Report: Masters Speed Festival at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

Charles Nearburg had both F1 races wired racing his ’81 Williams FW07C. Photo: Masters

Salinas, CA–Masters Historic Racing revved up its first USA event of 2021 over the May 15-16 weekend, at the legendary 2.238-mile circuit everyone loves—Laguna Seca. The featured races included Masters Historic Formula One, Masters Formula Atlantic Plus, Masters Endurance Legends USA and the Vintage Sports Car Trophy.

Jim Bouzaglou’s ’73 Lola T292 dominated the Vintage Sports Car Trophy races. Photo: Masters

In drought-stricken California, the last thing anyone expected for the weekend was rain—what was really heavy mist—but certainly wet enough and cool enough that few cars ventured out for morning practice sessions. Fortunately, it all cleared away Saturday afternoon and every group made the most of their practice laps, setting some of the fastest times of the weekend.

The highly anticipated Masters Formula Atlantic Plus group did not disappoint. Tim De Silva’s ’76 Ralt RT1 (96) won both rounds, with Laurent Parmentier’s ’77 Chevron B39 2nd in both races with Danny Baker’s ’79 Ralt RT1 3rd in each race. Photo: Masters

Sunday had a busy-11-race schedule, and Charles Nearburg’s blistering 1:20.543 qualifying lap in his 1981 Williams FW07C meant he was on the pole in Race 1 and that catching him was going to be near impossible. That proved to be the case, but Tim De Silva’s V12 Alfa Romeo 182 in 2nd place tried hard until the Alfa lost oil pressure on lap 9, Martin Lauber’s March 741 taking over the runner-up spot and Steve Romak ‘s 1976 March 761 finishing 3rd.

Spencer Trenery had good runs in his ’06 Riley MK XI Gen 1 Daytona Prototype in the Masters Endurance Legends group. Photo: Masters

For Race 2, nine cars completed the grid, with Nearburg’s Williams again head of the class, this time with Cal Meeker’s ’79 Tyrrell 009 finishing 2nd and De Silva’s Alfa back in the hunt for 3rd.

A race car you don’t see every day, Steve Romak’s Morgan Pescarolo. Photo: Masters

The Formula Atlantic Plus group’s lap times were very impressive, several of the cars equaling or bettering some of the F1 cars’ best laps.  Many remember these cars from their days in the spotlight, where many of racing’s greats got their starts. Once again, Tim De Silva showed he was well dialed in, with his ’76 Ralt RT1 on pole with a 1:25.363 lap, he topping that in Race 1 with a 1:24.857 on lap 9, racing to victory. Laurent Parmentier’s ’77 Chevron B39 was 2nd and Danny Baker 3rd in a ’79 Ralt RT1. Race 2 duplicated Race 1’s podium.

Tim De Silva’s ’82 Alfa Romeo 182 made amazing sounds with its V12 screamer. Photo: Masters

Jim Bouzaglou in a Lola T292 won the first race of the Masters Vintage Sports Car Trophy group leading from start to finish. Second place went to Danny Baker in his ’73 Chevron B23. Third was Gray Gregory in his ’73 Chevron B26. In Race 2, Bouzaglou repeated his winning performance, this time with Gray Gregory’s ’73 Chevron B26 in 2nd with Chris Bender’s ’76 Lola T296 in 3rd.

Danny Baker’s ’73 Chevron B23 was looking good, here leading Chris Bender’s ’76 Lola T296. Photo: Masters

In the Masters Endurance Legends group, Spencer Trenery brought out an ’06 Riley MK XI Gen 1 Daytona Prototype and blistered the circuit while racing to a tight win by just 0.742 sec. over Steve Romak’s Morgan Pescarolo. Cal Meeker steered his ’87 Spice GTP to 3rd. In Race 2 for these cars, Trenery again won, knocking off a fast lap of 1:24.523 in the process. This time Meeker was runner-up with John McKenna’s ’06 Riley-Scott DP Mk II in 3rd.

Next stop on the Masters USA Tour is the Masters and HSR Race Weekend at Watkins Glen International (July 8-11) followed the week after by The Hawk at Road America (July 15-18).

Visit www.mastershistoricracing.com for the complete schedule.