Tag Archives: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

THE REUNION

A Timeless Endeavor
MONTEREY, Calif., August 16, 2014 – There are many elements that contribute to the mystique of vintage motor racing, but famous names of drivers from the past transcend all else. At today’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Sir Stirling Moss, one of the sport’s greatest drivers and most recognizable names, made a stir as an honored guest. Indeed, his presence was no less regarded than that of a famous movie star, and after the knighted driver bantered at a lunch break “picnic” for the attending public’s pleasure with the recently retired Scottish driver Allan McNish (three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, most recently in 2013), he obliged hundreds of fans with autographs on everything from a vintage steering wheel to a 1956 photo—showing him dashingly at his prime–that had been saved by a fan for just such a lucky day.
“It’s wonderful to come to events like the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and be surrounded by like-minded people,” said Moss, who retired from racing (vintage cars) when he was 83 and turns 85 in September. “There are many people here who weren’t even born when I stopped racing (professionally), yet they are so polite and respectful; it makes me feel very good.”

Perhaps most fascinating about the exchange between Moss and McNish was the comparison between then—1948 to 1962 when Sir Stirling was racing—and now in terms of the technology available. Moss would have given anything for a data stream to analyze not just elapsed time and top speed but how the car performed at every juncture and what problems might be arising. “Having the intercom on between the driver and the pits is fascinating to me,” said Moss, who talked about many “frightening” moments he had to face alone in his cockpit. McNish knowingly countered, “It’s always risk vs. reward, but it’s a different kind of bravery now.”

Another folk-hero driver, Derek Bell, drove a 1957 Maserati 300S in today’s races, which hosted seven groups of historic automobiles determined by era or class. (Tomorrow, eight entirely different groups will have their turn.) Bell made his mark in motorsports by winning Le Mans five times, The World Sportscar Championship twice, and the Rolex 24 At Daytona three times.

“The most satisfying time for me in my career was obviously being successful in sports cars; however, the fact that I came through Formula 3, Formula 2 and then climbed into a Ferrari Formula 1 car at Watkins Glen in 1968 to finish sixth in my first F1 race was very satisfying,” said Bell. “I couldn’t have done what I did in sports cars had it not been for my experience in single seaters. Thanks to Porsche’s great cars and my great teammates, I consider my racing career a success.”

Bell, who relishes driving “some of the lovely cars I raced in the day,” couldn’t be more pleased about vintage racing’s popularity. “There are plenty of great private vintage car owners out there who have plenty of money to buy the cars and the spare parts; they drive them and enjoy them and then sell them to other people to enjoy. Rolex has done an amazing job of supporting the sport and getting everybody excited to be a part of it.”

Not all the professional drivers at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion are retired. Marino Franchitti is currently competing in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship but also races in select vintage races. Although most of the vintage cars raced in anger before he was born, he appreciates the history they represent.

“Actually I have raced a good number of cars older than me, including a Birdcage Maserati,” said Franchitti. “I like to put myself in similar situations to my heroes and be able to experience that.”

Franchitti’s friend Harley Cluxton only recently bought the car Franchitti raced this morning, a 1975 Gulf Mirage GR8, and it arrived in this country a short while ago. “We’ve had a few issues, but to drive a DFV powered Le Mans prototype from the 1970s is outstanding. This morning we ran out of gas, but while it was running I had such a blast. I’m used to jumping in and out of all different kinds of cars, so I deal with what I have at the time. I never drive these cars 10/10ths; I leave more of a margin than I do in my modern stuff. This whole experience is as much a show for the fans as it is for us, so you have to have a different mentality going in and a different way of approaching it.”

From the Other Side of the Fence
Like the drivers, vintage racing fans like the cars when they are as close to original as possible, obviously with safety improvements within that.

Jim Brown( Davis, Calif.), who is 55 and has been a fan in the stands here for 25 years, explained that watching the cars on track is fun, but it’s more about seeing the cars in displays or the open paddock area and talking to the people who are now keeping the cars that make this event so special. “You have unprecedented access to a lot of drivers you grew up watching, and it’s one of the only races where you can get up close and personal with them to get a signature or ask a question. I have an old car, and it’s just a lifestyle; we’re at the arc, watching the end of an era.”

Sometimes spectators are surprised to see a rare car, which they thought was only for display, come alive. Today when Brian Blaine’s (Visalia, Calif.) minimally restored1923 Ford Model T took a rumbling spin through Pre-War Alley, it almost seemed as natural as having the oldest running Maserati in the world, a red 1928 Tipo 26B that was center stage in the Maserati Heritage Display, join in for a special lap around the track with two faster, sleeker Maseratis: a1955 300S and a 1958 250F that were raced here today.

Rolex enjoys an historic and privileged bond with motor sport and has been Title Sponsor of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion since it was renamed in 2010. (From 2001-2009, Rolex sponsored the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, which originally began in 1974, at this venue.)

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was established in 1957 by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), a not-for-profit 501C(4) corporation. Each race season, SCRAMP donates its net proceeds to the volunteer groups that help put on the races.

F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

Eighth win of the season for rookie Max Verstappen

Season race: 25 of 33
Track: Nürburgring
Winner: Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing)
Pole position: Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing)
Weather: drying track

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) had a perfect start as a Red Bull Junior Team member: at the Nürburgring, the 16-year-old won his first outing in the colours of the Austrian Formula 1 World Championship-winning team. At the 3.629 kilometres long sprint circuit, he won the entertaining 25th FIA Formula 3 European Championship season round from Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). At a drying track, the Dutch rookie driver scored his eighth win of the season and was thus able to reduce the gap to the championship leader. Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam), who finished sixth in the Nürburgring race, remains on top in the drivers’ standings.

The race started at a still wet, but already drying track. Nevertheless, three drivers took the risk of starting with rain tyres: Richard Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport), series’ novice Wing Chung Chang (Team West-Tec F3) and Michele Beretta (Eurointernational). Especially Goddard, who had started from 20th place, benefited from his initial tyre advantage and took the lead on lap seven. On lap 13, he lost it again because his rain tyres degraded and in spite of a spirited drive, he was left without a chance against the faster Max Verstappen. In the remainder of the race, the Australian dropped back more and more and eventually crossed the finish line in 19th place.

Out in front, Verstappen only managed to pull clear from his main rival Antonio Fuoco, while the latter had his compatriot Antonio Giovinazzi in his rear-view mirrors until the end of the race. Jordan King (Carlin) took the chequered flag in fourth place from Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Esteban Ocon, who battled for a long time. Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Santino Ferrucci (Eurointernational) and Edward Jones (Carlin) rounded out the top ten in a race that had plenty of excitement.

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “We knew that the track here dries out quickly, so therefore we opted for slick tyres. I reckon that this was the right choice, even though the first few laps with slicks weren’t easy. When Richard Goddard overtook me, I was well aware that his rain tyres wouldn’t last that long anymore, because at that time, he was already trying to cool his tyres all the time. Therefore, I didn’t defend my position too heavily against his attacks and I just tried not to let him pull away too much.”

Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam): “I had a good start and I even managed to take the lead in the second corner. Being in front at the slippery track, however, wasn’t easy. When I ran too wide in a corner, Max was able to overtake me again. But I am also very happy with second place.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “My start was really good, too, I already managed to move up to third on the opening lap. In the final stages, I was even able to close up to Antonio Fuoco, but I wasn’t close enough to mount an attack. However, I am very happy with third place, especially having started from seventh on the grid.”

F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

Max Verstappen unbeatable in the rain

Season race: 25 of 33
Track: Nürburgring
Pole position race 1: Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing)
Weather: rain

In qualifying for the 25th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:37.036 minutes) came out on top and claimed pole position on a rain-soaked track. The 16-year-old Dutchman, who was appointed a member of the Red Bull Junior Team only a few days ago, completed the 3.629 kilometres long Nürburgring sprint circuit 0.649 seconds faster than second-placed Edward Jones (Carlin, 1:37.685 minutes). Santino Ferrucci (Eurointernational, 1:38.079 minutes) claimed third place, his best classification in a FIA Formula European Championship qualifying to date. The youngest driver in the field was 0.074 seconds faster than Lotus Formula 1 junior driver Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam, 1:38.153 minutes), who had to make do with fourth place.

Max Verstappen dominated the entire first qualifying and eventually claimed first place. Edward Jones only moved up into second place in the final seconds of the session. Santino Ferrucci also set his personal fastest time in the closing stages and moved up to third place. As a result, Esteban Ocon, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship points’ leader, dropped back from second to fourth place just before the end of the session. Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam, 1:38.262 minutes) and Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:38.375 minutes) also lost two positions in the closing stages. They ended up fifth and sixth respectively.

Seventh place behind Austrian driver Auer went to Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:38.501 minutes), who scored his maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship race win at the Red Bull Ring a fortnight earlier. His team-mate Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:38.610 minutes) was classified eighth from Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:38.728 minutes) and Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:38.735 minutes).

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “My qualifying was quite good, but it wasn’t too difficult. I like the Nürburgring and I really like to drive here. On top of that, my car was perfect, the only thing I had to do is drive it without any accidents. Claiming pole position in my first qualifying as a Red Bull Junior Team member is a great feeling.”

Formula 1

LOTUS F1 DRIVERS BELGIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Romain Grosjean looks forward to the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

Did you have ‘des bonnes vacances’?

Yes, very nice. I spent time with my wife and baby son (Sacha), who celebrated his first birthday just after the Hungarian Grand Prix. We had a great time with our families and holidayed. It is nice to switch off even just for a short time. I come back to the paddock refreshed and with energy restored for the next phase of the season.

What is your mind-set as we go into the second part of the season?

Despite the difficulties so far, I feel positive for the rest of the season to come. We have seen that there have been many issues since the start of the year and even before, but as with everything in life you have to look forward and this is exactly what I am doing. This is now my third full season in F1 and although the disappointments always hurt, I am also mature enough to know that when things get tough you are able to learn more and to try and work toward being successful again. I really hope we can do that together as a team for the remainder of the year. That is the aim.

Spa is a great place to start afresh for the second part of the 2014 season isn’t it?

Yes it is. Spa as we all know is one of the best tracks we go to, if not the best of them all. As a driver it is like a dream circuit with elevation change, quick corners, medium speed technical corners and some good straights for overtaking. It’s a circuit with a soul. I always enjoy racing here, as do most of the drivers. What I find memorable about Spa is not only the track but also the beautiful surroundings in the Ardennes forest. From the cockpit you get a very real sense of being at a living, breathing track at Spa and the fans are really close to the action. You can almost smell the frites!

There is no hiding from the fact 2014 has been tough so far. Going forward what can be achieved in the remaining races?

Well, at the end of the day, all we as drivers can do is to do our best every time we get in the car. It has been a very hard year so far but you have to keep looking ahead and hoping that all of the bad luck, issues and tough times get paid back through our determination to make things better. Ever since I have been at Enstone I have seen this determination to succeed and it will help us. When you match these qualities to the skill of the technical team then we should get some rewards in the remaining races. We need to build some momentum and I will be going all out to make sure we get more points and exploit the best of the E22 for the rest of the season.

Is the target to add more points at Spa?

As always, yes. Since Monaco we have had a succession of really hard races where for many reasons we have not been in the position to claim any points. For Spa I am hoping that there will be some improvements so we can show the potential which has been seen on a few occasions, like at Barcelona. We have to reverse the problems that have held us back and I believe that if we get that then we can post more points on the board.

Pastor Maldonado

RACE DRIVER #13

Pastor Maldonado looks forward to the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

What have you been doing in the summer break?

Relaxing as much as possible by spending time with my family and friends. The F1 season is intense with travelling, and time seems to go so fast. It is a much needed break but at the same time my brain is always thinking about the team and the car, so part of me is always focusing on the second half of the season, starting at Spa.

It is important to have this break and to refresh ourselves as a team. I think that being away from the track for a short time is healthy and actually helps get some perspective of where we are and hope things can improve for us going forwards.

Is there a sense of re-focusing now on a strong end to 2014 after a tough first half?

Yes there is. It has been a very hard season and one in which there have been lots of issues. But now that is behind us and we have to believe that we can get some points on the board and complete the season strongly. That way it will give some good momentum to start afresh in 2015 with a whole new exciting package.

What are you targeting now for the rest of the season?

It would be difficult to give a clear aim other than improvement and fighting for points every race. We have seen flashes of big promise from the E22. If everything is running right and the team continues to push then we can get more points for sure. As a team we will stay together with a clear mission to achieve the maximum. That way we will come back stronger and become a force in 2015. But first we are hungrier than ever to get back in to the mix for points again in 2014.

Spa is a legendary place. What makes it so special for you the driver?

Where do you start with Spa? It is an amazing circuit and for sure one of the best on the planet. The sensations a driver experiences at corners like Eau Rouge/Raidillion, Pouhon and Blanchimont are not like you feel anywhere else in the world. It is unique in every way and to think you are competing on parts of the track that were used back in the first Grand Prix season in 1950 makes it very special indeed.

What are your favourite memories of Spa?

Spa is the type of track where you get great memories whenever or whatever you are racing. But of course the ones that really stick in the memory are the victories and I am lucky that I have won here a few times.

I first raced at Spa in 2004 in Formula Renault. In 2006 I won in World Series by Renault at Spa, taking pole, fastest lap and the victory. Then in 2008 I won in the GP2 Series for the first time. Then I took another win in my championship year in 2010 which was a sweet moment. In Formula 1 I qualified sixth in 2012. So all in all I have great memories of the track and feel that I have a special relationship with it going back many years.

With a vast variety of corners at Spa how do you think the E22 will perform there.

We hope it’s good there. If we can have a clean weekend technically, without any power unit or other issues, then we will be in a good position to challenge for points. Spa always throws up some variables with the weather being the obvious one. It would be nice to be higher up than the last few races. If we can achieve this and we have a good package then I believe we can come away with something very positive from Belgium.

Laguna Seca

Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper
1963 CHEVROLET CORVETTE

SAVORING THE THEN AND NOW –

MONTEREY, CA, For thousands of historic car racing fans at the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion, Saturday was the day to snag an autograph from Sir Jackie Stewart, and, if particularly lucky, also catch a glimpse of other driving legends mingling with the crowds. Sir Jackie, the British former Formula 1 driver from Scotland who has won three World Championships, participated in the event as a Rolex Testimonee and special guest, while other motor sports luminaries came with no official agenda, just one of relishing the best moments that today’s activities at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca had to offer.

That’s the way it seems to roll here at one of the most popular events of the Monterey Peninsula’s annual Classic Car Week. There is much that is planned and precisely timed, including qualifiers and Rolex Races that run 20 minutes each this weekend for 16 period-specific competition groups, and much that is spontaneous, such as owners and drivers sharing facts about their cars as well as their experiences restoring and driving them with show goers who are able to freely roam the paddock area and inspect up-close the cherished metal reminders of the past. Wandering is as much a part of the Reunion experience as watching the races, and today’s “Picnic in the Park” at the Yamaha Marketplace featured the “Flying Scot” swapping war stories with Corvette Racing team’s Tommy Milner while hundreds listened in awe.

Sir Jackie talked about the Rover BRM Turbine car that he and Graham Hill raced at Le Mans in 1965. “It was a strange anomaly of a car. As a company, BRM was always looking ahead, and that of course is a good message, but in this case it never developed. They used a helicopter engine, which takes a long time to wind up to full revs and get to where you are going in a hurry, and the other problem was that it had no engine braking. Unfortunately, the car was under-braked, considering that in 1965 the brakes weren’t what they are today (with carbon fiber brakes, ceramic brake discs, and so forth). We tested the car a bit, and it qualified reasonably well; it was fast enough, but slowing down was a major problem.”

Sir Jackie had the crowd laughing with a tongue-in-cheek story that goes along with the car. “That year, all our friends were driving Ferraris and the other fast cars, and here we were, two Grand Prix drivers with this thing to drive that nobody could understand. I had never been to Le Mans before, so I had a lot of questions. I asked Graham about the Mulsanne Straight, saying ‘you know, that Mulsanne Straight is pretty long, and there is heavy braking needed at high speed at the end; with no engine braking, what if we have break failure? The technicians could not give us an answer.”

Stewart, who was the #2 driver in his first year with BRM, explained that, Hill, as the #1 driver, would have normally started the race, but being the “fair” gentleman that he was, suggested a coin toss, where whoever lost would start the race. “Then he said, ‘in any case, what you want do is at the end of the Straight, you stick it into the sand bank on the first lap (he was joking). What was funny about the joke is that he actually did just that (after losing the coin toss). Since there was no engine braking, he made the mistake of braking with the other cars, and the other drivers were braking and downshifting to second gear in order to slow their cars, and sure enough, he visited the sand bank, and the turbine swallowed the sand, which took the edge off the turbine blades, so right from the beginning of the race, we were running 45,000 revs instead of 75,000 revs. The darn thing lasted the whole race, which was a real disappointment, because we were going so slow that I remember getting passed by a Triumph Spitfire. Jochen Rindt won the race in an LM Ferrari with his American co-driver Masten Gregory, and he was lapping me every few laps. Each time he passed me, he jokingly gave me a rude gesture.

“Le Mans is a great race; it’s one of the greatest sporting events each year; however I have never thought of long distance racing as my forte. I’m a 100-meter sprint man, which is what Formula 1 is.” (Many of the 3 litre Formula 1s from Stewart’s days of racing between 1965 and 1973 are racing tomorrow in group 3B for F1s dating 1966-1984.)

Sharing the stage with Sir Jackie Stewart was a thrill for Tommy Milner, the 2012 ALMS GT champion and 2011 Le Mans winner who currently is the only American on the Corvette Racing team. He also had the audience mesmerized with tales from the track and remembers his last visit to Laguna Seca in 2003. “I was just a kid (age 17); now it’s twice as big –the whole event is magnified from when I remember. To be asked here to do this, to participate in the Rolex dinner last night (where he shared the stage with GM’s Vice President for Global Design Ed Welburn), and then to be here with Sir Jackie, I keep having to pinch myself to make sure it is real.”

F3 European Championship

FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 7, race 3, Nuerburgring (D)

A PERFECT WEEKEND FOR Raffaele Marciello –

In the third race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the 3.629 kilometres short circuit lay-out of the Nürburgring, Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) completed his perfect weekend: the Zürich-born Italian extended his lead in the drivers’ standings to 72.5 points. Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam) and Luis Felipe Derani (Fortec Motorsports) rounded out the podium after the third race. Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), second in the drivers’ standings, had to make do with fifth place behind Harry Tincknell (Carlin).

The race started with plenty of action: on the opening lap, several of the young drivers collided and had to retire. Among them were Jordan King (Carlin), Sven Müller (ma-con), Richard Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and Alexander Sims (ThreeBond with T-Sport). As a result, the clerk of the course sent the safety car out. After the re-start, Raffaele Marciello defended his lead, followed by Lucas Auer and Luis Felipe Derani. Auer was able to keep up with his leading team-mate for a long time while the two Prema drivers extended their gap to third-placed Derani. Towards the end of the race, Marciello also extended his margin over Auer and drove an undisputed lights-to-flag victory home. For Brazilian Derani, his third place was his second podium result of the season after he had his premiere on the podium of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship yesterday.

Alex Lynn (Prema Powerteam), Michael Lewis (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Mitchell Gilbert (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) rounded out the top eight in the 21st season round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Australian Gilbert scored his first points of the year. He finished ahead of Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing), who were ninth and tenth respectively.

Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam)
“My weekend really was perfect as I scored the maximum number of points. My car was very fast again. This race was the most difficult of the weekend because Lucas was very quick. Initially, I tried to save my tyres and therefore, I wasn’t able to pull a gap in the early stages. Accordingly, being on the top step of the podium again is all the more beautiful.”

Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam)
“My start was okay and I tried to attack Raffaele on the outside of the first corner. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Towards the end, my tyres degraded and I made a slight mistake, so that allowed Raffaele to pull a gap at the end.”

Luis Felipe Derani (Fortec Motorsports)
“It was a good race and I am happy to be on the podium again after yesterday. Before this weekend, we did a lot of work and it paid off. Now, we have to keep on pushing and working so that we can continue to challenge for podium finishes in the remainder of the season as well.”