in No.39 191 Porsche Abarth Carrera and Kaid Marouf in No.38 1960 Alfa Romeo SZ.

In the morning race, the order was Goodman, Jeffrey Abramson in No.145 Morgan Babydoll IV, Adair, Friedrichs and Webster. Forty of the 48 entries ran in the morning race.

Robyn & Dave Handy and No.44T Austin Mini Cooper station wagon

Dave Handy drove the family No.44T 1962 Austin Mini Cooper station wagon in 1B, finishing sixteenth in the Rolex Race after starting in P20. The car was originally purchased as a street car in the mid-eighties by Robert Pass, father of Mrs. Dave Handy, and converted to a race car while being tricked out as a promotional car for his company, Passport Transport. After Dad quite racing, the car was then sold and had a motorsports hiatus for 15 years. Then Robyn Pass Handy, Mrs. Handy, became nostalgic for the car and somehow through Facebook connected with the then-current owner at Watkins Glen last September. She indicated they would be interested in buying it back if the owner-now getting on in years- wanted to sell it. In November the owner said he’d sell, but Robyn, sadly, wasn’t able to get it at that point. But unbeknownst to her, hubby Dave bought it and gave it to her as a Valentine’s Day gift this year.

No.44T Passport Austin Mini Cooper Station Wagon

He’s racing it this weekend, but is used to racing bigger cars, so from here on out, Robyn will race it. And yes, that’s her name above the door, already. The Handys keep their race cars and their Sasco Sports race prep shop at Virginia International Raceway, and attend 30 races a year. They also run a non-profit “Vintage Racers for Rescues” to raise money for other non-profit pet rescue organizations.

And speaking of such organizations, Dean Case, who handles the PR for Mazda North America is a long-time advocate for MUTS and he uses motorsports to promote animal shelter adoptions. This weekend is “Clear Out The Shelters” weekend, hoping to adopt as many pets as possible. His promotion this event is for the benefit of the Monterey County SPCA shelter across the street from the Laguna Seca main gate. The fundraiser is the auctioning of four custom-designed race helmets donated by SPARCO. All the artists donated their talents, including Bill Patterson, who designed the Reunion Poster and Program Cover.

All the proceeds go to charity.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/spcaofmontereycounty/m.html?item=182717528886&ssPageName=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562

Group 2B was for 1958-1960 Formula Juniors – front engine and drum brakes. These were the older, smaller of the two groups of cars gathered at Laguna Seca to celebrate its 60th Anniversary. Twenty-five cars comprised the field for this group, coming from Australia, Denmark, England, New Zealand, and all points West. Twenty-one of the field made each race.

Mr & Mrs Ray Mallock

Mr & Mrs Ray Mallock

Chris Drake from England won both races, driving No.55 1961 Elva 300, and won by a good margin in the Rolex Race Sunday afternoon. But the fastest car in the group was the runner-up, Ray Mallock in his No.32 U2 Mallock Mk2. His best time was 1:46.8. Third place winner Joseph Colasacco in No.55 Stanuellini Formula Junior was the second fastest car in the race, with Drake third fastest. Mallock and Collasacco had a good dice in the beginning, with Mallock gridding ahead of Collasacco. They passed and repassed and Mallock held on for the rest of the race. They had the same sort of race in the morning, with a Safety Car bunching up the field. Collasacco was, accoding to Mallock, a bit over-eager on the re-start and tapped the rear of the British Racing green Mallock. It skidded Mallock a bit so he had to play catch-up and repass for second position. After the race Mallock had cosmetic damage to repair. The Mallock race cars are still being built in England by Ray’s brother, Richard.

Twenty-one of the 24-car field raced, same as in the morning’s race. The finishing order for the top three was the same for both races.

Group 3B was for 1961-1966 GT Cars under 2500cc. This was the largest field, with 51 entries, with 43 running the races.

Patrick Long's No.68 1968 Porsche 911 T/R

Patrick Long’s No.68 1968 Porsche 911 T/R

Patrick Long, the only American Porsche factory driver, won the race in Ron Benjamin’s No.68 1968 Porsche 911 T.R, and by a country mile. His fastest lap was 1:43.763 on Lap 7. Second was Michael Malone in No.37 1965 Lotus 26R, followed by Dalmo De Vasconcelos in No.185 1965 Lotgus Elan, Dennis Kazmerowski in No.199 1964 Ginetta G4 and Patrick Byrne in No.162 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Corsa.

Patrick Long & Gunnar Jeannette

Patrick Long & Gunnar Jeannette

Long’s car has an impressive resume, with wins in the 1975 24 Hours of Daytona and 1979 12 Hours of Sebring – both in the GTU Class. Two Class runner-ups, 1969 Daytona 24 Hour and 1971 Sebring 12 Hours.

Among those who didn’t run was professional racer, Gunnar Jeannette in No.67 1964 Abarth Simca 2 Mila Corsa. He was also entered in two other races.

Dr. Lee Talbot & Ginetta

Another driver of note in the field was 87-year old Dr. Lee Talbot, who raced a MGA in the first-ever raceat Laguna Seca in 1957. This weekend he’s racing his No.62 1967 Ginetta G4, whom he calls “Ginetta.” This is the first time she has been out West. Talbot towed her himself all the way from McLean VA. He has been racing for 69 years. Talbot ran sprint cars for a couple of years back in the day, before he turned to SCCA road racing. He’s enjoyed both Laguna Seca course configurations, and said at the time he drove the first Laguna Seca road races, that it was the best course in the North. It was a real road course. At that point SCCA was running airport circuits, such as Cotati and Vaca Ville, Stockton and Crows Landing. This current configuration is very much different, but it is safe and much more technical. The width is wider, and the camber has changed. It has many turns. He likes it.

IMG_0450

Dr. Lee Talbot in No.62 Ginetta

Talbot Crew Shirt

Talbot has raced on four continents including rallyes in Africa. Among his racing honors are 1969 SVRA Driver of the Year, and he’s a member of Road Racing Drivers Club, an honorary invitational driver’s club, whose current president, Bobby Rahal, is on site this weekend as a spectator.

Group 4B was for 1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc. It was another large field, with 46 entries and 41 starters for the Rolex Race.

Lorne Leibel won both Sunday races in No.96 1965 Cobra AC, but second and third places were reversed from morning to afternoon. Thomas Steuer in No.75 was second in the Rolex Race driving No.75 1965 Chevrolet Corvette, followed by Kyle Kelley in No.32 1966 Chevrolet Corvette. In the morning it was Kelley and Steuer. Fourth and fifth in both races were claimed by Jeffrey Abramson in No.5 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster and Bill Ockerlund in No.98 1963 Shelby Cobra.

Steuer was the fastest driver with a lap of 1:40.7.

Kyle Kelly in No.32 1966 Chevrolet Corvette

John Morton in No.74 1964 sunbeam Tiger

Mike Joy in No.89 1966 Ford Mustang

Left to right: Mike Joy, John Morton & Kyle Kelley.

Veteran racer, John Morton, drove Buck Tripel’s No.74 1964 Sunbeam Tiger to eleventh place, David battling many Goliaths. TV Broadcaster, Mike Joy, drove Ken Epsman’s No.89 1966 Ford Mustang, and finished twenty-fourth, on the lead lap of ten.

Among those who DNS were Chris MacAllister in No.146 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 and Dyke Ridgley in No.86 1963 Jaguar Lightweight XK-E. Both drivers are in multiple events.

Group 5B was the newer, faster Formula Juniors – 1961-1963 with disc brakes. The field numbered 39, with 34 starting the Rolex Race. Ten drivers came from overseas, including Australia, England, Nuevo Leon, Scotland, US Virgin Islands, as well as the US. Major kudos go to Karol Andrews who facilitated the organizing of the FJ gathering. She was always too busy to have time for an interview. My loss.

Several of the (local) FJ drivers also race historic Formula One cars and have extensive track time at Laguna Seca. It certainly helped.

Pole sitter Timothy de Silva, driving his No.10 Gemini MkIV was fastest in three of the four sessions and led for the first seven laps until he experienced what could have been suspension problems, and he limped around to the pits and retired. The crew tried shaking the car, to no avail. Danny Baker had been charging through the field from his fifth grid spot, to take the lead on Lap Eight in his No.36 1963 Lotus 27. Hot on his heels was Art Hebert in his silver No.2 1963 Lola Mk5A, turning fastest laps. His Lap 5 time of 1:39.6 held to be the best 5A lap of the day.

Art Hebert No.2 1963 Lola Mk5A

Art Hebert No.2 1963 Lola Mk5A

Baker and Hebert finished 1-2, with Mark Shaw from Scotland drove is No.77 1963 Brabham BT6 to third. Fourth and fifth were Andrew Hibberd in No.272 1963 Lotus 27 and Joseph Colasacco in No.30 1962 Stanguellini Delfino FJ.

In the morning race, de Silva won, with ibberd as runner-up. Third was Robert Hoemke in No.4 1962 Cooper 59, with Shaw and Baker in fourth and fifth. Thirty-five drivers started the race.

Group 6B was for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc. The field was 37 strong, with 27 starters for the Rolex Race, and nine DNS.

Cameron Healy won both races Sunday, in his No.55 1953 Porsche Cooper Pooper. He also had the fastest race lap of 1:50.7 on the last lap of the nine. Second and third in both races were Jeff Mincheff in No.52 1956 Lotus Eleven and Thor Johnson in No.99 1959 Lotus 17.

In the morning race, there were 31 starters and six DNS.

Start of 7B Race

Group 7B for 1973-1991 IMSA GTu, GTo/Trans AM Cars. Ground Pounders one and all. And fast! They turned the fastest times of the day.

Bill Ockerlund won the race in his No.33 1991 Chevrolet Duracell Camaro, and turned the fastest time of the race and the day at 1:31.4 on Lap eight of the ten-lap race. Finishing second was Joel Miller in the ear-splitting No.62 1991 Mazda RC-7. Third was Ken Epsman in his No.53 1984 Pontiac Firebird, a car first raced by Bill Doyle in the original Trans-Am Series.

Those same three finished in the morning race, in a different order: Miller won, followed by Ockerlund and Epsman. Fourth and fifth were Keith Frieser from Canada in No.63T 1984 Mercury Capri, and Kenneth Davis in No.8 1985 Roush Mercury Capri.

The day ended in bright sunshine, as it did all six days of the Reunions. A far cry from the early morning fog experienced some of the days. But – it didn’t stay.

Foggy Morning at Laguna Seca

The 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will be one week later, to accommodate the PGA Tournament. So mark your calendars for 23-26 August 2018. And stay tuned for the featured marque. “It took two hours to decide and now it will take Legal two weeks to clear.” The Formula 5000 cars will be back. And the 2nd Annual Spring Classic will be back 18-20 May 2018. And the Porsche Rennsport has already been announced for 27-30 September 2018. So plan now. See you there!

REUNION RACING

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Foggy Friday. The deep fog enveloped Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the start of the morning Group A Races at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. There was line-of-sight between the Turn Stations so it was safe to race, but it was cold, palpable fog. The sun didn’t appear until noon, and then it shone on all the many and varied activities.

The eight Group A races were run in chronological order, as there were no sound limits for the weekend. The morning races set the grids for the afternoon Rolex Races.

Group 1A No.37 Luca Maciucescu 1934 Ford Granite State Special & No.18 Brian Blain 1916 Romano Sturtevant Special

Luca Maciucescu No.37 & Brian Blain No.18

Group 1A was for Pre 1940 Sports Racing & Touring Cars. These cars were really old, dating back to 1911 and up through 1935.

In the Rolex Race, Luca Maciucescu, who gridded third, won in his No.37 1934 Ford Granite State Special after a hard-fought battle with pole sitter, Brian Blain in No.18 1916 Romano Sturtevant Special. Finishing third was Rick Rawlins in No.11 1926 Bugatti 37A. Maciucescu turned the fastest race lap time of 2:15.6 on Lap Five.

The oldest car was driven by Charles Test. He ran a best time of 2:52.8 in his 1911 No.19 National Speedway Roadster. The youngest cars were two 1935 Rileys. Richard Jeffery drove No.117A Riley Special Brooklands and Greg Powell drove No.16. Riley-Ford Single SeatChamp car. Sixteen drivers of the 20 entries ran the race.

In the morning race, Blain won, ahead of Rawlins and Maciucescu. Fourteen drivers ran the race.

Group 2A was for 1927-1951 Racing Cars.

Paddins Dowling won the Rolex Race in No.7 1934 ERA R2A, from the pole position after winning the morning race. Runner-up was Hans Hugenholtz in No.26 1950 Talbot T26C, who hadn’t run the morning race. Third was Charles McCabe in No.6A ERA R6B. Dowling had the fastest time of 1:58.1, on the final lap of the eight-lap race. Eight drivers DNS, including Derek Hill, son of F1 World Champion, Phil Hill, who was to drie No.51 1931 Bugatti Type 51.; and Alain de Cadenet of London, who is also part of the CBS TV Reunion telecast. He was to have driven No.106 1936 Alfa Romeo 8C.

In the morning race, Chris MacAllister came in second, behind Dowling, in his 1938 ERA 14B. That made up for not starting the morning race. Third finisher was Peter Giddings in his familiar No.31 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza.

Group 3A was for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc.

Dyke Ridgley drove his 1960 Chaparral I to victory in the Rolex Race, and turned the best time of 1:43.2 on Lap five of the ten-lap race. He finished second in the morning race. Greg Meyer came in second in No.84 1959 Sadler MkIV. They ran close together. Charging hard to catch them was David Swig in No.16 Scarab MkI. His best time was second fastest of the race – 1:44.1. Fifteen drivers ran and all finished the race. Five drivers DNS including Dominic Dobson in No.60 Cooper Monaco MkIIII.

Between races, Swig received from Executive Director Mark Gessler of the Historic Vehicle Association – on behalf of the Scarab – the beautiful glass bowl which signified the Scarab had been accepted into the HVA Registry. Each year at the Reunion it selects/honors an important car. Last year it was a Cobra. This car is owned by Dyke Ridgley.

David Swig and Scarab Trophy

Vintage Registry Trophy

David Swig & Scarab Owner

1958 Scarab MkI

David Swig and Scarab

1958 Scarab MkI

Race Group 4A was for 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT Cars.

This was a large group, with 48 entries, of which 41 ran.

Local driver Bruce Canepa won the Rolex Race after failing to finish in the morning race. He was driving his fast No.12 1979 Porsche 935, which turned the fastest time of 1:32.3 on Lap four on the ten-lap race. Second was Kiel Hogan in No.24 1976 Dekon Monza, one of three in the race. Not often one sees that many such cars in the same place at the same time. Finishing third was Cooper MacNeil in No.0 1980 Porsche 935.

Canepa owns a large restoration facility nearby in Scotts Valley in which he houses his collection of historic vehicles. He also hosts a monthly Cars and Coffee event which is so well-attended that local volunteer college students staff it.

Fourth and fifth were Ken Epsman in No.20 1976 Dekon Monza and Zak Brown in No.18 1981 Porsche 935.

Adam Corolla finished 16th in his No.70 1979 Porsche 935, and 19th in the morning race.

Sat AM Race 4A photo finish

In the morning race, two Porsches proved yet again you don’t have to win or be in front to have an exciting race and photo finish. Mid-pack, Alan Benjamin in No.61 1975 Porsche 3.0 Carrera RSR and Cameron Healy in No.11 1977 Porsche 911 Carerra RSR finished neck and neck, in positions 21 and 22.

MacNeil won the morning race, followed by Gunnar Jeannette driving No.28 1977 Porsche 934.5 and Epsman. Fourth and fifth were Hogan and Brown. Forty-five drivers started that race with three DNS.

Also in the morning race, three fast drivers DNF’d after two laps – Canepa, Mike Thurlow in the boldly colorful No.53 1976 Chevrolet Corvette, and Charles Nearburg in his No.70T 1980 Porsche 935 K3; with Thurlow and Nearburg among non-starters for the Rolex Race.

Don Zurlinden No.25 Tatum-GMC Special

Don Zurlinden & No.25 Tatum-GMC Special

Race 5A was another large group, for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars. Many of these cars used to race in the Del Monte Forest before the opening of Laguna Seca. Most of the Group’s cars are in Row Q at the Reunion, and most of them will still be there Sunday. Several, including four owned by Rob Manson, will be showing at the Pebble Beach Concours on Sunday, including the winner of both races – Dave Zurlinden of Monterey CA. He drove Rob Manson’s 1953 Tatum-GMC Special (with car body by Hagemann) to victory in both races, and turned the fastest time of 1:50.4 on Lap Four of the nine-lap race. Second in the Rolex Race was Dyke Ridgley in No.17 1953 Jaguar C-Type, with John Buddenbaum in No.3 1949 Jaguar Parkinson Special, which also will be showing at Pebble Beach. They all finished in that order for the morning race also.

Fourth and fifth were local driver, Don Pepperdene in No.77 1949 Baldwin Mercury Special and Marcus Bicknell from the United Kingdom in No.15 1952 Streets Manning Special.

Thirty-seven drivers started the race, with seven DNS, including Joe Huffaker in No.77 1955 MG TF 1500, who had mechanical problems after the first lap of the morning race, Bruce McCaw in No.65 1961 Austin Healey Sebring Sprite and Manson in No.9C 1953 Kurtis 500S, who didn’t run the morning race either.

Finishing fourth and fifth in the morning race were Bernard Juchli in No.86 1955 Jaguar Hagemann Special and Don Pepperdene in No77 1949 Baldwin Mercury Special.

Young Timothy de Silva is one of a new generation of vintage racers. The college student won his two races last weekend at the Pre-Reunion. I mistakenly wrote that he didn’t run the second of the Formula Junior races (as his car broke.) But what I didn’t know, and neither did Timing and Scoring, was that Scott Drnek offered up his 1963 Brabham BT6 for de Silva to drive. Timothy started ninth in Group Nine for FJ’s with disc brakes – the faster cars. He won the race.

This weekend, deSilva was fastest in all four of his sessions for Group 6A – 1970-1984 Sports Racing Cars under 2100cc. He won the Rolex Race and was nearly three seconds faster than the next closest car, driving No.25 1978 Osella PA8. Runner-up was Cal Meeker from British Columbia, driving No.115 1973 Lola T294. Third was Andre Lara Resende i o.126 1978 Chevron B36. Eighteen cars started the race, with three DNS including Mike Thurlow, who finished second to de Silva in the morning race. Thurlow drove No.4 1973 Lola T294. Nearly all drivers ran their fastest time on Lap Seven.

Meeker was third in the morning race., which had nineteen starters and two DNS.

Group 7A was for 1963-1973 FIA Manufacturers Championship Cars. There was a nice turnout of 34 cars, plus the seven DNS.

Chris MacAllister won from the pole position in No.5 1973 Gulf Mirage, and was four and a half seconds faster than the runnerup, Cameron Healey in No.20 1970 Porsche 908/3. Third was Richard Dean of England in No.46 1970 Chevron B16.

Fourth and fifth were Gray Gregory in No.44 1970 Chevron B16 and Bob Kullas in No.23 1969 Chevron B16.

In the morning race, the finishing order was MacAllister, Healey, Gregory, Kullas and Dean.

Scott Barrett & No.53 1965 Koch Special

One of the drivers who didn’t run Saturday afternoon was Scott Barrett of Texas. He drove his No.53 1965 Koch Chevy Special in the morning race. The car was built by Wayne Koch, with a 440 hp, 2.5 liter, 4-cylinder Chevy engine, with Porsche 356 rear end. Back in the day it ran a lot of races, including the American Road Race of Championships. Koch won the ARRC DMod class his first year. After that the class became DSR and was a larger, more inclusive class and the Koch Special was not as competitive. Barrett has had the car for nearly four years and completely rebuilt it, saying it’s ‘awesome.”. At the Reunion he runs with the larger FIA Cars, in what he calls a “most diverse class”

Group 8A was the smallest run group all day, with 11 starters in the 19-car field. This group of 1981-1991 IMSA GTP Cars were the fastest all days. Winner Charles Nearburg in his No.99 AAR Eagle MkIII GTP ran a lap of 1:23.9, two seconds faster than runner-up Jonathan Bomarito in his No.202 1989 Mazda 767-B, who didn’t run the morning race. Third was Wade Carter in No.68 1984 Porsche 962. The DNS list for the afternoon was impressive, including Bruce Canepa, who only ran two laps in the morning race in his No.10 1986 Porsche 962; and Zak Brown, who finished third in the morning race, driving No.16 1986 Porsche 962. He won both his Pre-Reunion races in that car last weekend.

The McLaren M23 Formula One car, driven by former F1 driver, Mika Hakkinen, in Exhibition Laps Friday and Saturday, is being packed up and crated for its trip back to the UK. This was the first Hakkinen had driven on the 2.238-mile elevated road course. He found the braking zones required a lot of skill, and The Corkscrew was challenging. He thought German Touring Cars at Laguna Seca would be fun, but it was a long way from Germany.

McLaren M23 F1 Car in Turn 11

McLaren M23 F1

Freight-Prepping McLaren M23 F1 Car

Laguna Seca Sunset

CELEBRATING LAGUNA SECA

Racing Through The Decades

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.

1957 Ferrari

1963 Shelby King Cobra

Race Cars

2000's IMSA car

1990 Yamaha Moto GP Motorcycle

2016 IMSA Car

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.

WELCOME Party

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.

Del Monte Trophy

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.

Dave Zurlinden in Tatum Special

Dave Zurlinden in Tatum Special

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 Special Engine

Tatum Special Engine

Tatum Special engine

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.

#32 Mallock

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.

Formula Juniors

Formula Junior Flag

More Formula Juniors

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.

Eye Candy
Jaguar

Vespa

Ferrari

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

FOGGY MOUNTAIN SHAKEDOWN

Foggy Start

It started out foggy at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Day One of the annual Pre-Reunion races. The fog-delay was short-lived and the cars took to the track only 15 minutes late. The sun came out mid-morning and remained for the rest of the day, with just the smallest of wispiest clouds dotting the skies. The weather was breezy, warm in the sun and chilly in the shade. All in all, a beautiful day for racing. The fog didn’t start rolling back in until the last race, which started after 5pm.

One of the nice things about vintage racing is that the paper work comes out quickly. The practice/qualifying and Saturday race results don’t show times, just positions, and race results come out right away, as there are no protests. The Sunday results will show times.

The Pre-Reunion event has ten groups of cars with 309 entries, ranging from 1949 Sports Racing and GT Cars all the way up to 1991 FIA and IMSA cars. This is the run-up to the 8th Annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which will feature three anniversaries including the 60th for Formula Juniors, 60th for Laguna Seca as a race track, and 70th for Ferrari. Lots of history there! Mobile Museums on an iconic circuit.

There was a nice turnout of anniversary Formula Juniors at Pre-Reunion, which comprise two of the ten race groups – Group Four for 1958-1960 with drum brakes and front engines, and Group Nine for 1961-1963 with disc brakes.They came from far and wide, including Australia, Denmark, England, Scotland and all over the United States, totaling 48 cars.

Saturday morning was practice sessions, with races in the afternoon. It was a busy day from 8am until 5:30pm. The Pace Car/Safety Car driver got as many laps as some of the race cars. One car spun out on the Pace Lap and hit the wall in Turn Eleven. The driver wasn’t hurt, but the same couldn’t be said for the car. For this event there are two roll-back/flat bed tow trucks. All of the San Francisco Region Sports Car Club of America volunteer Emergency Crew and Course Marshal Crew worked long and hard retrieving historic cars which suffered from spins or a variety of mechanical woes. Many involved leaking fluids, and the Course Marshals put the sweeper truck to good use. More than 20 bags of oil dry/grease sweep were used Saturday.

Zak Brown #18 Porsche 935

Zak Brown’s #18 Porsche 935

Race Six saw the Safety Car come out after the first lap for a car which didn’t negotiate the front straight. Mike Thurlow, the pole sitter in his 1976 Corvette retired in Turn Six with mechanical problems. The race was ultimately won by local driver, Bruce Canepa in his 1979 Porsche 935, who gridded second. He was followed by Zak Brown of England in his blue with yellow 1981 Porsche 935, originally raced by Rolf Stommelen. Yes, that Zak Brown, now of McLaren. He said afterwards he always loves coming to Laguna Seca. He flies all of his team’s cars from England. They all will be back next weekend, and can be found in the small garages fronting the Pit Lane. And NO, contrary to all the Internet rumors, Brown and his F1 driver Fernando Alonso will not be skipping the Singapore F1 race to compete in the season’s finale IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway.

Richard Dean No.46 1970 Chevron B16

Richard Dean’s No.46 1970 Chevron B16

Zak Brown No.16 1986 Porsche 962

Zak Brown’s No.16 1986 Porsche 962

Brown also ran in Group Ten, starting on pole position with his No.16 1986 Porsche 962. He led flag to flag in the ground-pounding field of 1981-1991 FIA and IMSA GTO & GTP cars. They were as fast as they were loud, with the Zoom-Zoom radar gun in Turn One recording a high of 141 mph. Finishing second was Bill Okerlund in his No.33 1991 Chevrolet Camaro and Kenneth Davis in No.8 1985 Roush Capri. Some of the cars looked like old Trans-Am cars, including Ken Epsman’s No.53 1984 Pontiac Firebird, which had originally been raced by Bill Doyle with its famous teal and yellow Caterpillar livery, which the crew also wears. Epsman started and finished sixth.

Richard Dean ran Brown’s No.46 1970 Chevron B16 in Group Eight, finishing fourth. Keith Frieser from Alberta, Canada won that race in his No.27 1972 Lola T290. This group is the 1970-1984 Sports Racing Cars under 2100cc. Fellow Canadian Cal Meeker finished second in No.115 1973 Lola T294, followed by Mike Thurlow of California in No.4 1973 Lola T294.

Harindra & Timothy de Silva

Harindra & Timothy de Silva

Group Nine for the later Formula Jr cars, with disc brakes, was a lively group with drivers well known in vintage circles. There were two father-son combo. One was the de Silvas, who each also race locally at Laguna in SCCA – Timothy de Silva in No.10 1962 Gemini MkIV, who won the Formula Continental race two weeks ago and his father, Harindra de Silva in No.96 1963 Huffaker Mk3A. The other was the Bakers, Danny the son and Bob the father.

Timothy de Silva No.10 1962 Gemini MkIV Formula Junior

Timothy de Silva’s No.10 1962 Gemini MkIV Formula Junior

Art Hebert had the pole position in his silver No.2 1963 Lola Mk5A FJ, but he spun in the Turn Three oil dry on the first lap, and then played catchup for the rest of the race. Danny Baker, who had gridded eleventh in his No.36 1963 Lotus 27 FJ had charged to first by Lap Two. Timothy de Silva was close on his heels in second place, and eventually caught Baker and Joseph Colasacco in his No.30 1962 Stanguellini Delfino FJ. The young de Silva won, followed by Baker and Colasacco. Hebert finished ninth in a field of 31 FJs.

Some of the FJ drivers are also owners/drivers of historic Formula One Cars, which aren’t running this weekend. They include Dr. Nick Colyvas in his 1962 Lotus 22, finishing eighth; Chris Locke, who drove his F1 car in the movie ‘Rush’ finished eleventh Saturday in his 1963 Lotus 27; Bob Baker in his 1963 Lola Mk5A; and John Anderson in his 1961 Cooper T56.

According to the Zoom-Zoom scoring on the Start-Finish Bridge, the second wave of FJ’s were faster than the leaders, clocking upwards of 114 mph going over the hill in Turn One.

Sunday’s schedule calls for more morning practice, and Sunday afternoon races, with the grid set by the finishing positions in Saturday’s races.

The Run Groups for this weekend are:
1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars
1955-1962 GT Cars
1955-1961 Sports Racing cars under & over 2000cc
1958-1960 Formula Junior – front engine & drum brake cars
1961-1963 Formula Junior – disc brakes
1961-1966 GT Cars under 2500cc
1963-1966 GT cars over 2500cc
1970-1984 Sports Racing cars under 2100cc
1973-1981 FIA, IMSA, GT, GTX, AAGT
1981-1991 FIA / IMSA GTO, GTP

One of the highlights for me at the Reunion events is all the eye candy, and I don’t just mean the race entries.Back in 2000 Gill Campbell, now SCRAMP Senior Vice President of Event Operations, determined that the paddock was too full of generic rental cars parked with the race cars, and felt an upgrade was in keeping with the event. Special Parking Passes were issued for Classic Cars, which weren’t competing. And the idea grew. Now there aren’t many modern-era cars seen anywhere in the large sprawling paddock, but there certainly are some interesting, intriguing, unusual and flat-out gorgeous vehicles interspersed everywhere.

Take a look at just a small sampling.

Wolfe

Mini Convertible

Old Jag

Ferrari Testarosa

Figaro

Lancia Rallye Car

I Ain't No Balloon Foot"

HAPPY HARVICK!

Kevin Harvick

Photo by Mike Burghardt

Kevin Harvick aka Happy Harvick, made it two for two in winning races this weekend, putting his No.4 Mobil 1 Ford in Victory Circle Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. He won the 29th Annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Harvick was the 11th winner in the 16 Cup races so far.

Harvick, the California Kid, had never won a Cup race at Sonoma, the Cup track he considers ‘home.’ His team owner, Tony Stewart, won the race last year. This year, the Stewart Haas, owned by Stewart and Gene Haas, team switched to Ford.

Kevin Harvick

Photo by Mike Burghardt

“It’s been a lotta work, a lotta hours, and it’s paying off. This is worth the wait, to come to Sonoma for so many years. This weekend has worked out well.

“It means a ton to get this Sonoma win. To finally check this one off the list. I feel like we have been close a couple times but never put it all together. Being so close to home and having raced here so much, this was one that was on the top of the list and today we were able to check that box.”

Harvick hadn’t won a race this year, so this was his first win of the season, his 36th career victory, and his first win since his team switched to Ford for this season. The team has won twice, the other victory belonging to Kurt Busch. Ford has won seven races this season. Harvick’s win brings him up to third in the Driver points.

Kevin Harvick No.4 Ford

Photo by Mike Burghardt

As race wore down, Harvick was slowing down to save fuel, but still maintaining a healthy lead ahead of contending SHR teammate,Clint Bowyer. Harvick led twice in the race, laps 65-66 and the last 21 laps.

Clint Bowyer

Clint Bowyer

Harvick beat Bowyer by 8.036 seconds. Harvick had slowed his pace to save on fuel, gambling on there being no late-race caution. Bowyer had some interactions with a couple of other drivers, but hung in there to finish runner-up. “You get there back in traffic and you’re so much faster than them you have to check up to save a mistake. You run over them and you don’t mean to; you get frustrated and get a little bit farther behind and a little bit farther behind. I saw the 42 (Kyle Larson) check up and I get into him and I was thinking, ‘Well, we’ll both survive this’. And then all of a sudden the 47 (AJ Allmendinger) was coming through him and I smoked him and hurt the left front. We were fast all weekend. With clean air and an long run, that’s always my strong suit. We got the long run, we just had to start dead last to get it.”

Cars 3

Photo by Mike Burghardt

Clint Bowyer No.14 FordBowyer had the CARS 3 racecar this weekend. For those who need more encouragement to go see the movie just out, which features substantial voiceovers from the late Paul Newman as Doc Hudson, here is another photo of the Pixar CARS.

SHR Team: Crew Chief, Rodney Childers; Co-Owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas

SHR Team: Crew Chief, Rodney Childers; Co-Owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas

Third through fifth were Brad Keselowski/No.2 Freightliner Elite Support Ford; Denny Hamlin/No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota; and Kyle Busch/No.18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota.

Dale Earnhardt No.88 Chevrolet

Photo by Mike Burghardt

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran as high as third, but finished sixth overall. He was asked what stood out for him in his 17-race career, making him the most proud. “I think the wins and everything, are great. I enjoyed celebrating those. But, long after your career; guys come along and win races and some of your accomplishments on the track sort of get forgotten. But, who you are as a person never gets forgotten. People never forget who you were. I hope people just thought I was good and honest and represented the sport well. I hope people that work with me enjoyed working with me, whether it was in the Late Model ranks or whatever; and I hope the guys I raced against enjoyed racing with me. That’s really all that will matter. And, what people I think will remember, is always you’re alive and beyond. Hopefully I left a good impression. I’ve had a lot of fun.”

Kyle Larson

Photo by Mike Burghardt

Pole Sitter Kyle Larson/No.42 Target Chevrolet led for the first nine laps before being passed by Martin Truex, Jr/No.78 Furniture Row Toyota. He then ran off course and fell backwards. Larson won four different races in the past week, but was lapped in the fading moments of the Cup race. He finished twenty-sixth. However, Larson maintain his points lead, 659 points, thirteen ahead of Truex.

Daniel Suarez/No.19 Stanley Toyota was the top Rookie, finishing sixteenth.

Harvick won Saturday’s Carneros 250 NASCAR K&N Pro Series-West race, and said then, and now, that he wanted to keep busy on weekends, wanted to get more laps on a road course, and definitely wanted to bring more attention to and work with the Western series to help them get more attention and sponsorship. The Western drivers sometimes don’t get equal representation or focus as do the Eastern series, and Harvick wants to change that.

Martin-Truex

Photo by Mike Burghardt

Martin Truex, Jr/No.78 Furniture Row Toyota won the first Stage, making it the eleventh stage he’s won this season, which helps him points wise. With two wins and 11 stages, he has 21 Playoff Points, more than any other Cup driver. His day didn’t end so well, however, as his engine failed and he retired on Lap 86.

Jimmie Johnson/No48 Lowe’s Chevrolet won Stage Two, his first. He already has two victories, so he’s in the Playoffs.

Danica Patrick No.10 Ford

Danica Patrick No.10 Ford

Danica Patrick/No.10 Code 3 Associates Ford had a character-building race. She had her best start this season, sixth. Patrick had contact with Earnhardt in the first stage, and finished thirty-seventh. That brought out a caution to rearrange the tire stacks. She started Stage Two from twentieth, and had another contact with Earnhardt which included AJ Allmendinger/No.47 Kroeger Chevrolet, which spun her wherein she was then hit by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr/No.17 Fastenal Ford. Patrick finished that stage in 34th. She started Stage Three from eighteenth spot and finished 17th, on the lead lap. “It definitely wasn’t the day the Code 3 Associates team was expecting, but we were able to battle back to a decent finish. The car was just awful in the final laps of the last two runs, but we made the most of it at the end.” Her boyfriend, Stenhouse, was evaluated and released from the infield care center.

Also into character-building was Allmendinger. He started fifth, led for four laps and then had encounters and excursions. He then lost power and finished thirty-fifth, six laps down. “I don’t know what happened there. I just noticed what was going to be our final pit stop I kind of looked down and just noticed the battery starting to die. From there that was it. Shutting all the switches off and everything wasn’t going to work. I’m mad at myself for not driving very well. The car was pretty good. That first stint was good. The No. 78 (Martin Truex) was pretty good, but thought we were going to be okay. I just didn’t drive very well and just bad luck again.”

Kasey Kahne/No.5 Microsoft Windows Chevrolet hit the wall hard on the last lap which brought out a caution but didn’t affect Harvick taking the victory. Kahne finished twenty-fourth, one lap down. He was evaluated and released from the infield care center. “It was a hard hit. No. 15 no clue who he is, I saw him a lot today lapping him, but he went low down the front stretch and then just, I was going to his outside and he just turned right and just hit me, put me straight in the wall getting the white flag there. No clue what he was thinking. You obviously don’t know what he’s doing either.”

There were ten leaders and thirteen lead changes. Other leaders were Truex three times for 25 laps; Hamlin twice for thirteen laps; Keselowski once for 17 laps; Johnson once for 12 laps; Kyle Busch once for three laps; JTG Daughtery Chevrolet teammates, AJ Allmendinger/No.47 Kroeger and Chris Buescher/No.37 Kingsford, each once for four laps; and Jamie McMurray/No.1 Cessna Chevrolet, once for a lap. McMurray also turned the fastest lap

Harvick Cup Banner

As the race progressed, the average race speed increased to 77.710 mph, but never reached last year’s average of 80.966 mph. The three-stage race was interrupted by six cautions for 12 laps, but none for the third and final stage – 60 laps.

There were several speeding tickets, including Trevor Bayne, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and Joey Logano.

Other penalties included too many crew over wall or over wall too soon or not in contact with outside tire, and pitting before pit road open.

Post Race Tech Inspection Report: First and second place cars plus the random car, No.1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet passed the ‘At Track’ Inspection and left for the NASCAR R&D Facility in Charlotte. The third, fourth and fifth place finishing cars passed the ‘At Track’ Inspection and were released. NASCAR Tech had an issue with the No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota having two lug nuts not safe and secure. This means a one-race suspension for the Crew Chief and a $20,000 fine. The Kyle Busch team is already serving a Crew Chief suspension for having five lug nuts not safe and secure leaving the pits at Dover. That wheel left the car. At Sonoma, the No.18 Assistant Crew Chief was filling in. Now the No.18 team will go to the next backup Crew Chief.

The next race is 1 July 2017 at Daytona International Speedway.

Stage Three Restart!

SONOMA SUNDAY

Sunday morning at Sonoma Raceway was overcast and downright chilly. But the enthusiastic fans didn’t seem to mind.The RV field across the road and down aways from the track was very full with campers and lots of team flags. The Trackside TV show was broadcast live from Victory Circle with various drivers and notables. Remnants of colorful confetti from Saturday’s Victory Circle were strewn everywhere. Happy fans were queuing up for parade laps around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile NASCAR track configuration.

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick. Photo by Mike Burghart

Saturday’s Carneros 250 NASCAR K&N Pro Series-West race was, as always, exciting and filled with drama. Pole sitter, Will Rodgers/No.7 Solvang Brewing Company Chevrolet led most of the race, but in the end was beaten by 2014 NASCAR Cup Champion, Kevin Harvick, who started sixth, drove No.4 Fields Ford. He turned the fastest lap of 88.302 mph/1:21.131. The Margin of Victory ahead of Rodgers, a Rookie, was 0.530. Rodgers was running his first K&N road race.

Finishing third through fifth were David Mayhew/No.17 MMI Racing Chevrolet; Michael Self/No.9 Sunrise Ford; and Rookie Derek Kraus/No.19 Carlyle Tools Toyota, who is now third in the standings.

Will Rodgers

Kevin Harvick

David Mayhew

Left to Right: Will Rodgers, Kevin Harvick, and David Mayhew.

Harvick, one of four Cup drivers entered in the race, said he wanted to run the race for fun and give back to the series which gave him his start. “It always feels good to win no matter what it is. The main objective was to come have fun, shine a little light on the series and shine a little light on how much talent is in the series. This particular series did a lot for me and to come back and be a part of it, see the health of it and see the young guys racing was the main objective.

Kevin Harvick banner

“It’s always fun to race in front of your home state fans. It’s been a long time since I raced in this particular series here, so it was a fun weekend.”

Rodgers said “For some funny reason, I had a feeling as far back as four weeks ago that it was going to be me and Kevin coming into turn 11 on the last lap. And sure enough, there we were. He ran a really good race, I learned a lot from him. We were able to lead some laps there in the beginning. It doesn’t feel too bad to finish second today.” Rodgers moved up to fourth in the standings.

Todd Gilliland/No.16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota maintained his lead in the standings, with his sixth place finish.

The other Cup drivers running the race were Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez. Blaney, driving No.88 Discount Tire Ford, ran hard and well, before his starting third and then ending up at the rear, and working his way back up the field. He unfortunately had to retire mechanical on Lap 53 of the 64-lap race. Suarez started seventh and had worked up to third near the end only to suffer mechanical issues which dropped him back to eleventh at the finish. This was his first Cup weekend on a road course, his first time at the wine country track. All the Cup drivers drove hard and well, and the K&N drivers appreciated the opportunity to race with the professionals, giving them a chance to learn from the best.

Kevin O’Connell from the Cup race was also entered, but withdrew after qualifying.

Steve Page & Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Steve Page & Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The Sonoma round of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series is one of the first race tracks to which Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won’t be returning, as he ‘retires’ from full-time Cup racing. Track President & General Manager, Steve Page and his staff set the bar high in terms of unique and memorable ways to salute NASCAR’s most popular driver for the past 14 years. Drawing on Dale and wife Amy’s love of dogs, Sonoma Raceway will sponsor the training of three service/comfort dogs who will work with children. The three puppies, named Dale, Junior and Amy were introduced to Earnhardt in a surprise ceremony Friday just prior to his scheduled media conference.

DaleEarnhardt No.88

Earnhardt was also presented with a a more traditional Sonoma Raceway (huge) wine bottle for his trophy case. There will be other highlights during the Sunday pre-race ceremonies. He starts the race from tenth position, and there will be no missing Junior’s racecar on track, with its in-your-face yellow. Way to go, Dale!

Cristela Alonzo & John Lasseter

Cristela Alonzo & John Lasseter. Photo by Mike Burghart

Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer and Executive Producer of the movie, CARS 3, John Lasseter, is the Official Pace Car Driver for the Cup race; and Cristela Alonzo, the voice in CARS 3 of elite trainer Cruz Ramirez, is the Grand Marshal. He said he wasn’t nervous until he got his Pace Car lessons from Brett Bodine. There is no Cruise Control on the tricked-out Toyota Pace Car, so he’ll have to manually control the mandated 40 mph pace car speed. But he said “It was the thrill of a lifetime” getting his lessons

All CARS movies were directed by Sonoma County residents, and Sonoma Raceway President/General Manager, Steve Page, facilitated Lasseter’s introduction to the world of NASCAR.

The cowl area of the front engine cover has an air intake opening which teams cover up for aero reasons. The teams seem to delight in finding trick emblems to affix on these covers while the race cars are on the grid prior to the race.

No.1 Cessna

No.34 Love's Stop

No.20 Stanley

Cup Starting Grid

GANASSI FRONT ROW

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson/No.42 Target Chevrolet continued his NASCAR dominance Saturday with his second straight pole position in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway. His best lap was 1:15.177 at 95.295 mph. This is his fourth start at Sonoma, and his fourth career pole in 127 Cup races.

Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Jamie McMurray/No.1 Cessna Chevrolet will start next to him, with a qualifying lap of 1:15.249/95.204 mph.

Jamie McMurray

Jamie McMurray

Third through fifth were Martin Truex, Jr/No.78 Furniture Row Toyota; Kyle Busch/No.18 M&M’s Carmel Toyota; and AJ Allmendinger/No.47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet.

Kyle Larson No.42 Chevrolet

Kyle Larson No.42 Chevrolet

Larson was stoked, winning the pole at his ‘home’ track with lots of family and friends. His idea of celebrating is going to nearby Calistoga Speedway to watch Saturday night short-track racing. “It feels good. This is my home track, I grew up about an hour and a half from here. So, always love coming to Sonoma. It’s a fun place and our race cars are always fast. I felt like I’ve had a shot at the pole every time I’ve qualified here and just haven’t gotten the job done. Focused on hitting my marks today and messed up a little bit there on that run. Honestly, didn’t think it was that good of a run. I felt like I had less grip there, but we were able to probably make up some time in the braking zones and stuff like that and run a good enough lap for the pole, so it was pretty cool.”

Jamie McMurray No.1 Chevrolet

Jamie McMurray No.1 Chevrolet

McMurray said “It was a really good lap. The team is on a roll and it’s awesome. On my sticker run I missed Turn 7, so I knew that I had given up a couple of tenths probably in that corner. But on my last run, I did everything I thought really well. The No. 42 just put together a really good lap and was able to have enough of a cushion, he messed up Turn 11, but he had enough of a cushion there that he was able to overcome it. It was a good day though for our organization. Our cars have been so good this year and both teams have run so well and it has just continued this weekend. Congratulations to Mike Hull at Road America (IndyCar race),) who has been with Chip for 25 years.”

Daniel Suarez

Daniel Suarez

Daniel Suarez of Mexico was the top Rookie, qualifying eleventh in No.19 Stanley Toyota. This is his first time at Sonoma Raceway, his first Cup road race.

Suarez is one of four Cup drivers who are also running Saturday afternoon’s Carneros 250 NASCAR K&N Race. The others are Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney and Kevin O’Connell – who withdrew at the last moment. Harvick won the race in another very exciting, fun-filled race in one of NASCAR’s exciting Home Track Series.. Harvick said he ran it to have fun and to shine attention on the young up and coming drivers. And that he did – he raced hard against pole sitter, Rookie Will Rodgers of Solvang CA, who led much of the race and finished second.

Danica Patrick No.10 Ford

Danica Patrick No.10 Ford

Danica Patrick/No.10 Code 3 Associates Ford will start sixth, making it her third-best starting position in the Cup Series and the best start by a female at Sonoma Raceway. The previous best was her eleventh position last year and in 2014.

One of the long-time ‘Road Racing Ringers,’ Boris Said/No.33 Circle Sport Chevrolet may be the oldest driver, at the admitted age of 55. While he’s grateful to be running Cup still, at his age, he is pleased with all the young guns and said it’s time for a changing of the guard. This weekend’s crop has five drivers age 25 or younger, with the youngest two being 21, months apart – Chase Elliott and Erik Jones. Josh Bilicki/No.51 Marriott Chevrolet is 22, Ryan Blaney/No.21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford is 23, and Larson is 24. Ty Dillon/No.13 GEICO Chevrolet is 25.

Thirty-seven of the 38 entries qualified. Matt Kenseth/No.20 DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota eschewed making the run as he already was going to be starting at the back due to an engine change.

Sunday’s 110-lap race will start at noon local time/3pm ET and air live in FOX Sports 1 TV, the last of the FOX TV broadcasts for the season.

Goodyear Tires

IT’S ALL ABOUT CARS

Cars 3

The pace picked up Saturday morning at Sonoma Raceway for Day Two of the 29th Annual Toyota/Save Mart 250 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race weekend. After Friday’s two practice sessions, cars were again going through the technical inspection process prior to their noon-time qualifying session. Once cleared, they lined up in Pit Lane side by side, all neat and tidy, awaiting their turn to peel out.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the paddock, the CARS 3 display was being set up, the final stop in a cross-country tour of 27 cities promoting the release of the latest Pixar movie. Three life-sized versions of the movie’s cars will be in the display, including No.95 Lightning McQueen.

John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, will drive the 2017 Toyota pace car for Sunday’s Cup race. He was the executive producer on CARS 3. Cristela Alonzo, voice of the film’s elite trainer, Cruz Ramirez, will be the Grand Marshal Sunday.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Points Leader, Kyle Larson/No.42 Target Chevrolet, was fastest Friday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway for the final practice session leading up to the 29th Annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 Race. He drove 94.389 mph/1:15.899, one of only two drivers who were in the fifteens. Larson also turned the most laps of any – 30. He edged Kyle Busch/No.18 M&M’s Carmel Toyota, who turned a 1:15.935 at 94.344 mph.

Dale Earnhardt/No.88 Axalta Chevrolet was third. He had led most of the morning session. AJ Allmendinger/No.47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet was fourth, followed by Jamie McMurray/No1 Cessna Chevrolet.

NASCAR Penalty Box

Three drivers sat inside their cars in NASCAR’s equivalent of the Penalty Box for fifteen minutes prior to the first practice, for failing multiple tech inspections at the Michigan Cup race. They were Kurt Busch/No.41 Monster Energy/Haas Automotive Ford; Ty Dillon/No.13 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet; and Erik Jones/No.77 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota.

Final practice was more lively than the earlier session.

All 38 entries ran the session. Several drivers barely warmed their tires, including Landon Cassil/No.34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, who ran once around. Jones turned seven laps, getting out in his backup car which was thrown together after his tire wall encounter in Turn Eleven, in which he wrecked his car and damaged the tire barrier setup.

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott/No.24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet had an even harder hit in Turn Ten. He slammed into the concrete wall, first with the front end and then with the rear. The Cup Series youngest driver was evaluated and released from the infield care center, cleared to drive. He was able to get the car into the pits, where his crew parked it outside the garage where the team could dismantle it and salvage whatever parts could be saved. Inside his garage, the crew started to work on the backup car.

Elliott said “I just made a mistake. It was really my fault. I hate it for my teammates on the No. 24 team. They sure don’t deserve it. They worked hard this past week to get this car ready to come out here a long way from home. So, made a mistake and we shouldn’t be having that.”

Cole Whitt/No.72 RTIC Coolers Chevrolet slide in his own oil in Turn Seven and retired with a blown engine. This caused a caution for extensive cleanup and oil dry.

Five drivers of the 38 are making their Cup debut: Kevin O’Connell/No.15 SBC Contractors Inc Chevrolet; Alon Day/No.23 earthwater Toyota; Billy Johnson/No.43 Smithfield Ford; Josh Billicki/No.51 Marriott Chevrolet; and Tommy Regan/No.55 OscaroParts.com/Capri Tools Chevrolet. O’Connell is also entered in the Carneros 200 K&N Race Saturday afternoon and qualified 28th in the 32-car field, but withdrew at the last minute.

Alon Day

Alon Day

Day, who ran as high as eleventh before finishing 23rd in final practice, is the first Israeli to compete in NASCAR’s top tier Series. He comes from a mostly road-racing background. Day competes full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and runs up front much of the time. Day comes to Sonoma fresh from his win last weekend at Brands Hatch in England. That series only has one oval (Netherlands) in its 12-race schedule. Those cars are more akin to the current K&N Series cars, much lower in horsepower and comfort. Day is racing for BK Motorsports, which is a Charter Team in the Cup Series and runs other drivers.

Johnson is also a road racer, coming from a sports car background. He races full-time for Chip Ganassi Racing in the World Endurance Cup Series, and raced last weekend at the 24 Hours of LeMans. He also races full time in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Series, where he has the most race wins. Johnson is also is a test driver for Ford Performance. The young American, with a Bus Ad degree, is substituting this weekend for Aric Amirola, who is recuperating from a race injury.

Next up is qualifying, road racing style. All cars will go out for thirty-minutes knock-out session, with the top twelve making it to a ten-minute shootout.

Cup Cars Qualifying Lineup

SONOMA SALUTATIONS!

Sonoma Sign

Martin Truex

Martin Truex

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers waited until the waning moments of the 115-minute long first practice at Sonoma Raceway to turn up the wick. Martin Truex, Jr/No.78 Furniture Row Toyota literally jumped to first in the last minute, with a lap of 1:15.740, the only driver to reach the fifteens.

The last ten minutes had three other leaders and top ten position changes. Truex edged Denny Hamlin/No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota for the lead, who edged Ricky Stenhouse, Jr/No.17 Fastenal Ford, who edged Dale Earnhardt Jr/No.88 Axalta Chevrolet-who had led most of the session. While running third, Earnhardt was edged by Clint Bowyer/No.14 Cars 3 Ford, who won Sonoma in 2012. Chris Buescher/No.37 Kingsford Chevrolet jumped into the fifth slot, then dropped to sixth followed by his teammate and road race veteran, AJ Allmendinger/No.47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet.

Rounding out the top ten were Chase Elliott/No.24 Chevrolet, Kyle Busch/No.18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, and Joey Logano/No.22 Shell Pennzoil Toyota.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr No.88

Clint Bower No.14

Chris Buescher No.37

AJ Allmendinger

Joey Logano No.22

Row One: Left to Right: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr; Dale Earnhardt, Jr; and Clint Bower
Row Two: Left to Right: Chris Buescher; AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano.

Big Blue Sweeper

Big Blue Sweeper

There was a Red Flag and two cautions and a Red Flag during the 115-minute session. The Red Flag was early on, to clean up the mess on the track caused by the off-course excursion by Ty Dillon/No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet. The track clean-up vehicles got a good workout. The caution was for Erik Jones/No.775-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota, when he hit the Turn Eleven tire wall hard enough for it to dislodge the protective rubber conveyer belt. Neither driver was hurt, but Jones crew brought out his backup car. The second caution was for Matt Kenseth/No.20.DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota, who lost an engine.

Ty Dillon

Erik Jones

Matt Kenseth

Left to Right: Ty Dillon No.13 Chevrolet; Erik Jones No.77 Toyota; and Matt Kenseth No.20 Toyota.

Steve Page & Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Steve Page & Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

The big feel-good moment of the day was the Sonoma Raceway President Steve Page’s presentation to Dale Earnhardt of a unique and definitely warm-and-fuzzy gift in honor of this being his last year of full-time NASCAR Cup racing. Knowing of Dale and wife Amy’s love for animals and wanting to do things which have a positive impact on the lives of others, Sonoma Raceway will sponsor three Labrador Retriever puppies being raised and trained to help child victims in courthouse settings, with disabilities at home and in the community. The puppies are named Dale, Junior and Amy. It was the first time I’ve ever seen Junior so surprised. He was also presented with a large Sonoma Raceway ceremonial wine bottle. Sonoma Salutation!

Sonoma Wine Bottle

The dogs were donated by Micons Labradors and Fieldstone Labradors, and will be trained by PALS Assistance Dogs. Another unique aspect of the thorough training process is that the dogs spend twice a week with incarcerated youth who assist in the training. Page said “Dale has such a huge following among our fans and we wanted to find a way for his legacy to carry forward locally, well beyond his days as a driver.”

Steve Page, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and PALS Nancy Pierson

Steve Page, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and PALS Nancy Pierson

At Sunday’s race the track will distribute 10,000 “Thanks, Junior” hand-held fans. And if there’s continuation of the warm weather the Greater Bay Area has been experiencing, the fans will be welcome. Additionally, in the pre-race ceremonies, there will be a highlight video, and the Patriots Jet Team will write “#88″ in the sky as part of their traditional aerial show.