Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bucket List Trip Day 2: Laguna Seca Track And Maserati Holy Grail

Laguna Parking Parking in the early morning fog

The greatest disappointment of my trip was my way too short time allowed at the track. I really needed a good three days to get the lay of the land, find good filming locations and then be able to piece together a coherent trip around the track on video. I also would have bought a better ticket. That's the problem with bucket list trips: you really have to do them twice to get it right.

Laguna Track

I had two enemies this day: time and sun. My glorious trip up the coast left me vulnerable to the California sun and there was no shortage of it that day. This left me unable to indulge my curiosity for a walk around the track and view some of its more famous elements like the "Corkscrew". I also lost time figuring out the parking. Who knew "Down the road to the right" meant FOUR miles down the road (which then doubles back to the track). Confusing!

Jaguar D type Jaguar D Type! Perhaps the most beautiful sports racing car ever.

Shelby Cobra Shelby AC Cobra. Seen tons of replicas, never the real thing - until now.

Delahaye (2) From the misheard lyrics department:
"I spent four lonely days in a brown Delahaye [L.A. haze]"

But when I got there, legends abounded. I obviously can't speak for all vintage races but it's hard to imagine a better class of cars at one event. Wow! Just wow! When you read about cars in the history books they sort of become like superheroes to you. Epic tales of cars stretched to their limits by gritty drivers in the halcyon pre-corporate days of auto racing. Cars were shaped as much by the senses as science and the personality of the designers shined through.

Sir Stirling Moss (2)

One particular treat was an interview with Sir Stirling Moss, a driver of many of my superhero cars, including Maserati. I recorded the interview but the sound got drowned out by ambient noise. A thousand stories he could tell if I could get him one-on-one over some beers. The man is a walking piece of history and just as sharp and agile as ever at a spry 85. Apparently he's a regular at car week in Monterey and he certainly adds to the aura in an irreplaceable way.

Maserati Display

But what of my beloved Maserati heroes?? Would I at last find the Formula 1 world championship winning 250F? Would I get to see Maserati's own gorgeous sports racers of the 50's? How about the exotic "birdcage" racers? Or dare I hope for some of the magnificent pre-war Grand Prix cars the Maserati brothers made their bones with? How far can I dream?

At Monterey, all the way!

1938 Maserati 8CTF (3) 1938 Maserati 8CTF. Blazingly fast but unreliable,
this superb beast helped spread the Maserati name.

1935 Maserati V8-RI (2) 185 in 1935! A V8-RI. What a sight to see.

1952 Maserati A6GCS 1952 Maserati A6GCS.
Sports racing cars were just beginning to take shape in the early 50's. 
It was a great time of discovery.

1957 Maserati 300S (4) 1957 Maserati 300S, above and below. Pictures say it all.

1957 Maserati 300S (2)

1957 Maserati 450S (3) 1957 Maserati 450S, big brother to the 300s. Outrageous, mammoth, victorious.

1957 Maserati 450S (2)

1962 Maserati Tipo 151 1962 Maserati Tipo 151. Just too cool!

And I finally got to see a "Birdcage" in person:

1961 Maserati Tipo 63 1961 Maserati Tipo 63

1961 Maserati Tipo 63 (3)

But what of the Maserati Holy Grail, the 250F? Of those there were two!

1958 Maserati 250F (2) 1958 Maserati 250F. Sleek, fast, highly drivable. Doesn't get any better than this.

1958 Maserati 250F (3)

1957 Maserati 250F 1957 Maserati 250F, from the year of the world championship

1957 Maserati 250F (3)

Here's some video highlights:

For the race, I finally found a spot on Turn 5 where the fence did not block me. Hard part was I was at the complete mercy of the sun, forced to cower under an outback sun hat from the gift shop. I waited anxiously for the 250Fs to come roaring down the track. They were vast overdogs in their class and naturally finished 1-2. A third Maserati (profiled in the Austin vintage races) came in third for a clean sweep. In my mind I transported myself back to the 1957 glory days of Maserati when they ruled the world stage. Just wonderful.

Laguna Parade Lap 250Fs

Laguna Parade 1957 Maserati 250F (3)

Race video shows them in action.

Alas, I had to run at this point before the Italian Concours ended, unable to stay for the grand sports cars: the 300S, 450S, Jaguar D Type among others. That will haunt me but I do take much solace in what I was able to see and experience. The plethora of Maserati wealth was dizzying and I will still be absorbing it for a long time to come.

Maserati History

No comments: