HGP NEWSLETTER - SUMMER, 2007
July 2007 was a huge and successful month for Historic Grand Prix with events at Watkins Glen, Mt. Tremblant and Road America. More than twenty HGP members made the back-to-back races at North America's most spectacular and challenging racetracks. The difficult schedule notwithstanding, the high level of preparation, organization and driving made for a near perfect trio of races.
HGP welcomed Brad Penn lubricants as title sponsor of our race in support of the Indy Racing League at the Glen Grand Prix Course, July 6-8. This Bradford, PA company produces high quality oils tailored for top-level racing and several HGP teams have used their products for some time. We entertained Brad Penn marketing director, Dick Glady and 80 company employees and guests, who all enjoyed the experience tremendously.
The racing was great all weekend and after the deluge last year, the fine weather was most welcome. Hamish Somerville won the main race, which was the feature of Saturday's activities and repeated Sunday in the second race. He was kept on his game by some very spirited racing by Arie Luyenduyk, Howard Katz, Sean Allen and Bud Moeller. It was great to see Chris MacAllister back with his Ferrari 312 T2, especially when racing hard with Moeller's Ferrari 312 T5. We welcomed Derek Jones and Chris Ronson to the fold at the Glen and both had a great time and were acquitted well. Derek drove Somerville's Brabham BT-37 to fourth in the Sunday event and Chris has recently purchased the 1974 Embassy-Hill GH-1.
Le Circuit Tremblant surely must be the most spectacular venue in North America and organizers Lawrence Strol and Murray Smith welcomed us this year with a newly paved paddock and a wonderful event July 13-15. But first, there was rain...... a lot of rain. Someone described the sight of gear sets floating away! Things cleared off for the weekend however, and some great racing ensued.
Again Hamish Somerville was the man to beat in his Williams FW-07B, but the racing behind him was fast and furious and featured some new faces. In particular Rick Knoop and Sean Allen had a great race for second place, followed by visiting Brit James Hanson who had a great time in the rain, and the dry, with the Brabham BT-37. The drive of the weekend came from Howard Cherry who hustled his March 761 from twelfth starting position to fifth at the finish.
The HGP teams arrived in Elkhart Lake to be greeted by some of the finest weather in memory, not to mention the fabulous 4-mile circuit, the food and the warm Wisconsin hospitality. HGP has become something of a fixture at the Kohler International Challenge and many folks stopped by the tent to pay their annual visit to drivers, crews and cars
As at the previous two events, we had races both Saturday and Sunday, with Michael Fitzgerald winning the "Main Event" on Sunday with his Williams FW-08C. The weekend was incident free, a real testimony to everyone's skill, good sense and preparation. Rick Knoop, Craig Bennett, Charlie Warner, Jeff Lewis and Chris Locke turned in excellent drives. The grid was graced by two great Ferraris, Brad Hoyt's 1969 312 F1 and Chris MacAllister's 312 T2.
HGP will return to Infineon Raceway August 24-26 to race with the Indy Racing League. This is always a good event, set in the orthern California wine country. The entries at "press time" stand at 19.
Following on the success of the HGP race at the Vegas Grand Prix, organizer Jim Freudenburg has asked us to be on the program for his Champ Car event in Phoenix, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2007. Like Vegas it will be a street race, in the same general downtown area as the USGP was set in 1989-91. The event will be the season closer for Champ Car and we will share the support card with a Pro-Celebrity event, which will probably mean generous amounts of track time for HGP. If it is at all like Las Vegas, it will be extremely well organized and first class all the way. We will have entry forms on the website very soon as well as specific information when available. Mark out the time now for what will be a great weekend at a new venue for HGP.
We can help with your planning for next year with some dates that we have nailed down.
HGP will open the year with the Vegas Grand Prix, April 4-6 in Las Vegas with Champ Car. This was a fantastic event last year - ask anyone who went - and can only get better. We will try again to put something together for Long Beach the following weekend, but nothing is arranged yet.
Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen, has asked us back to the Brad Penn Historic Grand Prix, July 4-6.
Likewise, George Bruggenthies, president of Road America, would like HGP back in 2008 for the Kohler International Challenge July 18-20.
These three dates are firm.
Further, Steve Earle has told us he will be including F1 cars, probably 1966-77, at the '08 Monterey Historics. And then there is Monaco.........
Technical director John Anderson has done a great job this year tightening up the inspection and technical overview. We cannot overstress the importance of serious, skilled and diligent car preparation. A very avoidable mechanical failure resulted in a big crash for Dino Crescentini at Mt. Tremblant, which was a terrible shame. On a positive note, however, the level of mechanical preparation has been remarkable; strong running cars at every event and very few troubles. The engine issues of long-stroke and short-stroke have resolved nicely and every one seems on the proverbial 'level playing field'. Similarly, everyone has come to recognize that the 40mm skirt height rule is really 40mm above the ground.
There were some very sloppy starts at some of the July events and we need to address the procedures and perhaps assess some penalties for the more flagrant missteps. To review: there is NO passing until the designated track point. However, this requires that everyone drives smart and fair. To wit, the leader or pole sitter cannot streak away while everyone else shuffles about. No one is allowed to pass you, so keep it tight. If the second place starter isn't right behind the poleman at the designated track point, someone's done it wrong. Correspondingly, the second place starter MUST keep pace and reach the designated point right behind the pole starter. This holds true for each row, through the field.
All the best for a great summer and we hope to see you at Infineon in August and Phoenix the weekend after Thanksgiving!
James - Rebecca - Phil