The Legends of Motorsports event is a historic racing series in North America that was founded by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time CART Champion Bobby Rahal, professional driver and JMI CEO Zak Brown and historic racing enthusiast and businessman Peter Stoneberg. Several of the greatest road courses in North America have been chosen; the inaugural race weekend was staged at the Barber Motorsports Park. The second event of the season was at Watkins Glen International Raceway, often credited as being the soul of American road racing.
The Watkins Glen International race weekend welcomed Vic Elford as their Grand Marshal, and Porsche as the featured marque. The theme for the event was a 'celebration of all things 1970s,' and featured a 70's-themed disc party. Other activities throughout the weekend included live music, autograph sessions, and activities for the kids.
The event could best be described as quality over quantity, as around 50 cars were grouped into four race categories, including USRRC/Can-Am/FIA Championship of Makes, F5000/Classic Monoposto, IMSA GT/2 Liter Sports Cars/Thunder & Lightning/Group C/GTP and Formula Libre.
On race day, rain and fog delayed the schedule and made for poor visibility and track conditions. Sadly, the Formula 5000 race was canceled due to the weather, and had to settle for two parade laps. The F5000 group had been one of the more tightly packed and competitive groups all weekend, and surly would have put on a brilliant display of racing had it not been for the weather.
Over 100 examples of the Lola T70 were produced in three versions from 1965 through 1969 and were very popular in the CanAm series and Group 7 competition. Not surprising, there were several examples of the T70 in the 'USRRC/Can-Am/FIA Championship of Makes' category. The T-70 Spyder driven by Archie Urciuoli managed an impressive third place, finishing just ahead of the Lotus 23B driven by Doc Bundy. The first and second spot was a battle that was contested even during the qualifying laps. The McLaren M6B driven by Robert Ryan and the Matich SR3 driven by James Freeman provided plenty of entertainment and reasons to cheer throughout the weekend. In qualifying, the Matich edged out the McLaren by less than a second. On race day, the roles were reversed as the McLaren just barely crossed the finish line ahead of the Match. Again, the difference was less than a second.
Sadly, one of the most beautiful machines on the track, the Ferrari 512S driven by John Giordano, was involved in a massive accident during qualifying. The car hit the guard rail twice and had to be removed from the course on a flatbed truck. The driver was not injured, but the Ferrari is going to need a bit of work.
The 'Group C/GTP/2-Liter Sports Racers/IMSA GT/Thunder & Lightning' category encompassed three decades of racing and housed several of the cars from the featured marque, including the 911, 914s, and 962s. Though the 962's and RSR's were fast all weekend, it was Theo Bean in his Chevrolet Intrepid GTP that outclassed the rest of the field.
Formula Libre groups are typically purpose-built racing cars competing in head-to-head competition using very few regulations, except for safety equipment. The Legends of Motorsports 'Formula Libre' class was made up of three Lola T97-20's, a Ralt RT-4, two Marchs, a GRD, and a Chevron. The T-97/20 driven by Travis Engen was the fastest in the group.
Bobby Rahal commented that 'It was unfortunate that the weather did not cooperate on Sunday. That was the only glitch this weekend. We had an amazing field of cars come out for our second event and the spectators really enjoyed the live music, autograph sessions, track touring and fan forum.'