The weather was all blue skies and lots of sunshine at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the first of three days of the 36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races. It was warm and mild and the energetic breeze kept the air moving. Porsche is the featured marque, the third time around for the 61-year old German car company.

One third of the 450 entries are Porsches. That’s a lot of Porsches. And that’s not counting all the ones on display, in the Porsche Corral, being driven to and from the track, and lurking in corners here and there. Next month marks the centenary of FERDINAND PORSCHE’s birth – 19 September 2009. He – Ferry – is the son of Father FERDINAND PORSCHE, and he helped his father design the VW Beetle. Ferry died in 1998. His first own design was the 1946 Cisitalia Grand Prix car, then came the Porsche 356 and the rest of the Porsche range.

The new Porsche Museum in Stuttgart Germany brought over four stunning specimens for display in the Porsche Exhibit. They are: 1960 Porsche Type 718 Formula 2; 1962 Porsche Type 804 Formula 1; 1962 Porsche Type 718 W-RS 8-cylinder Spyder; and the Porsche GT1 98LM. The first three are sleek, silver and sinuous, especially the WR-S Spyder. That’s my new favorite car today. It’s a one of one.

Mid-afternoon Friday the three silver Porsche’s did several demonstration laps. KEES NIEROP drove the W-RS Spyder; HURLEY HAYWOOD drove the F2, and KLAUS BISCHOF drove the F1 804. Afterwards, Nierop was grinning ear to ear. This had been his first time in the car, and he was very pleased. It was a six-speed and he didn’t know there were any of that type. The car was built for hill-climbs and was a bit ‘slow’ but Nierop didn’t mind. He was extra careful with the car.

Bischof is the curator of the rolling Porsche Museum. He was the mechanic for Hurley Haywood for his first Le Mans victory.

STEVE EARLE, founder of the Monterey Historics, was all smiles after the Friday morning driver’s meeting. He pronounced the weather perfect.

The day went well with not much in the way of incidents.

Earle was pleased that progress was being made with the Lockheed wildfires in the Santa Cruz mountains – five percent containment. A break in the weather overnight helped a lot. No injuries have been reported, and only two small outbuildings were burned. California’s Lieutenant Governor, JOHN GARAMENDI, declared a state of emergency for Santa Cruz County. Governor ARNOLD SCHWARZNEGGER will return Friday afternoon from attending the funeral of his mother-in-law, EUNICE SHRIVER.

There was an ash coating on a lot of vehicles overnight, but the winds seem to be blowing it away and the smoke is only a haze in the distance. Many historics cars were hiding under car covers overnight. At least one car owner in the paddock was using canned air Friday morning to clean his car.