Grand Prix of Monterey, not to be confused with the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, was a PWC season finale last weekend a few weeks after a similarly named IMSA race took place (just ahead of it’s season finale at Petit Le Mans in Georgia (Road Atlanta)).
This was a weird event because the big boys, the GT-class including amateur version GTA and GTC as well as the standalone GTS series had already run their season finale a few weeks prior at Sonoma. This meant we wouldn’t see Cadillac ATS’s race around this weekend, or the Nissan NISMO GT-R’s, or the Bentley Continental GT’s or the volume of cars we had last year at this very event. Some (very few) GT’s showed up for the California 8 hour, but I’ll write about that event separately.
So Touring Cars were having their Grand Prix. There were so many cars in the top TC class they ran separately from the smaller and less powerful cars TCA’s and TCB’s. The TC field had a very strong presence of the new BMW M235i’s which had 11 vehicles on the grid. There was a nice sprinkle of European TCR cars in the form of Audi S3 LMS widebodies, which did remarkably well. And then there were my favorite’s… The NC-gen Mazda MX-5’s with a 2.5 liter engine and a big wang in the back to distinguish them from the Miata’s in the lower TCA class which are more stockish. There were three MX-5’s in TC class this weekend. The #54 car which did remarkably well and finished second in their first race. And John Weisberg’s #5 car which ran mid-back for both of the races. There was also a late commer #17 car which came out for the first race, was smoking a lot and didn’t return for the second race.
A very familiar car from BERG Racing from Upstate New York.
This car ran super strong, finishing second in the first race. Amazing feat considering all the competitors it raced against that seemed much stronger.
The TCR cars were very well represented! And one of the Compas 360 cars won both of the races and subsequently the championship.
As usual the BMW field was best represented in TC class.
There were also several Honda Accords running their front wheel driver machines which seemed to really struggle around Laguna Seca circuit. Both suffered wheel failures at some point during the race weekend.
In the TCA/TCB races the Toyobaru BRZ/GT86 thing couldn’t be touched, it smoked everyone else… and then it came out the car was disqualified and a Miata which followed this car some distance to second actually took over the first place. Hmm!
The funny looking hard-top Miata’s did remarkably well in their races. Running very strong. The finish had a great mix of cars in it: Toyota followed by a Mazda, followed by a Honda… so no one brand dominated. Of course the Toyota ended up getting disqualified and it’s teammate retired before the end of the race.
This fella ran out of brakes in the first race, but had a much stronger finish in the second .
And finally the TCB field is being retired next year, so no more Mazda 2’s on this level of racing… I’m sure they’ll still have a long life of racing on the club level though.
I had an awesome time working this event. Though I wish that the Touring Cars ran alongside their Grand Touring cars on the same championship weekend. Having TC cars run their own “Grand Prix” dilutes the idea of a GP of Monterey weekend. They were after all a support series.