WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway, USA

ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION
12 – 15 August 2021

RACE REPORTS

Masters Endurance Legends USA – Race 1
Trenery, Edwards Take Monterey Race Honors in Masters Endurance Legends at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

The Masters Endurance Legends run group hit the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Raceway circuit for their scheduled Monterey Race at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Despite power outages that affected the local area this morning, the race got off without a hitch. Spencer Trenery took the overall victory while BMW works driver John Edwards topped the GT class.

Trenery’s pole-sitting No. 15 SunTrust 2006 Riley Dp was challenged early by pro driver Eric Curran, who made up ground in a hurry in the fourth-qualified 2009 Coyote Corvette DP. Curran posted the quickest lap of the race at 1:23.269 on Lap 7 and reeled in Trenery for the pass. However, the pace of the Visit Florida entry fell following the mandated pit stop, and the entry dropped to fourth position by the time the checkered flag waved on Lap 20.

Trenery pulled away for the win and was joined on the podium by Canadian driver Keith Frieser and home track driver Danny Baker.

“After some confusion with the pit stops and stuff, we ended up winning, which was obviously the goal,” said Trenery. “That worked out great. The track was pretty clean. There weren’t any yellows during the event. You can tell that there is some talent among the drivers in the GT field. They are trying pretty hard and running close, so you have to be careful with those guys when you’re lapping. We got caught and passed by the Gen I Daytona Prototype with Eric Curran in it. It seems like they lost a bit of pace after the pit stop. We were able to retake the lead and cruised it home.

“In our experience, a set of tires for these becomes difficult to wrangle after about 50 minutes. We have about 35-45 minutes on these tires. We’ll put some stickers on it for this afternoon, go out, and have a good run there.”

Wade Carter took the fifth spot in the quick No. 88 Riley & Scott Mk3.

“It’s a great car,” said Carter. “I’ve had it for six years and only get to run it about once a year since there aren’t a lot of places to run it in the Northwest. To come down here and run it against different cars that are kind of contemporary cars like it is a lot of fun. This is my 10th time running cars at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. My first time here was 1985 at the Monterey Historics when I was 14 and my dad was racing here. We used to joke around that this was our Christmas, because it was a family tradition that we looked forward to every year. Now I get to come down and bring my kids.”

Following Carter was the No. 10 2005 Riley Daytona Prototype in which driving duties were shared by John McKenna and Ethan Shippert.

“It’s awesome out there dicing it up with everybody,” said McKenna. “This car has great downforce, great acceleration, and lot of downforce. It gets plenty warm inside. They’re plenty competitive, and we’re having a blast out there. I drove the first leg, and [Shippert] drove after the pit stop.”

Travis Engen was the seventh and final driver to finish on the lead lap, after which some highly-competitive professional drivers battled for top GT honors. Edwards ultimately got the advantage among three entries from the BMW stable, winning the GT category and finishing eighth overall. Bill Auberlen finished just behind him, and Connor De Phillippi was third while earning quickest lap honors with a 1:27.974 time on Lap 15.

There was plenty of action among other GT cars in the field, including friendly but competitive racing between Florida-based Alegra Motorsports drivers Carlos deQuesada and Scooter Gabel. Gabel came away with the edge for the No. 13 spot while deQuesada finished one place behind.

“We talked before about racing against each other, and we’re like, ‘I’m not going to anything unpredictable,’” said deQuesada, “We’re out there having fun and dicing it up. We’re super careful. When we approach the slower cars, we totally backed off. I’ve been a participant at this race about eight times. It’s a phenomenal event with a tremendous variety of cars. It’s always fun when you’re done racing to look around at the cars. Not to mention the weather is great and it’s one of the most beautiful locations in the country.

“We bought the car about three years ago from Don Winnington, and I had Jim Torres do the restoration. This is the first outing racing the car. It’s been amazing. We’ve been having a great time.”

“This is pretty much my favorite car that I’ve ever driven, which is why I wanted it,” added Gaber. “It’s a really nice, easy car to drive, and it’s fairly fast. If you’re going to race for historic reasons, it’s a pleasant, enjoyable car to drive. It allows for more concentration to navigate the traffic. It’s not a twitchy, nervous car that consumes all your attention. It’s easy to work on if I have to work on it.”

The Masters Historic portion of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will conclude with the Masters Endurance Legends Rolex Race later in the afternoon.

Masters Endurance Legends USA – Race 2
The 2021 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion fittingly concluded with Masters Endurance Legends USA, the most contemporary of the 15 race groups, putting on an incredible race with a variety of Prototype and GT entries driven by amateurs and professionals alike.

Monterey Race winner Spencer Trenery captured his second victory of the day and had to work for it despite cementing the lead when he first got to the Andretti Hairpin and maintaining it throughout the race short of two passes he had to make after pitting. Perhaps his biggest battle was trying to lap Travis Engen’s 2005 Audi R8 with just over 12 minutes to go, stalking close behind for over three minutes before he was able to make the inside pass at Turn 3.

“We were fortunate to bring it home in first,” said Trenery. “The race, more or less, went as planned. We came out of the pits in third or fourth and ran everybody down in traffic. I have to credit the Masters Historic series. 20 years ago, I was running these cars at pro races here, and it just couldn’t be any closer to that experience this afternoon.”

Danny Baker took his second podium finish of the day, this time on the second step, despite some adversity. He’d had a relatively trouble-free experience in the short time he’s owned his 2011 Oreca 03, but he got caught up in traffic later in the race and spun in Turn 4. The talented driver was able to recover without incident and finish the race ahead of all but Trenery. Baker was joined on the podium by Wade Carter after a strong run in the No. 88 1997 Riley & Scott MkIII.

Despite a great deal of competitive racing, the only time the safety car had to enter the track was around the halfway point of the race when the No. 55 BMW M3 driven by Travis Okulski was stopped on-track before the Corkscrew with eager pro Bill Auberlen waiting on pit lane for a planned driver change. Many of the entries were bottled up on the restart but capable and conscientious driving prevailed in moving the race forward without incident.

Much excitement was generated by GT drivers who are active in the IMSA series challenging some of the Prototypes. Connor de Philippi, finishing the race started by co-driver Thomas Plucinsky in the eighth overall position, scored the GT victory and kept fellow BMW works driver John Edwards from sweeping both races and the pole. Loren Beggs finished third in the No. 45 Flying Lizard 2004 Porsche 996.

“It was good fun,” said de Philippi. “The car was great to drive. It was mixing it up with some of the Prototype guys, which was tricky because I don’t think they were expecting me to be where I was. It was a great event. I look forward to coming back again next year.

“The first race was fun. All three of us [BMW drivers] ended up one behind another. We had a couple laps of battle. I was looking forward to the race this afternoon. Unfortunately, the sister car had a slight issue, otherwise I think it would have been a good show between Bill [Auberlen] and I. It’s great to have BMW involved at this event showcasing some of our most successful GT cars. It’s great to be with a brand that still puts these cars on track and lets people enjoy them.”

Masters Historic Formula One USA – Race 1
Nearburg, Thornton Battle While Carter, Moeller Rebound in Thrilling Monterey Race at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Race day for the Masters Historic Formula One group at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion kicked off with the “Monterey Race” opening afternoon activities at the close of the National Anthem performed in front of the largest Monterey crowd of the four-day event. The on-track action of the first of two races lived up to the premiere billing with clean, exciting racing that brought forth fond memories of Formula One’s three-liter era.

The front row battle between Charles Nearburg and Gregory Thornton was grasped firmly by Nearburg from commanding the lead by the Andretti Hairpin at the start of the race to doing so more emphatically following a yellow-flag restart on Lap 3. Monterey Pre-Reunion Race 2 winner Cal Meeker joined them on the podium. If you ask Nearburg, trying to hold off Thornton’s quick No. 1 1982 Lotus 91/5 was no easy feat. He pulled off consistently fast 1:21-second lap times on the 2.238-mile circuit.

“I was just running really hard,” said Nearburg. “Greg is a really tough competitor. We had to do that restart. I got a good, fair jump and was driving hard. It wasn’t any walk in the park. It may have looked like I had a good lead, but I was working it.”

Capturing the attention of the fans sitting in the stands and along the hillside was the two drivers starting at the back of the grid working their way up the leaderboard throughout the nine-lap contest. Wade Carter and Bud Moeller have front-running entries that had issues hampering their respective qualifying efforts.

“I absolutely love this car,” said Carter of the No. 32 1982 Arrows A4. “It’s my third weekend in it, and I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would. I always look forward to jumping in it. We had a good practice. We were up even higher than I thought I’d be. We had a little tire issue in qualifying, so we started all the way in the back at 21st. We had our work cut out for us, but it was fun. I haven’t had to pass many people with the Formula One car, so today was an education.”

For Moeller, he initially thought his weekend was over on Thursday afternoon when a broken left front suspension was discovered after practice. However, he was able to get back on track with the help of his crew and fellow competitor John McKenna, who owns a sister car that is currently stored in Auburn, Wash.

“My guys have been heroes,” said Moeller. “They went to San Francisco International Airport to pick up the part at 8 o’clock last night and worked on it this morning. McKenna, too. He has a good crew at home to get the car out of storage, take it apart, and get it on a plane so we can race.”

Carter worked all the way up to fourth with Moeller close behind at fifth, giving them more favorable starting positions for the Rolex Race at 5 p.m. Moeller worked his way up to the very end, passing Lee Mowle toward the end of the race.

Ron Maydon won the Fittipaldi class in the No. 51 1977 LEC CRP1. He had a brilliant drive to hold off Martin Lauber for the seventh overall position behind only the ground effects cars in the Head category. Coming in ninth was Dan Collins, who began the race in fourth and fought through gearbox issues to finish the race. Chris Locke rounded out the top 10 in the 1976 Lotus 7 once campaigned by Mario Andretti.

“Good, clean race,” Locke reflected. “I thought everybody drove very well. It’s a great track for these cars. Lots of good, clean corners that these cars are built for. Bud Moeller started back, so I was watching for him to come through and moved over for him. I was trying desperately to get by Martin Lauber ahead of me and thought I was going to be able to do it a couple of times. Maybe later this afternoon.”

Finishing on the lead lap after Locke was Zak Brown, McKenna, Doug Mockett, Chris MacAllister, Michael Eckstein, and Richard Griot. Alex MacAllister won the Stewart category, finishing one lap behind the overall winner and ahead of Michael Malone, Dalmo deVasconcelos, and Charles Warner. Robin Hunter was unable to race due to an engine problem that can’t be repaired onsite.

Danny Baker, a favorite in the Fittipaldi class and threat for the overall win, had throttle cable issues that brought out the caution early in the race. The California resident will be able to return for the Rolex Race and start his McLaren M23 from the back of the grid.

Masters Historic Formula One USA – Race 2
Nearburg Completes Masters Historic Formula One Event Sweep at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion; Maydon Holds Off Lauber to Sweep Fittipaldi Class

Two exhilarating weeks of Masters Historic Formula One racing at Central California’s world-renowned WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca circuit came to a conclusion with Charles Nearburg winning the Rolex Race and thus sweeping the weekend at the prestigious Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

Nearburg led from the first turn until the cars finished lap 9 under double yellow following the No. 29 car’s spin into the gravel going down the Corkscrew. Nearburg turned a series of 1:21 lap times while his nearest opposition — Gregory Thornton taking his second P2 finish of the day — was the only other driver recording sub-1:23 times. Cal Meeker followed to take the third step of the podium for the second time today.

“The guys did a great job on the cars,” said Nearburg. “They had to rebuild the metering unit on the fuel injection between the first race and this one, so they busted their tails to make the car a runner this afternoon. Hats off to Kevin and all the guys. It was a beautiful day at the track. It was great to see fans here again. The cars ran great. I drove hard. It was fun, but I didn’t take anything for granted. It’s a day to remember, for sure.”

Wade Carter and Bud Moeller, who so valiantly worked their way up to the fourth and fifth positions from the back of the grid during the Monterey Race earlier in the afternoon, retained their positions through the duration of the Rolex Race with Lee Mowle close behind in sixth.

The most hotly-contested battle while the race was still under green was between Ron Maydon and Martin Lauber for the seventh overall spot which also determined the victor in the Fittipaldi class. Maydon held on with Lauber stalking him in the No. 33 1981 Tyrrell that he is driving for the first time this weekend after selling his familiar No. 9 Jaegermeister 1974 March to Richard Griot. Lauber was hot on Maydon’s tail under the double-yellow flags waved and Maydon collected his second Fittipaldi class win in as many races today.

“Let me tell you: when the double yellows came out, I was the happiest man on the planet. My only concern was that they were going to get the car cleared and start the race again,” said Maydon, with a laugh. “I was relieved. It was good. I really enjoyed it. There is a nice bunch of drivers. We all race each other hard but slap each other on the back at the end of the day.”

“I ran out of time, and the talent didn’t kick in soon enough,” said Lauber. “I’m getting used to the car. I wish we had one more weekend to go.”

The other driver who was hopeful for a couple more laps under green was Danny Baker. Baker, starting in the rear of the grid after a broken throttle cable derailed his earlier race, smoothly overtook driver after driver in his McLaren M23 until time under green ran out with ninth-place Chris Locke and others in his sights.

“I wish we had three more laps,” said Baker. “I had four guys all lined up in front of me. I was like, ‘OK, let’s go, baby!’ The car ran good. It was good to have a throttle pedal this time.”

Tenth-place Baker was followed to the checkered flag by Chris MacAllister, Dalmo deVasconcelos, Doug Mockett, Michael Eckstein, Charles Warner, Griot, Michael Malone, Stewart class winner Alex MacAllister, and John McKenna.