’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEET

We asked Car Guy Chronicles’ Jim Palam to travel back to the Halcyon Days of Flathead hot rods and drag racing. He didn’t need a time machine – just a tank of gas, an alarm clock set for 4 am, and directions to Santa Margarita Ranch in Central California for the ’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEET.

’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEET

I started sticking my head into dimly lit garages and greasy engine compartments when I was 14 years old. My older brother Tommy – AKA Tommy Tuner – who at 16 was already building a reputation in blue collar Queens, NY as a talented engine tuner. Factory Musclecars had yet to launch big and if you wanted a good Bench Racing story, you relied on engine swaps, bargain-priced or home-made speed equipment, and guys like Tommy to help you collect “Win” stickers and bragging rights! It was Tommy’s involvement with early-1960s drag racing that got me hopped-up on the sights, sounds and thrills of hot rodding. Needless to say, I was excited about covering the ’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEET for CGC.

As planned, I arrived early Saturday morning at the entry gate to Santa Margarita Ranch, drove across its cow barrier rails and then a rickety wood plank bridge before traveling about a mile up the dirt road that led to the South end of the ranch’s private airstrip. As a red sun rose in the East, racers, hot rod clubs and swap meet vendors were setting up their pit areas at the North end of the strip. Spectators parked their vehicles West of the airstrip on the shoulders of an access road. Non-participating Hot Rods, Rat Rods, Customs and vendors lined the East side of the airstrip. A K-Rail protected the spectator’s area and ran about 3/4 the length of the 1/8-mile section of the airstrip where the rubber would be laid-down.

The races were broken into 6 classes:  4 Cylinder Flathead Street cars, V8 Flathead Street cars, 4 Cylinder power-boosted Street cars (OHV conversion and/or blower), V8 power-boosted Street cars, and two Full-Race classes – Flathead Fours and V8s. Anything goes in the Full-Race – OHV conversions, blowers and even Nitro. Street cars had to or could be registered for the street; removal of windshield, headlights and fenders was just fine. Non-Street, Full-Race classes included dragsters, sprint cars and Dry Lakes belly-tankers, though these classes had limited participation.

Santa Margarita Ranch, is a 17,735-acre Mexican “land grant” in the Santa Lucia Mountains, in Central California’s San Luis Obispo County. Local folklore maintains that Frank and Jesse James passed through the ranch in 1874. The red, “Fire Sun” that rose over the ranch and the Flatheads on race day was a result of smoke from the many wildfires that have been burning in California.

Here’s what can happen when you decide to hop-up your Model B Ford four-banger. Back in 2020, Firefighter Cody Clem decided to do a Covid Hot Rod project. He started with a ’28 Model A and then installed a race-ready Model B motor from Max Herman at H&H Flatheads. Two Stromberg 97 carbs sit atop a Dan Price Cragar four-port cylinder head. Cody grabbed a win on Saturday before an electrical issue stymied follow-up runs.

The RPM Nationals is a flag-started event and, in many cases, a Pall family affair. Jason Pall directed all the activity at the staging area and starting line. His daughter Riley served as Flag Girl and his wife Rochelle was one of the higher-profile racers who was focused and flawless when blasting her ’31 F/S #81 roadster down the 1/8th mile track.

’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEETWhile some of the old Flathead V8s and Four Bangers at The RPM Nationals had race numbers applied using chalk or shoe polish, a number of them were professionally rendered in paint – like Vic Jr’s beautiful No. 88 Red’s Headers ’30 Ford Sports Coupe. (Racing Lore: If your race number looks fast, you will go faster!)

Another hop-up from Vic Jr was his No. 76 tire-smokin’ ’31 Ford Roadster shown here coming hot off the line. While burn-outs put smiles on the faces of the spectators, it’s a frown-inducer for the racer as they will inevitably burn-off MPH and add time to the clock – not that there was a clock! There were two checkered flag men positioned at the 1/8th-mile mark – one to indicate a win in the left, K-Rail Lane; the other for a win in the right, Tower-side Lane.

The view from behind Greg Lazzerini’s hand-built No. 18 V/S Class ’32 racer shows the relative short distance to the finish line – and Greg’s love of low and louvered race cars. Here Greg grabs a quick look at the competition before launching down the airstrip. EMTs and fire fighters were on-hand and safety rules were enforced.

If you’re thinking this sweet machine has the profile of a Lakes racer, you’d be right. With fully-adjustable front and rear suspensions and tube chassis, Greg Lazzerini’s hand-built ’32 roadster has spent time as a road racer, a Flathead drag car, and has also seasoned its provenance with time on the Dry Lakes. The car was a strong competitor throughout race day.

Whether you call it a Souped-up Jalopy, a Hot Iron, a Gow Job, a Hot Rod or a Hop Up, the Garcia No. 35 Special out of Visalia, CA is certainly “Up” and riding high. If you like your drag racing in Nitro-fueled four-second bursts, you might find events like the ’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEET a bit tame. But the racers take things seriously and they have a ball honoring the roots of American drag racing history.

’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEETRacer Jesse Nickell motors back from his V/S Class run along the dirt return road in his primer black and lime green ’27 T Roadster. Somewhere along the way it looks like he picked up a thin-as-a-rail passenger. Not sure if that’s legal. At very least, that little skull should be wearing a helmet!

Three of the famous Will Baldwin Specials made a special appearance at the RPM Nationals. This is Baldwin’s second build in the series – the Baldwin Mercury Special – which has a steel and aluminum body wrapped over a shortened ‘46 Mercury frame. It was built to race in SCCA’s modified classes and competed on the short tracks of America from 1949 to 1959. Almost completely destroyed while racing in 1960 it was resurrected in 1990 and underwent a complete restoration in 2006. Note the reversed headlights for RPM race day!

The ‘Pomp’ of this Flathead Drags ‘Circumstance’ has as much to do about style and attitude as it does with vintage race machines and performance. The only background I could dig up on roadster No. “6” (then add “1”) – The Slippery Eel – is that his name might be “Adrion,” and that he always races in his terrycloth sweater with matching terrycloth covered helmet. I do know that he ran well and looked speedy doing it.

’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEETOne of the more photogenic and competitive Flathead Roadsters at the meet was Timmy McMaster’s sharp-looking burgundy V8- powered ’27 T Roadster. I grabbed this shot early in the day when I spotted it parked in front of the Baron Racing Equipment tent. We’ve also used a shot of No. 416 blasting off the starting line as this report’s masthead photo.

We had a saying back in my early street racing days: “Run What You Brung!” To us, it didn’t matter if your car wasn’t in-style, wasn’t perfect. What mattered is that you participated and had fun. The RPM Nationals is a bit like that, the difference being that you had to meet race class specs and follow safety regulations – like roll bars for “fast” open cars and helmets, pants and closed shoes for the drivers. Looks like we’re good to go here!

Now that the racers and spectators are gone and the hot rod dust has settled at Santa Margarita Ranch, I find myself looking forward to other vintage racing events. I’ve been encouraged to attend other West Coast events like The Antique Nationals in Irwindale and The Eagle Field Fresno Dragways Reunion. Be sure to check for vintage Hot Rod racing events in your neck of the woods. It’s Old-Timey good fun for the whole family!

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

For more information about the ’21 RPM NATIONALS: FLATHEAD DRAGS, SHOW & SWAP MEET , please visit https://www.rpmnationals.com/

EDITOR’S NOTE: I encouraged Jim to cover the RPM Nationals because my introduction to hot rodding and drag racing – in the 1950s – was a rare ’40 Merc convertible sedan, shaved and decked, painted dark Cadillac Blue, and powered by a dual carb, dual exhaust Flathead. Replacing that car was a ’47 MG-TC with a pro-built Ford V8-60 Flathead! Those cars, and my membership in the Draggin Wheels Hot Rod Club, Yonkers, NY kicked off my career as an editor of enthusiast magazines – from CUSTOM RODDER and Hi-Performance CARS to VETTE. Reading Jim’s piece and soaking in his stunning photos brought back priceless memories, and reminded me just how much I miss my old ’40 Merc. Thanks, Jim!

VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS!

While he wasn’t ready to spike-up his hair and tattoo a car club logo on his chest, Car Guy Chronicle‘s contributor, Jim Palam, was more than willing to motor South on Highway 101 and immerse himself in the cuffed-denim and octane-fueled culture of the 18th annual VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS!

VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS!

There are lots of things that go together well – like bows & arrows, macaroni & cheese, Batman & Robin. But for those of us with octane in our veins, the rhythm of our lives purrs along best when there’s a stick shift in our hand and a wailing car song in our ears. From Jackie Brenston’s Rocket 88 and Chuck Berry’s Maybelline, to Golden Earring’s Radar Love and Deep Purple’s Highway Star, thumpin’ music and high octane has long been a potent elixir helping to fuel the fun and adventure factors in our Car Guys’ lives. So, it was with a tingling in my spine and Ramblin’ Man on my radio that I headed to the Ventura Fairgrounds for the VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS!

 This was the 18th annual gathering for this popular Central Coast car event at the spacious Ventura Fairgrounds. Acres of oceanside parkland and thousands of square feet of indoor meeting space got covered and filled with almost 1,000 hot rods, customs and vintage motorcycles. There were also pedal cars, vendor booths and an outdoor stage for high-energy music acts that fired up the fairgrounds, including the Delta Bombers, The 40 Acre Mule and Jackie Mendez. If the music wasn’t blasting from the live stage, it was booming from premium car audio systems that seemed to be a requisite component of the flaked and slammed Lowriders and Customs on display.

 As I worked my way around the Fairgrounds I was struck by the dichotomy between the perception and reality of this denim-clad, Mid-Century influenced car culture. Tough LA street guys talked to me about their mission to pull kids out of gangs by providing projects for them in fabrication and speed shops. A heavily tattooed member of Satan’s Escorts dug into his cooler to give me a free bottle of designer water. Ruby-lipped moms and bandana-wrapped dads pushed their happy toddlers around the Fairgrounds in custom pedal cars. While there was rockin’ music and high-octane in the air there was something else, something special, much more present: there was lots of love – for the custom machines, the exciting music and of course for family and friends. Kudos go out to the hard-working staff of this event, especially to show producers, Aaron & Holly Stein

Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908. With its simple design, interchangeable parts and affordability it not only became the best-selling car in the world, it became the choice for many hot-rodding transformations in the 1940s and 1950s. With the prosperity and Jet Age stylings of the 1950s and 1960s the “T” lost some of its allure, but you’ll still find excellent examples like this supercharged T-Bucket, top photo, at car shows and rod runs around the world.

Stacey Gann has a precious heart. Her full-custom ‘29 Model A Preciosa Corazon is another fabulous Kreation from K-Daddyz Kustomz of Bakersfield. Triple ascending and truncated velocity stacks give the motor from Mark’s Automotive a pipe organ profile. The club’s name, Loco Banditos, is scripted below an array of floating chrome buttons on the rod’s grille.

While there were over 22,000 El Caminos produced in 1959, it’s still pretty rare to spot one these days. It wasn’t the shimmering chrome or drool-inducing Candy Gold paint that alerted me to Gustavo Palacios’ long and low ’59 Chevrolet El Camino – it was the ear-drum-cracking, sonic thumping from its explosive audio system that stunned me and many of the other 7,000 attendees at the show. (Note to self: Add ear plugs to gear bag for next show).

VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS!FINK: An unpleasant or contemptible person; avoid at all costs. FINK ROD: A bad-ass bright metalflake green, supercharged ’34 Ford 5-Window Coupe; get behind the wheel if it’s the last thing you do. This Kustom Kulture Advisory brought to you by Fink Rod owner, Lillard Hill of Bakersfield.

FINK ROD Specs: Wicked from every angle, this homage to Hot Wheels and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth gets its bang from a supercharged Chrysler 392 Hemi. Power is delivered to a 4.56:1 Halibrand quick-change rear end via a Turbo Hydramatic 400 trans with a Gear Vendors overdrive. Fink Rod bites at defenseless roads with its massive 31×16.5 Hoosier tires!

Welcome to the Unfinished Line. Back in the day you rumbled through town in your primered hot rod not so much because you were going for a look, but rather that you spent your entire budget getting it running. These days, a primered, traditional or “patina” look is often the end goal – albeit most primers are now clear coated to seal and protect the finish. Edwin Hernandez’s ’38 Master Deluxe Business Coupe is a good example of one of the endless possibilities that can be achieved when going for a weathered, patina look.

VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS!Simon Gluckman’s Best of Show Hot Rod ’32 Ford 5-Window Coupe gets the “Hot” part from a blown ’56 Olds motor. This London-to-LA transplant’s Bedlam Car Club is home to some of the purest looking and sweetest running 1940s and 1950s traditional hot rods in Southern California. Bedlam, which took its club name from an infamous psychiatric hospital near London, is a relatively new and small club. If you hear that Bedlam is coming soon to a show or event in your town relax, it’s a good thing!

Aaron Valencia made the right decision when he arrived at a fork in the road of his troubled life. He went into rehab, took guidance and support from people who cared, and when he got a modicum of success with his automotive repair and fabrication business, he quickly focused his time and energy on helping disadvantaged and at-risk kids. In 2014 he helped found the Lost Angels Children’s Project. He’s pictured here in a white tee with three young men – and a custom pickup – whose lives have been redirected to a positive future thanks to the Program and this dedicated Car Guy.

One of the ways the Lost Angels Children’s Project raises money is by restoring a classic car and raffling it at shows like the Ventura Nationals. When I asked Mike from Salinas who was polishing his gleaming ’51 Cadillac Coupe how a young guy like himself managed to afford such an outstanding custom he joyfully responded, “I won it!” It was from there that I was introduced to Aaron Valencia and learned about all the good things the Lost Angels Children Project does. Check it out @ https://www.lostangelscp.org/The ‘35 Ford 5-window Coupe, with its sleek lines and rum-runner stance, has long been a favorite of customizers. Joe from JV Garage in San Diego brought his dropped, chopped and skirted ’35 to the Ventura Nationals and it’s a real beauty. Fat Firestone whitewalls make a snappy style statement against the custom-mix Buckskin Tan paint.

805. It’s an iconic California number. You can be from the 805 if you live in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo or Ventura Counties. You can drink an 805, which is the immensely popular blonde ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Company. And if you’re motorcycle builder Caleb Owens, an 805 is perhaps the highest profile build to come out of your shop, Cro Customs. Built for the brewing company, the 805-badged chopper is an understated and tastefully transformed ’51 Panhead FL. And yes, it’s wheels are wrapped with Firestone tires.

A low center of gravity has distinct benefits – if you’re racing an F1 car, but if you’re Adam Hartley rolling your custom ’52 Chevy Pickup from Vegas to Ventura for the Nationals, a slammed to the ground stance at the show has nothing to do with racing geometry. It’s an attitude bred from anti-Anglo Lowrider culture that grew over the decades into a worldwide automotive aesthetic – as popular in Japan today as it is in Southern California. And you don’t need an X-framed Impala to go low. Today’s hydraulics technologies and suspension kits can slam or stance your pickup, your Prius or your Peterbilt. Just watch out for those speed bumps!

VANdalism? Here’s one for the It’s a Small World files. One of the first Customs I encountered when first entering the Ventura Fairgrounds early Saturday morning was this radically chopped and shortened ’71 Ford Econoline Van. My current mechanic who has helped me dial-in my 914 Porsche worked at Cory Motors in Santa Barbara for years and yes, this is a 40 year-old project by the original owner of the shop. The resurrected van is currently owned by Travis Walker.

Meet Maria – and her ’51 Chevy Deluxe Coupe. She and her husband have been transforming their Chevy slowly but surely, from a survivor to a showstopper. It’s perfectly fine that it’s in something of a Rat Rod stage right now because that’s a “look” too that fits Maria’s style. “I’m not worried about the details now. We got her driving well and we’re always cruising.”

Jim Ramierez from the Throttle Kings Car Club landed a main thoroughfare parking position for his wicked ’34 Buick hot rod. While the heavily-modified, unpainted body is a hammered-metal piece of art – thanks in part to the gang at (Jimmy) Shine Speedshop – I just couldn’t take my eyes off its high-rev Nailhead Buick engine. Introduced in 1953, it was Buick’s first V-8.

VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS!OK, flashback to the beginning of this report where I was talking about all the love firing-up this Car Guy gathering. It must be the love of hot-rodding that motivated Ed here to get up at 2 AM and drive his matte-red, 425-inch Nailhead Buick-powered Coupe from Sacramento to Ventura to make a showing at the VENTURA NATIONALS: RODS, CUSTOMS, BIKES & GUITARS! That’s over 500 miles each way and, according to Ed, he would be driving back home the same day, but not before he grabbed a classic drive-thru burger. You gotta love it!

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

For more information about the Annual Ventura Nationals Hot Rod, Custom Car & Vintage Motorcycle Show, please visit  https://venturanationals.com/

PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021

Having recently joined the Porsche owner’s ranks with his ‘Poor Man’s’ 914, Car Guy Chronicles’ Jim Palam took a Friday-the-13th detour from Car Week events in Monterey and headed to Seaside to catch the air-cooled action at the PORSCHE: Werks Reunion Monterey 2021.

PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021

In the wide-wide-world of sports cars, Porsche is the one enthusiasts call The Perfect Athlete. Built with the promise of perfection, performance and reliability, over two-thirds of all Porsches ever built are still on the road. When I saw the army of Stuttgart cars on the event fields and in parking areas, I wondered if all of these road athletes were heading to the Porsche: Werks Reunion MONTEREY 2021 at the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, CA.

The Werks Reunion is organized by the Porsche Club of America (PCA) and makes its splash twice a year – here in Seaside during Monterey Car Week and also as a concurrent event to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida. This, the seventh Monterey Werks Reunion, featured judged categories, model-specific corrals, live music, vendors, and a sea of Porsches that drove to the gathering from points near and far. While there is judging at the Werks Reunions the events are more about comradery than competition.

With 529 Porsche Corral cars, 167 judged cars, and hundreds more to inspect and admire covering the outlying fairways and parking areas, the PORSCHE: Werks Reunion Monterey 2021 was a resounding success.The Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course had proved once again that it is well-prepared to handle the crowds and the following day hosted the 2021 Concorso Italiano. Even though it took me buying a used 914 to spark my interest in the Werks Reunion I would whole-heartedly suggest that all Car Guys put it on your “Must-Do” events calendar.

This tasty orange “Sports Purpose” R-Grupp ‘71 911ST was built by TRE Motorsports. It’s powered by a Twin-Plug 3.4 motor mated to a 915 transmission. Period-correct Road course illumination comes from a six-lamp display that includes Cibie Pallas hood lamps.

Be still my heart! This is the gem that many a Porsche collector’s heart beats for – a 57 356A, T-1 1600 Super Sunroof Coupe. Finished in sensuous silver, this modified 356 features recessed body-mounted fog lamps – an original option installed by Reutter.

PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021Here’s the view you usually catch of a Porsche 918 Spyder, albeit likely all blurry and far-ahead of you! This V8-powered hybrid had a limited production run and sold for over $800,000. This Lipstick Red example drew non-stop attention at the Michelin Tires display tent.

It’s my understanding that Greg Welch, the long-time owner of this perched-to-race 914-6R, is ready to move on to a new driving adventure. If you’re looking for a beautifully detailed and maintained 914, this show-stopper would be an awesome score. You can probably connect on the 914World Facebook page.

Don’t let the soft baby color fool you: This modified ‘75 Gulf Blue 911 Carrera from Patrick Motorsports was not created to be coddled; it’s built to kick ass and look good doing it! Mods include a bored & stroked 3.5L motor and Turbo fenders. PM handles every aspect of a car’s transformation – including engine, drivetrain, suspension, interior and paint.

The audacious 1,100 horsepower, 2,600-pound, BBi Autosport’s highly-modified Pikes Peak winning, 911 Porsche looks wicked parked in front of Yokohama’s show tent. I can drop a few orange-juicy words here but better yet – check out this drool-inducer video: @ https://www.bbiautosport.com/bbihc2021

Michael and Ann Marie Hartmann’s impeccable ’71 914-6 was open for inspection at the 2021 Werks Reunion. The Hartmann 914 is highly lauded in the online 914 community. Powered by an ’87 3.2 engine it is flawlessly finished in Glausurit single-stage Irish Green paint.

I maxed-out my telephoto lens to get this shot and was unable to get up-close to study the details. So, I’m guessing that it’s a road-huggin’ ’57 Porsche 356 Wide-Body replica. It wears racy-red paint, leather bonnet straps, chrome Porsche Crest hub caps and a Carrera nameplate.

Nicknamed the “Brazilian Tree Frog”, this 1-of-1 ‘08 987.1 Cayman S is believed to be the most expensive 987.1 ever built – with a MSRP approaching that of a 997 Turbo! Extensive options include the rare 1972 Paint to Sample LinGrün exterior finish, a Carrera Red full-leather interior, Turbo wheels, Sport Design Package and Aerokit.

Steven and Elena Berggren’s perfect ‘51 356 Pre-A Split-Window Coupe holds coachbuilder Reutter Stuttgart S/N 10627. This rare and meticulously restored Porsche is finished in Adria Metallic Blue with a gray cloth interior. It’s powered by a 1300 cc motor hooked to a “Crash Box” transmission.

Bill Packwood’s Collier GT tribute is a 70 914/6 GT featuring steel fender flares, balsa wood reinforced fiberglass deck lid plus 911S struts and brakes. Bill is one of the Three Amigos in hats standing behind the car on the left. In the middle is Sergio Meza who manufactured the GT’s custom engine lid.

This Guards Red ‘76 911 S appeared right at home in Seaside. It served as the location for Fort Ord, a WW II era U.S. Army Training Center. The post was closed in 1994 but a small portion remains an active military installation. This 911 S remains fully active – its ’84 Carrera 3.2 engine firing-up at command.

Here’s what happens when you roll your 911 into Russell Built’s transformation facility in Sun Valley, CA. You get the Dual-Sport Baja 911! TJ Russell and his team of Porsche magicians outfitted the donor car with a full-race suspension, luxury interior that includes a chromoly race-spec roll cage and a Rothsport Racing 365 horsepower 3.8L engine. This is a very specialized Porsche with a $600,000 starting price. If you’re interested in one, check out https://russellbuiltfab.com/ and allow approximately 14 months of build time!

PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021Jim Chambers ordered his ‘18 Gelb Grün Lime Green 991.2 Porsche GT3 with the intention of driving it all over the U.S. and Europe, visiting his favorite race courses. To date, he’s hit Nürburgring, Monza, Mugello, Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans, Monaco, Sonoma, Thunderhill, CoTA and Laguna Seca.

Inspired by the spirit of a bygone Porsche era, this state-of-the-art Albert Blue ‘21 Targa 4S Heritage Edition is emblazoned with a large No. 50 race number and includes the Sports Package front and rear bumpers, and a Porsche 356 Homage instrument cluster.

What’s the buzz? Perhaps it’s from this all original, limited-edition Bumble Bee74 Porsche 914 LE owned by Tom & Janet Tyer. Only 500 914s were produced in this Black and Sunflower Yellow color scheme. Another 500 LEs were painted in Light Ivory and Phoenix Red and were known as Creamsicles.

San Jose, California Tech executive Phuong Le is comfortable in a world of technology and precision and is always looking for ways to improve his user experience. His testing ground just might be his ever-evolving ‘14 Cayman S 981. It has a GTS “firmware flash “and a full GT4 conversion. It’s finished (for now) in Custom Purple paint and LD97 Race Wing wheels.

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

For more information about PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021 and the PCA Werks Reunion organization, please visit https://www.werksreunion.com/monterey.cfm

PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE

CGC’s Jim Palam spiffs up for the 70th Anniversary of the premier venue for the best-of-the-best classics and specialty vehicles with new gear, classy cards, a black mask and a snazzy haircut. In the process, he coins a new word to describe MONTERREY 2021: PEBBLE BEACH CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE: Automotacular!

PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D'ELEGANCEThere are a number of judged automobile events that capture the undivided attention of the automotive press and the pulsating hearts of automobile enthusiasts – and then, there is the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – the international pinnacle of automotive Pomp, Panache, Power and Perfection that has been rolling gracefully onto the panoramic 18th Fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links since 1950.

In a word, Pebble Beach is Automotacular – a beautiful automotive spectacle of perfection. To attend this year, I would need more than my media credentials – I would need a new camera backpack that wasn’t so worn, classy new business cards, a fresh & formal black face mask for inside events, and while I was at it, a snazzy haircut couldn’t hurt. Once spiffed-up I drove into Monterey to grab a 6 AM shuttle that would take me into Pebble Beach. Event-side parking for most media is no longer included with your credentials and as it turned out, the shuttle was convenient and direct. By 7:15 AM I was sharing a morning coffee at the event with Gonzalo Silveira, a car collector who splits his time between homes and collections in Uruguay and Los Altos, California. I was now perked-up and it was time to hit the fairway!

Lining the premier bayside display-lane past the entry gate were ‘Class E’ Pebble Beach Best of Show Reunion cars and first in line was this breathtaking 1986 winner, a 36 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster from the Keller Collection. This year’s overall Class I Best of Show car was also from the Keller Collection, the very rare ‘38 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier.

OK: Bear with me for a minute. I know this is the prestigious Pebble Beach report and decorum needs to be followed but I’m sorry, when I look at this ‘31 Daimler Double Six 50 Corsica Drophead Coupé I want to, no, I have to scream Bad Ass! Is this perhaps the quintessential Robber Baron car? It enthusiastically gets my vote.

While it was hard to peel away from the Reunion cars another magnificent Mercedes-Benz caught my eye. Impossibly sleek, impossibly sexy and impossible to ignore, this 37 540K Special Roadster is owned by Richard & Melanie Lundquist of Palos Verdes Estates. The Lundquists are not only avid car collectors but avid benefactors to the McPherson College Automotive Restoration Program: https://www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/

This 36 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic needs no introduction. It is considered by the cognoscenti in the automobile collector’s world to be perhaps The Most Desirable & Significant Car ever produced. It is currently co-owned by Merle & Peter Mullin and Melanie & Rob Walton. So let me introduce you David Chamberlain, one of the artisans working with Jim Stranberg’s Restoration Shop, who helped bring this French car to its show-winning concours condition. He was responsible for restoration of the Atlantic’s exceptional woodwork – including chassis and interior components.

David was also responsible for inviting me in beyond the display area’s chain link barriers to get a closer look at the Atlantic’s interior. I had seen this car before on display in the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, CA, but this was the first time I had the privilege of inspecting its highly-refined and purpose-built ‘cockpit’ interior. This is the only surviving Aéro Coupé. It was delivered new to Britain’s third Baron Rothschild in 1936.

We’d need a Car Guy Chronicle’s widescreen here to show you the full profile splendor of this 2005 Best of Show ‘37 Delage D8-120 S Pourtout Aéro Coupé. So, I decided to snap a closer look at the aerodynamic rear-of-cowl sections. This streamlined sensation is proudly owned by Sam & Emily Mann of Englewood, NJ.

With its swooping twin-arch fenders and low body profile, this deep cherry-burgundy 25 Lancia Lambda Casaro Roadster has the look of a lean, long-distance runner. The Lancia is owned and passionately cared for by Paul & Victoria Tullius of Chico, CA.

https://www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/This ‘24 Miller 122 Junior 8 Special was brought to PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. It was on display with an impressive collection of early Indy 500 winners that were designed and driven by automotive racing innovator Harold ‘Harry’ Miller in the 1920s and 1930s. Miller cars were not only beautifully designed and powerful; they were proven podium grabbers – having won the prestigious Indy 500 10 times!

A rare, one-of-two ‘66 Ferrari 365 P Pininfarina Berlinetta Speciales took 1st Place in Class P-4. This triple-take concept sports car is often referred to as the Berlinetta Tre-Posti to describe its three-across seating positions with the driver in the middle. The car is featured in the Tour d’Elegance 2021 poster and is part of the impressive RQ Collections, The Woodlands, TX.

Speaking of unique interiors, this hypnotic, rococo blue cabin often leaves people speechless. It adorns Peter & Merle Mullin’s ‘35 Voisin C 25 Aérodyne. The New York Times described the Aérodyne as “A Deco confection, flamboyant and French.” The C25’s designer Gabriel Voisin spent his early years designing and building airplanes. His experience and streamlined visions no doubt heavily influenced his automotive forays. By the way, the cars ashtrays are made of Lalique glass. Mais bien sûr!

The PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE paid tribute to the Lamborghini Countach this year, marking the 50th anniversary of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s low and chiseled, scissor-doored Supercar classic. It was first introduced in 1971 as an audacious follow-up to the Miura.

WOW! Rare ‘64 ATS 2500 GTS Allemano Sports Coupé  – two-seater GT with mid-engine power from a 2.5L alloy V8. Designed by ex-Bertone stylist Franco Scaglione, coachwork by Carrozzeria Allemano of Turin. The ATS 2500 GTS was launched at the 1963 Geneva Salon but unsurmountable financial challenges doomed the venture. ATS closed its doors in 1964. This Pebble car is from Stephen Bell Classic Investments Inc. of Colorado.

Racing Legends! Porsche brought their world-famous Circuit de la Sarthe cars to Pebble Beach and what a powerful display it was. At the leading-end of the lineup was arguably the most famous Porsche racecar of the period – 917 KH car number 22, the 1971 Le Mans winner driven by Gijsvan Lennep and Helmut Marko. I was lucky to get this shot of it and car number 20 early in the morning, as it was rarely not surrounded by fans for the remainder of the Concours.

66 Ferrari 365 P Pininfarina Berlinetta SpecialeIt happens: Color is transmitted from your eyes to the brain, the brain releases racing hormones and your heart begins to beat faster as a gasoline grin forms on your face. You’ve just eyed a bold blue and orange Gulf livery on a Porsche 917. This response is sometimes called an involuntary Automotacular reaction. But don’t worry, it’s good for you. Just ask any Car Guy!

Almost all sanctioned racing has regulations and back in the day, at Le Mans, if you wanted your entry to pass inspection it had to have two seats, space for a suitcase and it had to carry an inboard spare tire. Here it reveals itself from the “Long Tail” end of Porsche 917K car # 2.

Lights! Camera! Ferrari! This sexy-silver competition-heritage ‘54 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe was originally ordered by film director Roberto Rossellini and was the Pebble Beach Best of Show in 2014. Surprisingly, this was the first and is still the only time Ferrari took the Top Honors at Pebble.

Perhaps you caught a glimpse of this four-seat ’54 Chrysler GS-1 Ghia Coupe purring along Pacific Coast Highway in Thursday’s Tour d’Elegance? I had to wait until Sunday’s Concours to get a close-up look at this 1950s collaboration from Chrysler and Italian coachbuilder Ghia. Powered by a 235 horsepower Hemi V8, this coupe was built on a New Yorker chassis and made its debut at the 1954 Paris Auto Show.

I’ve long been a fan of the Chevy powered Iso Grifo and was really excited to discover Peter Wilde’s gem, the one-off 63 Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype Bertone Coupe parked near the back fairway. This historic Iso was exhibited at the 1963 Torino Motor Show and the 1964 New York Auto Show. Its significance did not go unnoticed as it took 1st Place, Class N: ISO at Pebble.

It’s still a bit shocking to learn that the first electric automobiles made their American debut around the 1890s. That’s soooo UnTesla! Fast-forward to 1922 when this six-window Milburn Light Electric 27L Carriage first whirred-up its GE 81-volt, 46-amp motor and rolled out of the Milburn Wagon Company. Here’s another shock: Cost when new, $2,000!

It’s been called the Duesenberg Brothers’ Crowning Achievement. It had a Fred Duesenberg centrifugal supercharger and 320 horsepower Straight Eight. On August 31, 1935 its streamlined yellow fuselage blew past the timers at Bonneville clocking 160 mph with driver Ab Jenkins at the wheel. It’s the ‘35 Duesenberg SJ Mormon Meteor Speedster and it was one of the showstoppers at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2021 – and it is indubitably – Automotacular!

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

For more information about PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE, Pebble Beach history and event calendar, please visit https://pebblebeachconcours.net/

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