MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

Jim Palam set his GPS and focus on WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as he headed out into a dense morning fog to capture the action and excitement of Monterey Car Week’s largest event – historic car racing at MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

I consider myself a good driver but I was unusually nervous heading into a heavy fog shrouding the long, ridgetop South Boundary Road that leads to the admissions checkpoint at Laguna Seca. The unforgiving fog was one thing, but the realization that I had left my camera backup batteries and charger at the motel I had just checked out of was a foolish mistake – and now there was no turning back. I had just 15 minutes to make it to the Photographer’s Safety Meeting where I’d pick up my wristband and track-issued photographer’s vest. Without these items there would be no trackside shooting or hot pit access.

The good news was that I wasn’t the only media person running a little behind as the fog had slowed the start-up activities for the day’s racing. By 7:45 AM however, I could hear what sounded like the crackle of a twin-turbo running some hot practice laps on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course. By 8:15 AM I was on a volunteer shuttle that brought me up to turns 8 and 8A, the famous Laguna Seca Corkscrew. It was now time to shoot and I had to make do with one battery.

Heading down from the Corkscrew I ran into comedian, filmmaker, collector, driver Adam Corolla in the Paddock area. He was kind enough to pose for a photo, above, right, beside one of his Paul Newman racecars – ’74 Porsche 911S. Corolla and his Newman 911S come out of Turn 4, below, in hot pursuit of a mid-field position in a Group 3A race. This is the car that was driven by Newman and Freeman in 1977  at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

The Corkscrew is a dive-bombing, roller-coaster series of quick turns featuring a blind crest and a 59-foot drop in elevation beginning in Turn 8 with a quick exit at Turn 8A. In other words, it’s one of motorsports’ most challenging and thrilling turns – and the perfect backdrop for this rare ‘60 Tipo 61 Camoradi Birdcage Maserati.

Stu Hanssen blasts down the Rahall Straight, seconds away from entering the infamous Corkscrew, in his Group 4A ’51 Baldwin Special. Powered by an Ardun-converted Flathead, it’s the same car he’s driven to Cars & Coffee gatherings in the Santa Ynez Valley area. A loose Panhard Bar slowed him down in the turns, but he still finished a very respectable Sixth.

Remember that early morning twin-turbo practice run I heard? Well, here’s the beautiful noise-maker. Turns out driver Zak Brown was giving the viewers of The Racer Channel some helmet-view thrills from inside Car No. 18, as he repeatedly tickled the redline during a spirited run around a foggy Laguna Seca. I caught him blasting the flat nose Porsche 935 JLP-3 later in the day out of Turn 4.

MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!Race Time! A mustachioed Ragtime Racer and his mechanic are all smiles as they get ready to hit the course for Saturday’s Ragtime Racers exhibition for Historic pre-1920 racecars. Fans loved watching the procession from the Paddock area to the track where they huffed and puffed their way over the hills, down the straights and through the 11 turns of Laguna Seca!

There’s no racing on the track until you get your car to the track. Back in the 1940s that may have been accomplished on the back deck of a sturdy Ford COE racecar hauler like this modified beauty on display in the Paddock area.

Racers are passionate about everything related to motorsports, and they often bring more than their enthusiasm to the track; they also tend to bring their “stuff” – like this ­pricey ‘40 Big Tank Crocker motorcycle.

MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!Motorsports racing is typically a heavily-funded team effort, but the nice thing about the Rolex Reunion is that you can be a privateer and still have a blast. Here a racer makes a last-minute adjustment on his beautiful Jaguar E-Type Competition Coupé.

Donald Anderson’s ‘64 Bobsy SR3 Sports Roadster. Sleek Bobsy lightweight SCCA racecars were originally created by Jerry Mong in collaboration with brothers Alan and Kaye Heir.

POTUS in the Paddock! What a surprise to see President Biden readying his Triumph TR2 at Laguna Seca! OK, this really isn’t Car Guy Joe; I added the Presidential patch just for giggles!

One of my favorite racecar liveries is on the famous Al Unser driven Indy 500 Lola. The bright yellow Johnny Lightning bolts on deep candy blue paint is electrifying. Thrilled to see this legend at the Reunion!

Mechanic Chris Clarke kneels by his racecar “responsibility” – the famous Hans Stuck driven ‘74 March 741 early ’70s tall air-scoop F1 racer. The bright orange Jägermeister livery has adorned Formula 1 and German Touring Cars for decades of championship racing.

This is the interior of the rare Car No. 33 Centurion competition roadster. Its Sting Ray-influenced body was designed by Bud Goodwin and built by Fiberfab Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA in 1964. The original Sting Ray Racer was designed by Peter Brock in 1958, years prior to production ’63 Corvette Sting Rays.

No, this isn’t a motor that would have powered any of the historic cars at Laguna Seca, but it was on trackside display for its historical significance. This is the brutish 2,000 horsepower supercharged Chrysler Hemi that sits forward of the driver in the famous ‘64 Fuller/Roberts Starlite III Top Fuel Dragster. Lots of Golden oldies at  MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

Ford delivered an impressive display of style and performance both on the track and in the Paddock viewing areas. The brought a fleet of historic racers – including the legendary Holman & Moody GT40, P/1016 that finished Third at Le Mans in 1966, from the Shelby-American Collection, Boulder, CO. It’s owned by the Miller Family Foundation.

During my limited time at MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION! I marveled at our rich motorsports history and wondered what its future is going to look like. As I photographed this current Ford GT, I kept thinking: The future might be hybrid, it might be electric, it might be virtual, or it could even be autonomous? Whatever it evolves to I’m pretty sure it will continue to be a shared participant experience, and it will continue to be exciting!

Words & Photos ©Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

Check out MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION! and a calendar of events at Laguna Seca @https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway

ANTIQUE RACECARS: CELEBRATED AT LAGUNA SECA

Ragtime Racers will celebrate pre-1920 achievements on and off Laguna Seca – ANTIQUE RACECARS: CELEBRATED AT LAGUNA SECA – at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion during Monterey Car Week.

ANTIQUE RACECARS: CELEBRATED AT LAGUNA SECAThe need for speed abruptly began when the second automobile was built. To help celebrate these early beginnings of motorsports, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will celebrate the early days of racing with a lively interactive exhibit of pre-1920 racers that helped cement motorsports’ place in history.

The Ragtime Racers will not be a static display of antique race cars. Owners and riding mechanics will don the racing gear of the day, fire up their cars’ engines and run daily race exhibitions to show fans these old cars are not for show, but can still come alive to tackle the hills of Laguna Seca.

Affectionately known as the Ragtime Racers, group organizer Brian Blain explains it is about educating guests about the rich motorsports history of the time period. “We encourage entrants to spend time sharing the history of their cars, allow photos behind the wheel and display tools and equipment from the period as well,” Blain said. “We want it to be a time warp for spectators to see and enjoy.”

When not on track, the cars will still be revving in their pit, crews will be conducting pit stop demonstrations, engine rebuilds and providing guests tours each day. “Our reward is engaging with fans and in knowing that we shared a piece of history with someone new,” Blain added.

The range of the cars in the display will be a treasure trove of history. Among the invited cars are:

1908 Chalmers-Detroit – This is in rare original condition, as found five years ago, and has been mechanically restored for racing but retains its original 112-year-old paint and rust. It is the only surviving Chalmers-Detroit racecar in existence and has not been seen in public for 100 years. It was driven by L. B. Lorimer in the Savannah Races in 1908 and later competed in the Cobe Trophy Races in Crown Point, Indiana.

1909 Locomobile – This car is one of only two Model “I” racers built by the Locomobile factory. It finished 3rd in the Cobe Trophy race driven by George Robertson. A four-cylinder engine cast out of bronze powers it, and power is transferred to the rear wheels by large roller chains and sprockets.

1911 National – This car was a participant in the first Indy 500 in 1911 where it finished 7th driven by Charlie Merz. It is one of three factory-built racers entered in that race and is powered by a huge 4-cylinder engine displacing 450 cubic inches. It has been clocked at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 100 mph.

1913 Bugatti T-22 – Possibly the oldest Bugatti racecar running in the United States, this Bugatti is one of only 10 ever built and capable of 4,000 rpm and 75 mph. It is powered by a revolutionary (at the time) four-cylinder motor with overhead cam and four valves per cylinder. It had not run since 1920 until recently undergoing a 1,900-hour restoration.

“The Ragtime Racers exhibition is one of several new features added to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion weekend,” commented Barry Toepke, director of heritage events and public relations. “Our entire team is determined to wow everyone who enters WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Safely enhancing the guest experience is our top priority.”

The annual historic race will be held August 12-15 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. For more information about ANTIQUE RACECARS: CELEBRATED AT LAGUNA SECA and the calendar of events, please visit https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway

NITRO REVIVAL: DRAG CARS AT LAGUNA SECA!

NITRO REVIVAL: DRAG CARS AT LAGUNA SECA!

Spring Classic hosts vintage Nitro-fueled drag cars and legendary racers from the 1960s to 1990s.

NITRO REVIVAL: DRAG CARS AT LAGUNA SECA!The distinct cackle of Nitro Revival will be coming to the Monterey Peninsula during the second annual Spring Classic on May 18-20. The gathering of vintage and restored Nitro-fueled drag cars and legendary drag racing personalities will take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the iconic facility’s vintage racing event. Feature activity will occur on Saturday, May 19. Nitro Revival: Drag Cars At Laguna Seca celebrates motorsports eras from the Sixties to the Nineties.

Nitro Revival brings the sights and sounds of the early days of front-engine Top Fuel dragsters and other organized hot rod racing back to life with a large lineup of fully restored machines. It serves as a reunion for racers from that era and gives fans the experience of a drag racing museum come to life. Fuelers will do push starts with period-correct push start vehicles and burnouts. There will also be a large turnout of classic street rods and hot rods. The Saturday event will close with a “Line of Fire” that will have the cackling sounds of vintage drag cars echoing through the rolling hills of the scenic Monterey Peninsula.

NITRO REVIVAL: DRAG CARS AT LAGUNA SECA!“Nitro Revival is a unique car show with unique vehicles that celebrate drag racing,” said Steve Gibbs, Nitro Revival producer. “Laguna Seca is an iconic place with a facility that can accommodate the growth of Nitro Revival, and we are able to add a historical drag race element to their event. There is a lot of drag racing history on the Central Coast and Bay Area. Monterey also has a lot to offer as a destination.”

Nitro Revival will enhance the paddock experience of the three-day vintage race held May 18-20. The 11 run groups of approximately 200 historically-correct sports and racecars that will run on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course during the Spring Classic range from 1966-‘74 Can-Am to 1974-‘94 Stock Cars to Historic Motorcycle exhibitions.

For more information about Nitro Revival and other events at Laguna Seca, please visithttp://www.mazdaraceway.com/

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