SHEHEEN: Monterey Car Week Is Must-See Event

Ralph Sheheen

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion packed more than 550 race cars of every era into the paddock at California’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Nissan and Datsun were the featured marque. It was the first time in the event’s history a Japanese brand was celebrated, and based on the turnout of cars and spectators it won’t be the last.

One of the most unique race cars we saw was Greg Umphenour’s 1964 Mercury FIA Comet that competed in the East African Safari. Two handles and two steps had been mounted to the rear of the car. They were added to help bounce the car out of the African mud if and when it got stuck.

– It was a pleasure to meet brothers Anthony and Dan DeMonte. They are the new owners of the Skip Barber Racing School, which they took possession of in December.

In 2018, the school booked 85 dates and next year’s schedule already shows 120 school dates. Sessions range from one-, two- and three-day formats at famous tracks such as Lime Rock Park, Road Atlanta, Sebring Int’l Raceway, New Jersey Motorsports Park and WeatherTech Raceway.
The school utilizes Ford Mustang GTs, however, there are ongoing conversations with various manufacturers. They also plan to use F-4 open-wheel machines.

Drivers may also complete SCCA licensing after finishing the school’s five-day program. The big news is the return of the Skip Barber Racing Series next season. Details will be released soon.

– Justin Gurney reported that his brother, Alex, is playing their legendary father, Dan Gurney, in the upcoming movie adaptation of the classic Ford vs. Ferrari battles during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

– The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, is the place to be and be seen on Friday of Monterey Car Week. It is one of the most unique automotive events anywhere in the world, with the stunning Quail Lodge and Golf Club providing the setting.

A ticket provides a luxurious day packed full of the world’s most spectacular super cars, hyper cars, luxury cars, race cars, concept cars and motorcycles; along with exquisite cuisine and beverages to keep your own engine fully charged.

The highlight of The Quail this year was Bugatti’s unveiling of the 1,500-horsepower Divo. Only 40 will be built with a price tag starting at $5.8 million. No need to drain the kid’s inheritance, all 40 were sold before they pulled the cover.

– Monterey Car Week has become one of the world’s most popular motoring events for manufacturers to unveil new products. It is difficult to truly explain just how fantastic The Quail event is. Wandering around the Pagani display alone makes for an unforgettable day on the Monterey Penninsula, and the event is well worth the price of admission. That is if you can get a ticket. They are limited and distributed through a lottery.

It is truly a must-see event. Hope to see you there on Aug. 16, 2019.

– The Driven2SaveLives BC39 midget race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway appeared to be a huge success. USAC invested heavily into making the race a signature event.

While the speedway’s staff worked tirelessly to battle threatening weather, the racing was competitive and the fans went home talking about how they can’t wait to come back next year. The BC39 is on the fast track to becoming the outdoor version of the Chili Bowl.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles was thrilled with his new race track. He viewed the BC39 as a soft-opening for the new dirt oval. They have talked about the possibility of expanding the track and grandstand seating. Discussions have taken place about hosting a race during USAC’s annual Indiana Sprint Week.

However, Boles knows it’s important to perfect operation of a dirt track before getting too far down the road with new events.

“I want to perfect this first before we do anything else,” he said.

For example, one of the new challenges for his team was learning to deal with the more relaxed pit area of a dirt track.

“We needed to get used to the chaos of things like push vehicles,” Boles said. He took his staff on field trips to local Indiana dirt tracks such as Kokomo Speedway to experience the differences before they opened the gates for the BC39.

– Christopher Bell was one of the many who comprised a very stout field of 118 drivers for the BC39. Bell was among the stacked lineup of eight drivers wheeling machines prepared by Keith Kunz.

When asked what is the best part of racing for Kunz, Bell didn’t hesitate.

“Everything about the machines is basically the same,” said Bell. “If your teammate is quicker than you, it’s on you.”

– The Clauson-Marshall Racing team used 48 tires among six cars during the two nights of the BC39 at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.