Cars and drivers relive past glories at Monterey Reunion
One of Rock and Roll’s most enthusiastic lead singers on stage is the rock band AC/DC’s Brian Johnson. His enthusiasm intensifies, however, when he puts on his driver’s suit and climbs into his 1965 Lola T-70 like he will do tomorrow at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, where 550 historic automobiles are competing in 17 groups that run the gamut from Pre-1940 Sports Racing and Touring Cars to 1981-1989 FIA Mfg. Championship & IMSA GTPs.
|1955 Ferrari 375|
“This is my first time here at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and my first time at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” said the 63-year-old Scotsman, who resides in Sarasota, Fla., “but I’m going to come here for the rest of my life, and that’s a promise. “
In today’s precursor to weekend racing action, Johnson, like all of the other entrants, determined his grid position (a very respectable 7th out of 42) on the famous 2.238 mile road racing track that includes among its signature turns “The Corkscrew,” with a 5 ½ story drop in only 450 feet of track length, and the “Andretti Hairpin,” which, by virtue of its name alone, needs no further description.
“When I heard the sound of the big V8s of my race group all take off at the drop of the green flag, I thought if Zeus were here and created thunder, this is what it would have sounded like,” said Johnson, bringing to mind lyrics from one of his most famous songs: “Thunderstruck” (The Razor’s Edge, 1990).
“I’ve been racing for about 14 years on-and-off,” he said, “and unfortunately, because of my day job where I am traveling for a couple of years at a time, I have to keep coming back and re-learning the driving technique. It is such a privilege to be sitting in a car that really good drivers once drove. Keeping the car on the track and coming anywhere close to what the original drivers have done is an achievement. “
Johnson, who added that in January of 2012 he also will satisfy his life-long ambition of racing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, feels that driving in a race and getting on stage are very similar.
“You don’t give everything away at the first corner, just as you never give away everything at the start of a show,” he said. “You have to keep it steady and then you build and build, and you get faster and smoother while building to a crescendo and leaving the crowd wanting more. In both, you have a team of guys who make it all possible. In actuality, the car belongs to the crew; as a driver you are just borrowing it for a while. The main thing is to always stay calm; it is always a challenge when I get into a race car. Having driven this Lola, I really appreciate the guys who raced these cars in the 1960s. It’s no wonder they called them widow makers.”
Johnson also alluded to the fact that half the joy of competing in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is in the journey to get there. Like many competing here, he has an impressive car collection, and one of his cars, a 1930s Bentley that he calls “Thunder Guts,” was his transportation to the track this morning. “That was fun,” said Johnson. “It was like flying a WWI bomber across the mountains with the goggles fogging up, and coming down the mountain was even more fun with these old drum brakes.“
A Collector, A Gentleman
Tom Malloy (Corona, Calif.), who came to the track in his 1932 Ford hot rod, is one of the classic “gentleman drivers,” as they are known in the vintage automobile racing world. He will race three of his cars at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and display four of his cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. His status as such, however, was a long time coming, since his father, who owned a race track and raced cars himself, discouraged his son from doing the same.
“It wasn’t until 20 years after my father passed away that I felt, ‘well, I think Dad would be okay with it if I started racing now,’” said Malloy, adding that it was 1992 when he went to driving school and began collecting cars. In November 1996 he participated in his first vintage race and hasn’t looked back since.
Malloy described his 1957 Lister Jaguar as previously owned by Sid Silverman and one of the original classic Lister knobblys. His Porsche 962 with the Leyton House livery was raced mostly in Japan in the late 1980s, but it also raced one year at Le Mans. “This is really a sweet car and so much fun to drive,” said Malloy before getting on the course today. “It’s hard for me to believe I am really going to be in that car in a half hour or so; sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure it is for real.” His McLaren M8E has about 800 horsepower and it is scary quick, he says. “Of the three cars I will be racing, it is the most intimidating.”
Tracing the Evolution of a Legacy: The Jaguar Heritage Display
When fans at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion aren’t watching racing, they have plenty to explore, including the race paddocks, shops in the Yamaha Marketplace and special display, such as this year’s museum-quality Jaguar Heritage Display, which expertly chronicles the history of Jaguar and the development of its most important cars.
The display timeline starts when 21-year-old William Lyons founded his Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, while the earliest car displayed is the SS100, first introduced in 1936 and produced until the outbreak of WWII. This car is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cars of its time, and with only about 300 of them built, it makes it one of the rarest Jaguars produced.
The timeline ends with Tom Walkinshaw and his TWR organization, which took over from Group 44 with Walkinshaw’s Jaguar XJR-9 (also on display). This car won six out of nine races in 1988 in the World Sportscar Championship and won Le Mans –Jaguar’s first win since 1957.
The cars appearing in between these bookends are equally fascinating:
The XK120--Produced from 1948 to 1954 and the first to be badged as a Jaguar, its 120 mph top speed made it the fastest production car of its day. The great American racer Phil Hill established himself as a winner by racing an XK120 in the early days of his career and the Jaguar racing pedigree was established by this remarkable car.
C-Type--It utilized the running gear of the XK120 in combination with a light-weight tubular chassis. In 1951, the C-Type was victorious in its maiden Le Mans race. In 1953, the C-Type was again victorious, and this time it became the first car to average 100 mph at the 24-hour endurance race.
D-Type—This was the next phase of the Jaguar evolution, winning Le Mans in 1955 and 1956. In 1957, Jaguar D-Types finished first through fourth and sixth, proving that aerodynamic design was an essential element to motor racing success. The D-Types were achieving over 170 mph along the Mulsanne Straight.
E-Type--Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the Jaguar E-Type made its racing debut in 1961, only one month after it was introduced at the Geneva motorshow. Graham Hill and Roy Salvadore dominated the race at Oulton Park and gave the E-Type its first win. The following year, Briggs Cunningham and Roy Salvadore won their class at Le Mans and throughout its racing years E-Types proved to be the cars to beat. In 1973, Jaguar introduced the V12 engine for the E-Type, and it was with this engine that Bob Tullius won the SCCA B Production Championship in 1975.
XJS--Jaguar replaced the E-Type with the XJS in 1975. Bob Tullius and Group 44 developed this new car for the Trans-Am series and won that series in 1977.
XJR-5--Tullius developed further momentum when his Group 44 built the magnificent XJR-5 around the proven V12 engine. The Jaguar XJR-5 is regarded as one of the most beautiful race cars ever designed. This car won its first GTP race in 1983 and was the inspiration behind Jaguar returning to Le Mans after a 22-year hiatus and then won its class in 1985.
A DAY OF ELEGANCE AT THE QUAIL, A MOTORSPORTS GATHERING
|Quail Motorsports Reunion|
Imagine a charming garden party on a golf course with live music and unlimited food and drink. Now make that golf course the perfectly manicured Quail Lodge Course, the food organic and gourmet (think oysters and caviar next to local, vine-ripened tomatoes), the drink top-of-the line champagne, the tickets nearly impossible to obtain and then add row upon row of beautiful cars of all eras. Welcome to The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, an unequalled lifestyle experience that combines landmark automobiles, an impressive culinary presentation and a peaceful, luxurious atmosphere.
This year marked the ninth edition of the Motorsports Gathering at the Quail Lodge. The Quail is a reunion that highlights both vintage sporting cars and exceptional cuisine, taking advantage of its proximity to organic produce providers and several of California’s leading wineries to create a lavish feast for this ultra-exclusive event. Richard Charlesworth (UK) served again as the event Master of Ceremonies, keeping the crowd informed and entertained throughout the day as the event programming came to life. Currently the Director of Royal and VIP relations at Bentley Motors, Charlesworth’s British accent gave the day’s announcements unexpected charm as he walked the crowd through the many aspects of The Gathering.
Starting off yesterday’s festivities was the official Opening Ceremony, initiated by a fly pass by four CJ6 Aircraft, military trainer planes originally designed in 1958 that are still used in ten countries around the globe today. Roaming Mariachi bands set the scene as event host the Honorable Sir Michael Kadoorie, Owner of the Quail Resort and Golf Course, and event champagne provider Louis Roederer, took to the stage at 10:00 to welcome the crowd. “As I look out over the lawn, I see you are here not only with your passion, but also in larger numbers at this time of the day than I have ever seen before,” said Sir Michael Kadoorie. “You have some wonderful cars around you, I welcome you to enjoy our garden party and make sure that you drink plenty of champagne!”
The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering is known as one of the most prestigious parties of the Monterey Classic Car Week. The limited number of high-end tickets sold out months in advance, yet inside the crowd flowed with ease on the green. Celebrities like TV personality Jay Leno, driving legend Derek Bell and AC/DC front man Brian Johnson mingled among the crowds, conducting interviews and admiring the vehicles on display. Amongst the automobiles were five dining areas set up for tasting pleasure, each with a geological theme designed to transport the taste buds: Carmel Valley, Italy, Spain, Mediterranean and France. Each culinary corner had fitting live music and respective color themes to mark the occasion. As the people moved through the food, jewelery and vendor tents, the cars set up on the green acted as the common denominator for almost all conversation. Groups included “The Great Ferraris”, “Pre-War Sports and Racing”, “Super Cars”, “Bugatti Veyrons” and “50th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type” among others. The cars were in immaculate condition, and with no details left unattended one could imagine they looked as good as, if not better than, the day they were originally produced. Some cars also came over from the Mazda Raceway where they are participating in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. A police escort led the cars onto The Quail field and participants joined the party for lunch before heading back to the track in the early afternoon.
Other highlights of the day include Bonhams & Butterfields Auctions and the ever-important prize giving ceremony, which awards multiple prizes including the coveted Rolex Best of Show. This award is chosen by the entrants for the automobile that best distinguishes itself in both design and presentation. This year’s Best of Show Award went to the 1955 Ferrari 375 America owned by Jack Thomas of Missouri, and Rolex Watch U.S.A. CEO Stuart Wicht presented Mr. Thomas with a Rolex Timepiece along with his event trophy. Rolex has been the Official Timekeeper of The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering since 2005 and is proud to support this Monterey Classic Car Week tradition. This is one garden party that continues to grow every year, going above and beyond expectations for the type of classic gathering one has come to expect during the weeklong festival of vintage motorsports here on the Monterey Peninsula.
ROLEX DINNER HONORS MARTIN BRUNDLE
|Martin Brundle and Howden Ganley|
Last night saw the glamorous Bernardus Lodge, a well-known Carmel hot spot, play host to the Rolex Dinner in honor of Martin Brundle and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2011. Guests and VIPs gathered for a cocktail hour before dinner, mixing in with motorsports personalities and Rolex guests. The vineyards set the scene for motorsports VIPs such Howden Ganley, a 1970's Formula 1 driver, Former Driver and racing school founder Skip Barber, Daytona Internal Speedway President Joie Chitwood, and numerous participants from the Monterey Reunion, including Jim Alder, who is on his 101st race and who drives his race car to Monterey from Reno, Nevada, every year.
The British Guest of Honor for the evening, Martin Brundle, is well known in the motorsport world for what he has accomplished both on and off the track. Brundle is currently an F1 commentator for BBC, known for his witty and (often brutally) honest commentary in addition to his former career as a Formula One and sportscar driver. Brundle originally raced in British Formula Three and competed in the 1983 Championship with Ayrton Senna, finishing a close second and moving directly into Formula One with Senna the next year. He raced in Formula One for over 12 years and 158 races, during which time he saw ten podiums and 98 points. Brundle’s connection with Jaguar began in 1982 with touring cars, and he won the 1988 World Sportscar Championship with record points, took victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona that same year and also won the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Jaguar XJR-12.
“Our guest tonight is truly remarkable man,” said MC for the evening and Rolex motorsport correspondent, Murray Smith. “Not only has he successfully competed at the highest level of motorsport, but he has also positioned himself with wit, knowledge and intelligence as one of the most respected commentators and writers on Formula One.”
“I picked out a piece he wrote at one stage that I believe says a lot about him,” continued Smith, reading Brundle’s words: “‘As a former Formula One driver I have earned the right to have an opinion. 400 Grand Prix, 158 as a driver; I have broken bones, I have spilled blood, I have shed tears, I have generated tons of adrenaline and sweat, I have tasted the champagne and I have plumbed the depths,’ which I think gives him the right to speak openly.”
Brundle took to the stage and the two discussed motor racing dreams and disappointments, along with Brundle’s past experiences on the track. In regards to the evolution of the cars, Brundle said, “Often nowadays you can’t even see the drivers as they’re buried in the cars. I think that’s why classic racing, like what we are going to see this weekend, is so interesting: you can see the drivers at work and that’s a treat today.”
This year’s races at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion kicked off today, with racing continuing on through tomorrow until the evening prize giving.
Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
Once each year, on the third Sunday in August, about 200 of the most prized collector cars and motorcycles in the world roll onto what is often called the best finishing hole in golf - the famed eighteenth fairway at Pebble Beach. Tire meets turf and transformation occurs: the stage is set for one of the most competitive events in the automotive world. The occasion is the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Originally a small social event paired with a road race through the pine and cypress forests of Pebble Beach, the Pebble Beach Concours has grown into the top-ranking collector car show in the world. People from all over the globe come to compete in or simply enjoy the event at Pebble Beach.
Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance
presented by Rolex
The Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance presented by Rolex is an annual driving event that delights entrants and spectators alike.
Initiated to showcase the elegance of the automobile in motion, the Tour also underscores the early history of the place that is Pebble Beach. Decades before golf links were laid out along the edge of the Pacific Ocean, this area was known for its scenic drive, winding for miles through pine and cypress forest, dancing alongside dramatic cliffs and leading, ultimately, to a beautiful crescent-shaped bay. The traditional Tour traces portions of the original 17-Mile Drive, traverses nearby mountains and valleys, dips down famed Highway One and pauses for a time in charming Carmel-by-the-Sea. Tour participants enjoy a catered gourmet lunch, a champagne celebration at the finish and commemorative gifts.
The Tour is open to all entrants in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. And spectators are invited to view the Tour at key points along the route, including stops at the Carmel Mission and along Ocean Avenue in Carmel. It is important to note that the Tour and the Concours are directly linked. If two vehicles tie in class competition at the Concours, the vehicle that has successfully completed the Tour gets the nod.