As WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca celebrates its 65th racing season, we take a look back at some of the LEGENDS OF LAGUNA SECA, the iconic characters who helped mold the mystique of the now world-renowned race track.

LEGENDS OF LAGUNA SECAIn 1960, Laguna Seca had three years of racing under its belt and started to form into an elite racing venue. Its competitions often attracted not only the best drivers in the U.S., but around the world. Beginning that October, the Pacific Grand Prix implemented an innovative way to race. The competition was divided into two 200-mile heats, with a 30-minute break in between. This time was used for repairs on the cars which struggled in the first heat, and to tune up the ones that finished. Let’s focus some of the LEGENDS OF LAGUNA SECA:

Enter Sir Stirling Moss – a London native who was downshifting into the twilight of his International Motorsports Hall of Fame career in the early 1960s. Moss won 212 races between 1948-1962, including 16 Formula One Grand Prix events. Two of those 212 wins came in the 1960 and 1961 Pacific Grand Prix, where he went back-to-back. Moss would return to Laguna Seca later in his life to take part in the Rolex Motorsports Reunion.

As Moss took the trophy home during the 1960 Pacific Grand Prix, the man who finished second to Moss in the overall results was taking his final competitive laps.

 Carroll Shelby navigated the Laguna Seca course in car No. 98, a bright red Maserati Tipo 61, in the final race of his legendary career, which was cut short due to heart problems. Shelby finished fifth in the first heat and fourth in the second to place only behind Moss as the two icons went one-two in the final standings.

Shelby became notorious for popping nitroglycerin tablets to ease chest pains from a chronic heart condition. After finishing second to Moss, Shelby complained to the press that he would have won the damned thing had he not had to slow down to take his heart medications while driving.

Footage of that race can be seen @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/smuckatelli/4929779422?mc_cid=24ef720990&mc_eid=ef6f751cd9

The most famous drive of the 1961 season didn’t happen on the Laguna Seca pavement – but rather at the Mark Thomas Inn hotel pool. Yes, you read that right. Augie Pabst, fueled by adult beverages and a bet from Roger Penske and Walt Hansgen, drove his Hertz rental car into the hotel pool.

“I said, ‘Augie, you’ve had a really bad day. I bet you $100 that you won’t drive your rental car into the swimming pool,’” Penske later recalled. “So, sure enough, Augie stripped down to his undershorts, got in his rental car and drove right down between the diving board and into the pool. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen!”

The car was totally submerged, and unfortunately for Hansgen, he had forgotten to take his camera out of the trunk first. The following day the car was removed from the pool, and both Hertz and the Mark Thomas Inn – which is now the Hyatt Regency – received more publicity than they ever could’ve dreamed of as a result of the prank. When the group returned to the hotel the following year, the staff had placed a floating “NO PARKING” sign in the pool. The late 1960s saw high-powered muscle cars take over at Laguna Seca, as the Trans Am series roared into Monterey in 1969.

Mark Donohue became a fixture on the podium at Laguna Seca, as he captured the final USRRC race ever held in Monterey in 1968 behind the wheel of Roger Penske’s McLaren M6A. Donohue would go on to clinch the 1968 USRRC title, which was his second in a row.

The always popular Donohue also found great success in the Trans Am series. Behind the wheel of a Camaro Z/28, he won the inaugural Over 2000-cc race at Laguna Seca in 1969, which also clinched his second consecutive Trans Am series championship.

For more about the LEGENDS OF LAGUNA SECA and all eight 2022 premier events at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, please visit https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway


Among the many makes and models eligible for the SALOON GROUP: 2022 ROLEX MONTEREY HISTORICS is this ‘67 Alfa Romeo GTA, which Brandon Adrian drove at the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.


Visitors to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 17-20 will see a decidedly European staple rev to life. The historic Saloon (or Touring) car race group is an exciting class that always produces an interesting variety of cars when they race at equally legendary tracks like Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans. Now they’re setting their sights on America and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“The Advisory Council has been discussing new classes of racing for a while to keep each Rolex Reunion fresh for both drivers and visitors,” explained Bruce Canepa, co-chair of the Advisory Council, which also oversees car selection. “The Saloon group perfectly complements the four Le Mans-focused groups, as well as our signature groups like Historic Trans-Am and Formula One. It is going to be a spectacular experience.”

Eligible cars range from the Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce and Lotus Cortina to the MG Magnette and Wolseley Hornet. “The variety of cars that are being submitted for entry consideration is impressive and entertaining,” Canepa added.

Saloon cars are road-going close-bodied models that have been heavily modified for racing. The purpose of adding this group is to begin establishing it as a regular attraction that can be rotated with others from year to year.

The 2022 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion celebrates the start of a yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the world’s most famous sports car race – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Of the 12 race groups, four are dedicated to cars that raced at Le Mans or were eligible to race in period. The groups span from 1923 all the way through the blindingly fast Le Mans Prototypes seen between 1981 and 2005.

Visitors to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion can expect to see the world’s best authentic and historic cars with period-correct livery in the paddock and on track. The four-day celebration, which begins on Wednesday, August 17, and concludes on Saturday, August 20, is preceded by two days of the Monterey Pre-Reunion, August. 13 and 14, where many of the same cars compete.

For more information on SALOON GROUP: 2022 ROLEX MONTEREY HISTORICS and other events for 2022, please visit https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway

Velocity: Invitational Motorsports Festival

There are times when even a serious car guy needs a little nudge to get up early and head out in the dark to cover a motorsports event. So, we’re happy to report that our Jim Palam saw the light, set his alarm and got the story for us! Here’s his coverage of the Velocity: Invitational Motorsports Festival, where legendary cars, drivers and fans soaked up the sun and racing fuel at Laguna Seca!

Velocity: Invitational Motorsports Festival

Velocity is a vector quantity that refers to “the rate at which an object changes its position.” Turns out, that’s a good thing because it was “Velocity” that made me change my mind at the last minute and agree to go cover Saturday events at the Velocity: Invitational Motorsports Festival at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Even though I was looking forward to doing nothing that weekend, there I was at 5:30 AM riding shotgun in my neighbor John Adams’ ’16 Shelby GT350 Mustang heading north, in the dark, in the fog.

John races vintage sports cars in VARA events, so the road trip conversation was rapid, illuminating, and pretty much all about fast cars. Before I knew it, we were already in the paddock and talking to John’s friend Bob Kullas who was racing his Chevron B-16 later in the day. Bob’s Chevron, right, last of the 23-built, weighs about 1,300 pounds and gets 260 horsepower from its Cosworth 2 L YBM motor.

It was now 9:00 AM, the weather couldn’t have been any nicer and the entirety of the raceway was beginning to fire-up. Attendance was strong but not as packed as the bigger Laguna Seca events, so there was easier access to festival offerings like wine tastings, supercar demonstration rides and panel discussions – but Bob & I were here for the cars – the fast cars. Since I was on-assignment and headed trackside, we went off on our own adventures for the day. We would re-connect later in the day with big grins on our faces and new stories to tell.

Kudos to the Velocity: Invitational Motorsports Festival event organizer Jeff O’Neill and his hard-working team for making this three-day motorsport festival a world-class event that would please both drivers and spectators. There were 9 race groups, a Ragtime Racers special exhibition group and a special night race pitting 20 spunky Minis up against six mighty Mustangs. If they launch this festival again in 2022 be sure to vector your velocity and set the direction to Laguna Seca.

One of Saturday’s highlights for me was spending some time with the Porsche 917 when the Canepa Team fired it up in the Porsche exhibition area. I then made it over to the Cooper Tire bridge and positioned myself trackside for this shot of Car # 2, lead photo, top, as it accelerated hard coming out of turn No. 4. So, does its powerful Flat-12 motor sing? Just think Metallica meets Pavarotti: it’s loud and delicious ear candy!

One of many spectacular cars I discovered at this awesome event was the Czinger 21C, arguably one of the most technologically-advanced Hypercars produced. Designed and built in Los Angeles by human and AI systems, its flat-plane crank V8 and e-motors deliver a peak output of 1,250 horsepower. To learn more, go to https://www.czinger.com

“At this time there is nothing in the world any quicker, any better handling, any more advanced technically, or any more fun to drive. It is, to me, the perfect race car,” said Mark Donohue, discussing the integrated perfection of the Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder in 1973. The car was so powerful and dominant that it forced officials to change the rules for the Can-Am Series back in the 1970s. Here’s the blue and yellow legend charging through Turn 4 during one of the many Velocity exhibition races.

One of the big draws to the Velocity Invitational was the promise of special exhibitions from famous race teams, like McLaren Racing and its Formula 1 racecars. I made the mistake of stopping by their tidy and well-appointed garage to grab this shot of the ear-splitting McLaren MP4/13. This is the car that Mika Häkkinen, The Flying Finn, piloted to win the Australian Grand Prix in 1998. My mistake was not wearing ear plugs!

Another legendary McLaren on display and on the track at the was the Lewis Hamilton driven, slope-nosed McLaren MP4-27. I caught it roaring out of Turn 3 on Saturday morning. MP4-27 was also driven by Jenson Button and made its racing debut at the 2012 Australian Grand Prix.

Velocity: Invitational Motorsports FestivalI had just positioned myself behind the Start/Finish line K-rail at Laguna Seca when I caught a flash of red coming up behind me on pit row. It’s not often you see a Concours quality Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta on the race course – particularly one without a racing number. If you crash your 250 GT, you’ll be looking at $9M and up to replace it – if you’re lucky enough to find one. Part of the beauty of the Invitational was the inclusion of historically significant race cars and priceless collector cars like this perfect 250 GT.

Not to be outdone by McLaren, Porsche also made a big splash with a large and impressive presentation of some of its iconic racecars – including the L&M ‘72 Porsche 917/10-003, driven by George Follmer to win the 1972 Can-Am championship. In this twin-turbo 12 cylinder Can-Am screamer, George won at Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca. One of the goals of this car was to promote Porsche Audi dealerships in North America.

This beautiful ’57 Porsche 356A raced Southern California & Arizona SCCA E/Production in the late-1960s and through the 1980s. It also competed in the Benson Arizona Hill Climb and numerous rallies. The car was restored for vintage racing by Mike McNally in 2003 and later sold to Paul Frame in 2008 who continues to crank the car’s 1,620-cc, 4-cylinder motor to high revs in Western States vintage racing events.

Velocity: Invitational Motorsports FestivalIf you just looked at the curved nose, or should we say “beak” of this iconic Indy car you might be able to guess that it’s a vintage Eagle. Indy fans would recognize that this is Dan Gurney’s famous 1966 Indianapolis Eagle. This was his first Eagle (chassis #20), originally fitted with a 255-inch Ford V8 and was an AAR (All American Racers) entry at the 1966 Indy 500.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about 190 mph Superbikes on America’s greatest racing courses? If you’re thinking tall and thin Supermodels holding big umbrellas you’d be partially right! MotoAmerica brought their leggy showmanship plus eight of their top riders to the Velocity Invitational to put on exhibitions of racing skills and paddock area panache. Its racers blasted the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca course on powerful Superbikes and high-performance V-Twin Baggers.

Four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes is on the outside on P1 as he leads MotoAmerica teammates Bobby Fong on P2 and David Anthony on P3 in a knee-scraping charge coming out of Turn 10 during Saturday’s exhibition race.

This extremely rare ‘51 Lancia B20-GT Competition ‘low-roof’ racecar was driven by Felice Bonetto in the 1951 and 1952 La Carrera Panamericana, which had the unfortunate distinction as the most dangerous and deadly race in the world. I’m guessing the hub caps would have been removed from Car No. 91 for racing, but they added just the right touch of sparkle as it motored politely through the paddock area Saturday morning.

This McLaren Senna GTR in custom Gulf livery was just one of the audacious cars one could discover at Velocity. Its Neon Orange wheels are reminiscent of the McLaren Special Operations team’s Super Series 675LT livery. Early Velocity Invitational marketing efforts hinted at lots of flamboyance from event partner McLaren – including their historic McLaren F1 race cars and a chance for some lucky fans to strap in and experience the ‘98 MP4/98T two-seat Formula 1 demonstration car for a thrilling ride around the circuit.

The Shelby Daytona Coupe was the brainchild of designer Peter Brock and only six were ever built. It’s not only their rarity but their place in American racing history that makes the chance of owning one slim to none – unless you’re the son of Walmart founder, Sam Walton. This is Rob Walton’s ‘65 Shelby Daytona Coupe, the same $15-million racecar he crashed in 2012. Deep pockets and a love of racing has kept this Weber-carbed, 289-powered icon on the track and in the public eye for years.

I captured this resting shot of a genuine, factory-built 914/6 GT early Saturday morning before the paddock area began to buzz with activity. One of only 16 customer cars for 1970, this racing legend was sold new to French-Canadian automotive journalist and racing driver, Jacques Duval. It was first raced at the 24 Hours of Daytona by Duval and co-drivers Bob Bailey and George Nicholas. In 2020 this racing “Teener” sold for $1M at the Gooding Auction and it’s still being raced.

Velocity: Invitational Motorsports FestivalIt has seating for three, electrochromatic glass that darkens at the touch of a button, a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, a 4.0-liter V8 Twin-Turbo with electric motor, and a claimed top-speed of 250.4 mph. It’s the drop-dead gorgeous McLaren Speedtail that was introduced in 2018 in a very limited edition of just over 100 cars. Ironically, it is not street legal in the United States due in part to its lack of side mirrors and no side-mounted airbags. And yet, 35% of the Speedtails built were sold to U.S. customers!

The “Ragtime Racers” are an exhibition group for pre-1920 race cars. They travel to various events across the U.S. and Canada. While they may not have been the fastest cars at the Velocity Invitational, they certainly were among the most popular. Fans in the paddock area applauded as the well-rehearsed, white-coverall-clad pit crews climbed in and around, over and under their behemoth speed machines prior-to and after races.

Velocity: Invitational Motorsports FestivalIt was approximately 1:30 PM on Saturday and I was tucked behind the K-Rails near Turn 4 waiting for the Porsche 914 Exhibition Laps when I heard what sounded like a whining lawn mower heading my way. That’s when I spotted them, go-kart size single-seaters that had been hand-made to look like 1920s and 1930s racecars. I was up-close and trackside for the Cyclekart Grand Prix! I couldn’t stop smiling as I grabbed some action shots and realized that while Velocity is the rate at which an object changes its position, that motion can sometimes be relaxed – and a whole bunch of fun!

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

For more information about the Velocity: Invitational Motorsports Festival, please visit https://velocityinvitational.com/


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!


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


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