Trackside Classics – Monterey Historic Automobile Races, August 2000: Just A Random Roll Of Film

Back when we lived in Northern California, attending the Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca was on our list of things to do almost every summer.  I recently unearthed a short stack of pictures from one random roll of film that I took during the August of 2000 visit.

Although the featured marque that year was Maserati and featured a huge parade lap of literally hundreds of them, at the time I was still more smitten with Alfa Romeo, of which there was no shortage either.  All of these pictures were (I believe) shot on my new-to-me Canon EOS-1, but I have no idea what film I used and most likely just had the pictures developed at Costco.  Now I have scanned them in here using my Brother scanner and messed with the pictures a bit in Picasa to get them looking (on my screen) similar to how the prints look.  Anyway, I’m no professional but the pictures are fun to look at anyway.

Usually it was boiling hot around the track when we went but on this day it was better than usual and part of the day actually had a lot of shade which is always a good thing when one of the Italians is the featured marque.  We also got to park in one of the “Designated Marque” parking areas trackside this time as opposed to having to park in the dry grass in the canyons surrounding the track and hoofing it in.

What was marvelous about the Monterey Historics back when Steve Earle was still in charge is that spectator entry was reasonable and access was pretty much absolute, there were really no restrictions on where you could walk.  You could roam around the entire paddock and get up close and personal with just about everything and everyone and as long as you kept your hands to yourself everyone (drivers, owners, mechanics) was extremely personable (if perhaps a little busy) and willing to engage in conversation.

While the races take place over several days we usually would only go on the last day in order to see the historic Formula 1 cars.  They would race in one or two heats and obviously would have very large age spreads within each class.  However, seeing (and especially hearing) such machinery would literally cause goosebumps.

You could get very close to the track.  I started taking a few pictures and realized that I was A) way too close standing just behind a barrier rail and B) the cars were going way too fast where I was (past turn 4 after the slight bend closer to the entry of turn 5.)  As a result I have several shots just like the one above this.  The track is flat, the angle is me bobbling the camera.  Across the way you can see where the BMW Car Club always has its parking area. Usually loads of eye candy. Nice cars too.

Three or four pictures later, (which I have spared you the pleasure of seeing) I was apparently (slowly) starting to get the hang of it.  I have no idea what the yellow car was, and if any of you know it, well, maybe you need to get out more… Since it was film I also had no idea what I did or did not actually get in the bag until a few weeks later when I got around to getting these pictures developed.  The old days sucked, give me a digital SLR any day.

Like fellow contributor Don Andreina, I really should be shooting in Panorama mode or some kind of 16×9 format, if only to get the ends of the cars in frame…

That shot right there is speed personified.  Ferrari 250TR.  The engine is at full chat here but getting ready to brake for turn 5 before heading up the hill.

I probably took this shot while turning back towards the bridge to see what was coming next and got overly excited.  A Shelby Daytona Coupe thundering under the bridge.  Walking over the wood-framed (and fully enclosed) bridges was extraordinarily thrilling as well when cars would pass under you at full throttle.  The whole structure would shake and the sound would reverberate through it.

If I am not mistaken that is a 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage”.

A fairly crowded Turn 5.  As with all historic races, contact is an absolute no-no.  Given that, it is astounding how these drivers lay into these practically irreplaceable cars with virtually no quarter given.  I suppose that’s the attraction, (us) seeing and (them) driving these cars, being used as intended rather than just standing around in a garage or a museum somewhere.

Back in the pits you always have to watch out that you don’t get run over with cars always heading off the track or lining up for the hot pits for the next heat or class…

Then you turn around and look who’s just sitting there taking it all in.  Ol’ Carroll Shelby himself!

The diminutive size of some of the racecars is astounding as well.  Today’s models are all so much larger. There’s room for a seat, the driver (sort of), the engine and a place to attach the front suspension to.  Not much else.

I’m pretty sure that’s Alain de Cadenet talking about this marvelously presented Corvette.

Gilles Velleneuve’s 1980 Ferrari 312 T5.  I remember walking all around this and bending over into the cockpit.  Nobody said a word as I inspected the craftsmanship and took a very close look at everything.

Here is Bruno Giacomelli’s #23 Alfa Romeo 182 – This was not a very successful F1 car for Alfa, after a string of DNF’s its eventual best finish in the 1982 season resulted in 5th place in Germany.  I can’t even fathom what it must take to keep a not very successful almost two-decade old F1 car going…But I am certainly glad someone has the funds to apparently do so.  Keeping an Alfasud or a 164 on the road suddenly seems like a non-issue.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

I think I will always be an Alfisti, I kept gravitating to them on this day.  Anyway, it’s time to put the camera away – I hope you all enjoyed this little slice of the 2000 Monterey Historics.