Monterey Historic Automobile Races
Northern California has the distinct pleasure of
hosting two vintage car races. The first one is held at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma and the more
famous one held down in Monterey at Laguna Seca
Raceway. Laguna Seca Raceway has been operated by the Sports Car Racing Association of
the Monterey Peninsula since its opening in 1957. SCRAMP is a non-profit organization
chartered to benefit local charitable and non-profit groups and to promote economic
vitality in Monterey Peninsula and Central California area.
The Monterey Historic Automobile Races have been
held for the last 25 years and now rank as one of the premier events in the United States
for vintage motorsport. Founder Steven Earle's idea of creating an "automotive
weekend in Monterey" became a reality in 1974 with 60 participants, and 1,000
spectators. The races actually are a part of a week long series of events that include
various important auctions and the Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance. The races are held
at the Laguna Seca road course located just north of Monterey. The track is 2.238
3.602 kilometers in length and the current course record is held by Brian Herta (Indy Car)
at 67.895 (118.666mph).
weather was great the whole weekend even though there was some early morning fog this only
added to the natural beauty of the Monterey Peninsula. Nearby attractions include Carmel,
20 championship golf courses including those at Pebble
Beach, Monterey Bay, Fisherman's
Wharf, Monterey Bay Aquarium and historic Cannery Row. The highlight for me
was of course getting to see the Auto Unions on the race track rather than just at the
Deutsche Museum. When not on the track they were displayed inside a large tent. A short
film was also shown describing the history of these great cars. For icing on the cake I
was able to meet Stirling Moss,
Dan Gurney and Michele Albereto.
2001 saw Bentley as the featured marquee and while not a firm that was involved in Grand Prix racing during any significant part of their history they did race at the highest level of sports car racing specifically Le Mans. Now owned by Volkswagen a fact altogether ironic as you have an icon of frugality owning one of the premier brands at the other end of the automotive pedigree. Such is the results of modern commerce and the ability of one group to stay on top of things.
As modern day marketing operates a new race car designed by an outside firm has been given the legendary badge and told to go forth and conquer the world or at least that part than recognizes the circuit near Sarthe as its sporting battleground. While the last three marquees featured at the Historical Auto Races were part of separate worldwide promotional blitzes they at least had significant sporting resumes on the international scene. Luckily we have been spared similar attempts by Cadillac to demonstrate their "racing heritage". This to me seems to mark the main difference between this event and similar events in Europe that feature some historically significant event. True you need the history first and this may be an unfair charge. It has been observed that the crowds have gone down in recent years. Might I suggest an auction similar to that held at Pebble Beach but conducted at the circuit may turn things around. Interestingly Saturday seems to have become the favorite day at the event.
More than just a car the name Ferrari represents the ideal expression of
speed and sublime style. A Ferrari never drives in the slow lane unless of
course if the authorities are about. Traffic parts and envious glances are
“This past year we celebrated Ford during its 100th anniversary
as both an
automaker and an auto racer,” said Steven J. Earle,
president of General
Racing Ltd. and event founder last
year. “And next
year will honor Ferrari, Ford’s nemesis in the 60s for racing
The new year has arrived and the track just off the Monterey coast played host to more than 20 million dollars worth of Ferraris not including a 12-man, two-car team from Maranello running exhibition laps. Unfortunately they brought their Formula One attitude with them as the cars were hidden in an inaccessible part of the pits when not on the track. Factory test driver Andrea Bertolini had a mission to set a new track record. He made several tries using both cars, a 2003 GA and a 2002 model. In his last attempt on Sunday afternoon, pushing the ’02 to the ragged edge on tires that had seen better days, he was clocked at 1:09.185 which was still a good bit short of the record lap of 1:07.722 set by Helio Castroneves in 1999 driving a Penske Reynard Honda. Not surprising really but outside of new tires and a chance to lay down some rubber maybe an indication that the 1999 Reynard Honda was not such a bad machine.