Tag Archives: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Laguna Seca

1963 CORVETTE Z06 AND 1964 CORVETTE AT THE PRACTICE-QUALIFICATION SESSIONS
1963 CORVETTE Z06 AND 1964 CORVETTE AT THE PRACTICE-QUALIFICATION SESSIONS
EVERYTHING CORVETTE
 

With Chevrolet’s Corvette as its honored marque this year, the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion is celebrating an American sports car legacy over three action-packed days that cap off the Monterey Peninsula’s annual Classic Car Week.  A total of 45 Corvettes are racing among the Reunion’s 550 historic automobile entries, which are racing in 16 groups and representing nearly every era of sports car racing. In addition, the Corvette Heritage Display features a collection of the most important cars in Corvette’s evolution, starting with a 1954 car from the earliest “generation 1” and ending with the soon-to-be-introduced 2014 Corvette Stingray C-7. If that’s not overwhelming enough, 350 Corvettes occupy a club corral and “Stingray Island” features eight rarely seen Corvettes, including the Mako Shark Corvette and Manta Ray Corvette concepts. 

For such an eclectic gathering of Corvettes that also falls on the 60th Anniversary of the marque, it follows that an abundance of luminaries—both associated with Corvette and not—are interacting with drivers, owners and fans throughout the long weekend.

“As we stand here and look around at all these Corvettes, we really see the evolution from the prospective of design, technology and relevancy,” said General Motors Vice President of Global Design Ed Welburn before he jumped into the lead Corvette for the Quail Run with celebrity car collector and long-time Reunion fan Jay Leno, who drove. (The traditional drive – this year with 20 Corvettes participating — takes the featured marque cars from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to another Classic Car Week event, The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, 12 miles away.)  “You can see how the Corvette has evolved from a very basic sports car that was really cool but real seat-of-the-pants to drive.  To see the development of the model from generation 1 to generation 2, then generation 3 and 4 and up to what we have now with the awesome 2014 Corvette Stingray C7, it is amazing.  

“When you leave the Corvette area and walk around the rest of the paddock, you see all these incredible race cars from the past.  For me it is incredible, because I look around and see the cars that all my heroes drove; they’re all here today.  I feel today how I felt when I was an 11-year-old kid.”

Welburn added that the heart and soul of Corvette is motor sports, and it has an influence on the design team, the engineering team and ultimately the owners of the cars. “They feel it,” he said.  “Many of our customers may not know much about motor sports, but they know that Corvettes have a soul and a heart, but the heart pumps on racing.  I think we will all see evidence of that this weekend at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. “ 

Richard Ravel (San Jose, Calif.) is one of those drivers here whose heart pumps on racing, and he is especially fond of Corvettes.  He drives his good friend Charlie Elman’s (Los Altos, Calif.) polo white 1954 Corvette, the oldest Corvette that has ever raced at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Festival, in Group 5B for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars. 

“We’ve raced it here for 30 years,” said Ravel.  “We started racing it here in 1980, but in 2009 Charlie wanted to retire the car.  Because this year the event is honoring the 60 years of Corvette, I convinced him that it would be good to bring it back just one more time.”

 “I bought the car in 1976,” said Elman. “It’s a two-speed automatic transmission, so it was never a race car; those cars that might have raced were heavily modified. Since downshifting and upshifting are an important part of maximizing power to the drive wheels as well as slowing the car through tight turns, an automatic transmission is never a good option for race cars.”  

Ravel added that after two or three years of racing the car, he happened to be at an event and sat down next to Zora Duntov (who created the Corvette).  “We discussed the car for about a half hour. Of course he knew this car inside and out. What he told us was that in order to downshift this thing, since the transmission is bulletproof, we should simply put it in neutral, blip the throttle, and jam it into low. The car has drum brakes all around, so slowing and stopping is this car’s nemesis.   When you’re at speed and you step on the brakes, you know it’s going to pull to one side or the other; you just never know which side it’s going to pull to.  So what I do is pump up the brakes, get a sense which side it is going to pull to, set up the car and drive it through the corner.  We made some modifications so we’ll see soon how they work out!”   

Other Corvette-centric activities during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion include a “Picnic in the Park,” featuring Corvette Racing team’s Tommy Milner sharing “untold” stories of memorable racing moments with three-time Formula 1 World Champion and Rolex Testimonee Sir Jackie Stewart; autograph sessions with Dick Gulstrand, better known as “Mr. Corvette” for his involvement in developing, racing and promoting the marque, and Peter Brock, one of the youngest designers ever hired by GM; and a Corvette Race Car Show where all the Corvette race cars will gather with owners and drivers for one-on-one interaction with show attendees. 

How to follow Rolex’s involvement at Monterey Classic Car Week
For more information about the individual events please visit:
www.pebblebeachconcours.net
signatureevents.peninsula.com 
www.mazdaraceway.com/rolex-monterey-motorsports-reunion

 

F3 European Championship

FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 7, race 1, Nuerburgring (D)

Raffaele Marciello scores eighth season victory in FIA Formula 3 European Championship – 

After the three pole positions he had secured on Friday, Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) also claimed the first victory of the weekend in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. At the 3.629 kilometres’ short circuit layout of the Nürburgring, he won from Alexander Sims (ThreeBond with T-Sport), who crossed the line 6.147 seconds behind the Italian. Swede Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) took the final podium slot. In the drivers’ standings, Marciello extended his lead. He is now 34.5 points clear of his main rival Rosenqvist.

Marciello started the race from first place on the grid and dominated throughout. In the opening stages, he already pulled clear from the rest of the field and finally drove an undisputed victory home. As a reward, he was presented with the winners’ trophy by ex-Formula 1 driver and Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro. Positions behind Marciello were taken pretty quickly, too: Sims ahead of Rosenqvist, followed by Jordan King (Carlin) as the best-placed rookie, Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam), Luis Felipe Derani (Fortec Motorsports), Michael Lewis (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Félix Serrallés (Fortec Motorsports). There was a fierce battle for ninth place. Initially, Sven Müller (ma-con) held this position, but he came off the track on lap 18, after which Red Bull junior driver Daniil Kvyat (Carlin) overtook him. After his excursion, the German had to defend his place from Harry Tincknell (Carlin) and Mitch Gilbert (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport). He was successful and thus took the chequered flag in tenth place. 

Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) 
“My car was very fast and consistent today. Then it is always easy to drive a good race. I don’t know why things weren’t going that well at Norisring, but perhaps it was down to the fact that it was very hot there. Here, things were going better again and I am very happy with that.”

Alexander Sims (ThreeBond with T-Sport)
“Having won the reversed grid race here at Nürburgring last year, I am happy with this second place. This result particularly shows how good the T-Sport package and the ThreeBond Nissan engine really are. The race itself wasn’t very spectacular. At the start, I tried to get past Raffaele, but after that, he was simply faster than me.”

Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport)
“At the start, I almost stalled the engine and I was quite annoyed by it. After all, the start actually was the only chance today to overtake Raffaele and take over first place. Personally, I rated my race as quite good, although Raffaele was faster and I couldn’t keep up with him. But third place isn’t that bad and according to me, the driver who has shown the most consistent performance on the course of the season will end up winning the championship. The battle for the title has by no means been decided yet.”

Laguna Seca

Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper
NOEL PARK’S (RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIF.) 1955 CHEVROLET CORVETTE IS RETURNING THIS YEAR
America’s Iconic Corvette/Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner Take Center Stage – 
 

From August 16-18, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will pay tribute to the enduring legacy of the all-American Chevrolet Corvette, which stunned the auto world at its debut at the 1953 Motorama Auto Show in New York City.  Now 60 years later, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where historic automobile racing premiers as the only track-action competition during the Monterey Peninsula’s annual Classic Car Week, the Corvette will star as the event’s special marque, with seven generations of the magnificent sports car occupying special displays and/or paddock and pit areas before taking to the famous raceway for high-speed action.

Only 300 of the first-generation Corvettes were built, all of them in the color polo white with 150-horsepower, six-cylinder engines fitted with a Power Glide automatic transmission.  Compared to the high-powered performance of Corvettes today, the 1953 Corvette was quite mild; however, the second-generation Corvette, the Corvette Stingray introduced in 1963, enjoyed considerable success on race circuits around the world. As a street car it had the perfect blend of high power and good looks.

Helping the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion to celebrate the Corvette and the 50th anniversary of the exceptional Stingray model will be various luminaries, including Corvette Racing team driver Tommy Milner who will take part in Saturday’s popular Picnic in the Park discussions along with three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, comparing the past of long-distance sports car racing with the present. 

“Being the only full-time American driver on the Corvette Racing team obviously brings a little bit of extra responsibility with it, but to go to a place like Le Mans and be a part of Chevrolet, racing a Corvette, and representing America is a very special thing,“ said Milner, who by virtue of the Reunion’s open paddocks and casual atmosphere is certain to rub elbows with race fans as well as other motorsports notables–Bob Bondurant, Dick Guldstrand and Dario Franchitti, to name a few—throughout the three-day weekend. (Milner and Ed Welburn, Head of GM Design, will be guests of honor and take the stage at a special Rolex dinner on Friday night; Guldstrand and Bondurant will participate in a joint autograph session on Saturday afternoon before the Corvette Race Car Show on pit lane.)

According to Milner, legendary American race car driver John Fitch won Corvette’s first-ever race in 1956 at Sebring, establishing Corvette as a world-class contender.  Over the years, there have been many more wins, and the Corvettes have kept pace with the evolution of motorsports–so much so that today’s Corvettes are among the most admired sports cars in the world, and the Corvette Racing team is one of the most competitive teams in its class. 

When asked about the racing in the days of John Fitch compared to racing today, Milner said, “The car John Fitch raced in 1956 compared to the car I race today are worlds apart.  His was basically a street car, and while the cars we race have similarities to street cars, ours are built from the chassis up to do one thing, and that is to race.  People in those days could drive their race car to Sebring, race it and then drive it home.  Those days are long over.

“The Corvette is the longest continuously running car model ever built, and to think of John Fitch in 1956 winning Corvette’s first race back then, and that Corvettes are still being produced today, and here I am still racing the Corvette model, goes to show how much this car is loved and has been enjoyed by so many people over the years.  I’m very proud to be racing under this banner.”

Adding to the overall fan experience will be the heritage display of significant Corvettes that is presented by Chevrolet. Extremely rare Corvette race cars will be showcased, representing every era, up to and including the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray.

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance highlight the Monterey Classic Car Week of activities on the famed peninsula. Together, these two events attract international visitors to celebrate the world of motoring and motorsports, making it unlike any week of activity in the world.  This year, for the first time in 10 years, automobiles participating in the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex will visit Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Thursday morning (during the Pre-Reunion activities) to complete a lap around the circuit before continuing on their course that traverses the mountains and canyons of Carmel Valley, the famed 17-Mile Drive, and Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur.

Advance tickets to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion are available, with General Admission tickets beginning at $50 (Friday) and a three-day ticket at $130, which includes a complimentary souvenir magazine. Hospitality packages begin at $200 per person. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult.

For more information on the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion or to purchase tickets, visit MazdaRaceway.com or call 800-327-7322.

How to follow Rolex’s involvement at Monterey Classic Car Week
For more information about the individual events please visit:
www.pebblebeachconcours.net
 (Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex), www.signatureevents.peninsula.com (The Quail, A Motor Sports Gathering), www.mazdaraceway.com/rolex-monterey-motorsports-reunion (Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion) 

Laguna Seca

1960 Cunningham Corvette, class winner and eighth overall in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, courtesy of Lance Miller. Photo credit: GM Heritage Center
1960 Cunningham Corvette, class winner and eighth overall in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, courtesy of Lance Miller. Photo credit: GM Heritage Center
Rarely-Seen Corvettes Assemble-
 
There are Corvettes, and then there are The Corvettes. Recognizing the power, performance and durability that has made Corvette America’s beloved sports car, Chevrolet has assembled a collection of Corvettes that have remarkable pedigrees for a special exhibition at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 16-18. The annual event on the Monterey Peninsula this year celebrates the rich 60-year history of the Chevrolet Corvette, widely hailed as America’s Sports Car.

This special exhibition, located in the race paddock (near Turn 3), will be a highlight for history buffs and motorsport enthusiasts. Chevrolet will share the story of Corvette’s technology transfer between the track and the street over the years by pairing six of the most significant Corvette race cars with their street car counterpart. The display will show how Chevrolet uses motorsports to test and push boundaries in order to continually improve the road-going model, which will be particularly evident in the 2014 Corvette Stingray that will be part of the display.

Here’s a rundown of some of the featured race cars:

1960 Cunningham Corvette #3 (Courtesy of Lance Miller)
This is the actual No. 3 Corvette that won its class and placed eight overall in the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960. It wasn’t until 2002 that Corvette again tasted victory in Le Mans. Presumed lost for many years, the No. 3 car Corvette was driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman through some of the most difficult circumstances. In the race’s 20th hour, the car experienced engine overheating. The fix to keep it running on the track? The crew team would pack ice from their coolers into the car’s engine compartment during more frequent pit stops. The result…was history.

1967 Corvette Le Mans (Courtesy of Harry Yagey)
The poster car is the 1967 Chevrolet Corvette No. 9 that was raced by Corvette legends Dick Guldstrand and Bob Bondurant at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The big block Corvette streaked down the Mulsanne Straight at more than 170 mph, enabling the duo to take a commanding class lead by miles before an engine wrist pin let go halfway through the race, forcing retirement. Guldstrand and Bondurant, however, already had become folk heroes, as they actually had driven the race car from the airport near Paris all the way to Le Mans, to the delight of locals.

1968 Owens Corning Corvette (Courtesy of Rick Hendrick)
This L-88 Corvette is the most victorious Corvette in history. Campaigned by a variety of drivers, such as Tony DeLorenzo, Jerry Thompson, John Mahler, Don Yenko, Gib Hufstaeder, Dick Lang and Jerry Hansen―this car was nearly unstoppable in FIA GT and SCCA National racing.

Most notable wins included the 1969 and 1972 SCCA National “A” Production Championship, second place in the 1969 12 Hours of Sebring, and first place in the GT division of the 1969 and 1970 24 Hours of Daytona.

1989 Corvette Challenge (Courtesy of Lance Miller)
The bright red No. 3 car was the overall series winner for 1989 and was driven by Bill Cooper of the Valley Chevrolet Team. Featuring the new for 1989, ZF six-speed transmission and FX3 adjustable suspension, the car also has the unique “Corvette Challenge” racing seats and roll cage installed.

2001 Corvette C5R (Courtesy of Chevrolet)
This race car was built by Pratt & Miller for Chevrolet Racing. It raced successfully in the American Le Mans Series and has been to four 24 Hours of Le Mans races. In its inaugural 2001 season, this car captured eight wins in 10 races, with an overall win in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

2011 Corvette C6R Le Mans Winner (Courtesy of Chevrolet)
This car was a lap down with six hours remaining in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia, the trio relentlessly pursued the class-leading Ferrari, cutting the margin by two seconds each lap. With just two hours and 10 minutes to the checkered flag, Milner overtook the Ferrari and steadily increased his lead to have the Corvette team finish two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of the runner-up Ferrari for the memorable and hard-fought victory.

Visitors to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will witness historic race cars from nearly every era, dating as far back as a 1911 National 40 to a more modern-day 1992 Mazda RX-7 92P. All the famous names will be represented, including Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, McLaren, Aston Martin, Porsche, Bugatti, Talbot Lago, Alfa Romeo, Ford and Chevrolet.

The cars, which were selected for their historical significance, authenticity and period-correctness, are divided into 16 classes, based on type of car, displacement and era of origin.

 

Laguna Seca

GROUP 3B - 1955-1961 SPORTS RACING CARS OVER 2000CC

MONTEREY CLASSIC CAR WEEK at LAGUNA SECA-

For one week each August, California’s Monterey peninsula becomes the hub for vintage automobile enthusiasts. Within the glittering collection of unique rendezvous that make up Monterey Classic Car Week, there are a number of stand out events: the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex (15 August), The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering (16 August), the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (18 August) and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (16 -18 August). As a whole, the occasion is a reference point for those who appreciate the virtues of the classic car, and Rolex has been deeply involved since 1997.

The origins of the week can be traced back to 1950 when a group of sports car owners decided to create a road race and concours at Pebble Beach. The first winner of the road race was Phil Hill, who would go on to become a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of le Mans and the first American-born winner of the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship. Over the succeeding 60 or so years, the event has grown in size, shape and stature, attracting an array of cars and spectators from around the world.

The now traditional third Sunday in August became a calendar fixture for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1972. During the day, around 200 of the most prized collector cars will take pride of place on the famous eighteenth fairway at Pebble Beach. Rolex has been Official Timepiece of the Concours and partner of The Lodge at Pebble Beach since 1997.

The Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex was created as an acknowledgement to the Road Race and to showcase the automobile in motion. Tracing parts of the peninsula’s original 17-Mile Drive, the tour underscores the early history of the event. Rolex became presenting sponsor of the Tour d’Elegance in 2007.

The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering combines landmark vehicles with a culinary sophistication. Awards are made using a peer-based judging system, and the Rolex Best in Show is the top prize. Rolex has been the Official Timepiece of The Quail since its inception in 2003.

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is another cornerstone of the week. The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a revered track with some notable turns, such as the Corkscrew, with its notorious five-story drop. The Reunion features racing for some 550 historic cars that span nearly every era of motorsports history and this year features the Corvette as its special marque. Rolex has sponsored racing at Mazda Raceway since 2001.

Rolex has been involved in Monterey Classic Car Week since 1997, and the event forms a significant part of its association with the cardinal elements of motor sport: endurance, speed and tradition.

How to follow Rolex’s involvement at Monterey Classic Car Week
For more information about the individual events please visit:
www.pebblebeachconcours.net
www.signatureevents.peninsula.com (The Quail, A Motor Sports Gathering)
www.mazdaraceway.com/rolex-monterey-motorsports-reunion

Daytona 24 HRS

Rolex Stephan Cooper 1

DAY TWO TESTING: ROLEX 24 HOURS AT DAYTONA

As 59 teams utilize the Roar Before the Rolex 24 to get up to speed in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 26, advances in technology and stepping up to the next level of competition are a common thread during the three-day test event at Daytona International Speedway.

For Jonathan Bomarito (Monterey, Calif.), who has been with Speedsource for three years, the transition from the GT class Mazda RX-8 to a new class and car with the Mazda6 GX is an exciting one.  “Everything is great about this all-new Mazda6 GX, powered by the SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine.  We’re doing a lot of system tests here because this (clean burning fuel) is a first for GRAND-AM.  There a lot of things to go through and we are starting the process here at the Roar Before the Rolex 24.  The guys at Mazdaspeed/Speedsouce have done a great job.  The chassis is similar to what we ran last year, but with a little longer wheel base and the car is a little bit heavier than last year.  Actually, the chassis is a bit low on our list right now because everything is pretty good with it.  We’re concentrating on system checks, running temperatures and horsepower.”

“I really like the concept of the new GX class (basically a street car that has been marginally engineered to race) in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.  It’s growing now but when GRAND-AM announces that there will definitely be a GX class for 2014, after the merger with ALMS, I am sure there will be a lot more manufacturers coming on board.  The concept is great and the racing will definitely be great too.”

Another team making a major move is Team Sahlen which competed for seven years in GT before making the decision to step up to the DP class for 2013. 

“Do we start with a completely brand new car built from the ground up and keep running a Mazda, or do we make the move up to the Daytona Prototype class,” said Joe Sahlen (Elma, N.Y.) of the decision process which started a year ago when they learned the RX-8 was no longer an option.  “Our team began with pretty humble beginnings, but in the last few years we have upgraded the entire team – in terms of engineering and with the equipment in the paddock – and we felt we were now ready to be a part of the premier GRAND-AM roster.  We cannot ask for a better circumstance than what we have now at the Roar Before the 24 with not one but two DP race cars.”

Success at this level of competition relies on consistency in endurance racing, as well as minimizing mistakes.  “There are a bunch of very fast cars here, but we’re all human and errors occur and things happen so we plan to be consistent and run a clean race,” said Sahlen, a driver and team principal, along with Joe Nonamaker, at Team Sahlen since 2005.  “One of our cars, the #42, will be driven by pros and the #43 car will be driven by gentlemen drivers.  We would like to finish in the top five with the #42 and we hope to run a strong clean race with the gentleman car and have a lot of fun in the process.  We plan to run the two cars for the entire GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car season.”

“For me as a driver there was a bit of a learning curve and I had a few butterflies at first,” said Sahlen, explaining that when they tested at Mid-Ohio he felt pretty comfortable in the car by turn four.  “The DP car has such great responsiveness it makes the car relatively easy to drive.  We are really looking forward to completing our test here at the Roar Before the 24.  The Roar is crucial to a team, especially if you are bringing in drivers… they have to get used to the car and, for that matter, many of them have to get used to the track since so many of them have never been here.”

With Dane Cameron (Suwanee, Ga.) driving the #42 car, Team Sahlen moved to the top of the leader board with a best lap time of 1:42.101 over five practice sessions, a good indicator that the new  DP effort is paying off.

“This has been a huge project that Team Sahlen has undertaken,” said Cameron, a 23-year old California native who won the penultimate race of the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series driving the #43 Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8 on his home track of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.   “I can’t thank Joe Sahlen and the whole Nonnamaker family enough for the opportunity to be a part of this magnificent GRAND-AM team and I’m really proud of what we have accomplished up to this point.  To grow from a couple of GT cars over the years to two brand new fulltime Daytona Prototypes is such a huge step in motor racing.  All the hours that the crew have been putting in and the significant financial investment of the team just to get the cars on the pavement here is unbelievable.”

“The DP cars are so different from the GT cars I have raced.  The power it has… the down force it has … along with incredible brakes take a bit of getting used to and we are now getting pretty comfortable with it all.  It’s great to be at the Roar because we get to do so many laps we can work with the crew to make the necessary adjustments to improve the car before we get to the Rolex 24 At Daytona.  This is only our eighth or ninth day with the car so we have some catching up to do.  The race is going to be very challenging but I am hopeful we will be a consistent threat to the rest of the DP field throughout the season.”