Monterey Car Week

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Every year since 1950 a world-famous automobile gathering has taken place in the spectacular setting of the Monterey Peninsula.  The Pebble Beach Road Races, originally run through Del Monte Forest and subsequently transferred to the permanent circuit of Laguna Seca, and its accompanying Pebble Beach Concours, have been a mainstay of American and international classic and historic car culture and has grown into a week of festivities known as Monterey Car Week.  Reported with the collaboration of our colleagues at Victory Lane Magazine.

In the Pre-Reunion F5000 races, it was Melbourne ace Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) who stole the show after local driver Kirt Bennett set fastest qualifying time in his similar Lola. In the re-match at the following weekend’s main event, roles were reversed as Zazryn took pole and Bennett won both races, followed home each time by Zarzryn in a fast and furious race that saw lively competition throughout the field Photo Jim Rose Courtesy Victory Lane

The Monterey experience includes the non-stop comings and goings of the latest swoopy, sleek, outrageous, vividly-coloured supercars on every road, in every parking lot and at every restaurant.  These are the latest Ferraris, Lamborghinis , McLarens but also the less often encountered Pagani Zonda, Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Maserati and De Tomaso and dozens more.  

The cars on the Pebble Beach Tour roll out of the early morning fog typical of northern California Photo Tom Neal Courtesy Rolex
C1-05 1932 Cadillac 52B Fisher Convertible Coupe

Between the opening weekend’s Pre-Reunion races and the second weekend’s Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion, plus Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – now rivalled by Thursday’s The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, famous for its hefty price of admission – there are dozens of organised shows, concours, tours, club gatherings, auctions and private parties filled with cars from the earliest days to today’s latest offerings.

In the year of the Corvette Ron Fellows took his 1987 Protofab Corvette 4500 to a lights-to-flag victory in the GTO/Trans Am Rolex feature race

The racing at both the Pre-Reunion and the following weekend’s Reunion brings out some of the best cars in America, and virtually all of the regular historic racers as well as many international entries, amongst them famous names such as Gerard Lopez, Zak Brown and Adrian Newey.  This year the featured marque was Corvette, celebrating its 70th year and there was a feature race for Formula 5000 cars that celebrated the 55th anniversary of the 5-litre V8 wings-and-slicks single-seater category, with a group coming from Australia and New Zealand to swell the American ranks.  

Of course, racing centres on American categories, with two Trans Am grids  firm favourites.  The 1966-1972 Historic Trans Am feature race was won by Chad Raynal’s Camaro – and the race for cars built between 1981-1991 was won by Ron Fellows in the 1987 Protofab Corvette 4500.  The rolling thunder of the Can-Am cars is also a crowd pleaser, with a long history at Laguna Seca.  This year the grid turned out to be the “The Bruce and Denny Show”, with a nearly all-McLaren entry, save for a single Porsche, two Lolas, and two Huffakers, with rumbling papaya-orange cars filling the track.  It was a fitting tribute in the marque’s 60th anniversary year.

Alex MacAllister took victory in this, thanks to some fantastic driving and a 01:26.036 lap time in his McLaren M8F, besting formidable racing driver Gunnar Jeannette’s Porsche 917PA, which finished a scant second behind.  Third place went to Chris Springer who just held off McLaren CEO Zak Brown’s M8D. 

Formula 1 cars of the 1966-1985 three-litre era are another staple of the Monterey Historics, with Saturday’s proceedings dominated by the Tyrrell of Steve Romak, well-known as a fast pedaller of fine machinery.  Giving chase was Charles Nearburg in a Williams FW07C, with the final step on the podium going to Danny Baker driving a McLaren M23 in another fabulous glimpse of history.

Winner of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance “Best of Show” Jim Patterson
J2-04 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

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