Car Week, 2012

Allards have been conspicuous by their absence at Laguna Seca for the past two years. So it was great to again see two veteran Allards from the Monterey Historic days running in the 2012 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (RMMR). Steve Schuler brought his beautiful and famous J2 1578 – the 3rd place finisher of the 1950 Le Mans. He was joined in the Group 5B (1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars) by Jim Degnan’s friend, Jon Le Carner at the wheel of Jim’s red 1952 K2 3035. Both cars attracted a good amount of attention from vintage racing fans throughout the weekend.

Group 5B’s nine-lap race was on Sunday afternoon. Steve Schuler sat in 4th place on the starting grid, and the LeCarner started in 24th slot in the 35-car field. This group included a broad array of equipment from that era, with engine displacements ranging from the Allard J2’s 5900cc down to a 697cc 1961 BMW 700S. Steve sent us some great video of his races, which we’ll post on YouTube soon.

Four years had passed since Schuler had driven his J2 in a race, so he was quite pleased with his starting position, and even more pleased to finish in second place behind the famous Monsterati Special. Jon LeCarner is a veteran La Carrera Panamerica racer, and this was his first time driving an Allard in anger. During the race he worked his way up to a 20th place finish. Steve’s fastest lap time around the 2.238-mile course was 1:53.626, while  Jon’s fastest was 2:06.231. We ran into a number of Allard owners in the pits, including Herb Wetanson, Alan Patterson, Todd Coady, Ron Hale, and Al & Ursula Reynolds.

Photo: Mike Matune

This year’s RMMR celebrated fifty years since the inception of Carroll Shelby’s AC Cobra, and no fewer than 41 Cobras were on the grid for Saturday’s race. The Rolex Moments of Time tent gave homage to several more Cobras of special historical significance – including CSX2001 – the first production Cobra that Carroll Shelby used for promotion. It is currently painted bright blue (Shelby had it painted several different colors during its first few weeks in ’62 to create the impression that he had several copies in stock) and still has the original tattered leather seats. This car is both smaller and lighter than a Mazda Miata, and is the only Cobra with inboard disc brakes.

The climax to Monterey’s Car Week is Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Holy Grail of the classic car scene which perennially strives to out-do itself. We were again privileged to get out there in the pre-dawn hours to witness the magnificent field of entrants make their way from the Polo Grounds to their assigned spots on Pebble Beach’s18th Fairway.

Much of this year’s attention was focused on 15 exquisite classic Rolls-Royce and similar prestige marques that were commissioned for Indian Maharajas during the 1920’s and 30’s. Several of them are still owned, and were proudly displayed by descendants of the original owners.

The Allard marque was honorably represented by Dana Mecum’s Allard J2, which took 3rd place in the Postwar Sports Open class. This particular J2 was the last J2 built, and served as Carroll Shelby’s primary weapon of choice during the 1952 racing season. The oldest car in the field was a 1901 DeDion-Bouton Motorette. Colin took a few detailed rear chassis shots of the car which served as the inspiration for Allard’s DeDion rear-end concept.

This year’s Concours also gave us a chance to visit with old friends, including Bill Pollack and his daughter Mellette, Kevin Blount, Bob Weiner, Lindsey Parsons and his daughter Kate and grandson Charlie. Bill enjoyed this opportunity to share stories about his racing the unique Mameco-Ardun Glasspar G2 during the 1953 racing season.

Two Allards also graced the field at The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering. They included Curt Pindler’s blue Hemi-powered J2X 3065 that was originally owned and raced by Maston Gregory, and Vince Vento’s recently restored gray K3 3266.

Photos: Mike Matune
This year’s auction block featured K2 3127 that brought $100,000 and an exquisite K3 3182 that did not meet its reserve at Mecum’s. Al Reynolds had some mixed emotions when he sold his unique 1947 L 390 Special at Russo & Steele for $66,000. Al purchased his Allard while he was stationed in the US Army 50+ years ago. The previous owner had customized it in the course of some post-collision repairs back in 1955.

Even though we have seen Monterey’s Car Week evolve over the years, it never loses its magical appeal. We are already looking toward savoring what 2013 has to offer and hopefully we’ll see you there.

Text: Charles Warnes
Photos: Colin Warnes unless otherwise noted