Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Paul Newman’s old Nissan 300ZX Turbo leads the historic SCCA charge at Laguna Seca
Japanese racing classics, Datsuns and Nissans in particular, provided a dramatic counterbalance to the traditional diet of Trans-am and Can-am veterans pounding the Californian asphalt at Laguna Seca.
1984 Nissan 300ZX
‘This is probably the first time this car has been driven in 33 years,’ said Matt D’andria, co-restorer and friend of the owner of this ex-paul Newman Nissan 300ZX Turbo, which the racing actor used to win the 1985 IMSA GT1 Championship.
‘We have spent the last couple of years restoring it and this weekend is both our test and first race, all in one. The owner, Adam, bought the car quite a while back, and it just sat in the workshop until about two years ago. But before we were able to start we had to do a huge amount of research. We spoke to a lot of people from Newman’s race crew back in the Eighties who gave us lots of reference information on everything, even optimum suspension set-ups and tyre pressures.
‘As a result, the car has been restored as close as possible to the way it was when it won the Championship in 1985, with a few modern safety upgrades so that it can still race today.’
1938 Bugatti Type 57
‘We have spent the last nine months finding all the missing parts and rebuilding this Bugatti; we finished it a few days ago and this is its first event,’ said owner Mike Gertner.
‘It was originally built from a kit of parts that arrived in the USA in the Sixties. It’s a Type 57, but has a body designed to emulate the Wimille Type 59 Monoposto, which lives at the Schlumpf museum.
‘This car fell into disrepair in the early Eighties and was kept in the storage area at Peter Mullin’s museum, having parts taken off it to fix other Bugattis.
‘David North, who restored it in the late Seventies, told me about the car, so I arranged to buy it. He restored it for the second time to the wonderful condition it is in today.’
1973 Porsche RSR 2.8
This ex-penske Racing Team Porsche has recently been returned to the track following a particularly convoluted restoration.
Explained Bill Follmer, George Follmer’s nephew, ‘My uncle raced this Carrera RSR in the 1973 Daytona 24-hour race, paired with Mark Donohue as part of the Penske racing team. They led for more than nine hours until the engine failed.’
‘When we acquired the car it had been rebodied following an accident. It had been built into kind of a tribute car but was lacking probably 75% of the original parts. Luckily I was able to locate the correct items and use them during the restoration, which meant we have been able to return the car as closely as possible back to the way it was.
‘We are very happy with how it has turned out, and we have Roger Penske coming to drive it at the upcoming Rennsport meeting – that’s very exciting.’
1966 Shelby GT350R
Chad Raynal’s Shelby made a rare appearance, and was still driven hard despite its fiery past.
‘It was originally a GT350H – a Shelby Mustang rented out by Hertz – that got burnt out,’ said Raynal. ‘It was sold by Hertz for just $100 to a local racer, Richard ‘Dick’ Gamboni, here on the West Coast in late 1966. He rebuilt the car using parts from his wrecked GT350R, painted it green, and went racing.
‘I don’t really care about the R parts on it – I really wanted a car with a period race history. This car was raced for 14 years until 1980 and I have four full log books of all the races it competed in.
‘It was pretty ugly when I bought it, and not that sorted. So about two-and-a-half years ago we got onto it in earnest, stripped it down to a bare bodyshell, and restored it. This is only its third time out since.
‘When we restored the car we were lucky to find two small samples of the unique green paint colour Gamboni had painted it, one hidden in the rear wheelarch and the other in the door opening, which allowed us to match it and put it back to the way it was in late 1966.”
Ex-paul Newman 300ZX Samples of this GT350R’S unique paint were found in wheelarch and door opening