Monterey Spring Classic – Vintage Machines at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Photography by Bob Heathcote
The inaugural Monterey Spring Classic vintage race car and historic motorcycle exhibition at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca pretty much had it all. Especially if you’re a fan of different genres of road racing. More of an exhibition than a race, it was still an on-the-gas event at the track known for its world-famous Monterey Historics each August.
From the high-speed front stretch to the iconic corkscrew, the thunderous vibrato of all kinds of different engine configurations could be heard echoing throughout the facility. From vintage Formula Atlantic machines, IMSA relics, glory years of F1, the iconic Can Am cars to the golden age of NASCAR – they were all here doing what they do best – charging around the turns and thundering down the stretch.
For newbs that never got the chance to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports like we did as kids, this was the next best thing. We’re talking Jackie Stewart meets Mark Donahue type stuff. Not only that – there were vintage motorcycle classes as well, offering a glimpse of what MotoGP looked like long before Rossi and Marquez.
Events like the Monterey Spring Classic feature a number groups of cars and motorcycles. No less than nine classes defined, which meant many of the machines were on track at the same time but mostly they stay packed together in their individual groups.
Historic Motorcycle Exhibition: Historic motorcycles played well with their four-wheeled vintage counterparts when participating in a special exhibition at the Spring Classic. A variety of different race bikes such as Ducati, Triumph, Bultaco, and Suzuki from 1967 through the 1980s took full advantage of the track time they received on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit. Additional motorcycles were on display in the paddock. Positive reactions from fans and riders alike give promise that historic motorcycles will be a staple of the Spring Classic event for years to come.
Drivers from several of those groups felt the wrath of one of the most modern machines in the paddock, Travis Engen’s 2005 Audi R8 Le Mans Prototype. After winning the sole race contested in the 1983-2007 WSC – LMP/1966-1972 Can-Am class, he closed Saturday’s action with a win in the one-hour enduro that pitted his run group against 1973-1984 SCCA Production GT Cars and Historic Stock Cars.
The Historic Stock Car group had spectators doing double-takes as it brought a mix of familiar cars to an unfamiliar venue. Unlike Sonoma Raceway, NASCAR machines have never made a major circuit stop here. Tom Klauer won both Sunday events in a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo once driven by Jimmie Johnson.
While the machines thundered around the track, fans took advantage of the relaxed atmosphere in the paddock to get up close and personal with the vintage race cars and historic motorcycles when they weren’t tearing up Mazda Raceway’s 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.
1965 Brabham BT 16/21 Steve Davis Carmel, CA “1967 Formula 2 events in Europe w/Brian Redman as driver.
1967 Converted to BT21 Formula/B specs. Rob Leeson returned with it to Canada and won the 1968 Formula/B Championship.
Michael Sweeney Sr – Carmel, CA – 1997 Porsche 993 – Built and run by Aasco Performance in 1998, this car raced IMSA, USRRC, ALMS and Grand Am. Finished 3rd in GTU at the 1999 12 Hours of Sebring, with two more podium finishes at Portland and Las Vegas that season, driven by Bruno Lambert, Mike Conte, Joe Varde, and Randy Pobst. After switching to title sponsorship from search engine Alta Vista, it ran in the debut of Grand Am Road Racing in the 2000 24 Hours of Daytona, with a lineup that included Johnny Rutherford Jr and actor Bobby Carradine. Alta Vista Racing purchased a 996 GT3R halfway through the season and parked this car. It was restored for the 2015 Rennsport Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was its first full race weekend in 15 years.
Car #7 – Kelvin Tse – Granite Bay, CA 1969 Datsun MudShark Racing 510 Pacific Nissan
The driver signals he is OK with Thumbs-Up after a crash in Saturday’s Enduro race.
The positive reaction among fans and racers who experienced the Monterey Spring Classic vintage car race has sown the seeds for a thrilling event that motorsports enthusiasts must put on their to-do lists for coming years.
If you’re a stickler for race results, you can click here for a complete list of podium finishers.
To check out Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 2017 event schedule, click here http://www.mazdaraceway.com/events
About the photographer: For the Monterey Spring Classic we hired Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track photographer Bob Heathcote. Long before he was clicking off frames behind the lens, Bob was pounding out bone-rattling riffs as bassist for crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies. Look him up on Instagram @thebobheathcote