The two-liter Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa that Pete Lovely drove to victory in the very first race at the brand-new Laguna Seca Raceway in November of 1957, will return to the now 60-year-old raceway this August to take part in the 2017 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. An unlikely winner at the time, the Lovely Ferrari is but one of several historic racecars that will be part of the Racing Through the Decades feature display marking the six decades of the circuit now known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Lovely, who died in 2011 at the age of 85, continued to race the Ferrari at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races into the 2000s.
“I’ll always remember that race,” he would say, “because it was the first race run at Laguna Seca, and because it attracted a who’s who of West Coast sports car racing. I was fortunate enough to be able to come across the line in front of everyone else on the last lap, and I did it in a two-liter car. That was a real thrill.
“Johnny von Neumann and myself were the main survivors after the first race was complete because Carroll Shelby, Jack McAfee and Richie Ginther had all dropped out with various mechanical problems. That left von Neumann and myself battling for the lead. Johnny had a new 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine in his Ferrari TRC, and I had a plain old 500 Testa Rossa with a 2-liter engine.
“I could get up close to von Neumann, but I couldn’t pass him because I didn’t have enough power to get by. I devised a scheme by which I would very gradually fall back to where he couldn’t see me in his mirror. I then turned on a couple of really hot laps and I got right on his tail when we reached Turn 9. When Johnny saw me there, he got flustered, missed a shift coming out of that turn and I passed him. The rest is history.”
Some 550 fully documented vintage racecars have been accepted for entry in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, ranging from early pre-war cars to the ground-pounding IMSA Grand Touring Prototypes. For more information or to view the full array of ticketing and hospitality packages, please visit www.MazdaRaceway.com.