EVENTS: Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2015

136_Datsun 240Z IMSA GTU & Toyota Celica T165 IMSA GTO

The Rolex Motorsports Reunion is typically a high point of Monterey Historic Car Week, but this year a black cloud hung over the festivities. The volunteers that have run Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since it opened in 1957 is being forced out by the county’s board of supervisors, who are facilitating a takeover by a NASCAR-owned company. Naturally, fans of the track are worried that political pressure and a profit mandate will ruin one of the world’s best road courses. So here, as a reminder to why vintage road racing is so great, is a gallery of the competition J-tin that was there. 

099_Nissan Skyline Hakosuka

We’ve seen most of these cars before, but purpose-built beauty is always worth another glance. Here’s Jim Froula’s hakosuka Skyline tearing up the back straight with the Z-Car Garage IMSA 240Z driven by none other than the legend himself, John Morton.

What is it like to be behind the wheel of a 240Z race car with the man who took took home the SCCA 2.5 championship for Datsun in the BRE 510 at this very course back in 1971? Luckily our friend Alvin Gogineni of Z-Car Garage has a video.

044_Datsun 240Z racing

This #54 Datsun 240Z was another IMSA GTU racer from back in the day. At the time it was driven by Glenn Klimek, there are photos of it going head-to-head against the #49 240Z above during the 1980 season.

084_Datsun 240Z racing

Ron Reed’s Bon Temps Racing 240Z started its racing life as a de-bumpered snub-nosed Z, but by 1983 it had gained a G-nose and whale tail. It was this later version that was preserved when Troy Ermish restored the car this year, finishing the project just days before it pulled onto the tarmac at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

091_Datsun 240Z IMSA GTU

The Datsun 240Z was a darling of the IMSA series. In 1976 Brad Frisselle won the IMSA GTU championship with the #47 yellow and orange car. Its sleek body was designed by aerodynamics expert Yoshi Suzuki, who would go on to design the legendary Nissan GTP cars of the early 90s. Today, the car puts out about 400hp.

093_Datsun 240Z Anheuser Busch Pro Celeb

This 1973 Datsun 24oZ was part of the Anheuser Busch Pro Celebrity IMSA GTU races of the 1978-79 seasons. Notably, it was raced by actor James Brolin (father of Josh Brolin).

035_Datsun 240Z racing

A gathering of classic racing Datsuns doesn’t happen every day. Each team’s paddocks were spread all over the infield, but we were able to catch all of the cars together in a rare photo op.

024_Mazda RX7 FC3S GTO & 787

Despite all the Datsuns, Mazda is actually the winningest marque in IMSA. Where are all the RX-7s, though? The only one present in Monterey was the GTO FC3S owned by Mazda North America. Both it and the 787 had just returned to US soil after a stint at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

064_Datsun 280ZX Leitzinger & Nissan Skyline Hakosuka

Jim Froula is founder of Racecraft and has built a number of vintage race cars out of his shop in Woodinville, Washington.

071_Nissan Skyline Hakosuka

A peek under the hood of his Hakosuka reveals an L28 putting out an astonishing 240 horsepower.

053_Datsun 280ZX Leitzinger 051_Datsun 280ZX Leitzinger

Racecraft also recently did a beautiful job restoring the Bob Leitzinger Datsun 280ZX that competed in IMSA GTU in the early 1980s. It placed as high as second place at Mid-Ohio in 1982.

115_Datsun Fairlady Roadster Sports 2000118_Datsun Fairlady Roadster Sports 2000

Ron Carter’s Datsun 2000 roadster is one of the few surviving SRL311s racing with its original frame and chassis. Raced in SCCA from 1969 to 1981, it was then converted to a street car and driven as such for 20 years before it was converted back to a race car to participate in vintage racing events.

140_Nisseki Trust Porsche 962 GroupC

Some non-Japanese cars with links to Japan’s racing history could also be found. Built by Trust Racing of GReddy tuning fame, the Nisseki Porsche 962 won the 1987 Norising World Sports Prototype Championship.

142_Iseki Tractor Porsche 956

Iseki Tractor is an Ehime Prefecture-based manufacturer of farm equipment, but it also sponsored a Porsche 956 built by Trust Racing that finished sixth at the 1985 1000km of Fuji.

134_Porsche 935 K3 Tetsu Ikuzawa

The Gozzy Kremer Racing Porsche 935 K3 blew a head gasket and could not finish at Le Mans in 1980, but it is notable for the fact that one of its drivers at Sarthe was Tetsu Ikuzawa. Ikuzawa famously overtook a Porsche 904 with a Prince Skyline 2000GT at the 1964 Japan Grand Prix, a moment that many consider the start of the Skyline legend.

147_Honda Benly 125

Time for some pit bikes! Here’s a Honda Benly 125 in achingly beautiful Showa Era colors.

150_Honda MiniTrail

We saw this Honda 50cc Mini Trail bike outside the RM Sotheby auction house as we emerged from the kenmeri Skyline GT-R bidfest. Okay, it’s not at the track, but we couldn’t find anywhere else to squeeze it in.

Honda Cub

A row of Honda EZ90 Cubs.

151_Honda CT70 Datsun BRE

One of the coolest bikes we saw was a Honda CT70 in BRE Datsun colors.

009_Acura NSX 2016 Berlina Black

While Honda motorcycles ruled the pits, its cars were scarce. The only one we found was a new Acura NSX prototype. While typically shown in dark red, the new supercar looks killer in a classic Honda color, Berlina Black.

128_Datsun 240Z

Before leaving, we saw a red Z32 300ZX parked beside a beautiful brown Datsun 240Z owned by a JNC reader. Naturally, we gave him some decals.

031_Mazda 787

Sadly, with NASCAR’s subsidiary taking over track management, Mazda’s naming rights for the circuit is uncertain. It may not be known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca much longer, but until then Hiroshima’s famous blue-on-white livery will continue to have a strong presence.

 

permalink.
This post is filed under: events and
tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

16 Responses to EVENTS: Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2015

  1. Nigel said:

    Yeah, as I recall NASCAR owned a big part of Speed Channel also. (Great pictures guys).

  2. Eric Bauer said:

    Ben!

    Come on … that is most definitely not an L20 in the Froula Hako.
    It’s a bored and stroked L28 built by Dave Rebello…

    At the very least it’s a 3L

    You don’t get 240hp from an 2000cc L20 – never have and never will …

    • Ben Hsu said:

      Looks like I should’ve proofread more. Corrected!

    • bentaxlebob said:

      Dude stop haranguing Ben. 2000cc it shows in the OFFICIAL PROGRAM. Plus, after the race in the paddock, 2000cc was reiterated.

      The 240hp number is utter shenanigans. This “2000cc” is putting out more like 440hp. Look at the way it passes John Morton as if his brakes were on.

  3. Robbie said:

    NASCAR owned exactly 0% of Speed. Speed was owned by FOX who had a large contract to televise NASCAR and bought Speedvision in order to televise more NASCAR.

  4. Jim Daniels said:

    Politics, the end to most anything good and the reasion the Sanoma Historics are gaining in popularity, a group of car guys putting an event for car guys.

  5. Jim Daniels said:

    Great storie and photos as usual Ben. Keep it comming, more from Monteray. Love the group photo of Z cars and Roadster hidden in the back.

  6. Gary said:

    Great story – and loved the pics too!

    But where are all the significant Toyota’s gone? There always seems to be a pooltzah of Z cars and rotorbots, but Mr T under represented again…perhaps they’re all in a museum!

  7. ryan said:

    Wow such a sweet wee monkey!

  8. Ron Carter said:

    As the “owner & driver” of the little roadster in the back it was great fun to be there race and be involved! Too bad Ben didn’t have a photo with both roadsters, yes there were two at the event.

  9. Ron C said:

    fun being part of this event, Ben thanks for covering and including my roadster.

  10. alvin said:

    Ben,
    Would have been nice to see you in the paddock! We had beer/drinks and food for guests next year please stop by 🙂
    Thanks for the pingback see you at SEMA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *