It was another sunny and warm day Sunday for the second/last day of the 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion at the iconic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The schedule called for practice for the groups in numerical order, followed by afternoon races for Groups 1-11.
The fastest group of the eleven is Group Six for 1981-1991 FIA IMSA, GTP, GTO cars. Sunday morning during practice the cars were hitting upwards of 140 mph, as shown on the Mazda Zoom-Zoom radar screen on the Start-Finish Bridge.
Saturday’s Group Six winner was Weldon Munsey in the factory 1992 Mazda RX7-92P, edging Bruce Canepa’s 1990 Porsche 962C. The average race speed in the 11-lap race was 83.074 mph. He won again Sunday, besting his factory teammate, Robert Davis in one of three factory Mazdas, a 1990 Mazda 787.
Derek Hill, son of the late Phil Hill, had the pole and won the Saturday Group Five Race for 1995-1961 Sports Racing Cars. Hill drove the white 1962 Maserati Tipo 151.His Margin of Victory was 01.865 seconds, and the average race speed was 61.704 mph in the eight-lap race. He bested Greg Meyer’s 1962 Dailu MK2. This group includes Derek Bell in a 1959 Maserati T-61 but he wasn’t there Saturday.
Sunday Group Five’s race finished under caution, with Donald Orosco’s 1958 Lotus 15 the winner, ahead of Greg Meyer and pole sitter, Derek Hill.
The Trans-Am Group Eight is always a popular one, with 31 cars from back in the day. One of the those drivers is TV broadcaster, Mike Joy, who is driving No.89 1966 Ford Mustang owned by Kenny Epsman, who is driving No.2 1971 AMC Javelin. In answer to an earlier posed questions – yes, cars sold at the many car auctions held during the Classic Car Week on the Monterey Peninsula do end up racing in the Rolex Reunion races. One such example is No.16 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 originally driven by Peter Gregg. The car is now owned by Epsman, three owners removed from the original auction purchaser.
Bob Earl, veteran IMSA sports car driver, now is a driver coach and test driver. This weekend he’s shaking-down three cars. He was set to race the No.87 1971 Ferrari 312PB in Group Seven for FIA Manufacturers both this and next weekend, but has now been pre-empted for the Rolex Reunion by Lyn St. James. He’s also coaching and shaking down two factory BMW’s.
In the oldest group of cars, Group One, for Pre 1951 Sports Racing and Touring Cars, perennial winner, pole sitter Peter Giddings again won in his much-raced 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza. His Margin of Victory in the six-lap race was 48.482 seconds, ahead of Max Jamiesson’s 1935 Ford Sprint Car. Gidding’s fastest lap of 2:01.307/66.417 mph was turned on the last lap.
Group Two for 1955-1962 GT Cars/1958-1963 Formula Junior Cars was won by pole sitter Chris Locke in No.27 1963 Lotus 27 Formula Junior. His Margin of Victory was 02.528 seconds in the nine-lap race, ahead of Timothy De Silva’s 1963 Huffaker Mk6. Locke turned the fastest race lap of 1:44.507/77.093 mph on the last lap. The average race speed was 70.175 mph.
Group Three for 1973-1991 FIA, IMSA, GT, GTX, AAGT, and GTU Cars was won by Mike Thurlow in his 1976 Chevrolet Corvette, with a Margin of Victory of 00.821 ahead of pole sitter Ranson Webster in No.42 1976 Porsche 935 K3. Thurlow turned the fastest race lap time of 1:36.257/83.701 mph on Lap 4 of the ten-lap race. The average race speed was 76.264 mph.
Group Four for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars was won by pole sitter Cameron Healy in his 1953 Porsche Cooper Pooper, with a Margin of Victory of 15.580 ahead of Rob Manson’s No.7 Balwin Mercury. Healy turned the fastest lap of 1:49.555/73.541 mph on Lap 5 of the nine-lap race. The average race lap was 67.015 mph.
Group Five for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under/over 2500cc was won by local driver, Donald Orosco in his 1958 Lotus 15. The Margin of Victory (01.311) isn’t indicative of the race finish, as the Pace Car led the field to the checkered flag. Orosco turned the fastest lap of 1:46.870/75.389 mph on Lap 5 of the seven-lap race.
Group Six for 1973-1991 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT, and GTU/GTO Cars was won by pole sitter Weldon Munsey. His Margin of Victory over factory teammate, Jeremy Barnes’ 1991 Mazda RX7-92P was 20.804 The fastest race lap was turned by local driver, Bruce Canepa in his 1990 Porsche 962C. His time was 1:26.947/92.663 mph on Lap Eight on the eleven-lap race. He finished ninth of the sixteen-car field. The average race lap was 83.812 mph.
Group Seven for FIA Manufacturer’s Cars was won by Keith Frieser’s No.27 1972 Lola T290, 06.300 seconds ahead of pole sitter Cal Meeker’s No.115 1973 Lola T294. Third place finisher, Chris MacAllister’s No.5 1973 Gulf Mirage, turned the fastest race lap of 1:26.463/93.182 mph on Lap 5 of the eleven-lap race. The average race speed was 84.467 mph.
Group Eight for 1966-1972 Historic TransAM Cars was won byJim Hague in No.16A 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 by a mere 00.148 seconds ahead of Ken Adams in No.45 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Pole sitter Ken Epsman’s No.2 1971 AMC Javelin finished fourth behind Mike McGovern in No.16T 1971 AMC Javelin. Bruce Canepa’s No.6a 1970 AMC Javelin finished sixth, but turned the fastest race lap of 1:45.960/76.036 mph. The average race lap was 68.236 mph in the nine-lap race.
Group Nine for 1961-1966 GT Cars under 2500cc was won by pole sitter Fred Della Noce from Brazil in his colorful No.18 1986 Ginetta G12. He beat his Brazilian teammate, Dalmo De Vasconcelos in No.85 1965 Lotus Elan 26R by 02.957 seconds, and he turned the fastest lap of 1:46.086/75.946 mph on Lap 6 of the eight-lap race. The average lap speed was 67.513 mph.
IndyCar driver, Justin Wilson of England, was a last minute entry in No.54 911 67S Porsche. He qualified third and finished fifth in the race. The only American Factory Porsche driver, Patrick Long of CA, finished twentieth in No.68 Porsche 1968 Porsche 911 T/R.
Group Ten for 1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc was won by Chris MacAllister in his No.146 1964 Cobra 289, 04.113 seconds ahead of Dale Akuszewski’s No.55 1965 Sunbeam Tiger. Pole sitter Mike McGovern’s No.19 1964 Shelby Cobra came in twelfth. The fastest race lap of 1:41.430/79.432 mph on Lap 3 of the eight-lap race was set by Edward Hugo’s No.996 1996 Corvette. The average race lap was 61.748 mph.
Group Eleven for F1968-1976 Formula 5000 Cars was won by pole sitter Zak Brown’s No.51974 Lola T32. His Margin of Victory was 00.140 seconds over Craig Bennett’s No.0 1975 Shadow DN6. Bennet also turned the fastest race lap of
1:27.971/91.585 mph on the last lap of the nine-lap race. The race was punctuated by a caution. The average lap was 60.788 mph.
Next week’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion starts Thursday, for a four-day festival honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Shelby GT350.