Over the years, I've taken laps at most of the world's major raceways, and few intimidate me more than Laguna Seca, on the Monterey Peninsula. It's a tight, twisting course with some fast straights and blind turns, compounded by sudden elevation turns and off-camber corners. No wonder the unwritten rule during the annual Monterey Historic Races is "80 percent." Don't push these classic race cars to the edge and be acutely aware of your own limits. As you can see here, some drivers forget the last part of that lesson. In thi particular instance, the well-restored Cunningham you see tossing gravel suffered little more than a broken wheel. What happens to the driver remains to be seen. Organizers uphold the guidelines strictly, and a few years ago, Steve Earl, the founder of the Historics, had to ban himself for a year after the car he was driving bumped another racer.
Despite the fact that most of the drivers hold things back a bit, it's hard to tell from the stands. This is grand theater, watching a procession of pre-War Alfas and Bugattis vie for position on the first corner. The weekend event is a must for automotive fans, whether you're a dedicated race aficionado, or simply love classic cars. With a paddock pass, you'll be able to walk up close enough to count the rivets and smell the gasoline. And if you're lucky, you'll also get to say hello to some of the world's greatest racers, past and present. It's not unusual to find the likes of Dan Gurney, Stirling Moss and Derek Bell out for a spin, if you will. Sadly, the Alfa pictured here was not piloted by its normal driver, the great Formula One champion, Phil Hill. Illness has limited his driving, in recent months.
With a blanket, a beer, and a pair of binoculars, there's no better way to observer motor sports history comes alive every August.