As Steve Earle, mentor of vintage racing’s greatest show, called the 20th Annual Monterey Historic Race prize giving to order (this is difficult because vintage racers are, by and large, an unruly lot) he pointed out, as he does each year, that the philosophy of the event has not changed. To paraphrase, cars are the real attraction and not the contest. Winning really has nothing to do with anything. As you might guess, this stimulates some discussion. Steve has always gone to some interesting extremes to keep anyone from
taking the “winning” of a vintage race too seriously, and this year was no exception. As the crowd quieted down Debbie Earle whipped off her bright red baseball cap and threw several slips of paper into it. Steve drew one of the slips and read the number on it, “Five”.
All the fifth place drivers were summoned, forthwith, to the podium to receive their “winners” trophy. When some failed to make the presentation, trophies were awarded to sixth place.
Not to appear self-serving, but one award did merit some special attention. Automobile Magazine has, for several years, given the True Spirit Trophy to the entrant who, “drives to the event and competes with
honor”. The trophy, a Brooklands racing screen mounted on a section of cowling, has “The Way It Was” etched on it. After explaining that you did not quality for this award by sitting in your car while it was driven to the track in the back of an 18-wheeler, Steve turned the presentation over to Automobile Magazine Art Director, Larry Crane. Larry had the not-so-enviable task of figuring out who, out of the 300-plus entries, actually did drive their car to the track and race it.
Honest! It wasn’t a set-up. Our own E. Alan Moss won this one fair and square. Al not only towed his 1934 Morgan SS three-wheeler to the track with his ’48 MG TC, he switched cars on the hot-grid and ran his tow car in the next race. He finished both races, and the 500-mile round trip, without taking a spanner out of his toolbox. This is really “The Way It Was”. The Monterey Historic Races and the Indianapolis 500 are certainly alike in one respect. If you love cars, you have to be there at least once in your lifetime.
The problem with the Historic is you can’t just go once.
Every year a different make is featured. Each group of cars is unique and the group of people that follow that particular make is equally unique.
In 1993 the genius of Harry Miller was celebrated by a jewel-like display of racing machines, including cars from the Smithsonian collection and the Indianapolis Speedway Museum. His front-wheel drive, four wheel drive, rear mounted engines and component designs were copied throughout the world during the 30 year span of the Miller’s racing career. You could trace the entire development of racing in the
’20s and ’30s and sec how Miller influenced the designers that re-invented most of his ideas In the ’60s and 70s.
The centerpiece, however, was a full scale replica of a section of a high banked board track with a beautifully restored Miller suspended half-way up the banking. It took very little imagination to smell the Castrol oil and hear the cheers of the Saturday afternoon crowd at the races.
When you finally do make your pilgrimage to Monterey there are a few things you need to know. Scheduling is everything! A social director, familiar with the terrain would be handy. Since you’re never going to see the inside of your hotel/motel/B&B/tent, a limo would be a nice touch.
Consider, two full weekends of racing, two major Concours. three major auctions this year, duty dinners with all the people you haven’t seen in the last 20 years and…?
Oh yes. If you’re affiliated with some organization such as the Jowett Jupiter Owners Small Boat Punting and Rowing Club, they will have their own agenda to take care of any spare time.
One last warning, if you have anyone in your group who is more addicted to shopping than racing, lay on an extra limo! Nearby Carmel is a relatively small town but shopping, serious shopping, is what goes on there and you would be advised to prepare for this contingency.