Elva at the Monterey Historic 2009
The big news at this year’s Monterey Historic event held at the Laguna Seca racetrack over the weekend of August 15-16 was the announcement by founder Steve Earle that this was to be his last Monterey Historic. Last September he was advised that the “economic terms” for the agreement between General Racing and SCRAMP were no longer “commercially viable for SCRAMP.” Earle wrote that, “No one was able to come to an agreement that would allow the event to remain in Monterey.” General Racing will allow SCRAMP a one-time use of the name Monterey Historic Automobile Races® for the 2010 race but after that Steve can take the race, and the name, somewhere else.
Porsche was the featured marque at Monterey this year and some 150, or roughly one of every three cars, was a Porsche. This explains why the total number of other brands including Elva was lower than in previous years. Dennis Adair had his Elva Mk.I entered and it looks like he has finally got the car going and stopping as it should. Group 5A for 1956-60 Sports Racing Cars Under 2000cc had a nice collection of Lotus Elevens. My Elva Mk.II and the Mk.VI’s of Tom Thinesen and Roy Bruckner were the sole Elvas. Tom’s wife Tish was the lead Judge at the Ferrari Show held at one of the local wineries and arranged for Sherry and me to visit the Show and have an enjoyable lunch with some Ferrari aficionados. Thank you Tom and Tish. Tom and I had our Elvas at the July races in Portland, Oregon, and I took some video of us together on the track. His car had a misfire (1100cc Ford motor) that Tom is still diagnosing.
A crowd favorite this year was the return of Sir Stirling Moss driving a new-to-him Lola Mk.I. He used only 3rd and 4th gears and later said the car was “much faster than the ones in the old days.” I followed him around for much of a practice lap as he became accustomed to the car and track. He waved me bye but I stayed behind for a while to get some video.
At the race for Group 5A, and with Sir Stirling gridded just behind me and Pete Lovely in his Lotus just ahead, I was looking forward to sharing the track with these two giants and getting some good video. Pete did not start the race, however, and later I learned that he had been hospitalized and was flown home to Washington.
Elva racers were scattered throughout other groups. There were Couriers entered by Bud Byrnes, who had some fuel pump problems. Bud is rightfully proud that his car is original in almost every way including the Lucas electrics. Rob Walker entered his yellow Courier in Group 4A to do battle with 38 other cars including 19 Porsches. Lou Waters also entered his Elva, a 1964 Elva Mk. IV that surely is one of the most beautiful of the Couriers made.
Bob Youngdahl made the long tow out from Minnesota with his Elva-Porsche Mk.7. He liked the idea of having a 2010 Elva Reunion at Elkhart Lake and said Frank Nichols considered it a home-track because of the many successes that Elva had there. Also entered were Greg Campbell’s Elva Porsche Mk. VII and Kurt Del Bene in his Elva Mk.VIII.
The great thing about the Monterey Historic is the enthusiastic fans that you meet. Few recognized my car (most think it is a Jag) but one who did was Tom Woods, who recently purchased the Elva Mk.II sports racer believed to be chassis 100/49. Another who knew my car was Danielle Turrisi, from Italy, who recently bought the ex-Dick Miller Mk. II.
With his keen sense of business, Earle placed a five-page article in his Monterey Historic race program for next year’s “Wine Country Classic” that he will sponsor. As it has been confirmed he will no longer be sponsoring the Lime Rock Vintage races or the Coronado Speed Classic in San Diego, Wine Country remains his only 2010 race. Rumors were spreading that he might be negotiating to build a vintage event at Miller Racecourse in Alabama. Steve is fond of saying, “It is what it is,” and so perhaps we can conclude with a “Whatever happens is whatever happens.” Steve will always put on a great show.