Meanwhile, Indy fairgrounds oval readies for its final auto race
More than 500 vintage racing vehicles have been invited to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, scheduled for August 15-18 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in northern California. Those cars will participate in 14 groups, four of them presented as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of IMSA.
This year marks the half-century anniversary of the International Motor Sports Association, so instead of the typical “featured marque” at the Monterey Reunion, IMSA itself will be the feted.
Nearly 150 cars with IMSA history will be on the track during the Reunion, including an AAR Toyota Eagle MkIII, Porsche 935s, Dekon Monzas, Greenwood Corvettes, Riley and Scott Mk IIIs, and Mazdas that race in GTU, GTO and GTP. Also participating will be a full race field of Formula Fords; IMSA’s first sanctioned race at for Formula Fords and Formula Vees was in October 1969 at Pocono, Pennsylvania.
Cars are approved for the Reunion by a 7-member selection committee. This year it approved a field that ranges from a 1911 National Speedway Roadster and Fiat S74 to a 2014 Lola Toyota Rebellion LMP1 prototype.
The Reunion actually spans Monterey Car Week, with 300 cars participating in the Monterey Pre-Reunion races at the track August 10-11 and the official Rolex Reunion program the following weekend.
Additional special features this year will be a special tribute to the 100th anniversary of Bentley, a special race group for Formula One cars from 1966-1985, and a salute to the weekend’s grand marshal, racer Hurley Haywood.
Vintage IMSA GTO cars at Long Beach weekend
The Historic Motor Sports Association will organize the Historic IMSA GTO Challenge on April 12-13 as part of the Acura Grand Prix Indy car racing weekend at Long Beach, California.
“It is going to be exciting to see and hear those historic IMSA GTO cars back on the streets of Long Beach again,” Grand Prix Association of Long Beach president Jim Michaelian was quoted in the HMSA news release. “And it is especially appropriate to have them here again in conjunction with the celebration of IMSA’s 50th anniversary in 2019.”
The Long Beach event is open to period-correct cars that competed in the IMSA GTO class from 1980-1991.
HMSA president Cris Vandagriff said it’s a thrill for his group to race in front of the huge Long Beach crowds.
“This is the ninth time that we have run a support race at the Grand Prix and it’s something we look forward to each year,” he said. “We get to bring a piece of history with us each year.”
Historic Indy fairgrounds track hosts its final auto race
In 1903, Barney Oldfield set a record by turning in the first sub-1-minute lap on a 1-mile track, taking Henry Ford’s 999 around the Indiana State Fairgrounds oval in 59.6 seconds. The dirt-surfaced track also was the home of the gold and Glory Sweepstakes, an Indy-style racing series for African-American drivers, and its Hoosier Hundred has been an Indy 500 weekend staple for decades.
But the historic track will host its final auto race May 23 before being converted for year-around horse racing and to provide additional parking for fairgrounds activities, the U.S. Auto Club has been informed by the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center.
“(We) have been in meetings with the Fairgrounds staff and in discussion for the last two years about any way to keep auto racing at the historic one-mile oval,” USAC racing coordinator Levi Jones said on the group’s website. “To no avail, the economics of the horse industry and their desire to use the one-mile track year-round instead of the half-mile currently in the infield won out in the end.”
How important has the Hoosier Hundred been to American motorsports? Mario Andretti told the Indianapolis Star that he delayed his Formula One debut in 1968 to race on the fairgrounds dirt.
“That was how important (the Hoosier Hundred) was to me,” he said.
HSR season opens with Spring Fling
Historic Sportscar Racing opened its 2019 season with a Spring Fling at Sebring International Raceway, where Todd Treffert drove his 1974 Porsche 911 IROC to a “triple sweep,” winning his race each day of the three-day event.
Among the weekend highlights was an event for cars at least 70 years old. It was won by Dan Leonard in a 1949 MG TC Special.
HSR’s season continues April 25-28 with the 42nd Mitty at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Winningest F1 car will lap Sonoma track
Organizers of the Sonoma Speed Festival, scheduled for June 1-2 in northern California, have announced that the “most successful individual chassis in the history of Formula 1” will do laps around the road course during the event.
The car is the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport W07/04 that Lewis Hamilton drove to 10 victories, 9 poles and 14 podium finishes in 2016. During that year, the W07 Hybrid set a record for scoring 765 points in a single season.
Among the Petronas team members joining the car will be chief mechanic Matt Deane, Sonoma Speed Festival officials said.
Porsches at Prescott set for June
Although the Prescott hill in England is the home of the Bugatti Owners Club, it will host a new event in 2019. Porsches at Prescott is scheduled for June 22. The event will be part of the Porsche Club’s national hillclimb championship.
In addition to the races up the hill, several historic Porsche racing cars are scheduled to be on display in the Prescott paddock, including the 1982 956 Group C prototype that Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof drove to the World Sportscar Championship.