Sunshine and Strawberries

1965 Shelby GT350

More than 330 vintage and historic cars are gathered at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion races. They come from far and wide, and the years range from a 1924 Duesnberg Model A Speedster in Group One Pre 1951 Sports Racing and Touring cars, to a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro in Group Six for 1981-1991 FIA, IMSA GTP, GTO and GTO cars. There are eleven race groups in all.

This weekend is the precursor to the 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Shelby GT350 Mustang car. There are more than 550 entries for that weekend.

Saturday’s weather was ideal – low seventies, blue skies with no fog or clouds, and a brisk breeze to keep it temperate.

For the Pre-Reunion, 21 Shelby GT350’s are racing in Group 10 for 1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc, out of a fifty-three car field. There are also a wide variety of other Shelby’s, Mustangs and Cobtras, as well as cars of other marques. This is the largest of the eleven Pre-Reunion groups.

Formula 5000 Banner

There are 38 entries in Group 11 – Formula 5000, and they come from far and wide. The US has a strong Formula 5000 Drivers Association. Australia also has an F5000 association, and the F5000 drivers in New Zealand have a really strong group. The two Down Under Groups really wanted to run this race, so there are 11 cars from New Zealand and four from Australia. There are also entries from Denmark and Canada, as well as eight states including California. Of the foreigners, at least ten are racing at Laguna Seca for the first time. All love it. And some go to any lengths to prepare their cars.

1968 Lola T140 from New Zealand

1973 Begg FM 5 from New Zealand

1968 Lola T140

One unfortunate F5000 driver, Johnny Crean of New York, had a mishap with the Turn Eleven wall, but he is alright. The same can’t be said for his car.

1972 Lola T300

Eric Haga from Renton WA, ran in the original F5000 series back in the day. He still has that original F5000 car, but it’s not quite race ready. For this F5000 gathering, he’s racing his No.94 blue 1972 Lola T 300, originally raced by Eppie Weitzs back in 1972…this weekend and next.

Based on the morning practice session, Zak Brown of IN had the pole for the afternoon F5000 race, driving No.5 1974 Lola T332. He won the race by 01.277 seconds ahead of Steven Ross in his 1973 McRae GM-1. The nine-lap race ran 20.142 miles in 18.35.180 minutes. The average race speed was 65.022 mph, slowed by some cautions for stranded cars.

One of the perks of being a participant at the Pre-Reunion is the afternoon (local, fresh) Strawberries and Cream provided by Gill Campbell, President of SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula.)

Gil Campbell with Strawberries & Cream