It was sunny and bright Thursday at Mazda Raceway for the first of four days at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. All the better to show off the 565 historic cars, not to mention all the Classic Cars which were parked here and there in the tightly-packed paddock.
The featured marque is the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Shelby Cobra. One entire race group is devoted to 1962-1967 Shelby Cobras. Forty-one cars are entered in Group 3A – perhaps the largest ever gathering of the iconic marque. The Cobras run on Saturday. The group has its Qualifying race at 8:45am Saturday, and will be the featured race at 1pm Saturday afternoon.
All 17 classes took to the 2.238-mile elevated road circuit, some chugging up the steep hills, and others streaking through the twelve corners and turns. There were a few spins and offs, and one hapless driver spun in some oil and hit a wall. No one was hurt, but there were a few cars in need of TLC.
MIKE JOY, veteran motorsports broadcaster and currently NASCAR analyst on Fox Sports, is on the other side of the broadcast booth this weekend. He’s driving two different race cars – one in Group 8B for Historic Stock Cars with Disc Brakes 1974-1990 and in Group 9A for Historic Trans-Am cars, 1966-1972.
Both cars are owned by long-time vintage racer, KEN EPSMAN. The stock car is Epsman’s 1988 Ford Thunderbird, and the Trans-Am car is affectionately known as The Slime because of its in-your-face puce green color – 1970 Dodge Challenger. However, this weekend Joy’s driving the car, with the color now listed as Sublime.
Joy said he remembered Sublime when it originally was raced by SAM POSEY at Lime Rock Park. Joy has never driven either of these two cars before, but he has driven Epsman’s IMSA Javelin, and some other cars.
Good news for those motorsports book lovers who cherished the original edition of The Stainless Steel Carrot by SYLVIA WILKINSON and/or those who weren’t able to find a copy (except via collectible sources) after it went out of print in 1975. Brown Fox Books is reissuing an updated, expanded version – “The Stainless Steel Carrot: An Auto Racing Odyssey-Revisited.” The book profiles veteran road racer, JOHN MORTON, during his 1971 & 1972 seasons in the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge in the BRE Datsun 510. The new edition will have more photographs, with forewords from DAN GURNEY and PARNELLI JONES.
In addition to Wilkinson and Morton present this weekend and available to autograph books, car owner PETE BROCK and some of the original BRE crew on site including GEORGE BOSKOFF and JOEY CAVAGLIERI.
Copies will be available at the Reunion. Wilkinson’s royalties will benefit animal welfare organizations.
Morton is racing two cars this weekend – No.74 1964 Sunbeam Tiger in Group 7A for GT Cars over 2500cc 1963-1966; and No.65 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby in Group 9A for Historic Trans-Am cars. Morton was on track with the Shelby which ran just before lunch, but he missed the Tiger’s session earlier, as he was participating in a Haggerty’s Seminar in downtown Monterey. Brock, who designed the Daytona Cobra Coupe, led the panel which also included LEW SPENCER. The late JERRY GRANT was to be part of the group, but he passed away earlier this month.
Ever wonder where some of the vintage drivers get their authentic garb? ED ARCHER of Hayward not only drives his 1915 Ford T to and from the race track, he and his wife scour antique stores, thrift shopes, and the Internet in search for period-appropriate clothing. Archer said his smaller size makes it easier for him to find clothing. When asked for advice on how to find such outfits for harder to fit drivers, Archer suggests one find the desired look and have it made to order from a tailor – a suggestion he acknowledges doesn’t suit everyone…pun intended. Archer races in Group 1A for Pre-1940 Sports & Touring Cars, and he is a fixture on the historic circuit.
Friday’s Reunion schedule calls for Practice/Qualifying for all groups, with all nine of the A Groups in the morning and the eight B Groups in the afternoon.
One of the factors in lining up the A & B groups is scheduling for those Reunion cars which will also be participating in Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours.
Saturday is A groups all day, with B groups running Sunday. The day is capped with the Awards Ceremony.