Salinas, CA — The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will celebrate Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 60th anniversary Aug. 17-20 by featuring a number of race cars that have historical significance to the road racing circuit.
Pete Lovely’s Ferrari 500 TR. Photo: Gooding & Co.
One of the most important cars, a spirited 1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa that Pete Lovely drove to a win in November 1957 at the brand new race track, will be part of the Racing Through the Decades feature.
The Ferrari, now part of a private collection, is powered by a 2498cc four-cylinder engine that produced 190hp and is one of only 17 ever constructed. Its first driver was John von Neumann, followed by Bruce Kessler, who drove this car in 11 races prior to its victory in Monterey.
But it was Lovely’s win that catapulted the car and the track onto the world racing stage. Lovely, who died in 2011 at the age of 85, continued to race the 500 TR in the Monterey Historic Automobile Races into the 2000s. At one of those events, he reflected on his 1957 win:
“I’ll always remember that race because it was the first race run at Laguna Seca and because it attracted a who’s who of West Coast sports car racing. I was fortunate enough to be able to come across the line in front of everyone else on the last lap, and I did it in a 2-liter car. That was a real thrill.”
“Johnny von Neumann and myself were the main survivors after the first race was complete because Carroll Shelby, Jack McAfee and Richie Ginther had all dropped out with various mechanical problems. That left von Neumann and myself battling for the lead. Johnny had a new 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine in his Ferrari TRC and I had a plain old 500 Testa Rossa with a 2-liter engine.”
“I could get up close to von Neumann, but I couldn’t pass him because I didn’t have enough power to get by. I devised a scheme by which I would very gradually fall back to where he couldn’t see me in his mirror. I then turned on a couple of really hot laps and I got right on his tail when we reached Turn 9. When Johnny saw me there, he got flustered, missed a shift coming out of that turn and I passed him. The rest is history.”
A maximum of 550 historic race cars have been accepted for entry in the Aug. 17-20 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Each car — from early pre-war models to the ground-pounding IMSA GTP prototypes — has been evaluated for its authenticity, race provenance, and documentation that it is period- and mechanically correct from when it originally ran.