Pizazz, performance & provenance at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7.

How do you know if a niche motorsports event is successful? Well for one, it’s 6 AM and you’re seeing cars parked all over the hills that surround the event location – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey County, California. And then you begin to see signs along the entry roads stating “General Admission and Paddock SOLD OUT.” After reading that I stared down at the media pass and parking permit sitting at-the-ready on my passenger seat and took a deep breath. “I’m good” I thought, and 15 minutes later I was walking through a corridor of super-sized and super-cool Porsche graphics that adorned the walls of the entry paths and the new Start/Finish bridge at Laguna Seca.

Porsche agreed to hold its PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7 and 75th  Year Heritage Celebration at Laguna Seca under the conditions that major improvements be made at the track. And WeatherTech complied: Not only is there the new Start/Finish bridge that can now accommodate carts and pedestrians, but the famous 2.238-mile track has been completely repaved. When I photographed tall Malcolm Ross who was the Rennsport 7 driver of the famous Rothmans ’85 Porsche 962c-003 pictured above, he smiled broadly and gave me a “Thumb’s Up” after I asked him how the repaved track feels. Malcolm’s family owns Ross Racing and an impressive collection of iconic race cars, including the Rothmans Racing car No. 1.Porsche’s heralded racing history may make it difficult for us to think about Porsche as a gilded luxury brand, but the many TAG Heuer Porsche, cross-promotion efforts that were on display under the ‘TAG Heuer Heritage Experience’ exhibition tent in the paddock were unapologetic in their messages of racing and refinement. This sexy and svelte ‘TAG Heuer x Porsche – Legends of Panamericana’ Sonderwunsch project car is a one-of-two, specially prepared 718 Cayman GT4 RS’s that will be participating in the upcoming Carrera Panamericana race this October 13th -19th. Look for Patrick Dempsey to be behind the wheel of Sonderwunsch cars in media promotions for these two luxury brands and in the fabled Mexican endurance race.There was a heavy mist and at times rain showers on Saturday, Day 3 of the 4-day PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7 – but that did not dampen spirits or stop the activities at Laguna Seca. While some attendees ducked under tents and umbrellas, I waddled around the paddock seeking photo ops, now that fewer people were surrounding celebrated cars like the race-winning Penske 963 Porsche Car No. 7 featured here. This icon helped secure a one-two victory for Penske, finishing 2nd at the recent IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Porsche colleagues Matt Campbell from Australia and Felipe Nasr from Brazil were the drivers.PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7Dreams do come true. Thirty years ago, Porsche collector Cameron Healy discovered a little red Porsche Gmünd roadster at the Monterey Historics. His interest in the car became an obsession and when the previous owner died in 2009, Cameron acquired the car. It turned out to be one of the three examples Porsche entered in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans – and the aluminum body car that took First Place in the 1100-cc class. Healy would then oversee a long and exacting restoration bringing the Gmünd back to its original coupe body configuration and 1951 Le Mans specifications. What a thrill to meet Cameron and photograph the historic Porsche 356/SL Gmünd Coupe at Rennsport!The PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7 broke records, attracting close to 100,000 attendees who traveled from all corners of the globe to participate in the Porsche Heritage fun and excitement. Of course, there was lots of racing; Rennsport is German for racing. There were more than 300 racecar entries – like Bob Campbell’s shiny and speedy Porsche ‘Special’, captured here bombing into turn 5 early Sunday morning. Over the course of 4 days racers competed across seven different classes on the repaved WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca circuit.Prayers and Praise. One of the more eye-catching racecars at Rennsport, and frankly any event it’s raced or displayed at, is the famous American Le Mans winning, DHL supported Porsche RS Spyder Type 9R6 car No. 5. The 9R6 was designed by Porsche in conjunction with Penske to compete in Le Mans Prototype Class 2 (LMP2) racing. It debuted in the 2005 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Laguna Seca, winning its class. When I reviewed my photos of the car when it was parked on pit lane for the Concours display, I discovered its caretaker in a reverent kneeling pose, and a photographer seemingly floating like an angel above its rear wing.PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7One of the longer and lower Porsche racing history icons on display in the TAG Heuer sponsored Heritage Display Tent was the ‘68 Porsche Type 907 LH (Langheck). Chassis 907-005 is one of just eight Langhecks (longtails) built, and is the first Porsche ever to win a 24-hour endurance race. It was a four-time entry at Le Mans, winning its class in 1971, and a top five competitor at Sebring and Monza. Engines: In 1967, a 2.0 L Flat-Six; In 1968, a 2.2 L Flat-Eight.What classic is in your carguy garage? Now wouldn’t it be cool if we all had the money and the means to put a significant piece of racing technology and racing lore in our garages? I think I’d like to pull this Porsche 919 Hybrid into mine. It’s a jaw-dropping Le Mans Prototype 1 racecar entered by Porsche in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship seasons. In this configuration, power comes from a Porsche 9R9 2.0 L direct-injected, turbocharged V4 engine with a lithium-ion battery for energy recovery – and is delivered via a 7-speed gearbox to a 4WD system.There was a lot of excitement and eye-candy at the Saturday evening Pit Lane Concours at PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7. More often than not a car’s provenance delivers a proportional amount of pizazz – as is the case with this goosebumps-delivering ’97 Porsche 993 GT2. Acquired new by Larry Schumacher in 1997 it is a 1997 GTS-2 and 1998 GT2 Champion out of the Schumacher Racing stable. Yeah, it’s pretty, but its turbocharged 3,600-cc Flat Six engine produces over 600 horsepower. This awesome Porsche was sold at a Gooding & Company auction in 2021 for $460,000.Know in racing circles as the “Jager Bomb” this Porsche 962c chassis 117 has been wowing motorsports crowds since its debut in 1985. Swiss racing team Brun Motorsports competed with the car as a privateer team. Car No. 17 has a rich racing history having raced in the World Sports Prototype Championship from 1986 to 1989. It finished 2nd in its class at La Mans, was victorious at Spain’s Circuito Permanente de Jerez, and achieved an overall win at Belgium’s 1000-km Spa-Francorchamps in 1986. What a thrill to see it wow the crowds at Rennsport 7!Jim McCann’s silver Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racecar charges into turn 5 at Laguna Seca Sunday morning, midway through the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Race 1. The Carrera Cup is a racing series that ran in conjunction with the PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7 at Laguna Seca. Sunday’s two Carrera Cup races represented rounds 13 and 14 of the 2023 North America series. Jim’s car No. 83 is out of the McCann Racing team and automotive performance shop of Akron, Ohio. From 1990 to the end of 2019, Porsche produced and prepared a total of 4,251 GT3 Cup racecars.Its beverage is known as The Champagne of Beer, but its Miller 962 was known as the fastest 962 in the world back in 1989. With wins at the Daytona 24 Hours, the Porsche Cup and the Palm Beach GP, Porsche 962-108C is the chassis that racing historians consider the fastest 962 ever produced. So, it was no surprise that I had to press my way through a wall of excited fans to grab a photo of this iconic machine. During its winning season, Derek Bell, Bob Wollek and John Andretti piloted the Miller Livery 962-108C.True Confession: I do not know who the driver of this Porsche 550 Spyder is, but I do know he is one lucky guy to be sitting behind the wheel of the car that helped write Porsche’s early racing history. The hand-built 550 was introduced at the Paris Salon Car Show in 1953. Over the years some well-known names have driven 550 Spyders, including racing legends Jack McAfee, Ken Miles and Wolfgang Seidel. And, of course the 550 legend would explode internationally when the Spyder known as the Little Bastard crashed on September 30th of 1955, killing owner/driver James Dean.Girls just want to have fun! The Ginther Racing E-Production 914-4 makes its way onto the Pit Lane Concours display on September 30th. This high-visibility Teener has a number of unique features, perhaps the most obvious, its racing windshield from the Aircraft Windshield Company. Another pertinent fact is that the current owners at Frank Racing always bring a spare motor to track events – which turned out to be a good idea when they blew engine No. 1 at Rennsport. Undaunted, the girls and the team replaced the motor in the paddock and everyone got back to having fun!The Fast & The Luxurious. In 1958, when news of the Porsche 356A Carrera’s ability to hit 200 km/h (124.27 mph) spread to the general public, non-racers started to place orders. To placate the racing crowd, Porsche divided the series into De Luxe GS (with the luxury of a heater) and Gran Turismo (a stripped and lightened GT for racers). Further performance choices were offered such as a lighter Speedster model – like the ’58 356A Carrera GT Speedster featured here, competition axel and compression ratios, aluminum hoods and decklids, and of course, a full-race 1600-cc RS-60 engine option.The bold and beautiful, blue and gold livery on this ’76 Porsche 934 is one of my favorites. It’s easily recognizable from the spectator seats yet still understated by today’s anything-goes paradigm. Bosch-supported Car 14 was number 22 of 31 934s built by Porsche. It was raced in the 1976 Trans-Am Series, 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring – racking-up four podium finishes. Power is from a 3.0 Liter, single turbo Flat-Six. This car underwent a full ground-up restoration that was completed in 2020.The Porsche 910 racecar was produced from 1966 to 1967. Its design was based on the Porsche 906. Only 29 were produced and its racing history was limited to one year due to the fact that its racing rivals – the Ferrari Dino 206 and the powerful Ford GT40 – were simply better and faster. This 1967 example on display at PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7 is chassis 910-018. It was raced across Europe with Hans-Dieter Blatzheim and later acquired by the Hollywood Cigarettes racing team in Brazil.PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7If we had to pick our favorite vehicle at the PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7 simply based on the total number of scale models produced in its likeness, then the smile-inducing VW T1 Rennstall Bunker transporter would have to be the winner. This one-off, extended wheelbase T1 was fabricated in the mid-1950s for Art’s Sports and Utility Motors of Kansas City, MO. It’s my understanding that the original was lost but this carefully-crafted replica tours tracks and shows today with its vintage Porsche Spyder on-board.If you’re not a Porsche zealot you may be surprised to learn that when Ferdinand Porsche founded his pre-war engineering and automotive company in Stuttgart in 1931, a good deal of the work was related to tractor designs featuring both gas and diesel powerplants. Post-war manufacturing restrictions hampered much of what Porsche was trying to accomplish, but ultimately the company did manufacture technologically-advanced tractors between 1956 and 1963 – with more than 125,000 examples produced. So of course, no true Porsche Reunion could be complete without a Porsche Tractor Race. I grabbed this Staging Lane shot as the tractors were lining-up for Tractor Race No. 1 on Saturday.The PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7 was a really big deal. From the record-breaking crowds to the races and racing legends in attendance – plus special events like the Doobie Brothers concert in the paddock, the global debut of the Porsche 911 GT3 R, kid-friendly activities, arcade games, tractor races, TAG-Heuer/Porsche Heritage displays, a coloring wall of Porsche cars, autograph sessions, and the coming-together of the global Porsche community, and, along with the screening of the new Transformers movie Rise of the Beasts, a presence in the paddock of building-size replicas of the movie’s principal characters – like this Big Guy here who apparently had to wait in line like us humans to grab an autograph from his favorite Porsche legend!

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

For more information about PORSCHE RENNSPORT REUNION 7, please visit  https://www.porscherennsportreunion.com

Check out upcoming events @  https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway


CGC’s Jim Palam presents highlights from events that fill the most exciting week on the concours and historic racing calendar, MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023.


 “Suddenly, as if by magic, the cars appeared!” I have to admit that I was like a kid at a magic show when I took in the sights, sounds, pomp and pizazz of MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023. How the organizers, presenters, participants and attendees managed to all come together to revel, rejoice, race and reward in the relatively limited confines and congested roadways of Monterey and Carmel is at times mystifying. Top photo, Kode61 Birdcage Concept; Left, Dea Wison, President, Ferrari Club of America, Sacramento Chapter.

For those who have attended Car Week you know that you’ll need a bag of tricks and another bag of money to secure accommodations anywhere within 50 miles of Monterey during Car Week. Even though I have more than ten years of practice for this “Room Booking” trick, things did not go as planned when upon my arrival I discovered my motel was well, not the kind of place you’d stay if you care about your health, safety and relationship with the Almighty!

I won’t bore you with the details but the upshot of this discovery forced me to cut my Car Week stay from five days to two. The good news is that those two days included time at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to check out the Heritage Corvettes participating in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the 70th Anniversary of the Corvette – and a gorgeous day at beautiful Pebble Beach to cover the 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. So, clear your mind of all things dull and tedious – because it’s time for a little MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023.Renowned Austrian sports car restoration expert Egon Zweimüller was up before sunrise to drive the loud and fabled ’64 McLaren M1A past the tony Pebble Beach Lodge and onto the show field at the Concours D’Elegance. I chose this grainy photo for this caption because it shows Egon’s high quiff hairdo and sideburns – an homage perhaps to Elvis Presley who drove the M1A in the 1966 motion picture Spinout.” This car was awarded the Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy at Pebble, the award for the most significant car of British origin.What a thrill to rise before sun-up for “Dawn Patrol” and watch historic and fabled cars from bygone eras roll along the entrance road and onto the manicured Pebble Beach show field! This is no illusion I thought as I watched this blue, 2-seater Delahaye 135 CS Competition Spéciale cruise-by. Only 17 examples of this 1930s era racer were ever built. It features a shortened chassis, a powerful in-line 6 cylinder, 170 horsepower motor and race-carved bodywork by Figoni.CGC’s Jim Palam presents highlights from events that fill the most exciting week on the concours and historic racing calendar, MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023.When you build your own car, you have the freedom to design whatever strikes your fancy, and the freedom to name your creation any name you want. Lou Fageol was a bus and truck builder who built a spectacular, streamlined car dubbed the “Supersonic.” That car debuted in 1949, toured the auto shows and ended up stored on the family’s farm. In 1952 Lou’s son Ray reimagined the car with a new body and wrap-around windshield and named the rebuilt car by combining his name and his wife Pat’s name. Fast-track to August 20, 2023 where the Pataray rolled up onto the awards ramp at Pebble Beach to take the Class V: American Dream Cars of the 1950s 3rd Place award.If you’re a “Boomer” you might remember the post-war decade of the 1950s as a truly magical one. In the design world anything was possible and almost everything took on a streamlined, space-age look. This 1953 Kurtiss Sorrell SR-100 Roadster is a great example of 1950s zeitgeist, with its “Looks Fast Sitting Still” sweeping lines. After grabbing this shot during Dawn Patrol the Sorrell grabbed first place in the Class V: American Dream Cars of the 1950s Class at Pebble.Designing sleek automobiles certainly was not just a 1950s paradigm. The 1921 Rumpler Tropenwagen is considered to be one of the first serially produced aerodynamic cars to be manufactured. Take a look out your window now and there’s a good possibility you’ll spot something sleek, albeit likely chiseled as well. When I first got to Laguna Seca on Saturday, I spotted this streamlined beauty atop a trailer making its way to its exhibition spot in the paddock. Corvette historians will recognize the Bill Mitchell helmed, mid-engine, gull-winged 1976 Aerovette. Targeted for a 1980 production run, the Aerovette’s magic just wasn’t there in the eyes of Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McLellan, who instead gave a green light to a new front-engine C4 Corvette for 1984.CGC’s Jim Palam presents highlights from events that fill the most exciting week on the concours and historic racing calendar, MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023.Was GM’s Vice-President of Design Bill Mitchell a motorsport magician? A staunch supporter of Zora Arkus-Duntov, he was the guiding force behind head-turning Corvette racecars when GM was not officially racing, including the 1959 Corvette Stingray XP-87. Its chassis was influenced by the Mercedes 300SL. Power was originally from a high-performance 283 V8. The car achieved 155 mph on a test run with Dick Thompson behind the wheel. Check out my short video of the XP-87 and two other Heritage Corvettes as they were staged for an exhibition run at Laguna Seca.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_txd4kuCEgKnown in racing circles as “The Lightweight Corvette”, 125 Grand Sports were originally planned to be built in the early 1960s; only 5 are currently documented. However, there was a 6th! So yes, I was excited and yes, it was magical to discover the fabled 1963 Corvette Grand Sport #003 sitting in the Heritage Corvettes exhibition tent at Laguna Seca. There’s lots of racing lore surrounding these Grand Sports, the most valuable Corvettes in private collections. These vicious Vettes were built to face off in the GT Class against the then dominating Shelby Cobras.There was another magic-maker at GM in the heydays, Zora Arkus-Duntov, who joined Chevrolet Engineering Research and Development in 1953 as an assistant staff engineer. Not only was he an exceptional engineer, Zora was also a racecar driver who applied his track experience and vision to help build the Corvette’s performance legacy. One of the many Corvette racecars that Zora and his team produced was this bad-to-the-headrest-bullet, magnesium shell, fuel-injected Corvette SS, known within GM as the XP-64. With Juan Manuel Fangio behind the wheel during a practice lap at Sebring in 1957, it turned a 3:27.4 lap. Unfortunately, there were suspension and overheating problems by lap 23 and the XP-64 failed to finish the race.While the words “historic” and “vintage” are used in association with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion that fires-up during Monterey Car Week at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, it’s an illusion to think you won’t see historic and significant racecars running at high speeds around the fabled and freshly-repaved 2.238- mile road course. Then again, there are the Ragtime Racers, a dedicated group of vintage race car owners who charge their 100- year-old machines around the 11 turns and through the Corkscrew to thrill the spectators. The bright yellow No. 7 Lexington is a fan favorite.It’s hard to not notice yellow cars, but it’s almost impossible to ignore a rare and fast Porsche 906E Weinsberg Coupe finished in black and yellow, caution stripes – even if its roof is just 38.6 inches from the ground. This year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance featured a carefully curated display of historically significant Porsches from 1948 to 1973 that included sports and competition cars – like this ready-to-race 1967 906E Weinsberg Coupe from the famous Ingram Porsche Collection in Durham, NC. The 906Es were revised for the 1967 racing season with a change to Bosch fuel injection. Total production was 54 cars.OK, I could have selected a red Ferrari for this spot, but you’ve seen plenty of them, right? So, I’m sticking to our yellow car formula one more time to bring you this stunning, 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione which was beckoning on the lawn in front of Casa Ferrari at Pebble Beach. Now there’s a complicated history for this car with multiple owners since 1960, race entries at Le Mans, Goodwood and Montlhéry and a well-documented restoration. It was originally identified as a 1931 GT and later rechristened as a Comp/60, chassis 2021 GT. That’s the easy part of its provenance; it gets way more complicated. So, I’m just going to finish with stating the obvious: it is one of the most beautiful sports cars ever produced!There’s a certain etiquette that one needs to follow when attending a high-end Concours. It’s markedly different from the behavior on display at the Piggly Wiggly Cars & Coffee! One needs to dress well, be mindful of your language and by all means, do not get in front of a judge who is inspecting a show car. In this shot, owners, judges and car caretakers gather for a “Concours Klatsch” alongside the Peter Mullin Museum’s 1939 Delahaye 165 Figoni et Falaschi Cabriolet at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Note that there are no containers of coffee in this klatsch!The 2025 Mustang GTD is a street-legal, track-ready Supercar that was revealed at the Pebble Beach Concours, and it got lots of attention. You’ll need around $300,000 to buy one and for that you’ll get a true Supercar, that will be initially built by Ford and finished and fine-tuned by the racecar magicians at Multimatic in Canada. According to Ford, “Every line drives unrelenting, aerodynamic performance on the streets — and the track — for a corner-obliterating, pulse-raising experience.” It’s powered by a supercharged 800 horsepower, 5.2L V8 mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. This setup is, according to Ford, “…tuned for monstrous potency on pavement.” Look out…Speaking of Mustangs, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between this beautiful 1956 Ferrari 250 GT’s roof louvers and the mid-1960s Mustang GT Fastback’s louvered roof detail. I was also a bit concerned about identifying this Ferrari based on the show placard that offered only the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT designation. I could not find another 1956 250 GT that has these high, straight and peaked rear fenders – until I found just one 1956 GT that was a prototype for the famous 14-louver 250 GT competition car. If my research is correct, this is the one-off 1956 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Scaglietti Berlinetta. Ferrari experts are encouraged to chime-in.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_txd4kuCEgThe sweeping Art Deco lines of this striking 1937 Peugeot Darl’Mat Pourtout Roadster owe their sexiness to custom sports cars builder Emile Darl’Mat, coach- builder Marcel Pourtout, designer Georges Paulin and their collaboration with Peugeot. Emile had a very supportive relationship with Peugeot and as such they gave him the resources to develop his own sports car. The Darl’Mat had successful runs at Le Mans in 1937 and 1938. A total of 104 Darl’Mats were built in coupe, convertible, roadster and competition roadster styles. It’s estimated that there are 30 remaining today.Ferrari has built over 220,000 cars since its founding by Enzo Ferrari in 1939. The company built its first car in 1940 but it wasn’t until 1948 that we got the first Ferrari road car – the Ferrari 166 Inter. What’s impressive is not the number of cars but the consistent excellence and excitement built into the brand. The first thing I did when I entered the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was check out the Ferrari Monza SP1, a forerunner in Ferrari’s limited edition “Icona” (Icon) line. An Icona showcases modern aesthetics and technologically advanced components to deliver the highest performance possible. The SP1’s V12 engine produces 785 horsepower. Top speed is 186 mph. Thrills, are no doubt unlimited!When this beautiful deep blue convertible rolled past me during Dawn Patrol at Pebble Beach, I at first thought it was a 1950s vintage Italian car sports car. Well, I was right about the decade but I later learned that this is a 1954 Edwards America Convertible. One of only 5 built, the Edwards America was conceived by West Coast sportsman and industrialist Sterling Edwards who hired legendary fabricator Phil Remington and engineer Norman Timbs to make his American Sports Car dream a reality. The bodies were fiberglass, the Rocket V8 motors and transmissions were from Oldsmobile. The design and coachbuilding were exceptional but production costs were astronomical by mid-century comparisons. Sticker prices ran between $5,000 to $8,000, but unfortunately, few buyers ran to the showroom.As I’ve mentioned in previous CarGuyChronicles reports, one of the reasons I love going to automotive events and carguy gatherings is the opportunity it presents to meet fascinating people. During my shortened, two-day stay to produce MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023, I met dozens of wonderful car owners, celebrities, racers, crew members, journalists and support personnel. One of the nicest guys I met is Meguiar’s car care products company CEO Barry Meguiar. He, his wife Karen and friends were standing next to me at Dawn Patrol. Just about every other car driver that passed by yelled out “Hey Barry!” and he knew them all by their first names. Many will also remember Barry as the always smiling host of the successful TV show Car Crazy.PeugeotCar Guy Celebrities are hard to pigeonhole. They come from all walks of life; all parts of the world. Some are wealthy, some are struggling – but all share a passion for motor-powered vehicles. I can’t think of a better car guy contrast than the always smiling, always natty Barry Meguiar and one of the other car guy VIPs I met ‘Urban Outlaw’ and Porsche disciple, Magnus Walker. Magnus is hard to miss: his long dreadlocks cascading down from his straw hat, his long legs covered in worn denim. We met under the Heritage Corvettes tent at Laguna Seca and struck-up a friendly conversation. For a great look into Magnus’ life and Porsche collection, check out Tamir Moscovici’s film Urban Outlaw by going to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdvPwr_77A0A quick shuttle ride from the Pebble Beach Lodge and the Concours is Concours Village, which is billed as a premier location for manufacturer displays. It’s also where you go for speaker panels, automobilia treasures, retail concessions, Will Call and the Media Center. It was here, in the Maybach pavilion that I discovered the monster-truck-size PROJECT MONDO G, the ahh, well, uhm, moon vehicle? OK, I’m not sure how to categorize this creation, but it is a show car collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and fashion-forward puffy garment maker Moncler. I think if we’ve learned anything since Carl Benz applied for his motorized vehicle patent back in 1886, it’s that innovation and progress will sometime confound, sometimes amuse – but almost always amaze. You could say it’s something magical!

MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023 Words & Photos © Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

For more information on MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023, please visit   https://www.seemonterey.com/events/sporting/concours/


42nd Annual WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN’ NATIONALS! slams another ‘homerun’ at the Fairpark in Santa Maria, CA.


 Over the decades that I’ve been traveling the highways and byways of America to participate in or report on motorsports events and gatherings, it’s become more and more obvious that us Car Guys are all on a seemingly endless and sometimes unpredictable journey. Whether it’s setting the clock for 4 AM so you can beat the show traffic to an event, or building a Best of Show custom from a rusty frame you discovered out in a field, our obsession and passion for motorized machines keeps us in perpetual motion as we chase our dreams.

So, I had to chuckle when one of the first cars that caught my eye at the WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN’ NATIONALS! in Santa Maria, CA was South Bay car guy legend Ronnie Ogas’ luggage-laden 56 Chevy Sedan Delivery, Above. On its roof rack you’ll find vintage items, including a surfboard, water skis, Coca-Cola cooler, guitar amp, and a suitcase with “Tijuana Or Bust 1956″ hand-painted on the side. I’m rooting for Ronnie to finally reach his destination in Mexico. By my calculations he’s only got 298 more miles from Santa Maria to finish his excellent adventure.

2023 WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN’ NATIONALS! was a fun, 3-day event that kicked-off on May 26th with the always-popular Friday night “City Cruise” along Broadway in Santa Maria. Saturday and Sunday’s events are held at the Santa Maria Fairpark. They include the outdoor car show, vendor tents, a swap meet, and live music on the performance stage – and indoors – a model car show, vendor booths, Hall of Fame autograph sessions and the Santa Maria Brush Bash. Guest appearances included CHIPs TV co-star Erik Estrada who gifted me one of the better “Hairy Eyeball” poses I’ve seen!

For any journey, a good place to start is behind the wheel. For an excellent adventure it would help if you had a special car with a snazzy wheel – like this clear rim, chrome and gold-plated “Banjo” wheel in Adam Porrino’s beautiful ’39 Cadillac LaSalle Model 50 Opera Coupe. Other tasty touches on Adam’s bare steel body custom are its hand-crafted, bead-rolled dash, door and trunk panels, a 4-inch roof chop, air ride suspension, and power from a modified ’69 Pontiac 350 engine.

West Coast Kustoms was founded by Rich and Penny Pichette in 1981 basically as a California car club that would cruise to places like Palm Springs and Los Angeles. Today West Coast Kustoms has chapters throughout California, Nevada, Arizona, Washington/Oregon and even in New England. While the focus of their well-attended shows is still Kustoms and Sleds from the 1940s and 1950s, you will always find a wide variety of magnificent machines to droll over – like Tom Branch’s Studebaker-powered ’32 Ford roadster. Its 304-inch V8 features four two-barrel Strombergs topped with backdraft scoops, a polished intake manifold and Weiand finned valve covers.

Sometimes a journey is more interesting without a road map, more daring when embarked upon with limited funds. That’s the vibe I got when I took a closer look at this rusty ’35 Dodge 2-Door Sedan. Its hood ornament is from a Plymouth; headlight buckets possibly too long to be ’35 Dodge. And it’s quite likely that the wheelbase of this sedan has been shortened. That I can’t immediately identify this work-in-progress is part of its “What have we got here” appeal. I want to spend more time with it exploring its nuances, its imperfections, it’s raison d être!

Just around the corner, but miles away from the weathered grit of the ’35 Dodge was this finished-to-perfection ’42 Chevrolet Fleetline Special Deluxe Aerosedan. The significance of this fully-loaded Chevy can’t be overstated. It was one of Chevrolet’s best selling premium models before U.S. auto production was redefined and redirected when war was declared on December 7, 1941. Pre-war auto production in 1941 was around 3 million units. During the course of the war only 139 automobiles rolled of the assembly lines. During the war years automakers were tasked with building trucks, tanks, guns and aircraft engines.

WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN' NATIONALS!Speaking of numbers, total Buick production for 1936 was 168,596 units. Only 1,390 of these Buicks were 2-door Sport Coupes – so it’s always exciting to get a chance to inspect one up-close. The owner of this pale-yellow example struggled with the idea of modifying it in any way – but as we know, once the wheels of creativity start spinning it’s almost impossible to not break away from the norm. Astute readers will quickly notice the roof chop and low stance. Power is from its original 223-inch inline 8 which produces 93 horsepower @ 3200 rpm.

One of the nicer guys and Kooler Kustoms on California’s Central Coast is Steve Bowron and his “Ready for Any Journey,” radically customized ’64 International Metro Mite step van. This bad-ass treasure box is a joy to behold both on the show field and rippin’ down the freeway. Its Chevy 350/400 motor/transmission combo easily smokes the tires and transports Steve between his custom cars and custom tile work businesses. The 805 Kustoms Metro made a trip to the WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN’ NATIONALS!  stage over the weekend to pick up an award from Japan’s ONE LOW Magazine. Congrats Steve!

It’s something of a paradox that for all the cruising, racing and traveling that Car Guys do, it’s an absolute necessity that their rides look kool when just parked. Case in point is this sublime ’52 Chevy DeLuxe Hardtop Coupe that was resting comfortably near the outer perimeter of the Santa Maria Fairpark. It sports all the right details like an eleven-tooth custom grill, fabulous chrome and stainless shiny bits, long and low windshield visor, and its gorgeous, metallic teal paint.

WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN' NATIONALS!Chop ’39 is a classic custom built by owner and designer Richard Zocchi over 30 years ago. He started with a stock ’39 Dodge Deluxe Coupe, channeled the body, integrated the cowl and nose, built a custom grill, chopped the roof, shaved the doors and, after hundreds of other tasty modifications, painted it in a pastel flesh tone with ivory uppers and subtle pinstriped accents. When revealed in 1992 it won the first George Barris Custom D’Elegance Award.

There’s an Irish blessing that begins with these words: “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back.” Since all of us here are on a journey of sorts, I see no reason to not accept this blessing. And,while we’re at it, let’s invoke Zephyr, The Greek God of the West Wind by asking Carly Brogren if we can borrow her awesome ’39 Lincoln Zephyr named Aftershock for at least part of our adventure. Many will recognize this stretched and chopped beauty by its regal, Gene Winfield Fade candy paint job.

There are no rules when it comes to hot rodding. It’s always been depicted as an outlaw culture with a mantra of “Strip it down, soup it up and Go Man Go!” Many of the early hot rods were built on a budget using Model T parts with lots of elbow grease and imagination thrown in. When Norm Grabowski’s redesigned T-bucket the Kookie Kar became one of the stars of the 1958 to 1964 hit TV show, 77 Sunset Strip, original Model T pickup-roadsters with the turtle deck pickup box became harder and harder to find. So, it was a pleasant surprise to discover David and Kim Anaya’s Corona Bucket, an all-metal, GM 350-powered custom ’23 T at the WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN’ NATIONALS!  David credits his wife and kids for the T-bucket’s creation, built in his home garage.

There weren’t that many trucks or pickups at the 42ND ANNUAL WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUSIN’ NATIONALS!, so unique, vintage work trucks like the ’23 T-bucket pickup-roadster definitely stood out. But none more so than Scott Castagna’s ’35 Ford Diesel-Dually Rat Rod. Four massive, mud‑battling, BF Goodrich truck tires out-rig the rear bed of this Mad Max mauler. These, along with two nasty 255/70R 22.5 Navitracs up front, boost this muddy maverick to an untraditional lofty stance for a Rat Rod. Power is delivered all-day and all-night from a modified Cummins 6CT diesel engine.

While the automotive media these days is heavily focused on EV’s and “street-legal” Hypercars, the popularity of car shows like the WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN’ NATIONALS! is proof that there is still plenty of interest in, and love for, Old School Hot Rods and Kustoms. This award-winning ’48 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Coupe was recently shipped to the States from the builders at Old Iron Kustoms in Sweden, and is now a part of legendary car customizer John D’Agostino’s Celebrity Kustoms car collection in Discovery Bay, CA.

You know the feeling you got as a kid opening a Christmas present? It’s pretty much the same to me as opening the hood on a custom or purpose-built car. This is a shot of the understated and pristine Chevy 350 motor in the Old Iron ’48 Chevy Fleetmaster. It’s performance-built specs include, four-bolt mains, Scat crank, Comp Cams Extreme Energy camshaft, Edelbrock heads and intake, Holley Sniper EFI and an MSD Street Fire distributor. Output is 385 horsepower. I love the gold, black and polished silver color scheme.

WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN' NATIONALS!These two sharp-looking California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers took time to chat with me about their favorite cars at the show – and the nuances about their demanding days on the job and on the highways of California. I learned that yes, they do sometimes get cold, particularly when they leave for early morning assignments on misty and chilly mornings, and that yes, they will ticket you if you’re 10 mph over the limit – but there’s sometimes some wiggle-room. Their advice: keep it under 72 in a 65 zone. As a parting question I asked them if there are any perks being a CHP Motor Officer. “Well, we get to escort some important people now and then, and we get to ride our Harleys home each night.” Vroom-vroom!

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

For more information about the WEST COAST KUSTOMS CRUISIN’ NATIONALS! Please visit,  https://www.westcoastkustoms.com


Vintage Japanese vehicles shine at the 35TH ANNUAL SOLVANG DATSUN ROADSTER CLASSIC, held in the Danish capital of America!


35TH ANNUAL SOLVANG DATSUN ROADSTER CLASSIC You could say that the 35TH ANNUAL SOLVANG DATSUN ROADSTER CLASSIC organizers and participants have a cozy relationship with their host city, Solvang, CA. Allocated just one street in the heart of The Danish Capital of America, 75 vintage Datsun roadsters, sedans, coupes, trucks and Zs performed an early morning ballet of parking precision as they snugged-into their assigned spaces on First Street, right next to Solvang Park.

This popular two-day event attracts participants and fans from all over the world. The itinerary included a “Meet & Greet” dinner on April 28th at Mendenhall’s Museum of Gasoline Pumps and Petroliana in Buellton, the outdoor “Show & Shine” on Saturday the 29th in Solvang, and a post-show banquet held at the Solvang Veteran’s Hall. Part of the proceeds from the event are donated to the American Diabetes Association.

As in year’s past, the lion’s share of the entries in the show are not surprisingly Datsun Sports convertibles, which are now better known as Datsun Roadsters – like the three I photographed very early on Saturday morning for our report’s lead image. First released in the 1960s, the Japanese domestic market roadster was badged Fairlady and featured 1500 and then later, 1600cc motors. It was also exported to Australia. In 1967, before the 1968 emissions and design changes, Datsun unveiled one of today’s most sought-after collector models, the 2000 Roadster. In 1952 Datsun had produced a predecessor to the Fairlady, the 20 horsepower DC-3. Only 50 were ever built.

35TH ANNUAL SOLVANG DATSUN ROADSTER CLASSICBeginning in 1969, Datsun unveiled its game-changer 240 Z Series. This 2-door, 2-seat, rear-drive, high-performance “economy” car sold over 160,000 units in the United States in just four years of production. I’m excited about presenting two 240’s here in the show report.

As you scroll down, you’ll discover engineer Rick Johnson standing by his gray ’73 240Z.35TH ANNUAL SOLVANG DATSUN ROADSTER CLASSICThis car may look like a docile Datsun but one look under its hood reveals part of its street and drag strip, built-for-speed secret – a 350-inch, 410 horsepower Chevy small-block.Please enjoy this 35TH ANNUAL SOLVANG DATSUN ROADSTER CLASSIC Gallery. Some of my favorites are the right-hand-drive ‘59 Datsun 1000 sedan sporting fat whitewalls that went on to win the “Pre-’63” category, Larry Knorr’s black ’67 ½ Datsun 2000, Steve Pharr’s time-capsule, custom ’73 Datsun 620 pickup with a ’73 Yamaha 175 Enduro in its bed, and Solvang UPS Store owner Christian Tokchia’s very rare, right-hand-drive ’71 Datsun 1600 SSS “Bluebird” Coupe. That’s Christian in the Datsun hat and sunglasses, standing next to his “I’m leaving everything as is…” pale-yellow Bluebird.




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

For more information about the 35TH ANNUAL SOLVANG DATSUN ROADSTER CLASSIC, please visit https://solvangroadstershow.wordpress.com/


Once again, a great show – with some special surprises – at THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING 2023!


 Sometimes you just have to trust that the Motorcycle Gods will smile upon you and that the predicted rain showers wouldn’t materialize over the emerald green show field for THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING 2023 on May 6th at The Quail Lodge & Golf Club in beautiful Carmel Valley, CA.

I arrived extra early and had to wear my motorcycle jacket to keep warm for the first 2 hours. By the 10 AM show time, the heavy cloud cover and nippy temperatures eased into a classic California spring day; the two-wheel treasures on the field began to glisten. There were over 3,000 attendees and 300 vintage and modern motorcycles at this year’s Gathering, presented by Medallia.

One of the first bikes to grab my attention was Craig Rodsmith’s radical Ducati 916 Superbike, top. Sure, the sun reflecting off its polished aluminum monocoque skin was hard to ignore but it was the side-mounted, twin-Weber-topped supercharger that popped my eyes. Craig is a master fabricator who for the past 25 years has been building one-of-a-kind pieces of motorized art – including Hot Rods, Cafe Racers, Bobbers and Choppers.

John Goldman is no stranger to the Winner’s Stage and I wish I had placed a bet around the same time I whispered to John that his very rare (one of three known to exist) Miller Balsamo 200 Carnenata would take Best of Show honors at THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING 2023 – and it did! Miller Balsamo, a historic Italian motorcycle brand, was founded in 1921 in Milano by Ernesto Balsamo and Edgardo Mario Balsamo. Before building their own bikes, they were initially importers of the U.S. brand Excelsior and the British Ariel. The factory closed in 1959.Did I mention there were some special surprises at the Gathering this year? Of course, I did because I wanted to show you one of my favorite WTFs from this prestigious show. It was impossibly long, slammed to the ground, filled with holes, adorned with brassy Steampunk accoutrements and powered by a Honda 550 Four. And, much to my surprise, it fired-up with its eccentric builder Keith Young in the tractor seat and then rolled up onto the Winner’s Stage to take the Arlen Ness Memorial Award!If you’ve ever been to a Vintage Trailer show there’s a good chance that you’ll find a vintage Honda Dream strapped, hooked or parked by one of these camper trailers. Maybe it’s the word Dream that fits so well for a place you’ll eventually lay your head. And then there’s ex- Dick Landy drag racing driver Brad Yuill, who along with his wife and Border Terrier hauled three show-stopping Dreams to the Gathering. It was this beautiful dark blue ’66 CA77 Dream that transported Brad to the Winner’s Stage to accept the 2nd Place trophy in the Japanese Class.THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING 2023Be still my heart; be swift my ride! I can only imagine that one fortunate enough to have this classic ’62 BMW R60/2 W at the ready for adventures, would indubitably have a flutter in the heart and an impossibly wide grin on their face as they secured their helmet and engaged first gear. This beauty is outfitted with a sleek, ’69 Steib S500 side car and hand-crafted leather luggage.The way I look at it is, well, from every possible angle – before I begin to think there are few motorcycle builders on the same plateau as Max Hazan of Hazan Motorworks. He builds one-of-one masterpieces like this ‘20 blown twin-engine for Marco Diaz. The engines are Velocette MACs. Each is a 349-cc air-cooled single cylinder. The custom frame is fabricated from chromoly steel and the supercharger is a positive-displacement Eaton  TVS R410. The design sensibility is Hazanesque, i.e., Minimalist-Mad-Mastery.It was the late afternoon on the day before the big show, and I was sneaking as many peeks as possible at the early-entry bikes. I was lost in thought and snapping pictures of an all-original, historically significant ’74 Ducati 750 GT when its owner Scott Somers showed up to finish detailing the bike. I learned that he has been a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast who at this point in his life can also be called a collector. He had his eye on this GT and, with patience and fortitude, he managed to acquire it in Canada and have it shipped to the States. If you think Scott also looks deep in thought, that’s not so. He’s in an endless ingestion of happiness – and beware – ownership of a two-wheel gem like this can do that to you!THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING 2023Stare into this wheel. You are getting sleepy. Ahh, but don’t fall asleep because you will soon be riding this hypnotic Roland Sands Design ‘10 Harley Davidson 883 Sportster through the Carmel Valley. When I snap my finger, you will meet Jason Casper who brought this bike and a truckload more to the Gathering from his impressive Roland Sands Design private collection. Thanks for putting us under a wicked motorcycle spell Jason!Another day-before-the-gathering pleasure I had was meeting Mark and Brandon Smith who brought their “just off the assembly-line” ‘64 Triumph TR6SC to the Gathering on Friday afternoon. The condition of this rare and early TR6SC is perfect. It looks like the bike you would have drooled-over in a showroom back in 1964. On show day, Brandon rode this classic up onto the Winner’s Stage to receive the British 2nd Place award. His dad Mark was no doubt smiling as he so easily does. Congratulations gentlemen!When you’re on the show field at the Gathering you’ll often hear a bike revving its motor to please the crowd or impress the judges. The Luna Racer from TARFORM electric motorcycles has an audio signature unlike any other. It’s a futuristic attention-getter created by amplifying the electromagnetic waves from the motor. But it’s not just the sound of the Luna Racer that’s appealing. Its design is a revival of the classic Cafe Racer style from the 1970s, with a heavy pinch of “fast and futuristic” carefully integrated into the esthetic. To learn more about this Made-in-Brooklyn marvel go to  https://www.tarform.com/When I spotted these bikes from a distance, I thought Confederates! Founded in the 1990s and known for building fast, loud and expensive motorcycles, Confederate Motorcycles went through a metamorphosis in 2017 when founder Matthew Chambers announced they would change the name to Curtiss Motorcycles and only build electric motorcycles. Around 2020, the petrol-burner contingent of the company decided to relaunch as Combat Motors – and that’s the trifecta pictured here. From front to back is the X132 Hellcat, the Combat Wraith and the P51 Fighter.Another big surprise at THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING 2023 was this ‘37 Mercier Moto Chenille. It’s a 350cc JAP engine-powered, track-driven hill-climber prototype conceived by Adrien Mercier, a Swiss inventor who during the 1930s was building small mopeds in France. In 1937 after the French military tested the Chenille (the French word for caterpillar), it was deemed too impractical and unwieldy. Only five were ever built.THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING 2023When I previewed this photo montage on my Facebook page a friend commented “What were you thinking?” I jested a reply saying “Apparently, I wasn’t.” Truth be told, when I met Tim Cunha co-owner of the Salt Flats motorcycle streamliner on Friday, he asked if I’d like to slip into the Costella-Cunha Nebulous Theorem VIII on show day. I enthusiastically accepted his invitation and could not stop thinking about my upcoming cockpit inspection. This motorcycle engine powered land speed vehicle holds over 20 world records set at Bonneville and El Mirage. For the record: The fit is extra tight and I needed a helping hand to get out!

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

For more information about The Quail Motorcycle Gathering 2023,
please visit https://www.peninsula.com/en/signature-events/events/motorcycle