Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Mazda Raceway-Laguna Seca
Michael Green reports on his weekend in August 2013.
Come Saturday night I was glad it was all over!
In years past it's always been a mad rush to get cars ready, usually it's the last minute. This year however Len Auerbach started in sooner rather than later. We had one Saturday working on his MkIII, hoping to take it to Hillsborough Concourses d'Elegance, who was also celebrating 100 years of Aston Martin, sadly Len couldn't make it. Two weeks later we set to work on the '36 blown 2-Litre Aston and the DB4GT, getting them ready for the Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The fun day was Tuesday when Len and I drove the two Aston's to Sonoma Raceway in order to load them on the transporter for Monterey. Leaving Alameda we hit traffic within minutes, I was in the GT waiting and waiting at a long winded traffic light when finally it went green and we were off. The water temp needle was far too high and the 2-Litre had left a puddle and trail of water as we made our way onto the freeway. With air into the grill the GTs temp immediately dropped and all the needles were where they should be. I lost Len at the Richmond Bridge toll gate as we headed north. Soon we left 101 North and swung east towards Sonoma, the two Astons belting along at a good clip. On the empty road we began to play a bit the speed rising until then some joker in a new Camero wanted play, he could match the grunt of the DB4GT! We arrived in one piece and changed the wheels on the GT, fitting new Dunlop race tyres. Then it was off home.
In the meantime I was getting our MkIII ready for the weekend. As always I'd drive AM3 1661 down to Monterey where I'd be helping with a number of cars. This year however sister Kerry had entered the MkIII in the Quail Lodge 100 years of Aston Martin's event on the Friday, so I really had to get it clean and tidy. As with all old cars, there's always something that needs doing. This year I'd found that the rear side window rubber seals had melted onto the leather & paint, hence the windows wouldn't open, and the rear door body seal had gone rotten and was oozing some nasty black goo. Changing the rear window seals was no picnic, I had to take all of the interior trim out to get things clean, then polish up the window frames. A quick call to Kevin had the seals the next day, nice when the bits fit. Windows done I started in on the door seals, which again was like opening a can of worms. That nonsense out of the way we gave the MkIII a Major Service and set about polishing her up for Hillsborough... where we took a Third in the Aston class. The lovely maroon MKIII Drophead was 2nd, and a red DB5 won Best Aston for the day. Same day, different class, we had two firsts; 1) This was the first time a Land Rover, yes, a Land Rover, was accepted in an SCCA Sanctioned d'Elegance, and 2) We took First in Class with the 1966 109" NADA Station Wagon we restored!
Back at West Coast British we put the Land Rover and MkIII to bed, but before we knew it we were cleaning again, this time for Monterey. Thursday August 14th came quickly, too quickly, so did the hour of 4:30am I'd set my alarm for. By 4:50am the MkIII was belting south on Interstate-680 at over 80mph making its way to Monterey. I had a lovely ride that morning, the freeway was empty, the 3-litre purring along at 2700-3200 rpm in overdrive... that is until I turned off Highway-101 for the run west to Monterey, where I hit bloody soup fog. Wipers on and speed down to 35/40 mph due to slow trucks and fog, I still arrived in Seaside seconds before 6:10am. At the track later than sooner due to technical problems at check-in, I soon found Len's Aston's tucked away near the front off the paddock. Now I went in search of Jimmy Gallicci's Troutman & Barnes 5.7L sports-racer some five rows away, then Peter Giddings '27 Delage, which was found right near the back! My feet & legs were going to hate life this weekend, even more so since I had a car in each of the first four practice sessions!
Len was first up at 8:30 with the 2-Litre, followed by the ex-Dick Seaman/ex-Rob Walker 1-1/2 Litre blown Delage (which I had to hand crank to life) of Peter Giddings, then Jimmy in the Sports Racer. All went pretty well Thursday, the exception being the DB4GT, where the oil pressure was low at speed once the oil warmed up. Len and I took .035" of shims off of the pressure release valve body, which cured the problem. Then we set about mucking with the electric fan on the 2-Litre, which wasn't working. That fixed... I walked over to the Island inside the track where the promoters had a welcome party for driver's and crew, where we had some great food and fun music. I took off early though, pointing the MkIII for AMOC HQ at the Casa Munras in Monterey for our annual welcome gathering and a glass or two of bubbly. I rolled up all hot, tired and greasy, the 2-Litres spindle had mucked up my left sleeve... and this lovely young blonde girl had to point it out! Once parked I noticed Judge Taft's '58 MKII Notchback tucked away along side the MkIII. This is the same car that I came home from the hospital in (May 1958) as a baby. This car having been one of two company cars dad had while employed as Resident Engineer for David Brown-Aston Martin in San Leandro, CA. The other? The one I'm driving! Between the pair I did a ton of miles in the back of Aston's as mum & dad went up and down California, over to New Mexico, etc. I lived in the back!
Friday morning was another early day, out the hotel door before 6am to get the MkIII to Quail Lodge on time. Again, good old foggy Monterey, the car was a wet mess when I arrived 20-minutes later. Like everyone else, I set about cleaning the car... again. Interesting day it was, lovely weather by 9am, some absolutely lovely cars, and some interesting people.
While enjoying a tasty lunch of Lamb a man walks up... "Is this a Zagato body?" he asks. "No, this is an Aston body, Tickford, that's a Zagato, a DB4GT-Z (as I point)." I chatted to the man while I ate my lunch, that is until he told me he was Edsel Ford! I thought I better stand up to shake this mans hand. Later I met Rick Hendricks (NASCAR), then saw Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt! I spotted Derek Bell floating about, heard Moss was there, but never saw him all weekend.
Mum & Kerry and friends arrived at gone 12:30 and had a wander round. Mum (Doreen Green aka Doreen Sherwood), had joined Astons at Feltham in 1949 -even before John Wyer, who she would be secretary for until she left for America in 1956. Earlier in the morning at another Aston event Mum had bumped into the good Dr of Aston Martin. She had seen him only weeks before in England at a huge Aston gathering, where during their talks about Astons history, mum had expressed... "If it hadn't been for David Brown buying not only Aston, but Lagonda too, then joining it all together, there wouldn't be Aston Martin as we know today." She hit the nail on the head, as it was DB who really took Aston down a path of accomplishment and a fabulous history from 1949 through the 70s.
Back at Quail... our vote went to DB3S/2 (which dad built at Feltham), which was later awarded Best Aston Martin. The MkIII was surrounded by some lovely Astons. My favorite was the '27 (?) 1-1/2 Litre car, the DB4GT Zagato, and a ratty old DB2. In the center were the new cars, cars with no gear levers in the tunnel. It's an Aston, it MUST have a manual lever poking through the tunnel!
I spoke with the man taking care of the 1-1/2 Litre car, saved from a scrap pile in India years ago. In its bright yellow paint work, my brain went back many years ago when we had a 1932 LeMans swb 1-1/2 Litre Aston in nearly the same color! Dad and I went everywhere in... one fond memory came to mind, that of leaving Pebble Beach in 1965, where we'd taken 2nd in class with the Aston. Chris Coburn's '29 4-1/2 Litre Bentley (that dad restored) had won Best of Day... it was now time to head for home. We had a nice ride, the two cars thundering east from Pebble to Highway-101, where the sky opened up. Dad stopped and snapped the cover over the top of me. Looked up all I could see was dad pulling up his collar and pulling down his hat, then engage bottom gear and we were off, it peed rain all the way home.
At 4:30pm the MkIII was making it's way out of Quail to Laguna Seca at speed, I had rec'd a call that Jimmy at been put off the road, buy of all things, the Lola T70 Aston! Jimmy went to impound to make sure all was well.
After checking on the Troutman I stopped to talk with Len and see how the two Aston's went during Fridays practice. We closed shop and headed to the Casa Munras, then the AMOC dinner at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we had a lovely dinner and listen to a great comic, really a Scot, telling us about his road trip around America in a DB6.
Saturday was another early day... OMG! I was at the track as the gates opened at 7am and quickly parked the MkIII, barrowed Jimmy's scooter to save my legs and time, then got to work checking the 2-litre. The temporary water temp gauge we fitted Thursday was doing the trick. Len had repaired the copper pipe going to the boost gauge on Friday that had snapped, explaining his lack of power earlier that day. I checked over the GT really quick, then had to get the 2-Litre onto the grid by 815am for its qualifying race of 10-laps.
A comotion started when I escorted the 2-Litre onto the pit lane with the scooter. It seems they changed the rules over night! Now a lady grabs hold of me and asks, "How many cars are you brings up?" I replied; "Four, for the next four sessions!" She changed the rule and told everyone running the gates that I was exempt from the rule. It's the old saying; It's who you know, not what you know. Once Len did a lap in the Aston I sped off to get the Delage... then the DB4GT, followed by the Troutman & Barns car, then breakfast!
After breakfast and a rest, it was time to sort cars out. The Delage had dropped a cylinder, the 2-Litre and Troutman was fine, whereas the GT had a brake issue up front. I set off to find Len, but couldn't, so I set to work. Front wheels off I found the left disc a bit on the blue side. I checked the pads and bled the brakes, all I got was foam from the left front. I cleaned the pistons, gave them a dab of anti-seize and bled the front calipers once again. Wheels on, Len arrives from breakfast as the jack is going down... "All done, ready to go!" I said... He smiled.
Before 12:30pm it was time to go racing. We brought the 2-Liter up to the grid, Len was to start near the back... He quickly made his way through the pack once the green flag fell, giving the Aston a good showing. Next was the Delage, which went like mad, leading every lap ahead of a 4CLT Maser.. that is until it dropped a cylinder again and had to settle for third place. Big bore sports cars were up next, we brought up the DB4GT. This car isn't suited for Laguna, more like LeMans or Monza, somewhere it can stretch its legs. Len still gave it a good showing and lots of lovely noises coming out the back! Now it was Jimmy's turn with the Troutman & Barnes. Again someone banged into Jimmy, this time a Lotus 23 that was trying a very naughty move in turn-6. Having road raced motorcycle around Laguna since the 1970s, I know turn 6 (was 4), it isn't a place to go three wide, the end result being it's a quick way to send someone to Salinas! Jimmy saved the car by flooring the loud pedal! Looking at film later, it was Jimmy's road, simple as that, he was ahead. The car suffered some left-rear body damage and yellow paint on his wheel rim and knockoff. That's racing....
Later in the weekend would be the Lola-Aston T70, the same car George Newell and dad went to look at in the late 70s to buy, too bad they didn't. Brian Redman arrived to flog the AM1 Aston... in practice he looked like he was really enjoying himself in the Aston once again!
As Saturday wound down I took my boots off and made ready to leave the track when I met a pretty young lady in an AC Bristol ACE. She'd driven it up from Los Angeles, it was fitted with a racing screen and no top. Robin, with her pudding bowl helmet and goggles in the AC were quite a sight! She was looking for a possible future driver for it, so I spoke up quickly! Back in the MkIII I headed for the Casa Munras for the AMOC bbq... where I was able to sit down with the Taft brothers - one owns the MkII Notchback I spoke of earlier, the other a MkIII Drophead. We had a nice chat with friends over a cold beer and good food.
Gone 10pm I thought I'd set off for home, beats the 4+ hour ride last year due to tourist traffic, so I loaded the MkIII and pointed it home. Was a nice ride through the dark at speed, and I was home in Dublin, California in under 90 minutes! Long but fun weekend...
While writing this I was emailing back/forth with Nick Candee... we chatted about DB3Ss, he having drivin DB3S/10. I told him about 113 Coupe; here it is. This is from 1976: It seems like yesterday when I went down with Bret in the TR7, I was to help & wrench for Martin Morris with his D-type Jag OKV3 that British Leyland had shipped in since for the year of Jaguar. I was a whole 18 years old and here I am working on a D-Type, OKV3 no less. I was under the car trying to cure a fuel leak, my hands & sleeves covered in race fuel when Bret says, "Cowboy at 12 o'clock!" Well this cowboy shows up and says... "What the hell are you doing under there?" Grinning, I said; "Hi Carroll." For my efforts I got to ride with Tony Rolt during the Jaguar parade at Lunchtime (remember, this was Saturday only event in those days). I'm sitting in the hole, flat cap & goggles on, Tony with his slippers and pudding bowl helmet... and off we went. Each lap we went quicker and quicker, Phil Hill right behind us in Cunningham's long nose D and a gaggle of Jaguar's chasing Phil. At one point we were going so bloody quick that the speed-o (on the tunnel) was showing 135 coming into turn-2. On the same lap we over cooked the Corkscrew! Tony grabbed second gear and he backed the D into the left bit, where he rotated the car in a lurid powerside and we were off and down the hill through turns 7 and 8 like it was suppose to be that way!
Back to my emails, here's what I sent nick
regarding the DB3S' we'd been talking about.... " it was
quite an honor! Dad & George Newell had restored #113 - took some years. I
was there often helping or getting in the way! The Saturday we tested it
we went down
Interstate-5, it had only been open from Bay Area to Grapevine some weeks, so
we took the 3S coupe for a run... George followed with tools & lunch in a
We had a good run, but foggy. After lunch we headed north from Buttonwillow and ran at 100mph for an hour then did a flatout plug check. Dad stopped at a rest stop and we pulled the plugs... then off home.
So in '76 we had three 3S's at Monterey; numbers 117, 104 and 113 coupe. At the end of the day Earl Kelton had to fly out and wanted me to take him to the airport, so I went and got the TR7 I was driving. Instead he said, "Let's go in the Aston, you drive!" I was 18.... lol".
Here are some pic's from 1976; This is dad with the three DB3S Aston's... #113 Coupe, #117 & #104
Below: Kelton's Coupe
and Tony Rolt and I in OKV3 in 1976.
Remember, I was at the very first event at Laguna, when there was some 14 cars at lunch during the CanAm race... then the First Annual and so on. Many memories of great cars, people and good times.
Our next event is Danville-d'Elegance.org on Sept 21/22. Saturdays Tour will honor my dear old dad, Richard "Dickie" Green, that evening is a great Cocktail party, Dinner and Auction benefiting Parkinson's, and Sunday the downtown street is filled with great cars for a great cause.
Photos Copyright WCB2013