Mus­cle Sport

When a group of Mus­tang rac­ers from Aus­tralia de­scended upon the United States’ big­gest His­toric mo­tor rac­ing fes­ti­val, the Mon­terey Mo­tor­sports Re­union, AMC tagged along.

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

A large and var­ied con­tin­gent of Aus­tralians de­scended on La­guna Seca for the Mon­terey Mo­tor­sports Re­union – so did AMC. Back home, we pon­der HRT’s new own­er­ship and Su­per­cars in 2018.

The fact that the only three non Amer­i­cans in the 34-car His­toric Trans-Am field at the Rolex Mon­terey Mo­tor­sports Re­union were all Aus­tralians says some­thing. A few things, ac­tu­ally. Firstly, it is ev­i­dence Aussies love their Mus­tangs, par­tic­u­larly Shelby-built ex­am­ples. Next, the United States’ pre­mier His­toric race meet­ing is in­creas­ingly a lure for com­peti­tors from this side of the Pa­cific. Then there’s the fact the His­toric Trans-Am (1966-72) se­ries is start­ing to gain a pro­file here and that Aus­tralians can mix it with the best US rac­ers on their home soil in this il­lus­tri­ous cat­e­gory. Plus com­peti­tors and their crews can have a bloody good time at La­guna Seca at the ‘Pre-Re­union’ and the main ‘Mo­tor­sports Re­union’ race meet­ings, held on con­sec­u­tive week­ends in Au­gust, and at the count­less Mon­terey Car Week ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Pre-Re­union al­lows driv­ers to gain ex­pe­ri­ence of the tricky and un­du­lat­ing La­guna Seca track be­fore the main event a week later.

All three Aussie driv­ers com­pet­ing in the His­toric Trans-Am races – Don Dim­i­tri­adis, Chad Par­rish and Terry Lawlor – were part of the same nine-strong group of en­thu­si­asts that put a trio of ‘Stangs on track. A fourth Shelby Mus­tang, #15, was en­tered by Dim­i­tri­adis for Glenn Se­ton in races for 1963-1966 GT Cars (over 2500cc). Se­ton drives a Hertz-liv­er­ied Mus­tang for Don here in the Tour­ing Car Masters.

Se­ton, as the only La­guna Seca first-timer, was re­quired to do the Driver In­duc­tion which in­volved walk­ing the cir­cuit pre-event. We won­der if the of­fi­cials con­duct­ing the track walk had any idea of his ac­com­plish­ments in his home coun­try. Not that go­ing un­recog­nised would ever faze the un­der­stated two-time Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pion, who hap­pily wielded span­ners on Par­rish’s car when not in the driver’s seat.

It was a big un­der­tak­ing for Dim­i­tri­adis’s Thun­der Road Rac­ing Team Aus­tralia to run a fleet of ul­tra-valu­able and his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant Mus­tangs on con­sec­u­tive week­ends on an­other con­ti­nent. Thus, lo­cal prep came from Mus­tang spe­cial­ists Co­bra Au­to­mo­tive Inc.

Dim­i­tri­adis’s mount for both La­guna Seca week­ends was the pro­to­type Boss 302 Trans-Am Mus­tang built ahead of the 1969 Trans-Amer­i­can Sedan Cham­pi­onship, to give the fa­mous se­ries its full name. The car wasn’t ear­marked for com­pe­ti­tion, but had to be pressed into ser­vice when the Shelby team’s des­ig­nated rac­ing chas­sis were badly dam­aged in early sea­son rounds. Don’s car was raced by Cooma NSW-raised Horst Kwech, plus fel­low Shelby team driv­ers Dan Gur­ney and Peter Rev­son. The blue Fast­back to­day car­ries Gur­ney’s name above the door, but Don had to change to #21 from its reg­u­lar #2 for the week­end.

Only gen­uine cars from the leg­endary se­ries are el­i­gi­ble to race in His­toric Trans-Am to­day and both Par­rish’s and Lawlor’s Mus­tangs came from the pri­va­teer ranks. Par­rish’s ride, #28, was cam­paigned by Dean Greg­son in a hand­ful of rounds each year between 1969 and ‘71.

Lawlor’s #63 Ford was No.24 of 26 Shel­by­built 1967 Trans-Am Mus­tangs. It orig­i­nally con­tested ‘pro­duc­tion sports car’ events with first

owner Fred Suther­land. It had a soli­tary Tran­sAm Se­ries out­ing, at the mag­nif­i­cently-named Don­ny­brooke In­ter­na­tional Speed­way, Min­nesota, in the hands of Jim Whe­lan.

All three Syd­neysiders raced in­side the top dozen across the two week­ends, with Lawlor fin­ish­ing as high as sec­ond in Satur­day’s race at the Re­union. His fine over­all per­for­mances on cat­e­gory de­but – and in for­eign ter­ri­tory – in the off-white and or­ange ma­chine earned him the Rolex Award for Ex­cel­lence in His­toric Trans-Am.

“To me, both week­ends fo­cus on the cars and the need to re­spect their her­itage while still show­ing their abil­ity on the track – as it was back in the day,” Lawlor ex­plains. “This means good, fair and clean races, as well as pre­sent­ing the cars as they were in the day. The Aus­tralian His­toric rac­ing scene should take note and en­force this at­ti­tude more se­ri­ously.

“Win­ning the award was very hum­bling. It is judged on over­all per­for­mance, fair­ness and con­sis­tency on the track as well as car pre­sen­ta­tion and the spirit of his­toric rac­ing. An­other note for the Aussie His­toric rac­ing scene!

“The fact that La­guna Seca is also one of the best tracks in the world is also a bonus and ev­ery­one wants to race there one day in their life.”

Lawlor’s per­for­mances cer­tainly put his re­cently ac­quired ’67 Mus­tang in the spot­light. So much so, he re­ceived an of­fer too good to refuse and the car now has a new owner.

As to Se­ton, he nipped at the heels of the 1963-66 GT Cars cat­e­gory’s top three through­out. This is noth­ing to sneeze at as he was the fastest of the Mus­tang run­ners in the big 41-car field and com­pet­ing against much lighter Corvettes and Shelby Co­bras.

Thun­der Road’s en­tourage in­cluded Her­itage Tour­ing Car racer Carey McMa­hon, Kevin Luke, Doug West­wood, Lau­rie Sellers and AMC’s Bruce Dun­can. The trip wasn’t just about rac­ing though, as Mon­terey Car Week pro­vides a range of mo­tor­ing-based at­trac­tions in Carmel and Peb­ble Beach. These in­clude Con­cours on the Av­enue at Carmel-By-The-Sea, Gor­don McCall’s Mo­torworks Re­vival (com­bin­ing cars and planes) and auc­tions at Russo and Steele and Me­cums. There are more auc­tions, con­cours and cruises than you can poke a stick at, each with their own flavour.

Then there were catch-ups with the many Aussies at La­guna Seca ei­ther rac­ing (see fol­low­ing pages) or soak­ing up the at­mos­phere of what is ef­fec­tively the US’s an­swer to Good­wood.

More im­ages at www.mus­cle­car­mag.com.au and www.thun­der­road.com.au

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