The sun broke through Saturday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the ten historic car classes at the inaugural Pre-Reunion spectator event. Lucky were the drivers who had warm Nomex long johns.
In Race One for Pre-War and Bugatti cars, PETER GIDDINGS of Danville CA had the pole in his 1930 Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3 which had 3100 cc. The veteran historic racer elected to start at the back of the pack. It took him only two laps to charge to the front of the pack and by Lap eight of the 9-lap race, he had started lapping the field. Giddings also had his 1926 Bugatti Type 35B entered in the same group. Maybe he’ll race it Sunday. They’re both entered for the Rolex Reunion
Giddings has historic race cars in several countries so he can race around the world, including Australia. For the first 24 years of the Australian Grand Prix, Giddings raced in the Historic Exhibitions as part of the AGP. He was the only driver to have raced 24 consecutive AGP’s, in any category. Giddings missed this year due to conflicts.
Giddings was recently invited to join RRDC, the Road Racing Driver’s Club. He has rebuilt and/or supervised the restoration of a number of historic landmark racing cars for the past sixty years, won the Phil Hill Trophy at the 1985 Monterey Historic Automobile Races which was presented by JUAN MANUAL FANGIO, and has several championships under his belt in the North America Ferrari/Maserati Historic Challenge Series.
RRDC, led by President BOBBY RAHAL, has been around since 1952. The invitational-only group gives drivers a say in their sport, especially concerning safety. It also has evolved to mentoring new drivers, both amateur and professional.
Another recent RRC inductee is BRUCE CANEPA of Santa Cruz, CA, who is running three cars this weekend. He won Group Six in his 1979 Porsche 935/3000 cc, in a field of 33 cars for I-1 & I-2, 935, Monza, Greenwood Corvette and GTP. He beat 21 of the 33 entries,. Some of the cars he left in the dust were up to and more than twice his engine size. Other notables in the race included RICK KNOOP of Laguna Beach, second in his 1984 January XJRS, VERN SCHUPPAN of Brisbane, Australia finishing eighteenth in the 1987 Porsche 1963 entered by PETER HARBURG.
Canepa also entered his 1970 AMC Javelin/4891cc Trans-Am but DNS Group Nine.
LINDA MOUNTANOS of Ukiah CA won the Grand National (drum brake) race, besting 14 male drivers, including her husband MARK/1966 Ford Fairlane and pole sitter KEN EPSMAN/1966 Ford Galaxie. Mountanos bought the 1995 Chevrolet Chevelle 10 years ago from former owner, JAMES “CHUBBY” ARLINGTON. It raced what was then known as the Sportsman Series, which later became the Busch Series, now Nationwide Series. Among its drivers were NEIL BONNET and DONNIE ALLISON. The car, which has 6997cc, ran 1971-1976, and could reach 186 mph at Daytona. Here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the crew estimated its top speed on the front straight as 130-150 mph. Mountanos had thought the Corkscrew would be the most difficult part of the track, but it turned out that Turn Two proved to be her biggest challenge.
DON OROSCO of Monterey CA took the victory in Group Three for C-1 & C-2, Lotus 11, Lola MK1, Devin SS and Lister cars. He started second and finished ahead of 33 other cars of the 41 entered. JOHN MORTON of El Segundo, CA, who is running four or five cars this weekend – depending on how many are actually on site – finished thirteenth in a 1961 Porsche RS 61. Morton was also entered in a 1958 Scarab Sports Racer in the same group, which he didn’t run. EDWARD N. NIGRO of Las Vegas had the pole in his 1960 Lola MK 1, but finished twenty-ninth after dropping out after six laps.
Another second-place starter won his race – NICK COLONNA of Palos Verdes Estates won Group Four for D & C-A, Lotus 23, McLaren M1, and Lola T70 Spyder. Colonna drove his 1967 Lola T70 MK 3B, which has 5360cc, almost the largest engine in the group, and easily twice as large as most of the field. TOM BYRNES of Ross CA had the pole for the race, but finished seventh in his 1964 Brabham BT8 with 2500cc.
JOHN DOE, aka UNKNOWN, had the Group Five pole. That’s the fun of relaxed historic races. Unknown finished fifth, and two other Unknowns finished twenty-nine and thirty-second/DNS. Second place starter, KEITH FRIESER of Puyallup WA won the race in his 1972 Lola 290 with 2000cc. The large group had 45 entries, with 31 racing. Group Five was for H-1 & H-2, 1964-1972 FIA Cars & 2 Liter Sports Cars.
After starting fourth, HERB WETANSON of New York City won Group Seven for G-1 & G-2, 356, and Early Corvettes. Wetanson raced his 1961 Aston m Zagato DB-4 with 3700cc. Pole sitter LES ALEXANDER of Woodside CA finished twenty-second, one lap down in his 1857 Chevrolet Corvette with 4783cc.
Pole Sitter TERRY GOUGH of Reno NV started twenty-fifth in Group Eight and charged through the pack of G-3 & G-4, alfa GTA, Shelbys and Corvettes to win. Gough drove his 1965 Chevrolet Corvette, which had 5424cc, the largest car in the field. That explains that? Finishing fourth was Pole Sitter JEFF ABRAMSON of Alamo CA in his 1965 Shelby GT 350 with 4750cc. This was an especially large field with 46 entries, and 32 racing, including three UNKNOWNs, and Morton racing the 1964 Sunbeam Tiger owned by BUCK TRIPPEL to seventh place. Also in the field were two female veteran historic racers, CHRISTI EDLEBROCK of Torrance CA racing her dad’s 1966 Shelby GT 350/4739cc to sixteenth place, and SUSAN ARMSTRONG of Issaquah WA finishing seventeenth in her 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06/5415cc.
KEN EPSMAN of Saratoga CA finally won a race Saturday afternoon, after running three times. Pole Sitter Epsman drove his Slime Green 1970 Dodge Challenger/5000cc to victory in Group Nine for Historic Trans-Ams. Epsman ran Group Two, and Group Six in his 1976 Dekon Monza IMSA Car/5877cc to third place.
Starting second seemed to be the key Saturday. KEITH FRIESER of Puyallup WA drove his 1973 Shadow DN 1 to victory from the outside front row. Pole Sitter JEFF LEWIS of Newport Beach CA finished seventh in his 1980 Lotus 81. Group Ten was for Historic Formula One cars, and was the last race of the day. An impressive thirty-one cars were entered, with eighteen qualifying and sixteen racing. Our old friend, UNKNOWN was one of the group who qualified but DNS.
JOHN DELANE of Redondo Beach finished second in his 1972 Tyrrell 6, followed by DOUGLAS MOCKETT of Christianland, Virgin Islands/1976 Penske PC4, and STEVE COOK of Yountville CA in his 1974 March 741.
As has been the case with historic races at Laguna Seca, there were no lap times shown on any of the results.