36th Annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races

Monterey, CA (August, 16, 2009) – One of my favorite places to visit is the beautiful Monterey peninsula and also attend the 36th annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was Chamber of Commerce weather for the many vintage auto racing enthusiasts who gathered for the three day event. Many fans of German manufacturer, Porsche were delighted as it was the event’s choice as the ‘featured marque.’ Of the 450 cars that were invited over 150 entered were of the famous German car. With Porsche being the marque it was fitting that Hurley Haywood and David Donohue where the grand marshals and were eager to drive some of the historic cars too.

Brumos the famous Florida Porsche dealership and race team had a high profile throughout the weekend along with a neat display. I spoke to longtime Brumos driver, Haywood on Thursday and he was excited about the weekend, “I really love these (vintage) weekends, it’s great seeing old friends and seeing all of these cars in one place is quite special…just wish I had more time to enjoy it.”

Current Grand-Am Brumos-Porsche driver, David Donohue was also enjoying himself over the weekend. Even it being an ‘off weekend’ for the Grand-Am teams, Donohue found himself behind the wheel, enjoying himself by driving a Porsche from an earlier era. Donohue was eager to drive the famous Bob Akin Racing deep red Coca-Cola Porsche 935. Akin’s Porsche 935 was a mainstay on the old IMSA circuit in the early-1980’s. It was nice seeing the Akin car back on the track, Akin the gentleman racer who was so loved by many is missed in the paddock. Jim Edwards is the current owner of the Akin 935, and loves the sport and wants to keep these cars out on the track so everyone can enjoy them. He was really thrilled to have David Donohue drive the car. There were many stories like this one, a lot of the owners of these cars watched them race when they were younger and now they’re competing with these cars that raced 20 to 30 years ago.

The Monterey Vintage weekend was also the North American debut of the 2010 Porsche Panamera, the first sedan from Porsche. Also, four special cars with significant American connections were also 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, made 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.

One of the most popular features at the event is the Rolex Moments in Time display. The display is set up in a massive darkened tent in the paddock area. The mobile museum has many historically significant cars and are described in great detail understandable for both the rookie attendee and the seasoned racing enthusiast.

Part of the allure of Monterey is the auto auctions, along with the many motorsport and automobile movers and shakers that attend. One mover and shaker is auto collector, Jay Leno who is a mainstay at the event every year. Leno was seen chatting with Indy Car title contender Dario Franchitti who was at the IndyCar test at Infineon Raceway the day prior. Franchitti is enjoying himself this year and is happy to be back in the IndyCar Series teamed up with Scott Dixon. Other drivers seen in the paddock included, Sir Sterling Moss, Vic Elford, Gulf Racing Team Manager, John Horsman, Brian Redman and Porsche driving instructor, Kees Nierop.

This was going to be the last event for Steve Earle founder of the Monterey Historics. After all these years this will be one to remember, with Porsche here it was been a long time coming. Mr. Earle will be missed by many of participants, car owners and fans of the event. Anybody who knows Steve Earle knows that it won’t be the same because he put his heart and soul into this event. Here is the press release regarding the 2010 event,

In response to the press release issued by SCRAMP on August 16, 2009 regarding the future of the Monterey Historic Automobile Races? at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Steve Earle, President of General Racing, Ltd., 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.

I’d like to thank the staff of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for their hospitality during the event and look forward to next year.

Share Button