The weather was foggier later and then earlier at otherwise sunny, warm Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the second/final day of the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion races. Twelve groups raced after eleven of the twelve groups practiced/warmed-up in the morning. Sunday’s starting positions were based on Saturday’s race finishes.
Cameron Healy of Portland Oregon raced his 1953 Porsche Cooper Pooper in Group One for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars. His Margin of Victory was 13.252 seconds and his was the fastest lap, at 1:51.592 on Lap 3 at 72.199 mph. Nine Americans and one Brit were entered and eight of the ten raced.
Dyke Ridgley of Scottsdale AZ won Group 2 for 1955-1962 GT Cars, driving his 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. His time on Lap 5 was the fastest at 73.548 mph, and it was a close race with young Patrick Byrne of Spokane WA, driving his 1958 Alfa Romeo Giuletta Sprint Veloce. The Margin of Victory was 00.935 seconds. Byrne had won Saturday’s race.
Thirty-eight cars, made up Group 2, mostly from the US, but also England and Canada, were entered and 28 raced.
David Swig of Sausalito CA started third in Bill Jankowski’s 1957 Monsterati Special for Group 3 – 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under and over 2000 cc. By the time he was under the Start-Finish bridge, he had moved up to second and then took the lead, all before he completed the first lap. He led the entire race, even after a caution bunched up the field after Brian Orosco of Monterey drove off course in Turn Five in his 1959 Lola Mk 1. The Green Flag came back out one lap prior to the finish.
Swig ran the fastest lap time – 1:46.444 on Lap 7 at 75.691 mph. His Margin of Victory over Don Orosco’s 1058 Lotus 15 was 01.052
The group of 37 entries had cars big and small, from 300cc to 5868 cc. Twenty seven of them raced, and all were from the US.
Healey was a two-time winner Sunday, after winning Group 4’s race for 1963-1972 FIA Mfg. Championship cars. Healey drove his 1970 Porsche 908/3 and turned the fastest race lap time of 1:25.791 on Lap 8 at 84.108 mph, and his Margin of Victory was 06.819 seconds ahead of Grey Gregory’s 1969 Chevron B16
Of the 40 Group 4 entries, 29 raced, and all were from the US.
Patrick Byrne won Group 5 for 1961-1966 GT Cars under 2500 cc. This time he was driving his 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Corsa. As it was with all the previous victors, he turned the fastest race lap time. Byrne’s time was 1:46.068 on Lap 2 at 75.959 mph, and he beat Gilbert Hakin’s 1967 Porsche 911 by 03.599 seconds. All but three of the 23 entrants raced, with one driver from Brazil and the rest from the US.
Byrne, at age 24, could be the youngest driver for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion and Reunion, although he thinks there a couple of other young guys. Byrne, a second-generation racer, competes in historic races in two cars, the other being a Group 5 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Corsa – in which he won Saturday’s race for 1961-1966 GT cars under 2500 cc. Byrne is a second-generation racer, with his Father Bill also vintage racing – but not for these two Rolex race weekends.
Patrick and Bill started vintage racing a year ago. Patrick started going to racing schools as soon as he turned 15. Three years ago he started doing support races, such as Ferrari Challenge Series. This year Maserati is sponsoring him to run the Maserati Corse Trofeo World Series. So he’s mixing the vintage with ‘the new stuff and we’ve found the right combination.’
Group Six was won by Mike McGovern of Tucson Arizona driving his 1964 Shelby Cobra, with 1963-1966 Cars over 2500 cc, beating Jeffrey Abramson’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster by 03.043 seconds. His Lap time of 1:40.553 on Lap 3 at 80.125 mph was the fastest of the nine-lap race. Twenty-six of the 31 drivers ran the race. One driver was from Australia and one from Canada.
The winner and fastest driver in Group 7 was Jim Halsey of Los Angeles. He drove his 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 in a field of 21 1966-1972 Historic TransAm Cars. His lap time was 1:43.624 on Lap 2 at 77.75 mph. Except for one lone 1957 Maserati 200 Si – which didn’t run, the field was all big thumping American cars. Halsey’s Margin of Victory was 19.955 seconds ahead of Jim Reed’s 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.
Tom Malloy of Villa Park CA drove his 1991 AAR Eagle GTP to victory in the Group 8F race for 1973-1989 FIA, IMSA GTX, AAGT, GTU and GTP cars. His Margin of Victory over John Hildebrand of Sausalito (yes, the father of IndyCar driver, JR Hildebrand) was 17.068 seconds. Malloy turned the fastest race lap time of 1:32.465 on Lap 4 at 878.134 mph. Forty-one drivers entered, from all over the US, plus Belgium, Germany and two from Australia. Twenty drivers actually raced.
Group 9 for 1963-1973 Can-Am and USRRC Cars was won by Craig Bennett of Wixom MI, in his 1974 Shadow DN4. His fastest lap time was 1:26.606 on Lap 7 at 93.028 mph – the fastest lap all day. His Margin of Victory over Chris MacAllister’s 1971 McLaren M8F-1 was 07.330 seconds. Twelve of the 17 drivers raced. Thomas Steuer of Bogata, Colombia finished third, substituting for the orthopedically-challenged Spencer Trenery in Trenery’s No.37 1970 McLaren M8C. Steuer is substituting this week and next, while Trenery recuperates from a broken left leg. He wants to heal quickly so he can run the October SCCA National Runoffs, being held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the first time – at the track, and 50 years since it ran on the West Coast at Riverside Raceway.
Keith Freiser of St. Alberta, Canada won in Group 10 for 1970-1979 Sports Racing Cars under 2000 cc, driving his 1972 Lola T290, and turning the fastest lap time of 1:28.140 on Lap 9 at 91.409 mph. He bested Gray Gregory of Houston TX, driving his 1973 Chevron B26, by 08.591 seconds.
The Group 11 Formula Atlantics 1974-1980 race was the shortest – three laps. Martin Lauber of Tiburon CA was declared the winner in his 1977 Chevron B39. The Margin of Victory over runnerup John Hill of Seattle Wa in his 1975 Chevron B29 was 04.421. Lauber’s fastest race lap time was 1:29.950 on Lap 2 at 89.57 mph.
The Safety Car was on course after Allen Nicolas’s 1978 March 78B had gone off course. Then there was a three-car pileup in Turn 11 and the race was called. Brent Smith spun his 1980 March 80A spun in Turn 11 and was hit by Steve Smith’s 1980 March 80A and Jim Kelleher’s 1980 March 80A. All the drivers are alright, but their cars are not.
Earlier in the day, Peter Giddings of Danville California won Group 12 for Pre-1951 Sports Racing and Touring Cars, in his familiar 1935 Alfa Tipo C8C 35. He turned the fastest lap – 1:59.815 on Lap 5 at 67.244 mph. His Margin of Victory was 30.126 seconds. Eight of the 14 entries drove in the eight-lap race. Everyone in the group was from the US.
Next week’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion begins on Thursday, with four-filled days of activities besides racing, such as gatherings, live art, displays, picnics, book signings and Meeting the Authors, auctions, Meet and Greets, fuel runs, Press Briefings, and more. Sensory Overload.
A large group of 500+ drivers queued up Sunday afternoon to register for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion next weekend, and the long bank of Registrars was busy, busy, busy.