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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!