The Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion 2017 was held August 12-13 at the 11-turn, 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California. Formerly known as Monterey Pre-Historics, the event is held the weekend before the larger Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The 2017 running of the Monterey Pre-Reunion was again open to the public, allowing spectators to enjoy a more relaxed paddock environment and a glimpse of the following weekend.
The Pre-Reunion is designed to give Monterey Motorsports Reunion entrants — many of whom have never raced on the technical Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca — track time before the green flag officially drops the following weekend. Typically about 50-75 percent of the cars that race in the Reunion also attend the Pre-Reunion and this year was no different, with more than 300 historic racing cars on track compared to 550 for the 2017 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
Cars from the Formula Juniors participating on their Diamond Jubilee World Tour to European sports cars from the 1950s to more recent prototypes from the 1970s and 1980s and a variety of different classic machines competed among 10 run groups and a two-race format. Although the emphasis for the racers was to have fun on the track and test their cars before this weekend’s extravaganza, some particularly spirited performances resulted in race victories.
Dyke Ridgley and Dave Zurlinden swapped first-place finishes in Group 1 (1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars). Zurlinden wheeled his 1953 Tatum GMC Special to the Race 1 win on Saturday with Ridgley’s 1953 Jaguar C-Type following close, and they swapped positions in Race 2 on Sunday. Ridgley tripled-up with a pair of wins in Group 3 (1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars under & over 2000cc) in his other car, a 1960 Chaparral I that once belonged to Jim Hall.
Group 2 (1955-1962 GT Cars) was dominated by Alec Hugo’s 1962 Porsche 356B, a regular at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Chris Drake collected top honors on both days in Group 4 (1958-1960 Formula Jr. — front engine/drum brakes). Drake ran in front of the pack with one of only six 1961 Elva 300s ever built and one of only four known to still exist. The other Formula Junior group (1961-1963 Formula Junior — disc brakes) featuring a Saturday win by Timothy de Silva. On Sunday, Scott Drnek was the leader in Race 2 with his 1963 Brabham BT-6.
Race 1 and Race 2 in Group 5 (1961-1966 GT Cars under 2500cc) were swept by Brazilian driver Dalmo de Vasconcelos. The Rio de Janeiro native made the most of the 189 cubic inches powering his 1965 Lotus.
Decorated racer Bruce Canepa was at the top of the list on both days in Group 6 (1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT Car). Canepa’s 1979 Porsche 935 is the last factory-built 935 before Porsche stopped production to concentrate on prototype racing.
Group 7 (1963-1966 GT Cars over 2500cc) had different winners on Saturday and Sunday. Jeffrey Abramson got the win in Race 1 with his 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster while Alex MacAllister took Race 2 in his 1966 Ford GT40.
Keith Frieser won Race 1 in Group 8 (1970-1984 Sports Racing Cars under 2100cc) with the Canadian driver setting the pace in his 1972 Lola T290. Mike Thurlow raced to the front in Race 2 with his 1973 Lola T294 once raced by Augie Pabst.
The run group that closed the show was Group 10 (1981-1991 FIA, IMSA GTO, GTP Cars). In a 1986 Porsche 962 that won in its debut at the 1986 Six Hours of Riverside with Price Cobb driving, Zak Brown earned top honors on both days. Brown is currently the Executive Director of McLaren Technology Group.
Notable and interesting entrants at the 2017 Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion included Peter Giddings’ 1953 Lancia D24/5; Dyke Ridgley’s Jaguar C-Type, 1958 Scarab MkI, 1960 Chaparral I and 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight; Robert Bodin’s 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Tour De France’; Wolfgang Friedrichs’ 1954 Aston Martin DB3S and 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT; Herb Wetanson’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta; Jeffrey Abramson’s 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider; Alex Curtis’ 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe; Jonathan Feiber’s 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage; Ned Spieker’s 1957 Maserati 200SI and 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta; Chip Connor’s 1980 Porsche 935J and Chris MacAllister’s 1966 Ford GT40 and 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 FIA; among a host of others.
Similar to 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, Sports Car Digest also documented the Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion 2017, with Senior Photographer Dennis Gray highlighting the entrants enjoying their track time at Laguna Seca.
Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion 2017 – Photo Gallery (photos: Dennis Gray)
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