Saturday was the third day of the jam-packed Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – and the first of two race days. All the Race Group A cars ran Saturday, with a morning Warm-Up followed by the afternoon 20-minute timed races. The computer gremlins that plagued Timing & Scoring on Friday were banished from the kingdom.
The weather wasn’t quite as lovely as Days One and Two, but still quite tolerable. The cloud cover came and went, there was a breeze, and it was fairly warm.
Some of the historic cars are scheduled for Saturday Race Group A so they can enter the Sunday Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance.
STEVE WALKER/1935 BMW 315 Special won Race 1A for Pre 1940 Sports Racing and Touring Cars. There were 26 cars in the field, the average race speed was 55.356 mph and eighth place winner, JOHN KERR/1932 MILLER-SCOFIELD/Ford turned the fastest lap of 2:10.550 on Lap Three.
JOHN HAMPSON finished fifth in Race 1A, in the family 1934 MG K3 Magnette Sports. This was the first time the car had raced since 1940. It has competed in the Mille Miglia in Italy and run in touring and rally events. John is the youngest driver of the weekend, at age 20. He’s a Junior at Tufts University studying economics. John’s father, DOUG HAMPSON, prepares the car.
Hampson is just starting his racing career. Earlier this month he ran the family Mazda RX7 in the Cal Club Regional Race at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, and set the fastest time ever at the track for a RX-7. He’s hoping to run enough races to qualify for his SCCA National Driver’s License and try to qualify for the 2014 SCCA National Runoffs, which will be held at Laguna Seca.
PADDINS DOWLING/1939 Maserati 4CL won Race 2A for 1927-1951 Racing Cars, and runner-up JEFFREY O’NEILL/1957 Maserati 250F turned the fastest lap at 1:54.639 on Lap Eight at 70.280 mph. That must have been the lap where he passed PETER GIDDINGS/1926 Delage 15-S-8. Twelve of the 18 entries in the race competed.
Race 3A for 1955-1962 GT Cars was won by TONY GARMLEY/1962 Chevrolet Corvette, who also went fastest on Lap Three – 73.977 mph/1:48.910. Thirty-four cars ran the race, which had seven Corvettes.
ILYA BURKOFF/1969 McLaren M6B won Race 4A for 1960-1968 Sports Racing USRRC Cars, and turned the fastest race lap of 85.157 mph/1:34.611 on the second lap. Thirty-three cars raced.
He may have been wired, but it didn’t get in the way of BRUCE CANEPA in the Collier Collection 1963 Corvette Grand Sport. The car has been fast all weekend, and last weekend also – with another driver, JOHN MORTON. The car is in its third year of the Revs Project, which collects data by telemetry on the car, and driver instrumentation. This weekend it’s brain waves. (Feel free to insert your choice of joke here.) They drivers have probes under their helmet, applied with gel. Morton said that despite the gel being water soluble, it still takes a lot of shampoo to get it off. This year’s probes are streamlined and less painful/noticeable than last year.
In previous years the drivers were wired on their chests for heart rates and other vitals. The car and driver data is collected at Stanford Medical Center to correlate what the driver is doing with what the car is doing – the human to car reaction. The car has a GPS telemetry so the staff knows everything the car is doing and where on the track.
The project includes Stanford graduate students and professors. Morton said the Revs staff likes “oops” moments … they don’t want to be bored. Seriously, the project likes to measure driver stress. He saw his data, but “couldn’t make sense of my brain waves.” PREVIOUS drivers to be instrumented included BRIAN REDMAN and ROGER MANDEVILLE, but Morton and Canepa are the primaries.
Eventually Revs hopes to make race cars safer.
Race 5A runner-up, JAMES FARLEY/1965 Shelby Cobra, turned the fastest time of 1:40.770 for 61.714 mph on Lap Six. Morton raced in this group also, running sixth in a 1964 Sunbeam Tiger. He finished behind Aussie, JOHN BOWE/1965 Chevrolet Corvette, who is running his second Rolex Reunion. Bowe is also racing a 1974 March 741 in Race 3B for Historic F1 cars. There were 33 of the 39 entries in Race 5A.
JOHN WATKINS/1970 Ford Boss Mustang won Race 61 for 1973-1982 FIA and IMSA Cars – GT, GTX, AAGT, GTU, & GTP. Runner-up KEN EPSMAN/1975 Dekon Monza was fastest on Lap Six at 87.181 mph/1:32.415. Thirty-one of the 41 entries took the Green Flag, with 17 finishing on the lead lap.
Pole sitter DAVID SWIG won Race 7A for 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc. Swig drove the family 1958 Scarab MK 1, turning the fastest time of 1:44.743/76.92 mph on Lap Three. The field was small (20) but competitive. David’s younger brother, HOWARD, raced the family 1957 Monsterati Special and finished ninth.
At one time David was the youngest driver at Laguna, and then was supplanted by Howard. But these two are now old men at age 28 and 25, respectively. Both brothers started out as automotive journalists, before working directly with cars. David is the US Motorcar Specialist at Bonham’s, and Howard is an Account Executive at Cartelligent.
The Swig brothers are the sons of the late MARTIN SWIG, who among other many things, founded and ran the California Miglia. The brothers are carrying on with the 22-year old annual event. Martin passed away July 2012. At last year’s Reunion, the brothers received the Founder’s Trophy on behalf of their father, “to the remembrance of a truly passionate and involved person who was instrumental in growing this sport.” The trophy, in honor of STEVE and DEBBIE EARLE, is presented to the person who richly personifies historic racing.
Veteran professional racer, RICK KNOOP, finished Race 71 in eleventh place, driving a 1959 Echidna Special. The car, owned by BOB HARDISON, has been “asleep for 40 years.” Hardison owns two of the three remaining such cars. The No.65 car Rick is racing is the cousin of the No.64 Devon Huffaker that Knoop’s father, FREDERICK KNOOP, put on the pole at a long-ago Laguna historic race. Fredrick was honored at last year’s Rolex Reunion, a month before he passed away.
The last race Saturday was Race 8A for Historic Trans-Am Cars. BRUCE CANEPA won, driving his 1970 AMC Javelin, after starting second. Pole sitter, JIM HAGUE/1970 Ford Boss Mustang 302 finished second, and also ran the fastest lap of 1:42.811/78.365 mph. Strong contender and leader of the pack-figuratively-KEN EPSMAN had a strong run going until he had a flat tire and retired after three laps. Epsman is the organizer for the West Coast Historic Trans-Am Group. He finished thirtieth. Thirty-four of the 41 entrants raced.