Report and photos by Marshall Autry
Along with fireworks and outdoor activities, the 4th of July weekend in Seattle means two things: The really nice weather starts the day AFTER the holiday, and the Pacific Northwest Historic Races. Now in it’s 22nd year, the Historics, held at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA, has become the largest vintage car race in the Northwest. Starting in 1990, the Pacific Northwest Historics became a fund-raiser for Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center. Last year’s event had more than 255 entries, and raised almost a half-million dollars for Children’s Hospital. This year’s event had over 195 cars entered – down a bit from 2009 – but a quality group of vintage race cars, nonetheless.
The weather held up its end of the bargain – the rain was heavy enough to wash out Friday morning’s practice and qualifying sessions, canceling the Friday afternoon race sessions. (A few brave souls did make an effort to get some laps in, but the slick surface dampened the enthusiasm of most of the racers. No sense risking the car at the beginning of a three-day event). Qualifying was moved to later in the day after the lunch break. The sun made a welcome appearance, the track dried quickly, and the run for grid positions in the seven race groups started right away.
Saturday was the start of the racing, and though the sky was overcast and the air a little cool at the beginning, the action on the track was hot from the start.
Group 1 – the Historic Small Bore and Formula Vee had their usual tight racing throughout the grid. The 1965 VW of Steve Smith and the 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint of Mark Colbert made surprise appearances at the top of the race results in two of the races, but the 1970 Leech Mk1 FV of Don Pepperdene took top honors in the other races, as the Vee’s returned to form and took the first half of the finishing order in the remaining two races. The 1951 Cooper MkV of Ed Millman made a welcome return to the track (a former hill-climbing winning car in New Zealand, the Cooper is powered by a 500cc JAP motorcycle engine). Also on track and going quickly was the fan-favorite 1961 H-Mod “H-Bomb” sports racer of Don Boyd. Another favorite is the 1969 Rover 2000TC of Tom Hufnagel. The excessive body roll in the corners is perfectly normal, so I’ve been told. Good racing all weekend.
Group 2 was the Large Bore and Modified Vintage Group. The Devin SS of John Long (1959) and John Goodman (1958) were fast, as was the 1957 Corvette of Tony Garmey, the 1959 Peyote MkII of Bill Babcock, and the 1959 Lotus 17 of Thor Johnson. Jon Shirley brought out his 1957 Maserati 300S for a couple of the races, Bill Hart’s 1957 Devin Triumph was quick, and the 1959 Austin Healey 3000 of Richard Mayor was well represented at the end of the day.
Can’t end the discussion of Group 2 without talking about two of the really special cars out on track. This year, in celebration of 100 years of manufacturing, Alfa Romeo was the featured marque. Pride of place among the Alfisti had to belong to a pair of pre-war GP cars – the 1934 P3 of Jon Shirley and the 1932 P3 of Greg Whitten. The 1934 P3 is the one Tazio Nuvolari drove to win the 1935 German Grand Prix – a truly inspiring drive in a year-old, badly outclassed race car – beating the Auto Unions and Mercedes that had been dominant that season. Greg Whitten’s was the first P3 constructed. Only six were constructed in 1932, and seven more in 1934. In “monoposto” form, this car won the 1934 Monaco Grand Prix with Guy Moll driving. In 1935, after being rebodied as a “biposto” (2 seater), this same car won the 1935 Mille Miglia. With both cars on track at the same time, it was a rare opportunity to see a bit of true racing history.
Group 3 had the biggest fields of the weekend, and was an Alfa Romeo and Porsche 356 show, with the occasional Elva Courier, Austin-Healey, or Triumph in the mix. Steve Newby’s 1961 Morris race truck (yes, you read that right – it is a real period racing truck) and the 1959 Sprite of Bob Walker staged their own battles all weekend long, and the 1969 Datsun Roadster of Mike Chandler more than held his own. Bruce McKean in his 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV was fastest of the group all weekend taking first in all the heat races. The 1963 Porsche 356C of Tim Pickstone is new to the class this season, and was fast on track as well.
Group 4 had the weekend’s closest racing throughout the field. Whether it was Jon Norman’s 1971 ex-Trans-Am Alfa Romeo GTV, the BMW 2002’s of Laurie Lyford, Terry Forland, and Mark Godsoe, the Porsche 911’s of Jim Loveall, Gary Tisdale, and Walt Cox, the Lotus 26 of Michael Malone, or the 1967 Datsun Bluebird of Jim Froula, there were tight battles among a large variety of cars both days.
Group 5 was the Large Bore cars – the ground-pounders. The Corvettes of Eric Dolson (1969), Curt Kallberg (1967), Bruce Leven (1967), and John Goodman (1969) were among the leaders all weekend in bunch. The 1968 Camaro of David Kunicki, and the 1969 Mustang of Tom Cantrell were running with the leaders, along with the 1969 Jaguar XKE of Mark Adams, Buzz Dyers 1970 AMC Javelin, and the 1964 Studebaker Daytona of Jeff Taylor. A tremendous group, these cars were among the crowd favorites with their speed and their noise.
Group 6 – Formula Cars and the small bore Sports racers. Formula Fords (21 cars at the start of the weekend), a pair of Lotus 23’s, the 1960 Lotus 18 Formula Jr of Ted Boskovich, and the rare and very well prepared 1964 BRP F1 car of Kurt DelBene. The racing in this class was tight all weekend, with the wheel-to-wheel action Formula Ford is famous for.
Group 7 (or Exhibition Class) turned the fastest times with the 1971 Tyrell 004 of John Dimmer, the 1978 Lola Frissbee GR2 of Miles Jackson (his 1:19.3 was the fastest lap of the weekend – a 102.5 mph average), Dan Marvin’s 1976 March Formula Atlantic, and the 1972 Rawlson CR11 of Ian Woods running at the front, along with the 1964 Burnett Mk II of Merrill Faulk and the Porsche 910 of Thor Johnson. The 1969 Lola T190 of Eric Haga (now owning, in addition to driving, the car he raced during the 1970 F5000 season) and 1968 Crossle 15F of Tim Osborne gave us a preview of the F5000 grid to come at the Columbia River Classic Labor Day weekend in Portland.
SOVREN Pacific Northwest Historics 2010 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Marshall Autry]