The sun shone warm and bright for the nine Group A racers Saturday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, for the third of four days of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Saturdays racers numbered 305 entries, with an average grid of 34 per group. On cue, the fog started rolling back in
Pole sitter BERT SKIDMORE of Sparks NV drove his 1976 Lola T-286 to victory in the Group 8A race for 1964-1976 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars. He had unofficially turned the fastest race lap (144 mph) Friday according to the newly installed speed indicator sign on top of the Start-Finish bridge. His Margin of Victory was 00:3.527n ahead of KEITH FRIESER/Alberta Canada, driving his 1972 Lola T-290.
How’s that for a race driver’s name – Skidmore.
Third and fifth were HAMISH SOMERVILLE driving a 1970 Lola 212 and SCOTT EMMERSON in his 1971 Lola T-212, both of West Vancouver Canada. Fifth was TOM MINNICH of San Jose NM/1977 Lola T-297.
Twenty-eight of the 36 entrants ran the race.
Someone was having fun with the entry lists. In 8A, one of the entrants was BRAIN REDMAN of Berkeley CA, driving a Ferrari 312 PB. By the time the results came out, the name was BRIAN Redman, and he finished twelfth; but he still was from Berkeley. Maybe he belongs on that new TV Show – Same Name.
In the highly popular Group 9A Historic Trans-Am race, the pole sitter was BRUCE CANEPA of nearby Scotts Valley CA, in his 1970 AMC Javelin, and in the end he was the winner. The Margin of Victory was 00:00.961. This race group loves to race hard and put on a good show, so the lead and order changed like a revolving door.
Second through fifth were FORREST STRAIGHT of Mt View CA/1970 Ford Boss 302, CHAD RAYNAL of Balboa Island CA/1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, BILL BRYAN of Winter Park FL/1968 Pontiac Firebird and CRAIG JACKSON of Scottsdale AZ/1969 AMC Javelin
Crowd pleaser KEN EPSMAN of Santa Clara CA had a problem in Turn Two Saturday morning, and his slime green 1970 Dodge Challenger wasn’t fixable in time for the race. Also involved was Epsman’s buddy, JIM HALSEY of Los Angeles, whose 1970 Ford Boss 302 didn’t make it either.
The fastest recorded Trans-Am lap on the new sign was 122 mph, but as the cars ran in packs, it was difficult to determine who claimed the honor. It happened lap after lap and it was a driver in the top eight or so of the pack.
Twenty-five of the thirty-five entered cars ran the race.
The Trans-Am cars are big and have a lot of era-appropriate accoutrements for the show and tell. The group was so large that they are spread along the pit lane fence, and many of them are squeezed in the narrow area next to the Media Center. When they light up those cars to check the engine, the media folks are certainly aware of their presence.
Despite the lack of room, the Sunoco Camaro team was able to erect its infamous Fuel Tower from back in the day. When first installed in the Trans-Am paddock, it was immediately declared illegal by Trans-Am official, JAMES KASER.