Monterey Historic Automobile Races Weekend

Monterey, CA (August 17, 2008) – The 35th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races presented by Toyota weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was held August 15-17. In my opinion it is one of the best venues for an event of this stature. Laguna Seca is a great place to see some of the best vintage Formula One cars that come out and play. With this event taking place on the West coast, it’s a chance to see many cars that don’t make it out to the Midwest or East coast events. This weekend was one to remember, having an opportunity to see the greats such as American World Champions, Phil Hill and Mario Andretti chatting is one moment I won’t forget. Add F-1 champion Alan Jones and winners such as John Watson and Jean Pierre Jarier as well as top drivers such as Timo Glock, 7-time LeMans winner Derek Bell and Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan added flair to the event. It was great seeing Andretti driving his Lotus 79-Ford Cosworth for his 30th anniversary of his World Championship. Andretti and Lotus architect Colin Chapman turned the F-1 scene on it’s head when they debuted in the revolutionary ground-effects car. What a time it was for Formula One fans.

The weekend consists of many individual races between sport racing and production cars along with historic F-1 cars and IMSA prototype cars. Sunday was special as the day was kicked off with a parade of beautiful Alfa Romeos. Later in the day after the racing, race winners were honored at the popular trophy ceremony with the prestigious Monterey Cup awarded to George Wingard of Eugene, Ore. Wingard, who brought his rare 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes to this year’s event won the flagship award. Wingard was honored for being the ultimate enthusiast and embodying the spirit of the Rolex Monterey Historics. “I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the centennial of the 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes then by allowing some of the most enthusiastic car collectors and fans to view and enjoy it at the Rolex Monterey Historics,” Wingard said after accepting the Monterey Cup. “This weekend not only allows us to enjoy some of the best cars in the world, but also some of the most fantastic people. It’s an event I never want to miss, and I’m already looking forward to next year.”

On Saturday, I got a chance to talk to Mario before he climbed into the car and he had a look about him-totally focused, ready for the task at hand. Mario was then joined by Duncan Dayton who is the owner of the Lotus Mario drove and the owner of Highcroft Racing in the American LeMans Series. When asked, Mario said, he really likes the atmosphere surrounding vintage racing, its very different from when he raced competitively. “It’s more relaxed, everybody is smiling and having fun, its the good life.” Mario added, “Racing has been so good to me and it is good to come back to where I started.” He also said Duncan was crazy to let him take the car out.

I also got a chance to talk with Englishman, John Watson who won the first Grand Prix race I covered as a photographer (1982 Detroit Grand Prix). Watson reminisced about the drive he had in Detroit in the McLaren in 1982. It was good pit strategy, luck and a good tire compound that helped him win that day. Australian, Alan Jones who won the World Championship for Frank Williams, was nearby, he looked good and certainly was enjoying himself. Watson and Jones were enjoying their stay here in the States.

Glock performed demonstration laps Sunday afternoon in a Toyota GTP. Earlier on Saturday, Glock defeated the aforementioned F-1 drivers, Sullivan, Bell, Watson, along with Eddie Cheever, Johnny Herbert, Jarier, Alain de Cadenet, Jones and Patrick Tambay in the Toyota Race of Legends.

“It was an action-packed weekend both on and off the track. With Mario Andretti as the guest of honor, Timo Glock and the stellar lineup of F1 legends, plus all the amazing cars and people, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Rolex Monterey Historics,” said Steve Earle, the founder of the event and president of General Racing, the official race organizer. “Rolex and Toyota had an amazing setup and added a new dynamic to the event that took it to the next level.”

Earle was presented with a special award of appreciation for his 35 years of dedication to the event by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. The award was presented by Gil Bouffard.

Jay Leno was seen hanging out with fans taking pictures and signing autographs. Leno is an annual visitor and is a part of Monterey vintage weekend.. Also seen was television heartthrob Patrick Dempsey, star of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and Adam Corolla, host of the syndicated Adam Corolla Radio Show and the upcoming American version of “Top Gear.” Dempsey hit the track on Saturday for a few laps in a 1931 Chrysler CD-8 LM driven by San Francisco native David Swig.

I’m looking forward to next year which will have Porsche as the featured marquee.


Group 1B – 1947-1955 Sport Racing and Production Cars

Winner – John Buddenbaum, Bend, Ore. – 1949 Parkinson-Jaguar Spl.

Group 2B – 1956-1961 Sport Racing Cars under 2500cc

Winner – Tom Nuxoll, Bellevue, Wa. – 1960 Lola Mkl

Group 3B – 1955-1962 Production Sports Cars

Winner – Ron Cressey, Sherman Oaks, Calif. – 1959 Corvette

Group 4B – 1963-1966 Production Sports Cars

Winner – John Morton, El Segundo, Calif. – 1963 Corvette Grand Sport

Group 5B – 1961-1963 F-Jr. Celebration Race

Winner – Danny Baker, San Francisco – 1963 Lotus 27 F-Jr.

Group 6B – 1967-1978 Historic F-1 Cars

Winner – Rodolfo Junco, Monterrey, Mexico – 1976 Tyrrell P34

Group 7B – 1972-1983 Historic IMSA GT Cars

Winner – Rusty French, Mt Eliza, Victoria – 1979 Porsche 935

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