Chris MacAllister, in his 1971 McLaren M8F, was one of a 20-plus car Can-Am field that delighted the large crowd.
Photo: Dennis Gray
For the 35th renewal of the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, organizer Steve Earle decided to depart from his usual tradition of honoring a specific marque and instead turned the event’s annual tribute toward the three and half decades that his creation has graced racing’s annual calendar.
Included in that broad tribute were: recognition of Alfa Romeo as the original event’s honoree; participation in the worldwide Golden Jubilee tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of Formula Junior; the Ferrari Historic Challenge; and daily Laps of Honor by special guest Mario Andretti in one of the Lotus 79s he used to secure his Formula One World Championship 30 years ago.
Under its big-top tent in the paddock, event-sponsor Rolex presented the latest edition of its “Moments in Time” exhibit, featuring—along with that ex-Mario Lotus—the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900-B that Phil Hill drove to victory on the old road circuit at ancestral Pebble Beach in 1951, a century-old Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix car that earned this year’s Monterey Cup for owner George Wingard, a 1927 Grand Prix Delage from The Collier Collection, the 1960 Kurtis-Epperly Indy roadster that A.J. Foyt drove to the first of his seven National Championships and one of the Ferrari 312 PB prototypes the Scuderia used to win the World Sports Prototype Championship in 1972.
Displayed outside the tent were a number of other relevant machines, among them the Brawner Hawk Indy car that Mario drove to the National Championship in 1966, the Ford Fairlane stock car with which he won the 1967 Daytona 500, a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa from the era when Hill and Olivier Gendebien took a hat trick of wins at Le Mans, and the Ferrari 375MM Hill shared with Richie Ginther during the 1954 Carrera Panamericana.
Beyond those static displays, a number of “living museum” moments combined to make the 35th Anniversary Historics even more, well, historic. On Friday, the nearby Laureles Grade Road reverberated to the 5-liter bellowing of vintage Trans-Am cars as they caravanned up the hill and down into Carmel Valley for The Quail Motorsport Gathering before returning to the track a couple of hours later. Saturday featured the Toyota Race of Legends, where retired F1 shoes Derek Bell, Eddie Cheever, Johnny Herbert, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Alan Jones, Danny Sullivan, Patrick Tambay, and John Watson were joined by current Toyota F1 driver Timo Glock, Speed TV host Alain de Cadenet, and local buy-a-ride-for-charity-winner Bruce Canepa for a 10-lap dash in identical Scion tC sport coupes. As you might expect, Glock won, donating his $25,000 prize to the Frankfurt Children’s Hospital in his native Germany.
Next year’s 36th renewal, scheduled for August 14–16, will revert to the standard format and spotlight Porsche as the featured marque. Make your reservations now.