Monterey Reunion 2011, Mazda Raceway-Laguna Seca
Michael Green reports...
revised Oct 17, 2011
It blows me away how long ago this all started. It seems like yesterday there was 14 historic race cars at Monterey for the CanAm races... where they did a "fast parade", I think it was 1971(?), the year when Peter Revson won (and gave the flagman the finger!). A few year's later ('73) was the First Annual Historic Automobile Races by Steve Earl.
1976 was the first year for a tribute to Jaguar Cars. British Leyland brought OKV3 D-Type with Martin Morris and his wife, plus Tony Rolt to drive it in the parade (as you may have already seen on on my site). I was the assigned mechanic to OKV3 that weekend, a whole 18 years old then! Now 35 year's later (ouch!) it is once again a tribute to Jaguar Cars and their famed E-Type, which became 50-years old this year. For 2011 I'd be helping on a very special E-Type Jaguar, one once owned by BMCD in SF and raced by Merle Brennen of Reno, NV. I had the pleasure of knowing Merle since I was a kid, saw him race numerous times and even played in Land Rover's with him in the Nevada desert in the mid 1970s.
So begins our story... It's Wednesday afternoon before the Reunion races at Laguna Seca, the phone is ringing, Larry Oka is telling me the E-Type needs help! No brakes, and the right-rear caliper is leaking, etc. At 2pm the Jag arrives from Monterey and we set to work, by 2am we go home! David Saxon and Todd Rueppel busted a** through the night to get the car ready.
The rear brake problem's on E-Type is a major deal. The last time I'd done rear brake's on a E-Type I was an apprentice at British Sports Car Service in Hayward. ol' Jack Moran and I had to drop the whole rear unit to accomplish what we had to do. Now enter David Saxon, my new employee (from the UK), he said... "We may get the disc and caliper off without dropping the whole lot." He was right too!
While David overhauled the rear caliper's I set out to make new brake pipe's to replace the leaking ones. Up front the newly overhauled Dunlop master's (2) didn't work either - both were 5/8" bore, surely not enough to stop the car. The front one had the piston seizing up half way in the bore and was thus useless. Reassembling the rear brake's and suspension we found the shock bushing's had a case of dry rot... Now enter Earl from Valley Machine, who, the next morning, made a full set of bushing's and fitted them for us.
Since Dunlop racing brake master cylinder's are like hen's teeth, we had no choice but to fit something else. Up stairs we found Todd Rueppels old pedal-box and Girling master from his '63 88" Land Rover. This being a 3/4" bore, it was more than up to the job once cleaned up and overhauled. Before long it was on the Jaguar, piping corrected, relocated, and bled, we now had brake's. On Thursday lunchtime Larry trailered the Jaguar back to Monterey to get it through Tech Inspection.
Not all was well however; The carb's, Triple SU's, needed work, clutch hydraulics' adjusting, spindle splines needing grease, tyres blown up, etc.
Below: Myself and David Saxon bleeding brakes.
Friday morning 5am; I left in the Aston with my son Peter in tow, arriving in Seaside just after 6am to get passes. At the track I parked the Aston in the paddock next to the Jaguar and set to work.
Alan Merle Prentiss, nephew of Merle, would drive the car this weekend. We had a chat, I told him what I knew... and didn't know about the car. With time against us, Alan went out to practice. On the pit lane the idle increased to 4000+ rev's and wouldn't drop. I had Alan shut it down so I could adjust the tension on the four return spring's. On track... On lap-2 I heard clutch slip when Alan changed up to third with the power on, Alan lifted a bit and it hooked up. Alan and I had a chat afterwards, neither of us liked the way it was performing.
Back under the bonnet I went. We checked and adjusted the clutch free-play, secured the engine breather outlet's, checked and reset the ignition timing so as to get full advance at maximum rpm. While doing so I saw the #1 SU slide fluttering at idle, yikes! When I began to adjust the carb's I heard the PA system talking of the Jaguar's leaving for Quail Lodge, I asked Peter to go see "If #66 was on the list." He comes running back minutes later saying "YES! YES!" I called Larry and told him, he was still in Monterey and suggested we take the car. Now a case of Hurry-up took over, so to speak, as I had to stop what I was doing, get fuel in the tank and get in line before the then 9 car convoy departed the track without me. Peter and I jumped in headed for the pump's, then the paddock gate, where, to our relief, we found the other nine cars waiting, not for us, but for a TV chopper! I'd no sooner shut off than I was asked to move to the front of the line, didn't have to ask me twice! Below is Peter and I on our way to have a couple hour's of great fun!
Once the TV chopper made its presence known and with a CHP motorcycle escort we departed Laguna Seca... having no idea what was in store. Left turn out the gate, then right at the first signal told me we weren't going through the traffic of Monterey... soon Mr CHP was speeding up a bit, we had an awesome ride over the mountains! The other CHP bike's would pass us up then block the intersection so we could pass through without undue stopping and overheating issues... at one point I said to myself, as the Sgt sped up, "If he can go into the corner at that speed I can follow him in with no trouble!" We had a blast, the wind in your face, the noise of that lovely exhaust, plus the speed we were running was great fun. A day not to be missed.
Photos Copyright WCB2011