Seven years after having attended the Monterey Historics for the first time, I can now happily cross the event off the bucket list. What an amazing experience with even more amazing people. I want to especially thank the VIPS crew, Z Car Garage, Randy Jaffe, Classic Datsun, Ermish Racing, and all others that helped me make this happen. I am hoping that I will be able attend this event for many more years to come.
We will start with the Pre-Reunion weekend. The Pre-Reunion is often seen as a less crowded weekend, where a vast majority of the cars competing in the Reunion weekend come out to test their priceless machines before flogging them in front of thousands of historic race fans. For me, I wanted to soak the two weeks in as much as possible. We arrived to drop off the car Wednesday afternoon, meeting our pit mates Randy Jaffe, Z Car Garage, and the rest of the BRE crew. The highlight of the weekend had to be following John Morton out onto the track for the first time in Randy Jaffe's BRE #46 car. This is the re-tubbed chassis that holds many of the original parts from the original chassis wrecked in 1977, including the motor, wheels, exhaust system, roll bar, gauges, etc. There is simply no other sport where you can head out on the same playing field as legendary drivers like John Morton! What an amazing experience.
The car practiced and qualified beautifully with no issues. However, during the first race on Saturday we ended up breaking a transmission. A big shot to the gut, as it was a rare Datsun Competition Option #2 box... a pretty penny. Luckily, I found out later that the countershaft and input shaft gears were swappable from a street box (probably the only replaceable items in the box!). All-in-all, it was a blast of a weekend. A great way to get my feet wet in preparation for the big stage come the next weekend.
Then came the weekend of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. We returned to the pits where our car awaited and had a great first couple days practicing and qualifying. On Friday evening, we joined the Dinner of the Vines with the other drivers. We sat at a table with none other than John Morton, Sylvia Wilkinson, and the #46 BRE car owner, Randy Jaffe. Just to have the opportunity to listen to John and Sylvia's experiences over the last 50 years was priceless. Here are some photos of the weekend in no particular order.
For the whole event, the VIPS Z took the fight to the Porsches - out-qualifying and beating cars valued 10x the little Datsun! We even qualified one place in front of celebrity Adam Carolla in his 'new to him' $4.8M Paul Newman / Dick Barbour 935. At our car's best, we were hitting 1:42's. Not too shabby for running the smallest tires and least aero on the track! Oh yeah and bias-ply tires to beat! We finished mid-pack, I'd like to think it was very respectful for a production car in an IMSA race. The final race of the weekend saw me battling with the green 911 RSR and Jonathan Ornstein in his Morris Clement '84 Championship 280ZX. Unfortunately, after only six laps into the race, we had a camshaft failure... leaving the VIPS 240Z stranded just after Turn 11. John Morton's 240Z would suffer a failure half-shaft failure shortly after, and Orstein's ZX would get black flagged for a loose body panel. The lone Datsun to finish was none other than Dave Stone in his Bon Temps / Bob Bondurant IMSA 260Z.
At the end of the day, this event was all about the people. Behind each car is a group of individuals who come together to ensure that their car can relive history out on the race track. Kudos to all the participants who worked tirelessly to ensure their cars were at their best. I look forward to 2018!
It has been a crazy start to 2017 for vintage racing. With three events between March and May, I have kept myself busy prepping and improving the car.
First up was the HMSA Spring Classic Event at Laguna Seca on March 17-19. What a great start to the year this race was! Showing up on Day 1, I was pleasantly surprised to be pitted next to non-other than John Morton! He was driving a Sunbeam Tiger that day. John was accompanied by his long time partner Sylvia Wilkinson, author of The Stainless Steel Carrot: An Auto Racing Odyssey. Being placed in the Historic IMSA GTO/GTU group did not allow me to battle with many cars but I had a few good runs with Dave Martin, owner of the 1976 IMSA GTU Champion 240Z driven by Brad Frisselle. We had some great dicing and ended up splitting the two races with me coming on top in the first race.
Photography by Courtney Cutchen Photography
For the third and final race of my first half of 2017, we returned to Laguna Seca for the highly anticipated inaugural HMSA/SCRAMP Spring Classic at Laguna Seca. SCRAMP put together this event in hopes to draw many of car classes that cannot participate in the Monterey Motorsports Reunion in August. We had a rough total of 130 cars, a smaller showing than anticipated. In the first race of the weekend, I had a great battle with a blue 911 RS. I kept him behind me for a few laps until he managed to get around me and proceeded to walk away. After the race the gentleman stopped by our area and much to my surprise it was John Morton! He said he was racing in the 911 for the first time, prepping for the endurance race later that day. I have never met someone so humble, let alone someone who had driven in the 24 hours of Le Mans 9 times! The Feature Race on Sunday was one I will remember for a long time. For the last seven or so laps of the race, I diced it up with Jonathan Orstein in his Datsun 280ZX tube frame 1984 National Champion Morris Clement car. We took turns passing each other and I finally caught him on a small mistake exiting turn 11. I got on the throttle a little quicker, out dragged him, and passed him in Turn 2. By the time we got to Turn 4, I could not see him in my mirrors. I later found out that he had accelerator linkage issues. Even more fun than racing was watching the Under 2.5L Trans-Am group. Many of my friends piloted their 510's to battle with period Alfa Romeos and BMW's. We had a double Datsun podium in the Featured Race with Troy Ermish at 1st and Dave Stone at 2nd. A fellow racer and all-around good guy, Alan Terpins, took the 3rd spot in his beautiful 911. The Spring Classic, although we had a small showing of 130 cars, was a very enjoyable event that I will look forward to in the coming years!
Next step - the Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion and Reunion in August!!
Well, life has certainly "happened" in 2016. The result is that I have not been able to put any effort or attention into this blog! Luckily the same thing was not the case for my race car.
So what has happened this year?
We finished the race car back in April and have managed to race three vintage races this year. The Sonoma Historics, Portland Historics and Coronado Festival of Speed! In that time, I also completed a house renovation and got married in September! As stated, life "happened," but I do intend on paying some catch-up. The next few weeks, you will see some more recent events, as well as archived material added on the car build. One of the highlights of the last two weeks was a ground-breaking discovery on the VIP'S 240Z, which I am also excited to cover!
While you wait, please enjoy the below gallery of 2016!
What truly makes a historical race car?
My answer to that is that a historic race car must be brought to "as it ran in period." Les Cannaday of CDM and Mark Rouse of Rouse Signs, helped me do just that. I spent a weekend down at Miguel's shop taping off the fenders and hood designs. After much hard work and some fine adjustments by Miguel,the result was a mirror image old photos! For the numbers, we had to use a two-step template process due to the brown numbers having orange borders. We would apply the first step of templates first, paint them orange, then apply the second step of templates, and fill them in with brown.
Finally the day has come. This is what we all envision as the most anxious part of a restoration, paint. Being the meticulous person I am, I had several parts shipped to me and even visited the shop in San Diego to select a paint color. I knew I would regret it if I had not. Here is a shot of Miguel doing his thing!
Beautifully done Series 1 hatch. Once a rusty Craigslist purchase, and now, a beautiful work of art! One of my favorite aspects of this race car is that it is a true Series 1 car. Many do not know that the earlier cars had thinner sheet metal and were several hundred pounds lighter their later counterparts.
The CP production flares turned out stunning! These have to be my favorite flares, especially in race car livery and trim. The flares were bonded to be extremely strong and will take a beating before they crack.
It definitely feels good to see the car in its original skin. I can hardly wait for the family and friends of Loren St. Lawrence to see the car back on the race track!
The car sees daylight for the first time in just under a year! Can't wait to get the details and graphics on the car. I'll enjoy the fresh paint while it lasts...