The Saturday afternoon Group A races at the 36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races kept getting better for the throngs and crowds at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The last two races were barn burners. The weather was hot and the racing even hotter.

Group Seven – 1964-1971 FIA Manufacturer’s Championship Cars (with 23 of 28 cars being Porsches) – was won by BRIAN REDMAN/1971 Porsche 908/3, followed by BRUCE CANEPA/1969 Porsche 917K and pole sitter GIGS VAN LENNEP/1969 Porsche 917K. Redman started third and passed for the lead on the second lap and never looked back. So much for the younger generation.

DEREK BELL/1969 Porsche 917K, who started second, fell out on Lap Three and DNF.

It’s not customary for the Historics results to show any times or lap speeds, but what is told is the average race speed. For Group Seven it was 87.292 mph, for cars built between 1966-1970.

Of the 28 Group Seven entries, 21 were Porsches. The other makes were Alfa Romeo, Chevron, Ferrari, and Ford. The top five finishers were Porsches – two 908’s and three 917’s.

Group Eight for IMSA cars also had 28 entries with 21 being Porsches. The other cars were Lola, March, and Mazda. The top three cars, all Porsches, started and finished in the same position. Pole sitter MARK HOTCHKIS/1986 Porsche 962 led from start to finish. His runner-up was GUNNAR JEANETTE/1994 Kremer-Porsche K8, followed by RUDY JUNCO of Monterrey Mexico in 1988 Porsche 962.

The average race speed for Group Eight was 94.615 mph. These cars ranged from 1983-1997.

PATRICK DEMPSEY, who ran the Group 8A warm-up in the 1992 Mazda RX792P also ran the race. He started tenth, got up to fifth on the first lap, went from fifth to sixth and then back up to fourth where he finished. Mazda was the only Japanese manufacturer to ever win Le Mans.

Dempsey ran a good hard race and it was fun to watch him work his way forward. And was he a happy camper afterwards. “It was really fun out there for a parade, it was really enjoyable, it’s a shame I can’t go racing (he laughs).  I had a blast, these cars are phenomenal.  You can’t say enough about Mazda and the competition division.  This is the fastest car I have ever driven and it was exciting.  I really appreciate the support from Mazda as always and I am so grateful for the opportunity to go racing especially with the Grand-Am which has been very supportive as well and the experience I am getting there, I’m getting faster and faster and one of these days I am going to win one.”

Dempsey was really enjoying being at the Historics. “It’s very moving when you see the cars that went out before us. You step back in time and you honor the drivers who have done this before as well as the designers and manufacturers. When you see them here collectively racing its absolutely wonderful for the sport.”

Saturday afternoon prior to the race, the actor/driver/team owner hung out with the Mazda folks in their paddock display tent, posing for pictures and signing autographs. Alas, Sunday he has to go back to work and won’t be at the track.

Sir STIRLING MOSS drove a 1960 Lola Mk1 to a thirteenth place finish in Group Five, after starting twenty-sixth in a twenty-eight car field. FRANK ZUCCHI/1960 Pirhana Sports Racer won that race, for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc. Average race speed was 73.334 mph.

More wonderful Monterey weather is forecast for Sunday, for seven more races.

Last Modified on August 16, 2009
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