The 32nd running of the Monterey Historics on Aug. 19–21, paid tribute to the engineering and ingenuity of American road racing specials, with a particular emphasis on the fantastic Chaparrals of Jim Hall. In general, this year’s event featured 403 entries that included everything from turn-of-the-century veteran racecars to Can-Am ground-pounders.
Central in the paddock at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway was a large tent that displayed a number of Chaparrals brought over from the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas. This display included examples of the Mk1, 2, 2E, 2D, 2H, 2J, the “Yellow Submarine” Indy car and the Chaparral Trans-Am Camaro. Not only were all these cars present for the festivities but so were Jim Hall himself, as well as designer Chuck Pelly and former team drivers Phil Hill and Vic Elford. Throughout the weekend Hall, Hill and Elford ran demonstration laps in a number of cars, but perhaps the most special of all was on Sunday when Elford drove the 2J “sucker car” with the ground effect generating snowmobile motors on!
In terms of the racing action, Saturday’s highlights included racing great Bobby Rahal chocking up a popular win in his 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB in Group 4A, while later that afternoon, Can-Am cars made their long awaited return to the Monterey Historics with 26 cars taking the green flag. While there were a number of significant car-and-driver combinations including John Morton at the wheel of the “McLeagle,” the race was ultimately won by Steve Cook driving a 1968 McLaren M6B.
Sunday’s racing saw a much-anticipated showdown between American racing specials when three Chaparral Mk1s, faced off against three Ol’ Yallers and many other specials in the Group 3B race. The Chaparrals Mk1s of Paul Brown, Brian Redman and Rob Walton fought it out at the front with the Huffaker Genie of John Harden. But when the checkered fell it was Brown in 1st, with Walton 2nd, Harden 3rd, and Redman in 4th. Closing out the weekend’s racing was the always popular Trans-Am race, which was eventually won by the 1970 Camaro of Mark Mountanos.
While some skeptics predicted that featuring American road racing specials would attract smaller crowds than in previous years when Ferrari, Corvette and Porsche were featured, this year’s event was extremely well attended, indicating the overall importance of the Monterey Historics and the significant interest in these unique American racecars.