Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion : Cobras Take It To The Limit
2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
2014 Ford Mustang U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
2013 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante Neiman Marcus Edition
2013 BMW Concept M4 Coupe
2013 BMW Zagato Roadster
2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse Legend Jean-Pierre Wimille
2013 Bugatti Veyron Jean Bugatti
2013 Dodge Viper GTS Launch Edition
2013 Ford 1000 S/C
2013 Ford GT500 Super Snake Wide Body
|Today was the day everyone was waiting for, or at least the 30 or so thousand people flocking to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion were waiting for it: the chance to see 45 competition Shelby Cobras charging around California's famously challenging 2.238-mile road course known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Cobras are part of the Reunion's celebration of the Shelby Cobra's 50thAnniversary, and besides those signed up for racing, there were hundreds more in the paddock, surrounding corrals, and even in a museum-quality Heritage Display, not to mention those driving the streets in Monterey these past few days as their owners went to and from Classic Car Week's concours events, tours, car shows and auctions that are now signature around the world as among the finest in the automotive world.
The featured Cobra race was one of nine official Rolex Races held after lunchtime today, and it had to be the most watched, running chills up spines with the rage of roaring engines made more intense at the wave of the green flag by celebrity starter Edsel Ford II. It was billed as a tribute race to honor the Cobra's originator Carroll Shelby, who had planned to be here, but, sadly, died in May of this year at the age of 89. For Jim Click, who drove his 1964 Cobra 289 to win, that poignant fact made his victory a significant moment in time. Back in the paddock, celebrating with his crew and race fans who had surrounded his car, he said, 'I knew Carroll Shelby; he did so much for racing and for Ford, so it is an honor for me to have won this race for Mr. Shelby. This is the biggest win of my life.'
Click explained that he started third on the grid today, but the second-place car broke down. 'I was chasing car #81 (also a 1964 Cobra 289) for the lead, and I knew I was faster going through the turns; he is a really good driver, but he finally made a bit of a mistake exiting a corner, so I was there to take advantage,' said Click. Race day drama was heightened when a rare Daytona Coupe suddenly wound up off-track as well with apparent damage to its front end. The Coupe, one of only six ever built, had held a seemingly comfortable third-place position for the first half of the 20-minute race. At the Rolex Driver's Club, which allows a birds-eye view of the 'Andretti Hairpin' turn 2 and the short straights leading into and exiting turn 3, the atmosphere could not have been more electric, and after the checkered flag, the reverence of fellow drivers from the 16 other classes here was made clear as the Cobra's slowed their pace to loud cheers and waving caps in recognition of their collective accomplishment.
For Charles Firmenich (Geneva, Switzerland), racing his 1965 Cobra in the race was less about winning and more about gaining experience. 'I've had this car for two years, but this is my first year of racing,' said Firmenich, adding that he has 20 years experience doing track days with car clubs. 'I have been itching for a long time to do some actual racing, so when I got this Cobra I felt the time had come. I raced this car at the Le Mans Classic this year and at first it was horrible, because in the rain in a car like this it is frightening, but after a while I got used to it. I have never been to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca before, and I find it very challenging because it has so many different shapes and turns. We have a few tracks in Europe that are also fast and technical, but this one is special. As a Swiss citizen it is great for me to see a Swiss company, Rolex, promoting motor racing around the world and especially vintage racing because it has become so popular in Europe as much as it has in America.'
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