ALAN TRAVIS of Phoenix AZ is racing the oldest car at the 2012 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. His beautifully restored 1907 Renault Al Vanderbilt Racer is one of twenty-five entered in Group 1A for Pre 1940 Sports Racing and Touring Cars. The car cost $15,000 new back in the day. You do the math – how much do you think that translates to these days? The hood ornament, added several months after the fact, cost another $5,000. There were five of these personalized hood ornaments, depicting the visage of the car’s first Grand Prix winner – FERENC SZISZ. According to the car’s story board, the car is capable of reaching 88 mph.
The drivers of the cars in this group of mobile museum pieces are, for the most part, also the owners. At least one owner, ED ARCHER of Hayward, drives his No.4 1915 Ford Model T on the Nimitz Freeway in the San Francisco Bay Area, and gets quite a variety of positive responses from those with whom he shares the road. When coming to the races, he has an age-appropriate transporter. In addition to his attention to detail for the whole tableau surrounding his own Ford Model T, Archer helped restore a 1917 Ford Model T for JOHN KENT, also of Hayward.
It’s not about the need for speed with this group. Their pleasure is derived from exhibiting and displaying their restored treasures – on the track and in the paddock. Nowhere on any time sheets for this group, or any of the other sixteen classes, will there be any speeds or times. The group lineup may or may not be based on speed during a session – a historic version of Promoter’s Option.
Hopefully some of these cruising collectibles will make the cut in the all-too-brief weekend highlight show being televised by SPEED for airing at a later date. With more than 550 entries, it’s as said by BOB VARSHA – “So many stories – so little time.” Varsha is part of the SPEED broadcast team, and will be joined by RALPH SHAHEEN and MIKE JOY, who will be able to give an insider perspective to the telecast. Joy is racing in two cars this weekend. Joy has driven before for owner, KEN EPSMAN. This weekend Joy will run No.9 1988 Ford Thunderbird in Group 8B for 1974-1990 Stock Cars with Disc Brakes, and No.77 1970 Dodge Challenger in Group 9A 1966-1972 Historic Trans-Am Cars.
Saturday’s racing is focused on the nine Group A classes, with Sunday devoted to the eight Group B classes. Saturday’s feature race is Group 3A – otherwise known as Shelby Cobras. It is the first race of the afternoon. Forty-one cars are entered dating from 1962-1967, nine of which are 427’s. The rest are 289’s. They come from eight states, and three countries – Canada, Switzerland and the UK.
Let the fun begin!