Picture: Troy Ermish (38) swept both
1966-1972 Trans-Am 2.5 Liter events on Sunday with a borrowed motor in his 1972
Datsun 510. (photo credit: Tim Hill)
Sometimes one must fall back in order to spring forward. At the inaugural Spring Classic, run groups of vintage race cars from series popular in ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s revved back to life on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit to the delight of motorsports enthusiasts amid sunny weather in the scenic Califonian Monterey Peninsula throughout the three-day event.
From screaming Formula 1 machines from the ‘70s to the grunt of American V8 engines in the 1966-1972 Trans-Am group, a variety of sounds from fast and fun racing eras past echoed through the hillsides. Fans took advantage of the relaxed atmosphere in the paddock to get up close and personal with the vintage race cars and historic motorcycles when they weren’t thundering up and down the iconic 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.
The Masters USA Historic Formula 1 group that quickly became a fan favorite concluded on Sunday with Dan Marvin driving his 1974 Brabham Lotus BT44 to a win, edging four-time Motorcycle Grand Prix champion Eddie Lawson, who has aptly acquitted himself on four wheels.
Also garnering ample attention among those clamoring for high speeds is one of the more modern entrants, the 2005 Audi R8 Le Mans Prototype driven by Travis Engen. Engen won every time he started on the grid, scoring Group F victories on Saturday and twice on Sunday and winning Saturday’s one-hour vintage enduro that was open to all close-wheeled race cars.
The Historic Stock Car group had spectators doing double-takes as it brought a mix of familiar cars to an unfamiliar venue. Tom Klauer won both Sunday events in a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo once driven by Jimmie Johnson.
The positive reaction among fans and racers who experienced the Spring Classic vintage car race and historic motorcycle exhibition shows that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has sown the seeds for a thrilling event that motorsports enthusiasts must put on their to-do lists. In hosting vintage races, the Spring Classic demonstrates a bright future.