Looking Back While Racing Ahead

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under News

According to David Love (San Rafael, Calif.), no matter how many times he comes to the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races and thinks he has seen it all, he discovers another significant vintage race car he has never seen before. “It is an event you might imitate but you could not duplicate,” said Love, a 74-year-old veteran of automobile racing who is driving here this weekend. In fact, Love has driven his 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa in each of the 36 runnings of the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, which have been held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for as many years.

“Of course, things have changed quite a lot from the first event (1973) organized by Steve Earle (of General Racing),” said Love. “Back then we may have had 80 cars or so, but today Steve must be turning away four or so cars for every one he accepts, and they are coming from all over the world. (This year, 450 entrants were accepted.)

Love reminisced that back in 1967 a half-dozen of his friends gathered with their old sports cars to have what they called a mechanical picnic. “It was so much fun we decided we would do it again the following year,” said Love. “For that event we rented a local track for $100 and divided the cost between us. Steve Earle heard about it, came out with his GTO to see what we were up to, and that’s how we met.”

It didn’t take long for Earle to envision a proper road race to coordinate with the timing of the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance, but he knew it would not be allowed on the public streets and chose the Raceway Laguna Seca as the ideal venue. Today, both the event and Earle are credited with making historic automobile racing what it is in the U.S. today.

And what it’s all about is passion.

“Some of the people who have this obsession started in a methodical and sensible way, and those are the drivers who really do well in the sport,” said Love, noting he is lucky to have kept his Testa Rossa “the way it is supposed to be” for 45 years. “They would begin with a driver’s school and afterward, perhaps, continue with a smaller SCCA class until they are comfortable racing, and then find the car of their dreams. Also important is to find conscientious and competent people to work on the cars. In tennis if you make a mistake you might sprain your ankle, but in some of these cars if you make a mistake you could get killed.”

In today’s race, while negotiating the notorious Corkscrew, Love missed his breaking points and hit the tire wall but was unhurt.

Still, his passion is wholly intact. “These cars have had such a major influence on my life and I am convinced if I had never raced I would be a completely different person.possibly a bit boring,” said Love.

Porsche Race Car Parade: In Honor of Bob Carlson and Bob Snodgrass

The Featured Marque at this year’s Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races is Porsche, and it is fitting that two people so connected with the legacy of Porsche – the late Bob Carlson and Bob Snodgrass — were honored today in a Porsche Race Car Parade. Carlson was the PR Director for Porsche North America for many years, while Snodgrass was a principal in Brumos Porsche.

As the Porsche race cars lined up on the front straight at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, David Donahue and Hurley Haywood took the front row in Brumos Porsches. (Donohue won the 2009 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in a Brumos Porsche and hopes to repeat the victory next year; Haywood, a Le Mans winner, is a Brumos teammate.) A third car, the Porsche 962 once driven by the late Bob Akin and handled today by Kees Nierop, joined them on the front row. For Porsche devotees, this was a touching moment; the sight of these three cars clearly brought back moments of triumph and brilliance.

Behind the trio were dozens of Porsches of every vintage, neatly lined up and waiting for the signal to set out and pay tribute to those who gave so much to the sport. As Haywood and Donohue completed their first lap, they were side-by-side in a Brumos salute to Snodgrass.

“It’s some of the personal stuff that means more than anything else at this time,” said Donohue, who was close to Snodgrass and, as a celebrity driver here, was honored by Rolex at a special dinner last evening after a full day of signing autographs.

When asked what he made of all the old cars here, Donohue, whose late father Mark Donohue is a racing legend, said: “For me, growing up with my Dad in his era, I have kind of an emotional attachment with a lot of these cars. And now to be able to get into a couple of them and have people know who I am — even though I am not to the scale of Hurley Haywood, Vic Elford or Derek Bell or so many of these other guys here – it’s great to be in their company”

Haywood had his own personal take on the sentiment. “It’s really wonderful to be in a position to look out on the paddock area and see some of the very cars I have raced in my career, which spans over forty years. And when I walk over to one of those cars it brings back wonderful memories. It makes me realize I have been doing this for such a long time and the cars bring flashbacks in time, but it seems like it was just yesterday when I was doing it.”

Haywood added that he had the opportunity yesterday to drive an early Porsche Formula 2 car. “It was a wonderful way of looking at a span from that car to the current Porsche prototypes and the technology that has gone on with the different formats that Porsche has developed — from formula cars to closed wheel cars, sports cars to prototypes, ” said Haywood. “And with each and every venture they have tried, they have done it superbly and have managed to put cars in each of those categories in Victory lane.”

Racing for eight of 15 groups took place today, while special introductions for two new cars – the Devon GTX and the Fisker Plug-in Hybrid — rounded out the action. Spectators may have noticed Jay Leno walking the paddock area, and those in the know caught actor and accomplished driver Patrick Dempsey taking to the raceway in his 1992 Mazda RX792P. After wrapping up filming on his latest project, the actor drove to Monterey, arriving in the wee hours of the morning and registered last-minute.

“I had a blast, these cars are phenomenal,” said Dempsey, who finished fourth in his group. “This is the fastest car I have ever driven and it was exciting. I really appreciate the support from Mazda, as always, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to go racing.especially with the Grand Am and the experience I am getting there, I’m getting faster and faster, and one of these days I am going to win one.”

As for the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, Dempsey said, “It’s very moving when you see the cars that went out before us. You step back in time and you honor the drivers who have done this before as well as the designers and manufacturers. When you see them here collectively racing, its absolutely wonderful for the sport.”

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

Rolex makes Magic with Rolex Moments in Time Display

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Every year at the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, attendees look forward to indulging in Rolex’s award-winning Rolex Moments in Time display, which honors six different historic racing cars and their most significant achievements. This year, for the 36th edition of the famous Rolex Monterey Historics, which run from Friday, August 14 through Sunday, August 16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the museum-quality exhibit will be more dramatic than ever, theatrically staging amazing cars from the 1960s and 1970s within the context of the history they made.

Perhaps most extraordinary will be the inclusion of the Gulf Ford GT 40 and the 908LH Porsche that famously exchanged leads in the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans until the GT-40 prevailed, with only four seconds to spare, marking the closest margin of victory ever at Le Mans. Porsche had made an all out effort to win that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with its 917. However, both 917s retired with clutch problems, and it was the Championship leading Porsche 908 driven by Hans Herrman and Gerard Larrousse that battled with the Ford GT-40 driven by Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver for the win.

1970 looked to be “The Year of the Titans” as horsepower and extreme speed became the necessary ingredients to win races. Porsche and its incredible 917 were to be challenged by Ferrari and its new 512S, both cars putting out over 550 horsepower. While the two cars were very close in performance, the 917 dominated the Championship. The 512 was always a threat but never able to rise to the level of the Porsche in the hands of the John Wyer Gulf Team.

Harkening back to that time, the Gulf 917K that will be displayed in the Rolex Moments in Time display is the car driven by Pedro Rodriguez in the 1970 1000 km race at Spa, Belgium, where it led until it retired. The Gulf’s stablemate, driven by Brian Redman and Jo Siffert, won at the amazing average of 149 mph. The Ferrari 512S that also will be in the display is the car driven by Jacky Ickx at the opening round at Daytona and Nino Vaccarella at Monza and Targa Florio where it finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

“The cars were as purposeful as their designers and drivers were determined and courageous,” said Steve Earle of General Racing, Ltd., which owns and organizes the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races. “The Rolex Moments in Time exhibit brings to life past eras of racing in a way that lets you feel the presence of these cars and their achievements.”

Rounding out the display will be the 1972 McLaren M20 (on loan from the National Auto Museum, Reno, NV), Team McLaren’s last challenger in the Can-Am Series that the team dominated for seven years, and the 1976 Porsche 936/81, winner at Le Mans in 1977, second place in 1978 and 12th in 1981. This car was the first of the three Porsche 936 cars built and the only one to compete in five Le Mans races. It was driven variously by Jurgen Barth, Reinhold Joest, Hurley Haywood and Vern Schuppan, all of whom will be at the Rolex Monterey Historics.

Autograph sessions with some of history’s greatest names in automobile racing will be held at the Rolex Moments in Time display on Friday morning, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning. Instructions for picking up first-come, first-serve tickets to participate will be announced daily.

Porsche is the Featured Marque for the 2009 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races. Of the 450 vintage cars that will be racing at the event, 145 are Porsches.

Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races

July 17, 2009 by  
Filed under News

It’s official. Four hundred fifty entries have been accepted for the 36th Rolex Monterey
Historic Automobile Races, one of vintage motorsport’s most revered racing traditions,
set for August 14-16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Of those, 145 are Porsche cars, helping
to celebrate Porsche as this year’s featured marque and lending live-action perspective on
the company’s storied racing heritage, which includes remarkable cars made famous by
legendary drivers.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic Porsche 917, and fittingly, four 917Ks
will take to the track. Three of those are re-uniting from the Gulf Wyer Team, and their
former Executive Director John Horsman will be watching them race along with Brian Redman
and Vic Elford, both of whom claimed victories at 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of
Sebring and are former Porsche factory drivers who raced the 917 at Le Mans. (Elford also
was behind the wheel of the 917 for the high speed scenes in the Steve McQueen film “Le Mans.”)

“The Porsche 917K was the greatest race car of all time” said Elford, noting that the “K”
denoted aerodynamic modifications made for the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans, helping to give
Porsche its first overall victory in that race, followed by another win in 1971. It incorporated
Porsche’s revolutionary flat 12-cylinder engine. The long-tailed version could go 0-62 mph
in 2.7 seconds and reach top speeds of over 240 mph.

“The first time I drove the 917 was in 1969 (at Le Mans), and that car was a monster,” he
continued. “At the end of a straight you couldn’t just go from the brake pedal to the
throttle because the back end would want to come around, so you had to kind of finesse it…it
was uncharted territory back then and the car was very unstable.” Elford explained that he
was three hours from the finish and holding a 50-mile lead when his 917 broke down, taking
him and his co-drivers out of the running. John Horsman, who was an engineer as well as the
Gulf Wyer Team Executive Director, suggested the “short tail” modification for the car and
the 917K was born.

Elford added that in contrast to the 917 of 1969, the 1970 car (the 917K) was easy to drive
in the new short form. “At the end of the Mulsanne straight (at Le Mans) in 1969 the 917’s
top speed was around 200 mph, but in 1970, the top speed there was 220,” he said.

Races to Watch; Notable Drivers

With practice on Friday and warm-ups Saturday and Sunday mornings, racing will begin after
noon on each weekend day for 15 race groups that span nearly every era of motorsports history.

Saturday’s Group 7A (1964 – 1971 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars) is just one example of the
extremely rare and valuable cars competing: it features not only 917K Porsches but also two
Ferrari 512s and two Ford GT-40s, reminiscent of those competing in the late 1960s and
conjuring up images of the 1969 Le Mans race where, at the finish, a Ford GT-40 won by a mere
two seconds over a Porsche 908, making history as the closest margin of victory at Le Mans and
perhaps the most exciting race finish ever.

“For enthusiasts, the 2009 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races will be very special,”
said Steve Earle of General Racing, Ltd., which owns and organizes the event. “You’ll be going
back in time, not just standing around admiring these cars. They are racing, and the sights
and sounds are the real thing.”

Notable drivers include England’s Sir Stirling Moss, often called “the greatest driver never
to win the World Championship,” driving a 1960 Lola MK I in Group 5A; South Africa’s Desire Wilson
(one of only five women to have entered an F1 World Championship Grand Prix), driving a 1952
Glockler Porsche in Group 3A; the USA’s John Morton (lauded for accomplishments in Can Am, Trans Am,
Indy Car, and endurance car racing), driving a 1985 Nissan GTP in Group 8A; and Kevin Buckler driving
his 2003 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona overall winning Porsche GT3RS in Group 7B. Brian Redman
(multiple winner of Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring) will drive the unique 1969
Porsche 917 PA (Porsche’s first Can-Am effort) in Group 6B and a 1971 Porsche 908/3 (a twin to the
car with which he won the 1970 Targa Florio) in Group 7A.

Schedule of Racing

Saturday August 15, 2009

Group 1A) 1904 – 1940 Sporting Cars
Group 2A) 1925 – 1949 Racing and Sporting Cars
Group 3A) 1948 – 1955 Sports Racing & GT Cars under 1500cc
Group 4A) 1955 – 1961 GT Cars under 2200cc
Group 5A) 1955 – 1961 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc
Group 6A) 1955 – 1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc
Group 7A) 1964 – 1971 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars
Group 8A) 1981 – 1991 FIA Mfg. Championship & IMSA GTP Cars

Sunday August 16, 2009

Group 1B) 1947 – 1955 Sports Racing & GT Cars over 1500cc
Group 2B) 1971 – 1976 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars
Group 3B) 1961 – 1966 GT Cars under 2500cc
Group 4B) 1959 – 1966 Sports Racing Cars
Group 5B) 1963 – 1967 GT Cars over 2500cc
Group 6B) 1966 – 1974 Can-Am Cars
Group 7B) 1973 – 1980 IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT Cars

Tickets, parking directions and information on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are available by
visiting www.MazdaRaceway.com or calling (800) 327-SECA. For more information on the Rolex
Monterey Historic Automobile Races, visit www.montereyhistoric.com or contact General Racing, Ltd.,
info@generalracing.com , +1 (805) 686-9292.

36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races 2009

June 10, 2009 by  
Filed under events

Paddocks filled with breathtaking cars wait for visitors at this years’ Montery Historic Races, which pays tribute to the auto racing industry. Automobiles from the past and present will take to the track in their respective categories, and bring racing history to life from the 14th to the 16th of August 2009.

Information in regard to the 36th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races can be found on their website: www.montereyhistoric.com

Date: August 14, 2009
Venue: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
City: Monterey, California
Country: United States of America

Mario Andretti will be Featured Guest for Rolex Monterey Races

August 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

This year the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races will be celebrating their 35th anniversary at Laguna Seca. The event, which will be presented by Toyota, will celebrate a number of highlights from past races. It will also see legendary driver Mario Andretti take his seat as the official guest of honor.

The 2008 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races will take place on August 15 to 17 at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The event will be paying tribute to the first marque to ever be featured at the Historic Races in 1975, the Alfa Romeo. The Alfa Romeo 8C-2900B Mille Miglia will no doubt be sharing the limelight with Mario Andretti – as both are racing legends. The race will also see a number of other marques that have featured in the past 34 Monterey Historic races, including the 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes, which will be enjoying its 100th year of racing. A variety of historic Trans-Am cars will also take to the track during the course of the event. In all the weekend will see a variety of highly competitive and exciting races that are sure to wow fans.

Regarding the presence of Andretti at the event, Steve Earle – the President of General Racing Ltd which founded and organized the event – said: “We are extremely pleased to have Mario Andretti join us at the Rolex Monterey Historic this year. He is a living legend for all of us, and we’ll join together to celebrate the anniversary of his winning the World Championship in 1978.” Many consider Andretti to be the most accomplished driver to ever emerge during the history of motorsports and the legendary driver will be getting behind the wheel of his F1 Championship Winning Lotus 79 for a few demonstration laps during the course of the event. He will also be available to sign autographs and will be participating in some of the scheduled races that have been organized as part of the Rolex Monterey Races. Fans will get the chance to meet other legends during autograph sessions and enjoy plenty of additional entertainment in the form of an enhanced Consumer Expo. If you want to meet Andretti, get in on all the historic racing action and make the most of your weekend, make sure that you get down to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for this great event!

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