HOT FERRARI HISTORICS AT LAS VEGAS (LAS VEGAS, NV, May 15) Temperatures were in the 90s for the Shell Ferrari/Maserati Historic Challenge at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, and the hot weather was matched by some hot action on the...
HOT FERRARI HISTORICS AT LAS VEGAS
(LAS VEGAS, NV, May 15) Temperatures were in the 90s for the Shell Ferrari/Maserati Historic Challenge at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, and the hot weather was matched by some hot action on the track.
Normally the Disc Brake Group would be just that; cars originally fitted with disc brakes. To balance the fields at Las Vegas the organizer moved Peter Giddings and his ex-Stirling Moss Maserati 250 F, a drum brake car, with the disc cars. The change produced some surprising results.
The track was tight, with 13 turns in only 1.1 miles, so the stars of the Disk field were expected to be the 308s: Steve Dudley and Bob Benedict driving Michelotto-built cars, and John Goodman in the famous Budweiser 308 raced in period by Paul Newman. Tom Price is leading the Disc Championship, and is always a favorite for a win in his 250 GTO; at Las Vegas he would be facing Peter LeSaffre and his newly acquired early 250 GT SWB, a car with a LeMans history. Mike Sheehan's comp Daytona rounded out the Disc grid.
Goodman in the Bud 308 was on pole and led the first race start to finish. Giddings and Dudley initially battled over second spot, but the earlier Maserati demonstrated its pure-bred racing heritage by pulling away from the 308, to finish only 3 seconds behind Goodman at the finish. Price had an easy run to fourth overall, as both Sheehan and LeSaffre suffered mechanical problems. Class winners were Goodman, Giddings, and Price.
The second Disc race was started behind the 1988 PPG CART Pace Car, a modified Ferrari Mondial historic in its own right. Once the green fell the race was almost identical to the first, with one exciting difference: Goodman in the 308 and Giddings in the Maserati were swapping the lead through a series of exciting passes. The two cars were almost side by side at the checker, Goodman winning by only a few feet. Goodman, Price and Giddings were again class winners; Giddings is always a threat to win his normal Drum group overall, and his performance this weekend suggests that he would have dominated that group.
Tom Price had a pair of easy victories in his Maserati 200 SI in the Drum Group, but behind him was one of the greatest races yet in the Shell Historics. In the first race Peter Greenfield (1935 Alfa Romeo 8C/35), Nick Colonna (500 TRC) and Peter LeSaffre (250 GT Tour de France) were almost three abreast at the first turn after the start, and from that point the three were never more than a few car-lengths apart for the entire 20 laps. Spectators were on their feet for that same time, cheering on one or another of their favorites.
Colonna pressured Greenfield and occasionally got his nose under the Alfa in a corner, but the superior torque of the big Alfa kept Colonna from getting by Greenfield and making the pass stick. LeSaffre had been running in third among this group, and as the time wound down he made an "impossible" pass on Colonna. LeSaffre had no better luck against the Alfa, and the final order was Price, Greenfield, LeSaffre, and Colonna.
Behind this battle three almost-identical 250 GT Boano coupes had their own fight. Richard Freshman kept a lead over Tony Schwartz, who in turn just managed to keep Vice Preisler in his mirrors.
The second drum race produced almost the same results, except this time Colonna was able to hold off LeSaffre, and his TRC finished on the tail of Greenfield's Alfa. Preisler was a DNS, leaving the Boano battle to Freshman and Schwartz, who seemed to swap positions almost every lap. Freshman was ahead at the end, but by only a couple of feet.
Class winners both days were Price, Greenfield, and LeSaffre, with Colonna receiving recognition as the most improved driver in the series.
The next race for the Shell Historic series will be at Le Circuit at Mont-Tremblant as part of the Ferrari Festival on June 25-26.