August 14, 2014 by Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion

ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION : LA DOLCE VITA  There is a direct translation for 'the good life' in just about every language, and today la dolce vita pervaded the air at practice sessions for the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion where Italian car manufacturer Maserati, celebrating its 100th anniversary, is this year's distinguished marque. Nearly 550 authentic and historic race cars, split into 15 different competition groups, roared through the turns and straights of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, warming up for weekend racing that will determine Rolex Awards of Excellence and an overall 'Spirit of Monterey' winner.

In international motorsports, there are no borders, and a star driver from one country can easily jump into a racing machine anywhere in the world and make an impression. Giovanni 'Nanni' Galli, who arrived from Prato, Italy Tuesday to race in this event for his first time, began racing in the early 1960s, while in his late 20s, and he achieved immediate success with a car almost identical to the 1967 Alfa Romeo GTA 1600 Corsa he will take command of here (in Group 7B on Sunday).

'When I was racing in the early '60s, sports cars were more significant than Formula 1 from a standpoint of the constructor's championship,' said Galli. 'The World Sportscar Championship was comprised of large automobile manufacturers and thus had the funds for research and development, and with that came the technology. Formula 1 only had Ferrari and Lotus as manufacturers; the rest of the teams were primarily privateers. Now it is the opposite: Formula 1 has all the technology and all the money for development.'

Galli caught the attention of famed Ferrari engineer Carlo Chiti who signed him as a driver for the works Alfa Romeo/Auto Delta race team. His achievements with Alfa Romeo included many podium finishes and, impressively, a second-place finish in the Targa Florio in 1968 as well as a fourth at Le Mans that same year. In 1970 Galli raced for McLaren - Alfa Romeo in Formula 1 and in 1972 teamed with Derek Bell with the Tecno/Martini Formula 1 team, later racing with the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team as a stand-in for the injured Clay Regazzoni. After racing for Frank Williams' Iso-Marlboro Formula 1 team in 1973, Galli retired at the end of the season.

Because Galli was competing when motor racing was at its most dangerous and drivers were considered expendable, his family did not approve, so in order to protect them from concern he used his 'pen name' Nanni on entry forms.

'When I raced in Formula 1 in the early '70s, the chassis had no strength, and if you crashed, there was a good chance the car would catch fire. Too many Formula 1 drivers lost their lives in those years. Today, thanks to carbon fiber and so many other advancements, the cars are stronger and safer.'

'Vintage racing today is actually more interesting than modern racing in the eyes of many people, because they remember the cars from when they were younger, and the cars were actually more beautiful years ago. I raced the Le Mans Classic a few months ago where 263,300 spectators came to watch. People love the old cars.'

Maserati Meister

Mario Linke has entered four Maserati race cars that he brought here from his shop in Cologne, Germany. The cars are owned and driven by three of his customers, one of whom is Jos Koster who lives in Holland and owns two of the cars prepared by Linke.

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    'My 1958 Maserati 250F was the latest development of that model from the factory,' said Koster. 'They tried to be competitive with this car, but actually they were well behind the competition in terms of new developments. In 1958 Carrol Shelby and Maston Gregory finished the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in fourth place with the car, and I've been racing it for about seven or eight years at places like the Goodwood Revival, The Nurburgring, Monaco and other European circuits.'

    Koster's other car that he will be racing is the 1952 Maserati A6 GCS, which his uncle Fritz Koster raced when it was new. 'He bought this car in January 1953; it was actually the first Maserati to be imported into this country after World War II. He raced it at Bridgehampton, N.Y., where he had gearbox problems, and sent the car to Holland, replaced the gearbox, and raced it the remainder of 1953. At the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandfort, he raced this car in the support race after Juan Manuel Fangio, who was racing in the Grand Prix that weekend, drove it to show my uncle the fastest way through the corners. My uncle actually finished in second place in the support race that day. I was able to locate the car and bought it 15 years ago.'

    'This is my first time here at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and I'm very impressed with this event. I find the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to be very demanding, but I am getting more comfortable with it each time I go out on track.'

    Rolex has been involved in Monterey Classic Car Week since 1997, and the event forms a significant part of its association with the cardinal elements of motor sport: endurance, speed and tradition.

    Rolex enjoys an historic and privileged bond with motor sport and has been Title Sponsor of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion since it was renamed in 2010. (From 2001-2009, Rolex sponsored the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, which originally began in 1974, at this venue.)

    Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was established in 1957 by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), a not-for-profit 501C(4) corporation. Each race season, SCRAMP donates its net proceeds to the volunteer groups that help put on the races.

  • Photo credit: Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion
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