Gripping Trans-Am photo finish at Motorsports Reunion


The last race, a Pre-’72 Trans-Am thriller capped Saturday’s action at the Rolex  Monterey Motorsports Reunion on the 16 August.  A five car train at the front of an all V8 grid swapped places all through the 11 lap contest, but it was Ken Epsman’s AMC Javelin that headed a thundering trio of Boss 302 Mustangs at the chequer with Jim Hague a close second in a photo finish.

The honoured marque Maserati was celebrated with a special display including Tipo 26M, 8CTF, V8R1, and a clutch of ‘50s sports racers but sadly the star car, Derek Hill’s guest drive in the Tipo 151 didn’t happen due to brake problems, owner Laurence Auriana preferring to save the fearsome coupé for Goodwood next month.

MGs dominated the oldest group with Pete Thelander’s NE beating the Magnette of Leif Jacobsen with Bentley man Bruce McCaw an impressive third in his 41/2-litre Le Mans Replica. Highlights of the pre-Great War machines included Brian Blain’s 1911 National 40 work racer, and George Wingard’s 1914 French Grand Prix winning Mercedes.

Maserati set the pace in the Pre-’51 which saw the special inclusion of two 250Fs matched against pre-war machinery. After a first lap scrap with Jeffrey O’Neill, German Jos Koster blasted clear in the 250F raced by his father in the ‘50s. But all eyes were on Paddins Dowling's 4CL, which started from the back of the grid and gunned through to finish third. 

Kaid Marouf was the star of the Pre-'62 GT race in his beautifully prepared Alfa Romeo SZ, which progressively picked-off the front runners to take a popular win from Adrian Van Der Kroft’s Morgan Plus 4 and Alec Hugo’s Porsche 356B.  Tom Price braved this highly competitive 40-car grid with his Ferrari 250GTO and kept his cool to finish fourth as others around him spun or retired. None were more happy to finish than Katsunori Tamaru, who realized a long held dream to race at Laguna Seca in his cute Toyota S800. Other rarities included Tom Trabue’s 1956 Denzel 1500, which still made the top ten after a dramatic spin.

Corvette ace Jeffrey Abramson’s won a spectacular V8 contest beating John McKenna’s Cobra, but a strong Sunbeam Tiger contingent present at Laguna cheered home Dale Akuszewski to third with ex-Shelby works driver John Morton finishing a fine fifth in his old Rootes race car.

Local Don Orosco made his sweet victory in the Pre-’61 Sports Racing Car field look easy as his 2.5-litre Lotus 15 pulled away from the dicing Maserati Birdcages of Bruce Canapa and Jurgen Doden, who shipped his rear-engined Tipo 63 over from Germany for the event. Highlight among the army of Listers and Devins was the fantastic Maserati 450S guest driven by Rick Hall.

A spectacular IMSA battle between Ken Epsman’s Dekon Monza and Canepa’s Porsche 935 ended dramatically when the Monza’s rear wheel collapsed and sent him off into the wall. “I did the NASCAR double spin to avoid heavier damage,” said a relieved Epsman. Canepa nearly missed the restart gifting John Hildebrand’s ’78 Chevrolet Camaro victory from John Morton’s ’82 Mustang. The race featured two Ferrari 512BBLMs headed by Lawrence Stroll.


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