David Soares and Terry Burkhart on last year's Personal Best
Soares and his top five moments of a scp 2005:
5. Grand Am’s visit to Laguna Seca. These cars will never have the fan-appeal of
international prototypes and GT’s but I love the way people are having fun driving
in this series. If it wasn’t for Indianapolis we could put a bullet in open-wheel
racing in this country and have a terrific sportscar ladder through Grand Am to the
ALMS – and let the real prototypes back into the Rolex 24. Yeah, I know – I must
have breathed-in some second-hand crack down on Pacific Avenue…
4. Visiting Gruey and his Kandy-Kolored Karbon Kavallino Kart at Morspeed. This
bad-boy would have cleaned-up on all those Bibendum sissies at Indy and out-
pointed India’s Formula 1 ace hands-down if he wasn’t stuck on a rush-job
restoring the ex-Moretti 935 to Joest-perfect condition for the Historics at Laguna.
That Porsche is still my start-up wallpaper.
3. Standing on the hill opposite the pit-out at Sears Point and thinking to myself,
“Something very bad is going to happen here.” Fortunately nobody got hurt, but
Alex Figge is going to be a tank driver at Sears in 2006. That looooong straight in
Utah looks like a much better idea next July; I’m just going to have to bring my own
syrah if I want to party with the saints.
2. Tom Chilton channeling the young James Hunt at Laguna. All the twinkly-eyed
charm of Hunt the Shunt and all the car control to boot. I watched qual from Turn
Seven and every lap Tom tried a slightly different line. He put the Zytec on the pole
seven-tenths up on veterans Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace. At the PC he
seemed as amazed as anyone – admitting that he was still learning the circuit
and that every tour had been better than the last. Tom and Hayanari Shimoda
went on to win the 4-hour race by nearly a full lap.
1. Having two perfect moments in the space of one week this summer in France:
First, standing behind the wall in front of the main tribune at Le Mans with John
Brooks as Tom Kristensen crossed the finish line in the Champion Audi R8 to win
his record-breaking seventh 24 Hours and Audi’s fifth. Brooksie got the shot, and I
got to soak up the atmosphere of a classic tortoise-and-hare contest that wasn’t
really over until the final hour. Poor Henri Pescarolo but kudos to Dave Maraj for
hanging in there after disappointment for so many years. Afterwards I got to
partake in the Riesling and fraises de bois at Brasserie Lipp over lunch with my
11 year-old daughter.
TLB's Hotwalkers of the High Chaparral
Hotwalkers zoom, zoom… the nighttime is the right time for the ALMS at Laguna
The Monterey Historic Automobile Races and seeing the famous Chaparrals.
John Brooks and I attended the Rolex dinner honoring Jim Hall, along with the
usual Who's Who of motorsport. I have to say Mr. Hall is the man's man of racing...
Having Jim Bamber finally getting out of the U.K. and to the West Coast.
It was a comment from Harald Mergard about a race near my hometown of
Firebaugh that turned up some interesting facts about early sports car racing in
central California. Yes, in September of 1952 and November of 1953, there was a
sports car road race at the Madera airport. Long forgotten, even by those
knowledgeable, it took a trip to the Madera library where I turned the wheel of the
past and found there really was a road race in this small country farm town. There
was no information on why it was there or why it was discontinued, so if anyone
has any info on this fact let us know. The newspapers were not in real good
shape and the pictures were worse for wear. In my asking around I learned that
my uncle used to race on the old dirt track at their local fairgrounds. Now in his
mid 70's, he said the airport races were really something to see and the crowds
for each year were eight to ten thousand. Phil Hill and Ken Miles were the over
1500 and under 1500 cc winners respectively.
The Moto Grand Prix cruised back to Laguna Seca this year after more than 10
years. So I took a drive down to Cannery Row where the streets were closed off to
all vehicles except the two-wheel persuasion. I think anyone who owned a
motorcycle of any kind was there. It was truly an awesome site to see. So it wasn't
cars, it certainly was sport.