Meanwhile as we got into the fall, the thing was turning into a full-time job and my phone was ringing off the hook at all hours. My wife told me if I ever did this again, she would leave me.
We had no budget for paid advertising, but we were getting quite a bit of publicity by then and the hotels were filling up. Bill Pollack, for instance, hadn’t driven since 1958. He brought his entire extended family and reserved almost 20 rooms. By race time, people were staying as far away as Indio and Banning. On race weekend, the chamber sold more than 24,000 tickets. In fact, by Sunday afternoon, they ran out and so started letting everyone in for free!
When Thanksgiving week arrived, it was accompanied by what was reported as one of Southern California’s biggest storms on record. It even rained in Palm Springs! Nevertheless, we soldiered on. The chamber volunteers and the firemen were out on the streets putting it all together. And would you believe Saturday dawned sunny and warm. The weather held through Sunday and then more rain came on Monday.
The only serious problem occurred after Vintage Formula One practice. To get back to the paddock, the cars had to drive on a street not part of the course. It was lined with police on either side and with yellow tape to keep spectators back. A 12-year-old boy ducked under the tape and ran into a wheel on the Ferrari Bob Bondurant was driving. The boy’s mother had abandoned him to watch the race while she shopped on Palm Canyon drive. The boy was shook up, but not really injured. Even so, the paramedics took him to the hospital, where he was released shortly thereafter. It turned out his mother was going to law school and working part-time for a Los Angeles law firm. So she started writing letters to everyone concerned demanding a large settlement and threatening a lawsuit. On advice of counsel, her correspondence went unanswered. Just before the one-year time limit for filing suits expired, she did, in fact, file. But she made a legal mistake. The incident occurred on a city street. In California, suits against municipalities must be filed within six months, rather than the year that applies to all else!
The revival weekend turned into a happening. The Los Angeles Times devoted an entire section in its Monday edition. Japanese and English press were there too and we got great stories in Road & Track and AutoWeek. A few of my friends remarked that this would never happen again. As it turned out, they were right.
Not wanting to become a professional promoter, I had invited Steve Earle and Chris Pook to come and observe, hoping that one of them would take over. Both made proposals to the council, but Pook was selected. As I told the council, I thought that was a mistake. If Steve had been the promoter, Palm Springs might have turned out to be Monterey south. Vintage racing continued there for a few more years, but never really lived up to its initial promise.