1969 Chevrolet Corvette
Michael Origer - 1969 Chevrolet Corvette

2022 SVRA Trans-Am Speedfest at Weathertech Raceway, Laguna Seca

Driving into Monterey’s Laguna Seca on Thursday, the weather did not look good. A cold rain was accented by an even more frigid wind. Still, the paddock was filling with cars, mostly covered with polyethylene sheets. With the rain, not many drivers took advantage of the track for testing. But my iPhone weather app was positive for the rest of the weekend, showing sun with a few clouds Friday through Sunday.

By Friday morning, the paddock was full of a selection of vintage racers and Historic Trans-Am race cars. Still, the weather was not helping as the rain and wind were more potent than Thursday. The SVRA Weather Gods prevailed, and by 1 PM, the rain had gone east, leaving a heavy cloud cover.  With the wind, the track was quickly drying, leaving only a few wet areas to be avoided.

SVRA brought to Weathertech Laguna Seca twelve groups of Vintage cars and the Historic Trans-Am cars.

1968 Ford Mustang Tunnel Port 302
James J Bittle – 1968 Ford Mustang Tunnel Port 302 ©2022 Dennis Gray

Historic Trans-Am cars from 1966 to 1972, the heyday of Trans-Am racing. Beautifully restored vehicles taken back to their original condition as they first appeared on track. Dan Gurney has said that Trans-Am “was the very best kind of road racing” Parnelli Jones said, “The Trans-Am was the greatest road racing series that has ever run over here.”

Twenty-one cars were entered; not all twenty-one made the show. Those cars that made the show Saturday and Sunday put on an exciting display of nose-to-tail racing. Each lap displayed multiple passing from the first to the last car. Spectators under the trees inside The Corkscrew were loud with their cheering.

1970 Chevrolet Camero
Dennis Singleton – 1970 Chevrolet Camero ©2022 Dennis Gray

SVRA Group one consisted of small production sedans such as the Mini Minor or Turner 950S. Tight close racing with lots of passing.

1965 Triumph Spitfire
Steve Meline – 1965 Triumph Spitfire ©2022 Dennis Gray

SVRA group two small-bore open-wheel racers. Merlyn, Brabham and Winkelmann among others. These guys pulled passing maneuvers on each of Laguna’s eleven turns.  Often open-wheel to open-wheel.

1968 Chevron B10
Glenn Bilawsky – 1968 Chevron B10

SVRA Group two consists of everyone’s favorite cars. Small-bore production cars for the fifties through seventies. Porsche 356, 914, and Morgan 4/4 plus a Datsun Roadster and Austin Healeys. Even a Triumph TR4, GT6, and an Elva Courier.

1970 Porsche 914-4
James Dean – 1970 Porsche 914-4 ©2022 Dennis Gray

SVRA Group four was a smaller group of three cars. My favorite is a Sadler Mk IV Chevy special, a Porsche Abarth GTL, perhaps the most elegant car of the weekend, and a Genie Sports Racer. Not a large group but a group populated with fast, loud, beautiful cars.

1963 Genie SR
Bob Roth – 1963 Genie SR ©2022 Dennis Gray

SVRA Group five was three group 5A cars and eight group 5B cars. Both groups consisted of small-bore sports racers. They are quick through Laguna’s tight infield, followed by going up the hill five through seven, then the drop-down the Corkscrew.

1968 Ginetta G16
Nik Romano – 1968 Ginetta G16 ©2022 Dennis Gray

SVRA Group Six was a combination of A production, B production, GT, and two TAS cars. Big loud, and fast. Watching these cars pop over turn two’s ridge and then drop at speed down the track before braking to get into the tight turn two was an education in braking and passing.

Close racing with some paint sharing by the end of the weekend.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette
Michael Origer – 1969 Chevrolet Corvette

SVRA Group seven had three cars. But what a three. If you are old enough to remember the USRRC races held at Laguna, the 1965 McLaren and the 1967 McLaren brought back fond memories. They were joined by a third car, a McLaren M12 from the Can-Am days. There is nothing in racing like standing inside turn eight, The Corkscrew, when you first hear one of these big Chevrolet engines in a Can-Am or USRRC car fire up down below in the pits, then as they pull onto the track, following their sound around the track until they pop into view entering The Corkscrew. Great fun.

1967 McLaren M1C
Grant Perryman – 1967 McLaren M1C

SVRA Group 8 was one of the largest groups of the weekend. Datsun 510, BMW 2202, Nissan, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Ford, and Toyota made up this group. Tight racing was once again the word.

SVRA Group nine was Formula Atlantic, Mazda Pro Formula, FSV, and other fast formula cars. Maybe the quickest group through The Corkscrew.

2004 Mazda Pro Formula
James Johnston, Jr. – 2004 Mazda Pro Formula

SVRA Group ten was composed of bigger GT cars. Chevrolet Camaro’s, a Viper, Porsches of various denominations including a 935, Thunderbird, Lumina, and others. NASCAR mixed with Pony Cars, Porsche, and Dekon Monzas.

1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass
Gordon Johnson – 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass ©2022 Dennis Gray

SVRA Group eleven was a small group in number but not in visual excitement. A Kudzu-Mazda, Audi R8-LMP and a Norm M20F made up this group. If watching the Audi R8-LMP navigate Laguna Seca does not get your heartbeat accelerated, you are at the wrong event.

2005 Audi R8 LMP
Travis Engen – 2005 Audi R8 LMP ©2022 Dennis Gray

SVRA Group twelve A and twelve B was a combined nine cars. A swift 1968 Datsun Fairlady, BMW CSL and a 325, 2013 Mustang, 911RSR, a couple of Datsun 260Z, Dodge Viper composed group twelve.

1973 BMW CSL
Chandler Briscoe – 1973 BMW CSL

SVRA ran combined groups so that the spectator often was at a loss as to what groups were on track. Every qualifying session and race produced exciting nose-to-tail or door-to-door racing. It would be hard to find a better example of vintage racing on Laguna’s vintage track than these SVRA drivers and cars provided.

Next week SVRA pulls its trucks, tents, cars, crews, and drivers from Weathertech Laguna Seca Raceway and moves 2 hours 30 minutes, 153.3 miles North up 101 to Sears Point Sonoma Raceway, where they set up camp and start over again this coming weekend. April 28th through May 1st, SVRA will be racing at Sears Point. If you enjoy vintage racing, do not miss this opportunity.

2022 SVRA Trans-Am Speedfest Photo Gallery