Saturday dawned with the Monterey Peninsula shrouded in fog, but this did not seem to deter the fans from turning out in record numbers for the 25th running of the Monterey Historic Automobile Races. And while the early practice and qualifying...
Saturday dawned with the Monterey Peninsula shrouded in fog, but this did not seem to deter the fans from turning out in record numbers for the 25th running of the Monterey Historic Automobile Races. And while the early practice and qualifying was run under rather cloudy skies, by the time the green flag fell for the first race of the afternoon the sun was shining from a clear blue sky. Shining, furthermore, on Porsches as far as the eye could see. For this year the featured marque is Porsche, who are celebrating their 50th birthday.
Many of the cars that have contributed to the Porsche legend could be found around Laguna Seca. A few were relaxing sedately in the Porsche exhibit tents, but many of them were doing what they were built to do - race around a track. Even some that were not actually entered in a race took part in the exhibition laps put on during the lunchtime break. In fact there were so many cars being run in the exhibition event that they had to be run in three separate groups.
Some of the more notable cars that Dr. Wofgang Porsche brought with him from the Porsche museum: The 1970 917K that brought Porsche a Le Mans victory; The immensely powerful 917/30 Spyder of three years later (which produced over 1100 HP from a 12-cylinder turbocharged engine); the unmistakable 1978 935 "Moby Dick"; the 962s from 1984 which dominated IMSA racing; and even a 911 GT1 in 1998 Le Mans trim.
And, of course, the Porsche factory were not the only people bringing Porsches to the track - far from it. Almost half the cars on the track (apart from the groups for cars more than 50 years old) were Porsches of one shape or another. Perhaps the largest contingent were the RSK and RS-60 Spyders. Unfortunately for the racers in this group, Porsche had also brought over the 1961 RS-61, which had a factory prototype two-litre eight cylinder engine. In the capable hands of Brian Redman this put the other Spyders in the unfamiliar position of running more than a second a lap off the pace! By the end of the first lap the RS-61 was halfway up the front straight while the rest of the pack were still rounding turn eleven, and only got back in touch because of several laps run behind the pace car. Once the green flag flew again it was time for another demonstration of just what a factory car can do in the hands of a factory driver.
Porsche didn't quite have everything their way, however. In the final event of the day Bert Skidmore, in a beautifully prepared Lola T-210, managed to find his way past a pair of 917s halfway through the race, and held on for the victory. Not bad for a car with less than half the displacement of either 917!