Bristish aces star at Californian Ferrari festival

Laguna Seca | Aug 13-15

The 31st running of the USA's top historic race meeting drew over 400 entries to California's Laguna Seca circuit. A fifth of the entry was made up of Ferraris, Maranello's finest being the featured marque for 2004.

Fittingly, a mouthwatering lineup of 250GTOs graced the event, with estimates putting their number at more than half of the production run. The GTO pack had a race of its own to bring the curtain down on Saturday's programme. In a close-run battle, Swiss racer Carlo Vogele powered his 4-litre 330GTO to the chequer barely 1 sec ahead of Rob Walton, while Jo Bamford took his father's example into the top six.

Walton switched to his 250LM to claim a win in the Pre-1966 GT race on Sunday, fending off the AC Cobra of Mac Archer and Derek Bell's Daytona Coupé.

Another British sportscar legend, Brian Redman, claimed the Pre-1974 Prototype/GT event. Driving Miles Collier's Porsche 908/3, he moved in front of the fast-starting Lola of Brian Barrington on lap six But the T70 harried the Porsche over the closing half of the race and less than a second split them at the flag. Jamey Mazzotta took third in the fastest of four Chevron Bl6s.

Top of the single-seater races was the event for 1967-80 Formula One cars. This produced another close finish. Dan Baker (McLaren M23) and the Arrows A3 of Bruce Canepa swapped the lead, and Baker only just made it to the flag ahead of his rival. Bud Moeller completed the podium in his Ferrari 312T5 from a 20-strong field.

Nick Faure's Jaguar D-type won the Pre-1957 Sports Racing contest, which also saw Rick Hall (Ferrari Monza) and Willie Green (Ferrari 340) in the top four.

US-based Brit Mark Gillies won the pre-war single-seater encounter in ERA R3A, and Californian Tom Byrnes took wins in a Cooper T62 and a Brabham BT8.


Speed merchant: Willie Green

Willie claimed a podium finish in the Pre-1962 sports-racing car event in a Ferrari Dino 196s. Despite driving the smallest-engined car in the field, the British veteran thrilled the crowds with a determined charge against the faster Chevy-powered Chaparral Mk1 of Tom Hollfelder and John Mozart's LIster.