The 26th annual Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival at the newly renamed Sonoma raceway took place over the weekend on the track you had 15 different classes on display covering over 50 years of Motorsport. That included the following:
• Group 1 (Pre-1941 Sports and Touring Cars)
• Group 2 (1956-1963 Formula Cars)
• Group 3 (1959-1966 Sports Racing Cars)
• Group 4 (1963-1973 Grand National Cars)
• Group 5 (1955-1966 Production/GT-Cars)
• Group 6 (1962-1966 Production/GT Cars over 2,000cc)
• Group 7 (1982-1991 Historic IMSA GTO/SCCA)
• Group 8 (1925-1941 Racing Cars)
• Group 9 (1946-1955 Sports Racing and Production Cars)
• Group 10 (1955-1960 Sports Racing Cars)
• Group 11 (1962-1966 Production/GT Cars under 2,000cc)
• Group 12 (1973-1979 IMSA GT and 1964-1970 FIA Cars)
• Group 13 (1966-1974 Historic Can-Am Cars)
• Group 14 (1966-1972 Historic Trans-Am Cars)
• Group 15 (1971-1982 FIA Sports Racing Cars)
Local Bay Area drivers posted six victories amongst the groups on Sunday. San Francisco’s Danny Baker and Alamo’s Jeff Abramson continued their winning ways, each posting dominating victories in their respective classes. Both drivers also claimed wins in last year’s event.
Baker piloted his 1963 Lotus to the top spot for Group 2 (1956-1963 Formula Cars), while Abramson took first place in his 1966 Lotus for Group 3 (1956-1963 Sports Racing Cars). Both drivers lead from start to finish, after topping qualifying on Saturday. Abramson also claimed a second win in his 1959 Morgan in Group 5 (1955-1962 Production/GT Cars).
Other Bay Area winners on Sunday included Santa Clara’s Jim Hague in his 1972 Ford Gran Torino, (Group 4, 1963-1973 Grand National Stock Cars); Sausalito’s Paddins Dowling in the 1939 Maserati, (Group 8, 1925-1941 Racing Cars); and San Jose’s Chad Raynal in a 1969 Camaro, (Group 4, 1966-1972 Historic Trans-Am Cars).
Actor and comedian Adam Carolla competed in Group 11 of the weekends festivities (1962-1966 Production/GT Cars) and finished 17th in his 1971 Datsun BRE 510. Carolla, a known race car and Datsun enthusiast won the 36th Toyota Pro/Celebrity Grand Prix of Long Beach earlier this year.
Other race winners included Pete Thelander (Group 1, 1934 MG, Westminster); John McKenna (1963 Cobra, Group 6, Auburn, Wash.); Peter Baljet (1990 Chevy Beretta, Group 7, Duncan, BC); Robert Manson (1952 Manning Special, Group 9, Carmel Valley); Edward Nigro (1960 Lola MK1, Group 10, Las Vegas); Ray Thompson (1964 Ginetta, Group 11, La Jolla); Ranson Webster (1976 Porsche, Group 12, Reno); Wade Carter (1972 McLaren, Group 13, Woodinville, Wash.); and Keith Frieser (1972 Lola, Group 15, Puyallup, Wash.).
Aside from the action fans were treated to the very popular Wine Country Pavilion, featuring a sampling of fine wine and food and food from the area. Also on hand at the event were three of the original cars that had competed in the Golden Gate Park Road Races in San Francisco in the 1950s took to the 12-turn, 2.52-mile track, to commemorate the event’s theme, “Moments in Time: a Celebration of the History of Motorsports.”
One was a 1950 Jaguar XK120 that was owned and raced by Don Parkinson in the 1952 Golden Gate Park Road Races. He was the brother-in-law of legendary California racer Phil Hill. The car crashed at Pebble Beach and sustained significant body damage, as a result of the accident the car was re-bodied into a more aerodynamic body and continued to race through to 1954. The Parkinson Special was raced by Parkinson in each of the Golden Gate Park Road Races from 1952-54. Since its adventures in Golden Gate Park it has passed through several owners until Terry Buffum bought it and restored it to its 1950s-era race configuration. It is currently cared for and raced by John Buddenbaum.
The second car a Baldwin Special is a true home-built race car which started with a 1932 Ford chassis. Built by an aircraft engineer in Southern California, Willis Baldwin it is powered by a Mercury flathead engine. It was a successful race car in its time, and raced in the 1952 and ‘53 Golden Gate Park Road Races. Baldwin made three cars; the first one now resides in England and this is the second of the three. Rob Manson is the owner/driver and Mike Ryan the mechanic took part in the racing this weekend.
These two cars were joined by a 1951 Aston Martin DB2, driven by owner Alan Selby of Santa Rosa, Calif. The car was originally purchased new by Phil Hill when he was a sales person with International Motors in Los Angeles. He drove the car from Los Angeles to the Road Races in Reno and liked it so much he couldn’t part with it. Doug Trotter pestered Hill to sell him the car and when he finally sold it to him. It was then converted into a race car and was raced throughout the West Coast events for several years, including the 1953 Golden Gate Park Road Races. It was discovered on a used-car lot in San Francisco by its current owner who did not know the history of the car but thought it looked like a nice car. He eventually discovered the history and the car has now been totally restored.