Some of the most respected former Formula One (F1) drivers are ready to go wheel-to-wheel in this year’s Toyota Race of Legends at the 35th annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, presented by Toyota. In addition to good-natured bragging rights, these drivers are looking to secure a $25,000 check that will be donated to the winner’s selected charity.
The Toyota Race of Legends is an exciting feature of the Monterey Historics taking place August 15-17 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and is the centerpiece of Toyota’s Celebration of History showcase.
Derek Bell (Britain) returns to defend last year’s inaugural win against an impressive lineup of F1 veterans looking to unseat him. Joining Bell on the starting grid will be Eddie Cheever (U.S.), Johnny Herbert (Britain), Jean-Pierre Jarier (France), 1980 World Champion Alan Jones (Australia), Danny Sullivan (U.S.), Patrick Tambay (France) and John Watson (Britain).
Adding to the race excitement will be Alain de Cadenet (Britain) of SPEED TV and former 24 Hours of Le Mans driver, who will provide fans and television viewers with a driver’s-eye race commentary from inside the cockpit. The tenth and final car will be driven by a charity auction winner held among Monterey Historics race participants. The winning bid last year was $16,100 and benefited the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Practice for the Toyota Race of Legends is Friday, August 15 and the eight lap race is Saturday, August 16. The starting grid will be determined by a random drawing that is overseen by a special surprise celebrity guest, who will also be calling the race.
Last year, Bell split his $25,000 winner’s donation equally between the U.K.-based national cancer charity Hope for Tomorrow and the Florence Fuller Foundation based in Boca Raton, Fla.
“This is an amazing group of drivers who have experienced the thrills of racing in the pinnacle of motorsports,” explains Kim McCullough, corporate manager for marketing communications of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. “It is a thrill to have them come together to race for charity, sign autographs and share their experiences with the fans. It’s not every day you meet such a distinguished group of drivers.”
The legends will tackle legendary Laguna Seca in identical race-equipped Scion tC sport coupes. These high-performance tCs feature a 2.4-liter, 215-horsepower supercharged engine and are well matched to the track’s sweeping turns, uphill straightaway and challenging Corkscrew.
Driving in the Toyota Race of Legends are:
Derek Bell — Five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1975, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1987), Bell is a two-time World Sportscar Champion (1986 and 1987). He had nine starts in Formula One driving for Ferrari, McLaren, Surtees and Tecno.
Eddie Cheever — Making his F1 debut at the age of 20, Cheever raced in 132 F1 races, a record for an American driver, before turning his attention toward the CART World Series in 1990. Cheever started 14 Indy 500 races and captured the checkered flag in dramatic fashion in 1998.
Johnny Herbert — Finishing an impressive fourth in his first F1 race in 1989, Herbert went on to start in 161 races, compiling three wins and seven podium finishes. He was a popular fixture at Benetton, Sauber, Stewart, Tyrrell and Lotus, and has enjoyed success by winning at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Jean-Pierre Jarier — Spanning 11 years and 143 races in his F1 career, Jarier was regularly scoring points and podium finishes, driving for such teams as March, Ligier, Shadow and Tyrrell from 1971 to 1983. “Jumper” Jarier also successfully raced sports cars after retiring from F1.
Alan Jones — The 1980 F1 World Champion for Williams, Jones captured 12 career wins and 24 podium finishes during his nine-year career. Following F1, Jones raced in the Australian Touring Car Championship and became an F1 commentator for Australian TV.
Danny Sullivan — Perhaps best known for his 17 wins in the CART World Series, capped by the 1988 championship and 1985 Indy 500 victory, Sullivan spent the 1983 season in F1 with Tyrell, recording a best finish of fifth in Montreal.
Patrick Tambay — After winning the 1977 Can-Am championship, Tambay debuted in F1 at the 1977 French Grand Prix with Surtees. He garnered 114 starts, two wins and 11 podium finishes before retiring in 1986. He drove for seven teams in his career, including Ferrari, McLaren and Renault.
John Watson — With 152 starts, five wins, 20 podium finishes and third in the 1982 drivers’ championship, Watson earned a well-deserved place in F1 history. During his 11-year F1 career, he drove for Penske, Brabham and McLaren before becoming a popular race commentator.
Alain de Cadenet — In 1976, de Cadenet finished third overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in his own car and won two rounds of the World Sportscar Championship at Monza and Silverstone. Best known for his vintage car expertise, he is an on-air personality for the SPEED Channel and ESPN.
[Source: Monterey Historics]