So, Monterey was a blast. Karl had some last minute problems with the MGA(egyptian scroll seals) so we eneded up with 2 mighty steeds: Nathan & Arne in my RX-8, Karl in the 72 BMW 2002. The trip up was mostly uneventful, hit a bit more traffic than last year, or at least more than I remember last year. Traffic in LA, traffic in Santa Barbara, traffic in Monterey. Thursday night, we stayed in San Simeon, which you may recognize from Hearst Castle fame. This year we opted for the Motel 6 but it was pretty clear (after the sink bubbled up some charred rubble) that we should have found the place we were in last year and payed a few $ more. We had dinner that night at the same place as last year, and it was most enjoyable. But this year we had a big seagul that was hopping from table to table and off the umbrella's. I wanted to shoot that thing. We also make a stop by Target that night to pick up some shorts and deoderant for Arne and a belt for Karl...and I picked up a razor scooter. Thought it might be good for getting around with less footwork. Or at least that's the excuse I used.
Continuing from San Simeon up to the Concorso, we stayed on the coast for the most excellent twisty's just south of Monterey. That was really the first time I had put the RX-8 thru the paces on the twisty's, so having Karl in the 30 year old BMW was probably a good thing. Especially since I had 200 lb of german meat in the passenger seat and another probably 200lb of gear in the trunk. It made the car handle and respond a little different from my daily commute.
Arriving at the Concorso, we hit an hour and a half of traffic waiting to park. So gay. And then I was forced to park my new sports car in a giant bumpy, dusty, field. It wasn't mowed very well either so my hot exhaust sat against some light brush until I noticed and moved it. A guy in a GT3 broke his expensive car driving thru that. I bet a lot of people will be pissed over that situation. Probably not the dude in the giant smurf-colored SUV with 26" DUBS that parked next to me.
The show was good, lots and lots of Ferrari's. I took a lot of pics this year...compared to last year...I bumped my head so hard on that Lancia that I was just out of it the rest of the trip. This time, I saw rad cars of all types. Saleen S7, McLaren F1, Ferrari 250GT Coupe, Alfa Romeo GTV, Ferrari F-40, Ferrari Enzo, Ford GT40, and my favorite car of the show, an early Abarth Coupe. It was a good show, but after all the traffic and paying friggin $100, I am not sure I will go next year. The one bonus...after the show, we got lost trying to find a shortcut out and ran across a parked Porsche Carerra GT. Arne went nuts and we jumped out to check it out. Just a few seconds later the 'prick on the inside' typical owner pulled up and drove it away. But not before rolling like 2 car lengths back, nearly hitting me, revving to the moon and jetting away. Turns out it was the owner of Monster Cable.
We promptly made our way to Laguna Seca Raceway and set up our tents near the top of the corkscrew. Not nearly as windy as the last two years, yaaay. 2003 was almost unbearable due to the high winds. We ran into some friends from years past, Mike McConnell and Mario and his gang of gear-head geeks from San Diego. Our gang of gear-head geeks needs to hook up with them for a big motorsports party. We met up with Soma and Kaushik as well, who had come up for the races, and they went out to dinner with us. Venturing into downtown Carmel, we had nice food and tried to figure out each other's riddles. We ran into some interesting cars parked outside while we were there. 3 black cars none of us had ever seen before...'Spyker' was the make and the model was R8 I believe. They had a very interesting shift mechanism...it was totally exposed. Slept very nice on the air-bed that night.
Got up early the next day and saw some excellent racing and spent quite a bit of time in the paddock area. Watched the F1 cars getting ready, that was neat. One of the Italian guys yelled at me to get out of the way. It was kinda neato. Got busted almost instanly on the razor scooter. Not allowed. Whatever. It's cool, razor scooters are lame anyway. ;) Checked out quite a number of vendors as well. I got to sit in the Noble M12. Arne and I ran into the former president of VUNet USA while we were there, small world. He was taking the same picture I was. He seemed happy to see us and was interested to know where we were working now. At the end of the race day, as we were packing up our chairs to head back to camp, I heard this odd loping idle sound coming down the corkscrew. It could have only been a rotary. It was the Mazda 787B, the only Japanese car to ever win Le Mans. And 6 other rotary race cars. RAD! I guess they lined up for some shots or something. I got so excited that I forgot my camera. Dammit! But that's ok, Arne took pics for me. That night, we decided to go out for fast food. But we made a pit stop to help Kaushik thru his first tire change on the Suburban. We ran out to Salinas to get the food, brought it back and watched race videos with Mike. Kaushik, Soma and Mike's neighbors with a Mini joined us. Saw some neato vintage videos (Moss, Gurney, etc) that Mike had converted from 8mm to VHS. That was pretty bitchin. The weather was nice and I slept like a baby again. Karl actually got Carbon Monoxide poisoning from the generator of the huge ass RV next to us. His lips were numb the next morning!
Sunday morning was a treat...Arne and I milled around the Paddock some more, saw the new Ferarri 612, the new Mazerati and the biggest truck I've ever seen. Just before lunch we headed back to camp, packced up the tents and sat up the chairs on the opposite side of the track near turn 2. This spot has a pretty bitchin view of the track and is perfect for the vintage F1 race. But before that, they brought out the 2003 Ferrari F1 car, driven by the actual Ferrari test driver. It was so cool to see all those F1 cars zipping around Laguna Seca. He tried to set the all-time lap record, but was a full 3 seconds slower (106 sec - 133mph avg) than the Honda Champ car that holds the title. But it was cool watching him try! They were all driving pretty damn hard too...sparks were flying! During the lunch intermission, they brought out some new supercar from Chrysler...followed by the Rotaries again!!! This time, they actually were doing laps on the track. Some sort of "Mazda Heritage" lap. I couldn't have asked for more. Well, except that since they let the VP of Mazda USA drive the 787B, it was a pretty tame race. I would have loved to hear those race rotaries at full tilt.
We finished up the day with a shower and a nice, long trip home. We encountered some sucky ass traffic in Santa Barbara, just like the last 2 years, but other than that it was pretty uneventful. The RX-8 was a great car for this trip, if we'd just had a little less gear, I'd say it would have been perfect. The seats are comfortable and it actually got 21mpg average, even with all that twisty climbing and horse play. The BMW 2002 ran great on the trip as well, but suffered a rear-end failure a few days later. Sorry Karl, that's a big bummer.
I say this every year, but I may not do Concorso next year. The Historics, on the other hand, have been established as good solid fun and a tradition that I definatly want to keep.