Thirty six years ago, a group of car collectors got together to actually race their old-racecars. It was called the Monterey Historics, later the Rolex Monterey Historics, and the first race was at Laguna Seca on the same weekend as the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Over the years, they were joined by other car related events until the weekend became the biggest car extravaganza on the planet. There were races, four or five car shows, car auctions, art auctions, in a nutty but fabulous weekend. Now, for reasons totally unknown to me, Steve Earle who was the founder and guiding light, is leaving.
But there may be some good news here. Next year the races will be at
Infineon Raceway near Sonoma on June 5th and 6th. It won't be the same,
but, who knows, it might be better.
I have gone probably thirty times to the old Historics to see such featured marquis as Ferrari (several times), Mercedes Benz, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Audi (Auto Union), Porsche, Miller, Chevy powered racecars, Ford powered racecars, Chaparral, Maserati, Jaguar, and on and on. One year, Mercedes brought several late-1930's racecars that they had rebuilt for the occasion. Alfa hired Juan Manuel Fangio to drive the car in which he won the F1 World Championship in 1951. Collectively, the races have been one of the major highlights of my life.
And a lot of other people's life, I suspect.
Below, three collectors race their cars (using the term race rather loosely as collectively the cars are probably worth in excess of three million dollars). From left to right are a D-Type Jaguar similar to the factory car that won the 24 hour Le Mans in 1956; a Ferrari Testarossa (redhead), so named because the cam covers on the V-12 engine were painted red; and, my favorite and one of the most adorable little racecars ever, the Maserati Type 61- called a birdcage because of its unusual frame.
One of the great things about the Historics was that anybody could get into the pits to see the cars up close.
Actually, really close, and maybe ogle is more accurate than see. Look close and you can see that the guy in the Hawaiian shirt is drolling.