Rick Knoop's 1972 McLaren M8F with 8357cc.
Rick Knoop's 1972 McLaren M8F with 8357cc.

Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 2014 – Report and Photos

The Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 2014 was held May 16-18 at Sonoma Raceway Sears Point in Sonoma, California. Sunny and warm weather greeted the nearly 350 vintage and historic cars that competed in 14 groups on the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course in Northern California’s wine country. This year’s Historics celebrated the Can-Am Series, which ran from 1966 to 1974, with a focus on the unique Shadow race cars that competed from 1970-1974.

From a 1929 Lagonda, a 1911 National 40, to a cadre of booming McLaren Can-Am cars from the ’60s and ‘70s, and the fan-favorite Trans-Am cars of the same era, an enthusiastic crowd was treated to close competition among many classic race cars from the last 100 years. Other notable entrants included the 1970 Gulf Porsche 917K; 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Tour de France; 1953 Jaguar C-Type; 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo 8C-35; 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage; 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight; 1974 BMW 3.5 CSL; 1976 Porsche 935 K3; 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 FIA; 1928 Bugatti 35B; 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 MM and 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.

The featured race at the 4th annual Sonoma Historics – 1966-1974 Historic Can-Am Cars – was won by Spencer Trenery in a black 1970 McLaren M8C, followed by the 1972 McLaren M8F of Rick Knoop and the 1968 McLaren M6B of Robert Ryan. Fred Cziska’s 1972 Shadow DN2 and Dennis Losher’s 1971 Shadow MKII finished fifth and eighth, respectively.

Dyke Ridgley posted double-header victories, taking the victory in both Group 3 (1946-1955 Sports Racing and Production Cars) with his 1953 Jaguar C-Type and Group 5 (1955-1960 Sports Racing Cars) in his 1960 Maserati Type 61 Birdcage. Additional race winners included a 1970 Porsche 908/3 driven by Cameron Healy, a 1936 ERA R6B, raced by Charles McCabe, a 1962 Lotus 22 Formula Junior piloted by Carl Moore and a 1971 Chevron B-19 driven by Randall Smith.

“The weekend was successful once again,” said Steve Earle, president of General Racing, Ltd. “We are very proud of the quality of our drivers. We had only one minor incident, but otherwise it was a good, clean, fun weekend for all the participants and fans. That’s what it’s supposed to be, and has always been.”

Similar to 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, Senior Photographer Dennis Gray also documented the 2014 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival, offering the following images that highlight the quality field at this year’s event. We split up Dennis’ 180 pictures into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view of Sports Car Digest, while the second gallery and race results can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs.

Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 2014 – Featured Photo Gallery

1953 Jaguar XK 120C Chassis No. 053 Chassis 053 is the last of C Types built in 1953 and one of the three lightweight C Types built in 1953. These three Lightweight cars used disc brakes, thiner alloy body panels mounted to thinner and smaller chassis tubes. Weber carburetors were used for the first time on a factory Jaguar race car. The rear suspension was modified with Panhard Rod and upper trailing arms. The three lightweights were among the first racecars to use a rubber bladder fuel cell. O53 Was a factory car in 1953 then migrated to the Ecurie Ecosse team in 1954. 053 Is the only lightweight retaining it’s original bodywork. 1953 LeMans 24 Hours Moss/walker 2nd OA. 1953 Lisbon Gran prix Moss 2nd OA 1953 Goodwood Nine Hours Whitehead/Stewart 3rd OA 1953 Tourist Trophy Moss/Walker 3rd OA 1954 Castle Combe Stewart 2nd OA 1954 Zandvoort Sanderson 1st OA 1954 Barcelona Sanderson 3rd OA Engine: Jaguar 3.823cc DOHC inline 6, iorn block with aluminum cylinder head, wet sump, 12.0 to 1 compression, three Weber 45 DCO3 carburetors. 323 b.h.p. with a 6,500 r.p.m. redline. 146 m.p.h. top speed with the current gearing. Dunlop Disc brakes with six piston front and four piston rear calipers. The gearbox drives a hydraulic brake booster. For the 2014 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 053 carries the number 17 as it did during the 1953 Le Mans event. 053 is being driven by Dyke Ridgley.
Car of Interest, 1953 Jaguar XK 120C – Chassis 053 is the last C-Type built in 1953 and one of the three lightweights built that year. These three lightweight cars used disc brakes, thinner alloy body panels mounted to thinner and smaller chassis tubes. Weber carburetors were used for the first time on a factory Jaguar race car. The rear suspension was modified with Panhard Rod and upper trailing arms. The three lightweights were among the first race cars to use a rubber bladder fuel cell. Chassis O53 Was a factory car in 1953 then migrated to the Ecurie Ecosse team in 1954. 053 is the only lightweight retaining its original bodywork. Finished 2nd overall at 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours Moss/Walker; 1953 Lisbon Gran Prix Moss 2nd OA; 1953 Goodwood Nine Hours Whitehead/Stewart 3rd OA; 1953 Tourist Trophy Moss/Walker 3rd OA; 1954 Castle Combe Stewart 2nd OA; 1954 Zandvoort Sanderson 1st OA; 1954 Barcelona Sanderson 3rd OA. Powered by a Jaguar 3.823cc DOHC inline 6, iron block with aluminum cylinder head, wet sump, 12.0 to 1 compression, three Weber 45 DCO3 carburetors. 323 b.h.p. with a 6,500 r.p.m. redline. 146 m.p.h. top speed with the current gearing. Dunlop Disc brakes with six piston front and four piston rear calipers. The gearbox drives a hydraulic brake booster. For the 2014 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival, chassis 053 carried the number 17 as it did during the 1953 Le Mans event.
Porsche 908/3-007 Porsche 908/3-007 is one of eleven Mark 3 examples built for the 1970 and 71 seasons. 007 Was a factory or works race car. The 908 was originally built and raced as a closed low drag coupe. 1969 Saw the introduction of a lighter open Spyder version the 908/2. 1970 saw the introduction of the 908/3 to run on the tracks favoring a lighter more nimble car then the 917. 007 was first entered in the 1970 Targa Florio as a works car with the “sunburst” livery it wears today. Driven by Vic Elford and Hans Herman it crashed on the first lap and was retired. Brother cars 008 and 009 finished first and second. 908/3-007 next raced at the 1971 1,000kms of Nurburgring under Martini Racing livery finishing third driven by Gijs von Lennep and Helmet Marko. At the end of the 1971 season 007 was sold to a privateer team. In 2002 007 debut at 2000 Monterey Historics. Sense 2012 Cameron Healy has owned and campaigned the car out of his Portland Oregon shops.
Car of Interest, 1970 Porsche 908/3 – Porsche 908/3-007 is one of 11 Mark 3 examples built for the 1970 and ’71 seasons. 007 was a factory or works race car originally built and raced as a closed low drag coupe. Chassis 007 was first entered in the 1970 Targa Florio as a works car with the “sunburst” livery it wears today. Driven by Vic Elford and Hans Herman it crashed on the first lap and was retired. (Brother cars 008 and 009 finished first and second). 908/3-007 next raced at the 1971 1,000kms of Nurburgring under Martini Racing livery, finishing third driven by Gijs von Lennep and Helmet Marko. At the end of the 1971 season 007 was sold to a privateer team. Since 2012 Cameron Healy has owned and campaigned the car out of Portland, Oregon.
My vote for "drive of the weekend" goes to Henry Schmitt in this 1974 BMW 3.5 CSL chassis no.987. This car was raced by Hans Stuck and Sam Posey in the 1974/75 IMSA season. The real story and what makes this car/driver/crew combination so interesting is this, the car has been down for two years undergoing an engine and chassis rebuild. Bill Watson's RoadRockets garage here at Sears Point got the CSL up and running late Saturday afternoon. Henry took to the track Sunday afternoon in the group 13a with no seat time in the car for the past year or more. Starting 21st of 22 cars Henry drove the CSL through the pack ending the race in fourth over al second in class. To watch the car in traffic was an education in clean fast driving.
Car of Interest, 1974 BMW 3.5 CSL – Drive of the weekend goes to Henry Schmitt in this 1974 BMW 3.5 CSL, chassis number 987. This car was raced by Hans Stuck and Sam Posey in the 1974 and ’75 IMSA season. The story about what makes this car/driver/crew combination so interesting is that the car has been undergoing an engine and chassis rebuild for two years. Bill Watson’s RoadRockets garage at Sears Point first got the CSL up-and-running late Saturday afternoon. Henry took to the track Sunday afternoon in the Group 13a with no seat time in the car for the past year or more. Starting 21st of 22 cars, Henry drove the CSL through the pack ending the race in fourth overall and second in class. Watching Schmitt wheel the CSL in traffic was an education in clean, fast driving.
1971 Shadow MKII driven by Dennis Losher.
1971 Shadow MK II driven by Dennis Losher.

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Bugatti.
1928 Bugatti Type 35B
1911 National driven by Brian Blain and his intrepid riding mechanic.
1911 National driven by Brian Blain and his intrepid riding mechanic.
Charles McCabe in his 1936 ERA R6B.
Charles McCabe in his 1936 ERA R6B.
Over the hill between turns three and four Tom price in his 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300MM.
Over the hill between turns three and four Tom price in his 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300MM.

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Show Comments (7)

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  1. In life, we strive to get better and improve no matter what the task. Dennis….you can stop now! Its not possible to take better pictures than these.

  2. Bill.
    Thanks. It helps that the cars and drivers put on such a great show. The drive Ken Epson put on Saturday taking his Dekon Monza from last to third then Sunday’s drive by Henry Schmitt in his 3.5 CSL BMW Batmobile from near last to fourth were both lessons on how to drive aggressively and quickly without bending any sheet metal. Fun to watch and great to shoot.

  3. Dennis,

    Great shots, but I believe the name is Ken Epsman and he owns several TransAm cars and he can drive them.

  4. Thanks Dennis for your great photographic coverage, especially of my personal favorites the Sports Racing cars. And great to see all your photographs of the North American built Sports Racing cars, and Formula cars. Cheers from Sweden, Graham…

  5. The reports and pix are a treasure for those of us that saw them originally, but must pick and choose opportunities to see the cars and drivers run these days. To that end I’d ask the Digest editors if they’d consider adding a schedule/calendar of vintage events and auctions a bit into the future so we ‘old guys’ might plan/try to attend more of those near enough. For now, keep up the ‘fine art’ you offer that we love.

  6. I think I finished fourth and second in class in group 13a – maybe Schmitt was next?