All posts by Nicole James

Nicole James has been involved in the automotive world her entire life. Her dream car is a 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe. She currently drives a 2005 Mustang affectionately known as Marilyn and uses the car to participate in track events, car shows, and explore the world around her. Nicole joined the ClassicCars.com Content and Marketing team in 2014. Nicole is an automotive journalist and the creator of Pretty Driven - an online source for car culture and news for millennials, as well as a contributor for ClassicCars.com. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @Nicoleeellan

German cars are stars at Legends of the Autobahn show

Judges looking over classic Mercedes-Benz | Nicole Ellan James photos
Judges looking over classic Mercedes-Benz | Nicole Ellan James photos

Monterey Car Week often appears as a mecca for all things Italian -– countless Ferraris can be seen almost anywhere you look.Ditto for Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeo.

But British cars — Aston Martins, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar — also are in abundance.

Fear not, you lovers of German vehicles, Legends of the Autobahn is the car show for you. Well, that and the Porsche Werks Reunion that also took place Friday on the Monterey Peninsula.

Since the Autobahn show began in 2009, it has brought together the cars and members of the BMW Car Club of America, the Mercedes-Benz Club of America and the Audi Club of North America, each bringing out everything from classics — 190SLs, M3s, R8s and such — to the newest, including a 2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GTS.

Held at the Nicklaus Club, formerly Pasadera Country Club, the event invites spectators to view the cars for a $20 parking fee, making it one of the more accessible events on the peninsula, and one of the most popular.

Participants showing cars receive the same treatment as the more exclusive concours — judges scrutinize each car for everything from originality to overall quality.

There are also “people’s choice” awards voted on by those in attendance.

 

 

Racing through the Decades: 60 years at Laguna Seca

Pete Lovelys Ferrari | Nicole Ellan James photos
Pete Lovelys Ferrari | Nicole Ellan James photos

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion can be a chilling experience as iconic cars with historic significance race around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a facility celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

To honor the track’s history, a display in the infield showcases 12 vehicles that had special significance to the raceway. Among them is the 1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa that Pete Lovely drove in November 1957 at the then-brand new race track on the Monterey Peninsula.

Display tent at Laguna Seca
Display tent at Laguna Seca

Lovely and his car raced against such stars as Carroll Shelby, Richie Ginther, Fred Knoop, Jim Hall and John von Neumann, all behind the wheel of more powerful machines from the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, Maserati and Porsche.

Before the start, it appeared Lovely and his year-old 2-liter Ferrari would not have much of a chance. But despite the odds, they prevailed.

The car is one of only 17 produced. It is powered by a 2498cc four-cylinder engine rated at 190 horsepower and belongs within a private collection. It’s also was driven by Von Neumann and Bruce Kessler, who drove it in 11 races prior to its victory in Monterey.

According to track officials, Lovely continued to drive the car in the historic races into the early 2000s.

Before he died in 2011 at the age of 85, Lovely said he would always remember winning the first race at Laguna Seca 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.”

Track literature notes that during the race, Shelby, Jack McAfee and Ginther had all dropped out with mechanical problems, leaving von Neumann, with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine in his Ferrari and Lovely battling for the lead.

“I could get up close to von Neumann, but I couldn’t pass him because I didn’t have enough power to get by” Lovely said, adding “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.”

In addition to the 1957 Ferrari, among the other display cars are  a 1963 Shelby King Cobra raced by Dave MacDonald, the 1963 Monterey Pacific Grand Prix overall winner that went from 13th place to first in a 100-lap race at an average speed of 83.2 miles per hour. The Cobra is joined by a 1973 Porsche 917/30 driven by Mark Donohue, winner and champion of the 1973 Monterey Grand Prix, and a 1983 March Indy Car driven by Teo Fabl -– winner of the 1963 Monterey Grand Prix, the first indy car race at the track.

Other display vehicles include a 1993 AAR Toyota Eagle MKIII, a 2005 Audi R8 LMP, a 1985 Porsche 962, 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 302, 1956 Porsche 356, a 1999 BMW V12 LMR, 1990 Yamaha YZR500, and a 2016 K-Pax McLaren 650S GT3.

Prancing Ponies make their Monterey debut

Prancing Ponies Ferrari and BMW | Nicole Ellan James photos
Prancing Ponies Ferrari and BMW | Nicole Ellan James photos

The Prancing Ponies Car Show, an inaugural event held during Monterey Car Week in Carmel-by-the-Sea, was created by women for women and featured many female owners presenting their vintage and exotic cars. Continue reading

Vintage racers, fans swarm to Monterey for Rolex Reunion

1964 Mercury Comet Caliente | Bonhams photos
1964 Mercury Comet Caliente | Bonhams photos

Rolo Malschafsky has always enjoyed the sport of racing – “I’ve done it all my life,” he said, “work permitting.” This year, Malschafsky, local to the Monterey area, plans to take on the legendary Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 17-20, behind the wheel of his 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente hardtop coupe.

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Pick of the Day: 1987 BMW 3 Series

M3, Pick of the Day at 2016 Legends of the Autobahn | Nicole Ellan James photo
M3, Pick of the Day at 2016 Legends of the Autobahn | Nicole Ellan James photo

What happens to the race cars that are replaced, the cars that become outdated, ineligible to compete, or that never saw much success? Some may go into collections or museums, while others get a second life through vintage racing.

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Pick of the Day: 1967 Shelby GT500

1967 Shelby GT500
1967 Shelby GT500

Mustangs have been on my mind a lot lately. Between my quest for a new daily driver and my social media feeds exclusively displaying all things Mustang, and the upcoming Team Shelby Monterey trip, I couldn’t help myself from browsing ClassicCars.com to see what was listed.

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MAG sets the stage with barn finds and customs for second sale  

1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR left at repair shop | MAG Photos
1968 Shelby Mustang GT500KR left at repair shop | MAG Photos

Barrett-Jackson left big shoes to fill and high expectations when they announced they would not return to Reno, Nevada, for Hot August Nights. To fill the void, four local collector car enthusiasts worked together to create a new auction company, Motorsport Auction Group (known as MAG Auctions) and held their inaugural event in 2016 alongside Hot August Night’s 30th-anniversary celebration.

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Pick of the Day: 1967 Plymouth GTX

1967 Plymouth GTX
1967 Plymouth GTX

The Plymouth GTX was first offered in 1967 as a performance variation of the standard two-door Belvedere, and it combined performance and style to achieve its status of “gentleman’s muscle car.” It came standard with Plymouth’s 440 cid V8 or the acclaimed 426 Hemi, along with heavy-duty suspension. The car’s sharp-edged design made it stand out.

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Vintage racing: SCRAMP readies for 8th Rolex Reunion

Vintage racers at Laguna Seca during 7th Motorsports Reunion | Nicole James photo
Vintage racers at Laguna Seca during 7th Motorsports Reunion | Nicole James photo

It was announced earlier this year that the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula would continue to manage Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for at least another three years. Now,  the senior management structure has been reorganized less than four weeks before the eighth annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, scheduled August 17-20 during Monterey Car Week.

This year marks the track’s 60th anniversary season. Continue reading