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Monterey Pop

  Back in the mid 1960’s amid the cultural riot on the Sunset Strip ( The Byrds
playing non stop at Ciro’s and Sonny & Cher hanging out at Canter’s Deli ) the
new language was all about not trusting anyone over 30. I don’t have an argument
with that at all… now that I am long past that number I look in the mirror every
morning and damn sure don’t trust myself. A current look at the sorry state of
politics in this country has caused me to drag out “The Notorious Bryd Brothers”
album for a listen… I think I’m goin’ back…

  The Monterey Historics have passed that mental area of 30 and the rolling time
warp just had its 31st edition of laps at Laguna Seca. The Historics have been a
fixture on my yearly calendar and I have to admit that it is the only thing that I
actually plan for with any consistency. It’s usually a great event and the focus is
purely on the cars and the real guys that drove them. No awards for first, no
podiums, it’s called the Historics for a reason. That isn’t to say that there are not
some great battles on the track. There are. Race groups are assembled that try
and replicate the way a grid might have actually looked. The smaller bore racers
usually could not run with the big boys thus the “overall” and then “class”
categories. Anybody see a problem with that ? Apparently some do… and a
noticeable wind of change is in the air regarding where the whole scene is
heading. More on this as I think about it.

The Italian Job
  Ferrari of North America set a new low standard of corporate involvement this
year. Usually the featured marque goes all out with elaborate displays that
showcase their history and where they are going. Not so this bunch. Last year
Ford built up a magnificent mini Dunlop Bridge and displayed the Le Mans GT-
40’s. Surely FoNA would want to top that effort and show off the parent company’s
glorious history at La Sarthe and in F1. They sure did, and don’t forget to inquire
about our warranty option. A bunch of pre-owned corporate Fiat product and a rep
to explain just how affordable a used F-car can be. At least Ferrari S.p.A. ( the
mother ship ) sent over something significant in the form of a current F1 car, one
of their test drivers and the personal to run the car. FoNA should have followed
Ford’s cue. As it was, disgraceful doesn’t come close to a description.

  I suppose this behavior and attitude is to be expected. Enzo never gave a damn
about tributes and last years rolling uncompetitive dung beetle. Sports and GT
cars were a financial necessity that kept the F1 activity alive. Those victories at the
Targa Florio and Mille Miglia were good for national press and kept the order
books full. They also gave us race fans a group of racecars that we have lusted
over for years. Courtesy of competitor and entrant alike, the paddock at Laguna
was full of the best of the best that were born in Modena.

The moveable ATM feast
  It is hard to describe what a run group of some 20 or so Ferrari GTO’s and their
variations look like on the track all at the same time. We have become so used to
hearing what the GTO’s value is as a monetary figure, as opposed to lap times,
that seeing more than half the production ever made is numbing at best. The cars
of Group 7A would satisfy a third world debt… and a lot faster too. Other famous
wares of the Scuderia were liberally distributed throughout most of the fourteen
run groups that took to the track. One of the best driving performances aboard a
Ferrari was that of UK mainman, Gregor Fisken, and the Dino 246 F1 that was
featured on SCP a while back. Fisken had hardly any time to get aquatinted with
the Dino aside from a few practice laps but those were good enough to get him
4th on the grid. His run group, 6A, was a mixture F-1 and F-Jr. ranging from the
late 50’s to 1963. Front engine vs. the modern era of lighter, rear mounted
Coopers and Lotus single seaters. Fisken got a great start using a line the locals
take when the flag dropped and ran a strong race with some majestic slides in
turn 11. He went on to finish 2nd behind Tom Byrnes 1963 Cooper T-62, a vastly
superior machine, but the classic Dino kept the Cooper in sight.

Wrenched out and ratchet up
  One of the more interesting realities of the scene has been the proliferation of
quality wrenches that have been given the task of care and feeding some of these
historic mounts. As I walked around the paddock I recognized a number of faces
that I first met back in the IMSA era of the early 70’s. Several of these individuals
had successful years on the road and then opened up shops preparing current
race cars and eventually vintage machinery. Jim Groom is perfect example. A long
time fixture in the bay area, Groom has a shop in Berkeley and looks over a stable
for a variety of clients. The Ferrari Dino 246 F1 is one of the mounts prepared by
Groom and it ran flawlessly. Wayne Beckwith is another such professional having
done countless tours of Le Mans as a member of the GTC Mirage outfit. Beckwith
is one of the few who can explain the intricacies of the 2.1 litre V6 Renault turbo
and the fine points of setting up a Ferrari 330 P4 for a short course. However, don’t
try to contact Wayne about helping you sort out your newly acquired 312 PB. He is
employed by Rob Walton for the purpose of keeping his fleet sorted.

  The fallout of some of the newly employed is a deep dissatisfaction with the lack
of talent and understanding of the new order. “I am used to Sebring and running
up front, now I am doing the racing equivalent of mowing a rich guy’s lawn”
complained a mechanic who I have witnessed doing miracles under pressure. I
spoke with several acquaintances that expressed a quiet frustration of dealing
with today’s vintage race car owner. “They don’t have a feel for the car, they can’t
explain what the car is doing. I change the set up based on what I am told but it
won’t make much if any difference. Worse is that they aren’t good at listening or
being told what they are doing is wrong”, I heard the same words repeatedly.
These roots stem from many being successful in business by having done it their
own way, it is difficult to accept the word of someone they are paying by the

  When I asked why not go back to “real” racing, I was constantly told “sure, but
where ?” Motorsport just isn’t the same and harder to break into at a pro level
these days.

  To be fair this is not an indictment of the almost 400 entrants at Monterey. There
are a number of very good drivers who have honed their skills in vintage cars for
many years. Some who are in their late 60’s can easily outdrive many half their
age. It’s the new money crowd who have not put in the time to learn about the cars
and their history that have some veterans of the scene complaining. In their view
the ability of being able to write a check should not guaranty admittance.

If you got the money honey or is there where we give them all our money ?
Strong language to be sure but the case for those views was strengthened by the
actions of Ferrari S.p.A. For the well heeled, Ferrari has set up the Corse Clienti
Formula 1 program. In exchange for a payment of in the seven figure range, you
get a late model Ferrari F1 car and the grid is shipped in toto with factory personal
to various circuits for private events. Maybe you get to meet Michael and the other
Ferrari F1 driver from South America and get a few pointers. Ferrari shipped over a
number of “Corse Clienti” cars that were given their own time slot that was
separate of the rest of the run groups. The sound may have been glorious but
except for three, maybe four of the pilots, it was an exercise in true look at me self
indulgence. One individual removed the Marlboro lettering from his ex-
Schumacher F-399 and replaced it with his last name. Images of his crash with
the chassis broke in two pieces were transmitted throughout the world. A
testament to the strength of the current Maranello F1 technology and a stinging
slap at a program purely designed to make money on old used race cars from a
major manufacturer. Why not take out a full-page ad in the major automotive rags
informing the public to buy direct and avoid the middleman. F1 cars require a great
deal of talent to drive at speed, GT and sportscars are a different and less
threatening breed. F1 is a driver’s championship while sportscars are
remembered for what they are. Too may who step in to a late model F1 car seem
to forget this simple fact and think they are Senna or Schuey. They are not and
those who watched the majority of the Corsa Clienti parade around Laguna Seca
that weekend were well aware of it.

A bunch of lonesome cowboys…
  The other troublesome aspect came from a number of passersby who asked
why I was running a 911 ST in a run group that featured 512’s, Chevrons, 908’s
and 917’s. My reply was always the same. This run group is a snapshot back to
1970 and 71. Le Mans, the big 1000KM races, Daytona, etc. The 911 I was driving
actually sat on the same grid as those big monsters. I was amazed at the attitude
of so many that told me how uncompetitive I would be and lapped by the faster
cars. Wouldn’t it be better to be in a run group that I could have a chance to do
better ? I never thought I would see the day when having an entry accepted for the
Monterey Historics came down to whether or not a car could win. Having a good
time and being out there was what it used to be all about.

My so-called life…
  Simply put, my race was more than I could have imagined. I was at the back of
the grid as a 911 ST mixed in with this bunch should be. The green dropped, the
field exploded in to wonderful, joyful noise and an immediate traffic jam in to turn
2. I got the jump on Brad Hook’s 906 and our battle began. Anyone who has
watched the movie “Le Mans” over and over will understand the feelings I
experienced of having a Gulf 917 charge up behind me, flash it’s lights and then
roar past. The sound and fury and visual beauty of a red 512 going to the inside of
my 911 ST at turn 6, so close I could have reached out and touched the Ferrari. I
was living the moment, it wasn’t McQueen but Derek Bell and Brian Redman. My
battle with Brad’s 906 was intense but we both were careful not to get in the way of
the faster prototypes. When I was being lapped, Redman set me up for a blinding
quick pass that allowed me to tuck in behind his 908/03 and then move over for
Brian Barrington’s lightning fast Lola T-70 coupe, which chased the Porsche to
checker. Driving this 911 meant a lot to me personally. It was driven by Jurgen
Barth in the 1971 Tour De France.  Current owner Roy Walzer entered this ST in
1998 for Porsche’s 50th bash at Monterey and Barth was reunited with his TDF
911. He then put on one of greatest drives anyone ever witnessed at the Historics.
I am no Barth when it comes to driving but I called him after the race and told him I
didn’t embarrass his old 911 or myself. When I excitedly described how the 512’s
went roaring by, Jurgen calmly said that is what they are supposed to do. Barth
would know, he was there, when it really mattered and in this car.

Kerry Morse
September 2004

The view from the ex-Barth 1971 TDF 911 Porsche of the competition
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