Steve Earle regarding future of Monterey Historic Races

August 24, 2009 by  
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In response to the press release issued by SCRAMP on August 16, 2009 (dated August 17) regarding the future of the Monterey Historic Automobile Races® at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Steve Earle, President of General Racing, Ltd., has issued the following statement:

General Racing, which has created and produced the Monterey Historic Automobile Races® for 36 years, will no longer be doing so.  In the future SCRAMP, the Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula, will organize a new event. 

On September 5, 2008, I was advised that the economic terms for the agreement between General Racing and SCRAMP were no longer
commercially viable for SCRAMP.  I’m disappointed that we were not able to come to an agreement that would allow our event to remain in Monterey. General Racing will allow SCRAMP a one-time use of the name Monterey Historic Automobile Races® for the 2010 event.

General Racing will continue the tradition of the Monterey Historics at the Wine Country Classic at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., in early June 2010.

We are very proud of all that we have accomplished with the Monterey Historic Automobile Races®, and I truly believe that we have brought something special to the community of Monterey as an event of world renown and the generator of substantial revenue for the local economy and the charities to which SCRAMP contributes.

The purpose of General Racing, Ltd., is and always has been to encourage the restoration, preservation and use of historic, sports and racing cars. General Racing events and races are for the enjoyment of participants and enthusiasts alike.

An Intriguing Array of People and Cars

August 17, 2009 by  
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At the 36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, every fabulous car making its way around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has an intriguing character behind its wheel or responsible for its restoration. That fact couldn’t have been more evident today as participants – making last-minute preparations and practicing for tomorrow’s and Sunday’s races — mingled with spectators in paddock areas that bustled with activity and the sweet cacophony of revving engines.

“We all have our own favorite years and cars,” said spectator Dave Kuhns (Sacramento, Calif.), after collecting autographs from the iconic likes of David Donohue, Vic Elford, John Horsman and Brian edman, “but we really just enjoy it all.” Like Kuhns, many fans return yearly to Monterey during this week to enjoy the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races and a slew of other events that comprise Monterey Peninsula’s Classic Car Week.

Racer/Traveler: Rusty French

Participants, too, feel a need to return after getting “hooked” on the event, and none have more logistically extravagant travel plans than Rusty French, who packs up two 935 Porsches, plus all the gear and spares needed for a weekend of racing, into a container and travels with his family from Mt. Eliza, Victoria, Australia for three weeks of holiday. The container in which his cars and gear are shipped serves double duty as a tricked-out race trailer, custom awning and all.

“I credit Rolex for their support and for making it possible for the purist racer to have an opportunity to race among the kind of machines that are here at the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races,” said French, who won his class last year. “It’s also a lovely time to be here, since back home in Australia it is winter.”

Before he began vintage auto racing, Rusty had a very impressive professional career which included 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1984, where he finished ninth in a 956 Porsche, and the Bathurst 1000 in Australia the same year, where he finished fifth co-driving with Manfred Winkelhock.

A Nod to Bruce Jennings

Bruce Jennings was best known for his many races at Sebring and for having raced in every model of Porsche over those years. He was a gentleman and a great ambassador of the sport. Two gentlemen racing here at the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races are keeping Bruce Jennings’ motorsports legacy alive by entering two of his former race cars.

Robert Newman (New York, N.Y.) will drive his 1969 Porsche 911 LWB and Tom O’Callaghan (Auburn, Calif.) will drive his 1968 Porsche 911S; both cars sport the same beautiful orange color scheme that identified them when raced by Jennings.

Before his death in 1997, Jennings either sold or gave away his race cars, along with the spare parts, to his close friends, resulting in the eventual sales of these cars to the present owners.

Newcomer Christian Zugel

First-time participant Christian Zugel (Holmdel, N.J.), has entered two Porsche 917s, the more famous of which is chassis #21, which raced at Le Mans in 1970. “The other one we recently acquired from a museum in Germany,” said Zugel, “and we have also brought two 962 Porsches of which one is in the Coke livery as raced by Bob Akin. (Bob’s son Bobby Akin plans to race the car here this weekend in honor of his father.)

“It’s a phenomenal facility and Monterey almost looks like Tuscany, Italy,” said Zugel, who raced with the Porsche Club of Germany, where he grew up, before joining the Porsche Club of America about six years ago.  “It’s so much fun: the people are wonderful, with many different drivers and so many different backgrounds. I’m psyched.”

Bobby Akin: In Memory of his Father

For participant Bobby Akin, this event has special significance because 34 years ago, when he was just a boy, his family loaded his famous father’s Lotus Eleven on an open trailer, and the whole family drove cross-country to attend the second Monterey Historic Automobile Races.

“My father had a fierce duel with Chris Cord but finished an incredibly close second to Chris’ Birdcage Maserati,” recalled Akin. “My father was very upset that he did not win that race, so he decided to buy the fastest car in that class for the following year. That is when he bought the Cooper Monaco, which so many people now think of when they think of my Dad. He was determined to beat that Birdcage Maserati, and he did the next year.”

Akin also has a strong connection with Steve Earle, the originator and producer of the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, since Earle and Akin’s father raced together in the 1970s at Daytona and Sebring.

“I had to make a decision in the early 90s, while I was a part of the new television channel now known as SPEED,” said Akin, who is Vice President of SPEED Integrated Marketing. “It would be either racing or television, and I obviously chose the latter. However, I really do love to race at any and all opportunities.”

Akin sees his colleagues on-site, since SPEED is televising the event as it has for over 15 years. The premier airing of SPEED Channel’s one-hour special on the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races is scheduled for Friday, October 16 at 8 p.m.

For more information on the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, visit www.montereyhistoric.com.

Pre-Event Activities Warm Up at the Raceway

August 14, 2009 by  
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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.

Porsche Showcases Special Cars at Monterey Historic Automobile Races

July 20, 2009 by  
Filed under News

At the upcoming 36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna
Seca on August 14-16, the sound of the initial stirrings of over 450 race cars will be
complimented by the exquisite growl of the newest, most daring and most advanced vehicle
Porsche has produced to date, the 2010 Porsche Panamera gran turismo.

“This year’s Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races presents the perfect opportunity to
demonstrate that Porsche’s DNA, its competitive spirit and drive for perfection, runs from
the very first 356, Porsche No. 1 up through today’s all-new Panamera,” said Detlev von
Platen, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America.

“We at Porsche are deeply honored to have been named the ‘featured marque’ on this, the
61st anniversary of the very first Porsche and the North American debut of the Panamera,
the very latest Porsche,” added von Platen.

In addition to the 145 Porsche racers already entered by their owners, or one-third of the
450-plus field, Porsche will showcase the Panamera on the world-famous race track and will
also provide display vehicles on site.

Along with the North American debut of the 2010 Panamera, four special cars with
significant American connections will also be on site — all on loan from the new Porsche
Museum in Germany:

The 1960 Porsche Type 718 Formula 2 racing car, which gave Porsche its first Formula 2 world
title and was driven in 1961 by Californian Dan Gurney, is making its North American debut.

The 1962 Porsche Type 804 Formula 1 racer, which was the car that brought Gurney to his
French Grand Prix win that year. This car has not been in North America since the 1960s.

The 1962 Porsche Type 718 W-RS 8-cylinder Spyder, in which Gurney and Joakim Bonnier
finished second at the Targa Florio in 1961, has also not been in North America for more
than 40 years. In the 1960s, it was raced in the U.S. by Gurney, Bonnier and Phil Hill.

The Porsche GT1 98LM, which helped Porsche finish 1-2 at the 1998 24-hours of Le Mans event.

Porsche-sponsored activities for the fans at Laguna will include a heritage display
including former and current race cars, Porsche’s current showroom product line, and
experts to answer Porsche questions. Porsche Motorsport North America, the racing arm of
Porsche in the U.S., will also showcase its engine and chassis services for both
professional and club/vintage racing, while the Porsche Club of America expects to have
more than 400 Porsches in its club corral and will parade all its cars on the Mazda Raceway
Laguna Seca.

About Porsche Cars North America, Inc.

Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, Ga., is the exclusive importer of
Porsche sports cars and sport utility vehicles for the United States. It is a wholly owned,
indirect subsidiary of Dr. Ing.h.c. F. Porsche AG. Approximately 200 PCNA employees provide
Porsche vehicles, parts, service, marketing and training for its 202 dealers. The dealers,
in turn, provide Porsche owners with best-in-class service. Throughout its 61-year history,
Porsche has developed numerous technologies that have advanced vehicle performance, improved
safety and spurred environmental innovations within the automotive industry. The company
continues to celebrate its heritage by adding to its long list of motorsports victories
dating back to its first 24 Hours of Le Mans class win in 1951. Today, with more than
28,000 victories, Porsche is recognized as the world’s most successful marque in sports car
racing. PCNA, which imports the iconic 911 series, the Boxster and Cayman mid-engine sports
cars, the high performance Cayenne sport utility vehicles and soon the Panamera gran turismo
for the U.S., strives to maintain a standard of excellence, commitment and distinction
synonymous with its brand.

For more information on the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, visit
www.montereyhistoric.com