2008 MGVR West-Coast Focus Event - Leguna Seca

 By Chris Meyers

~ 2007 West-Coast Photograph Album ~

Our first ever West Coast Focus Event is in the history books!  What a great event!  35 MG Vintage Racers assembled at Laguna Seca Raceway for two days of fantastic vintage racing in mostly dry weather and temps in the 50s.  Vintage racers from both coasts, and Canada enjoyed what amounted to almost three hours of track time on one of the most fantastic circuits I have raced on.  Reports from participants are that the West Coast MG gang know how to throw a focus event.  Here are a few highlights;

Your editor, Julie, and daughter Melanie arrived in Monterey Airport Wednesday to the celebratory cheers of event chair Jim Weissenborn and Michigan Rowdies Dave Smith and Mark Barnhart, and Rochester Rowdie Dick Powers, all holding a HUGE MG Vintage Racer banner(thanks, Jim) and marching in parade fashion across the lower lobby of Monterey Airport!   What a sight! 

Thursday's party at the Martine Inn in Pacific Grove was wall to wall MG types celebrating the upcoming event, AND Jim Weissenborn's 70th birthday!  40 plus revelers were treated to a scrumptious Mexican feast followed by birthday cake and presents, followed by a tour of Don Martine's fantastic collections of vintage MGs, including the von Neumann Special, and Don's progress on his ex-Ken Miles twin cam engine.  Don estimates completion this May.  What a start to a special event.  Special thanks to Don and Anne and the staff of Martine Inn for their effort on behalf of this special evening!

Friday found many of us at Laguna Seca for vehicle offload and prep, followed by tech, and track study.  Weather was sunny to cloudy to sunny again, with temps in the lower 60s.  MG racers slowly poured into the ALL MG paddock, including a record 6 MGA Twin Cams along with some of the finest Prewar MG vintage iron in North America.  I had a long chat with MGVR veteran George Chilberg at registration.  George is no stranger to MG Vintage Racing on both coasts, having raced his beautiful L2 at Hallett and VIR Focus Events.  Others I knew by name only were in line as well as we all exchanged greetings and introductions, east and west, north and south.  Everyone looked forward to Saturday's practice and races.  Time to check in at the Monterey Bay Travelodge, official hotel of MGVR, where I met the two Zbarskys and dog Maggie. 

I awoke Saturday to SNOW ON MY RENTAL CAR AHHHH!!!.  What the heck; I thought I left this in Connecticut! Our event started out damp, with my Group 5 warm up session run under very light rain.  Many of us thought this was to our advantage as none of the Laguna Seca newbees really cared to set the world on fire the first session.  Weather Saturday was alternately sunny and cloudy/rainy and at times VERY WINDY to the point of collapsing a few canopies.  By mid-day's All MG race the track was mostly dry and many of us began to feel our way around.  Scott Brown in #41 'The Pile' had no trouble fining his way around Laguna Seca, finishing 1st, well ahead of followers Carl George, Mark Palmer, Tom Morgan and a few others in the second wave.  I have yet to study Dan and Vicki's official MGVR film so results are tentative and subject to adjustment.  HMSA does not publish results.  Our followup group races were run in what was mostly dry, but occasionally wet weather.  Sunday was predicted to be dry and sunny, if windy.

Meanwhile in the paddock MGVR Central was serving up coffee, donuts, stories and regalia all weekend long, manned by Dan and Vicky Leonard and the fine folks from Pebble Beach Sports Car Club.  Several local MG car clubs also participated in the HMSA Car Corral.  This event proved to be a MG lovers paradise!  Everywhere I looked MG racers were assisting MG racers with mechanical fixes, or just bench racing and prepping for the next race. 

Saturday evening's banquet, at the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, was over the top with over 100 MG vintage racers, family, and members of the Pebble Beach Sports Car Club in attendance.  Following attitude adjustment courtesy Jim Weissenborn. we were treated to a fabulous buffet dinner followed by a few awards and mischief.  Some of the antics involved:

-Pebble Beach Sports Car Club President Warren Pierce presented awards for the longest tow to Paul Fitzgerald who towed his MGTD from New Hampshire; Club Favorite Race Car to Pete Thelander with his 1934 MG NE; and the Pierce Manifolds Fastest Weber Powered MG going to Don Cole with his MGBGT.  Rumor has it that the wording on the Weber award was changed from Weber equipped to Weber powered as Scott Brown was going to bolt a Weber to his floorboard to be eligible!  Scott did win a can of nuts for the squirreliest move in turn 11.

-MGVR Special Recognition Awards; Two special event tee shirts, each signed by MG drivers, were presented to one participant from each coast in recognition of their contribution to the spirit of the event.  Scott Brown was presented with the west coast shirt (actually a XXL tent maker size) for his work with Jim  and HMSA Pres. Cris Vandagriff and our regalia chair Dan Leonard received the east  coast shirt.  Dan was unable to race due to the effects of a broken femur he suffered during the holidays.  Both Dan and Vicki joined us at Laguna Seca for the event and to hang out with 'the gang'.  My thanks to Scott and Dan for all the work on our behalf.

-MGVR Spirit Award; This special award, manifested in the form of "The Copper Bucket", was brought to Laguna Seca by previous award winner Frank Mount, and is presented to the MG vintage racer who most 'embodies the MG vintage racing spirit' as selected by the racers at the event.    Congratulations go out to Jim Weissenborn, whose tireless efforts made this first ever West coast focus event a huge success.  I think I write for many of us when I write that there isn't a move deserving recipient! 

Following the awards, PBSSC President Warren Pierce and wife Kathy, and others held a raffle for a table full of vintage racing goodies.  At least half the attendees left with something.  Another note; all WCFE participants are now honorary members of the PBSCC courtesy of Warren and the Club.  What an honor!

Sunday started out sunny as promised.  Bench racing began in earnest at around 7 am at the breakfast nook at Travelodge where twin cam racer Daryl Verkerk and I discussed the relative merits of Porsche passing for a few minutes while the Michigan Rowdie crew filed in and commenced with toasting their bagels.  Ferdinand's ears had to be burning as racers from both coasts traded stories of the misdeeds of some of our German competitors.  See, we do have something in common west to east!  Trackside the sun continued to shine (and it would all day) as we prepared for two group races each and the All MG race at 1 pm.  Shoehorned somewhere in there was a group photo of participating MGs (including Ken Miles Specials R1 and R2 'The Shingle'). ( I'll post photos later today for all to download.)  Racing was spectacular, especially the All MG race where Scott Brown once again led the way with the others not far behind, finally feeling comfortable with the ups and downs of Laguna Seca (500 ft. elevation change over the course!).  Unfortunately the majority of the East coast participants had suffered mechanicals by then and were relegated to cheering for their favorites from the stands, but a few of us ECs were still strong and chasing our west coast friends around the circuit.   I had a particularly fantastic dice with west coast racers Jim W. and Gary Anderson, and Stan Edwards, MGVR Technical Editor.  Racing was, for the most part incident free and good as it gets!

By weekend's finish I heard comments such as 'what a workout', and 'this was the best event ever'!  After six sessions on Laguna Seca's eleven turns and huge elevation changes, I had to agree.  Then it was out with the water, and in with the antifreeze in preparation for Clementine's trip home on the transporter. Goodbyes all around and that was all for MG Vintage Racers' Newsletter's first ever West Coast Focus Event.  A huge success by any estimate.

I owe a huge thanks to so many, including all participants and their families.  Thanks to event chair Jim Weissenborn, HMSA liason Scott Brown (event graphics specialist), Gary Anderson,  Cris Vandagriff and HMSA, the Warrens, the Smiths, and all at the Pebble Beach Sports Car Club.

Don't forget about our East Coast Focus Event with VRG at the brand new New Jersey Motorsports Park September 19-21!


Chris Meyers
Editor, MG Vintage Racers' Newsletter

MGVR Editor: Chris Meyers
Online Editor: Christopher Kintner
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