Pre-Event Activities Warm Up at the Raceway
For the true motorsports enthusiast there is no event quite like the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, which start tomorrow (Friday, August 14) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Not only are history’s most significant race cars accessible in paddock areas for spectators to admire at close range but also they perform, racing wheel-to-wheel to thrill the crowds, which are expected to exceed 30,000 over the next three days.
The event is a cornerstone of Monterey Peninsula’s Classic Car Week, a veritable feast of things to see and do for car lovers, and utilizes the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca like no other on the facility’s calendar. With practice on Friday and warm-ups Saturday and Sunday mornings, racing begins after noon each weekend day for 15 race groups that span nearly every era of motorsports history.
The 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is nestled among the hills between Monterey and Salinas and features among its 11 turns the signature Corkscrew, which drops five stories from its entrance to the challenging hairpin turn that follows it. For those of the 450 participants who are new to the track, a new- driver orientation was held today, previewing the sights, sounds and smells in which spectators will indulge tomorrow.
“This helps to get the weekend off to a good start,” said Mark Hamilton Peters (Lakeville, Conn.), a private driver coach who — working like an energetic traffic cop — orchestrated individual starts for the cars taking to the track. “It helps the drivers who are here for the first time become familiar with the track, so they don’t have to go out cold tomorrow. It takes away the stress of doing the Monterey Historics, which is a big deal in any vintage racing driver’s book.”
Peters added: “There are drivers here like John Morton and Brian Redman who originally raced these cars that we are now seeing in historic events. And then there are also participants here who, when they were younger, saw those gentlemen drive and admired them and now have reached a milestone in their lives that lets them live the fantasy of driving like their heroes.”
With Porsche as the Featured Marque this year, pre-event activities today also included “hot laps” for journalists in a fleet of newly unveiled 2010 Porsche Panamera Gran Turismos. Behind the wheels of the exotic four-door, four-seat sports cars were celebrity drivers Hurley Haywood and David Donohue. (Haywood, one of the most winning endurance racers ever, and Donohue, the 2009 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona winner, will be racing at the Rolex Monterey Historics.)
Of the 450 vintage race cars competing here, one-third will be Porsches, representing 61 years of the company’s manufacturing legacy. Porsche activities for the public will include its heritage display featuring former and current race cars and a special showing of four cars from the new Porsche Museum in Germany: the 1960 Porsche Type 718 Formula 2; the 1962 Porsche Type 804 Formula 1; the 1962 Porsche Type 718 W-RS 8-cylinder Spyder; and the Porsche GT1 98LM. The Porsche Club of America expects to have more than 200 Porsches in its Club Corral and will parade all its cars on Sunday.
Between races spectators can visit the award winning Rolex Moments in Time exhibit, which once again has knocked it out of the park with an amazing presentation, including the 1969 Gulf Ford GT 40 that won the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans race by less than four seconds. And leaving no one wanting for more, Rolex has also included in the exhibit the 1969 908LH Porsche that took second place that year.
For more information on the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, visit www.montereyhistoric.com.