A Toyota filled weekend @ Laguna Seca Raceway
August 19, 2006 Monterey, CA - The Monterey Historic Automobile Races held at the world famous Laguna Seca Raceway draws racing enthusiasts from all parts of the world. There are more than 40,000 visitors who come to this event. There are several hundred participants who enter their historic race cars of different eras which encompass almost all eras of motorsports hisotry. This is a premier event for race enthusiasts, especially those that want to re-live the past. This year, Toyota hosts the 33rd annual event with some famous historic faces and record breaking paces.
Among the celebrities that represented in Toyota Motorsports history and current include Scooter Patrick and Dave Jordan (Shelby 2000GT), Rod Millen (Pikes Peak Celica & Tacoma), Juan Fangio (Eagle MKIII, Celica GTO IMSA & Champ Car), Ivan "The Ironman" Stewart (Toyota Truck Baja 1000), and Ricardo Zonta (Toyota F1). All guests were treated to a Q&A session with these celebrities and an autograph session followed shortly after.
There were exhibition runs of the GTO IMSA Celica car with Juan Fangio behind the wheel. Following closely behind behind were the Carroll Shelby modified 1967 2000 GT to which ran in the SCCA Production C-Class. The historic Toyota race cars were lead by the New Lexus GS Pace Car along with the GS450h & Camry Hybrid Safety Cars. The highlight of the weekend was the exhibition run of the Toyota TF106 F1 car which was driven by Toyota F1 test driver and Brazilian native, Ricardo Zonta. During the start of every exhibition run, the crowds in the stands and watching from aside grew eerily quiet to an almost pin dropping silence. From every single part of Laguna Seca, you can hear the startup of the 740 HP 2.4L V8. As it winds through the turns, you can hear the bone chilling sound of the V8 engine singing at 19,000 rpm. As Zonta carves through the turns, you can hear the precise downshifts as he makes his way through the turns into the world famous Laguna Seca Corkscrew. Averaging over 120 mph around the track, the onlookers watch in awe. The Toyota F1 was so fast, it broke several records each day it ran during the 3 day race weekend. It started on Friday with a 1"07.587 lap, then Saturday to 1"06.596 using used tires for each day. On Sunday afternoon with a fresh set of tires, 1"06.309 was achieved. There is nothing like the sound of an F1 car echoing the Laguna Seca Raceway. but imagine what it would sound like with a large field of F1 cars cornering the Andretti Hairpin.
In full fashion, the Toyota Expo display housed a huge Toyota Motosports truck display with a virage of familiar vehicles:
- 1975 Celica Original Pace Car
- 1978 Dan Gurney Pro Celeb Celica
- 1981 Tony Danza Pro Celeb Celica
- 1993 Supra Pace Car
- 1994 Rod Millen’s Pike’s Peak Celica
- Lexus Daytona Prototype
- 2005 Patrick Dempsey Pro Celeb Scion tC
- 2006 Craftsman Truck Tundra
- F1 Show Car
- 2006 Camry NASCAR Cup Car
Behind the Toyota Expo tent was a reserved Car Corral parked on Turn 5, for us Toyota enthusiasts. There was a small handful of each represenative Toyota brand including Scion and your Lexus contingent courtesy of Club Lexus! We were all treated by Toyota Corporate for a 3 day all access pass around the track and paddock areas including the customary goodies and plenty of Toyota F1 bottled water. All of us made a stop at the Toyota F1 garage where the Toyota F1 Pit Crew worked swiftly to prep the car including tire warmers and all before it’s exhibition runs. It is a treat to see the Toyota F1 Pit Crew in action since this is the only other place in the United States besides Indianapolis for the US Grand Prix, that the Toyota F1 car will get to run. Our host at the race was John Kendall who is the brother of the host of Speed Channel’s Test Drive race car driver, Tommy Kendall. Later in the day we Toyota enthusiasts gathered together to take a Toyota family picture from up above in a cherry picker.
During this special weekend, our veteran CL member, Glen a.k.a. RMMGS4 was able to get Rod Millen to authenticate the original Rod Millen Motorsports GS400 which Glen had acquired from Rod Millen back in 2001. Rod was able to place his signature on the dashboard. It was safe to say, it was a well sought after 5 year reunion for Rod, Glen and the original RMM GS400. What a special moment. As usual, we at Club Lexus would like to thank everyone at Toyota for the hospitality at Laguna Seca and the treat of seeing the Toyota F1 car in action, and being a part of history experiencing the record breaking runs.
More info on the Toyota Monterey Historic & F1 Car:
Pictures and info on the New GS Pace Car:
Copy & Photos By: Flipside909