Monterey, 2019

Four Allards made up a part of the thirty-car race group 1B for 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars. The Allards were up against a strong group of California Specials, Jaguars, Mercedes, MG’s, Triumphs, Porsches, and a few flyweight H-Mod specials.

Sunday’s morning race was action packed. As the green flag waived, John Bowe rocketed past the third and second place cars and was challenging Rob Manson’s GMC Tatum Special for the lead by the first corner! After a few laps of trying to get past the Tatum, Bowe dropped back a few places with fading brakes. John Mote in his Buick K2 held his own starting and finishing 11th. Jon LeCarner had a good race in his K2 moving from 21st to 16th. Bernard Dervieux put on a show in J2-1513 (one of the first J2’s built) demonstrating the finer points of Sydney’s divided axle front suspension finishing 26th.

Sunday’s afternoon race was another thriller. While two of the race’s nine laps were run under a full-course yellow, drivers and fans were treated to a tight contest among the five leaders – the Allard J2X against four California specials; the Parkinson Jaguar Special, a Chevy-powered Austin Healey, a Kurtis Dodge, and the Streets Manning Special.

John Bowe of Melbourne Australia was first to take the checkered flag at the wheel of Joe Calleja’s Allard J2X-3146. This is the very same ex-Carroll Shelby Allard that has been a familiar sight at Laguna Seca for the past 20+ years at the hands of Peter Booth and Augie Grassis. Joe has been working diligently to bring this Allard into FIA specs, with plans to race it in Europe and Australia in 2020. Driver John Bowe has some previous racing history in Australia having won the infamous Bathurst 1000 twice; needless to say, Shelby’s old J2X was in good hands. The J2X had a close race with the Parkinson Jaguar, but in the end the John Bowe made it to the checkered flag first - another Allard victory!

John LeCarner finished in 15th spot with his Cad-powered K2, and Bernard Dervieux’s J2 crossed the finish line in 23rd place. John Mote ran strong until lap 5, when his oil pressure gauge suggested that he prudently ‘call it a day’. All three cars will be undergoing refurbishment over the next year and we hope to see them back on track in 2020.

The Allards were pitted among a wide array of cars of similar vintage. Foremost in this group were a number of California-engineered built by names like Hagemann, Tatum, Baldwin, and Kurtis – cars that were not only fast, but quite able to hold their own on road courses against the sophisticated cars from post-war Europe. One could argue that many of the California Specials owe their existence to the production hot rods built by Allard.

The cars of Group 1B have adopted the moniker, Del Monte Trophy Race Group – cars that either raced in the Pebble Beach Road Races in the early ‘50’s, or would have been eligible to have raced there.

The entrance to this paddock area is fittingly decorated with rows of snow fencing and hay bales which were deemed to serve as protection for spectators back in the day, along with several historic black and white race photos from the early ‘50’s. This provided an ideal setting for a gathering after Friday afternoon’s practice, with all 38 cars from Group 1B on display. A more casual affair was held Sunday afternoon where the Del Monte Trophy was awarded to Tim Barnes (over 2L) and his 1951 Jaguar XK120 and to Kaiden Marouf (under 2L) and his 1951 supercharged MG TD.

Monterey’s ‘Car Week’ formally starts with Thursday’s Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, when more than a hundred rare and elegant competitors in Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance embark on a 70-mile tour on public roads around the Monterey area. This provides a unique opportunity for the general public to witness these show cars mix with Highway 1 traffic down to Big Sur, before returning to gather for along Carmel’s Ocean Avenue for lunch.

We again welcomed the opportunity to join Martin Allard in his biscuit-colored Allard K3 as we enjoyed the show cars along Highway 1. A part of this included a special surprise to see Ted Springstead at the wheel of his green Allard K3. Ted was one of the thirty Concours entrants to participate in the ten-day, 1500-mile Pebble Beach Motoring Classic run from Kirkland Washington to Pebble Beach. Aside from a minor fender-bender along the way, it was a great and memorable trip.

Three Allards were ‘on the block’ at two of the six (yes – 6!) auctions underway during Monterey’s Car Week. The Carroll Shelby J2 from his 1952 racing season was for sale at Mecum’s, and two Allards were consigned to Goodings. One was the red, Chrysler-powered J2X LeMans veteran of the Pebble Beach and Golden Gate races in the early ‘50’s, and the other was a very nice black K2. Neither the J2 nor the J2X LM made their reserve, while K2 was sold for a very reasonable $84,000.

We’re looking forward to 2020 which will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Pebble Beach Road Races. We hope to see you there!

Sunday morning race for Group 1B

Group 1B Sunday afternoon race

Car Week, 2017

In recent years the August conglomeration of automotive events (car shows, races, auctions and tours) on California’s Monterey Peninsula has taken on the generic title of Car Week. A ‘bucket list’ happening for car lovers, but with a derisive tone by some of the locals who are prone to complain – all the way to the bank.

Numerous enthusiasts of vintage racing were gratified to see six Allards running in the 2017 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. This year’s Group 5A of 1947 – 1955 Sports Racing and GT Cars raced on Saturday for the first time in several years (the group usually races in Sunday).

Augie Grassis raced the J2X that was Carroll Shelby’s principal mount back in ’53 and ’54. The car’s previous owner, Peter Booth, regularly raced it at Laguna Seca throughout the 1990’s. The two red K2’s of Jon LeCarner and Doug Klink brought back fond memories of the long-term friendly rivalry at Laguna Seca and other west coast venues between Jim Degnan and the late George Myers. John Mote returned this year with his bright blue Buick-powered K2. This car’s previous owner, Paul James, was a frequent Laguna Seca participant back in the 1990’s.

The Allard pack was filled out by Vince Vento who again demonstrated his mastery of outwitting his J2X’s HydraMatic around the hills and turns of Laguna Seca, and Ted Herb who was racing his recently acquired and beautifully refurbished “BRG” K2.

A well-established Friday tradition plays out when a group of select racers, under the enthusiastic escort of the California Highway Patrol, depart from Laguna Seca to make the 14 mile trek up over Laureles Grade, and westward along pristine Carmel Valley Road to intrude upon the sedate, exclusive and lavish Quail Motorsports Gathering.

The Race 5A participants were this year’s select group, and Vince Vento graciously allowed Colin to ride ‘shotgun’. A few tense moments arose when Vince was informed of a flat tire as they were lining up to depart. However, Chris Campbell of Vintage Connection – with the combination of experience, the right tools and knock-off hubs – came to the rescue. Vince’s return to Laguna Seca also got momentarily delayed (by Colin…a story for another time), and might have missed the group were it not for another enthused CHP officer who made full use of his motorcycle’s lights and siren to escort Vince through and around the leisurely homebound traffic of Carmel Valley Road.

Thursday’s highlight is the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance when 100+ contestants in Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance make a two-hour tour around the Monterey Peninsula, down Highway 1 to Big Sur, and then return to line up on Carmel’s Ocean Avenue. This provides a special opportunity for thousands of car lovers to get a close hand look of the Pebble Beach contestants – free of charge.

Seven of the RMMR Group 5A cars at Laguna Seca were California Specials. These unique home-built racers held their own on west coast road courses – including the Pebble Beach Road Races – against a variety of European imports in the early fifties. California Specials were further honored this year by comprising a special class at the Pebble Beach Concours.

Bruce McCaw’s faithfully restored 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer was this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best of Show award winner. Bruce has gathered an enviable collection of historic vehicles that includes several significant Allards including the Steyr, Sydney’s ’53 Le Mans JR, Walt Grey’s J2X Le Mans, and Irwin Goldschmidt’s Watkins Glen winning J2.

The infamous customized black & yellow Von Dutch Allard K2 crossed the ramp at Gooding & Company for $242,000.

Finally, Bill Marriott graciously shipped the iconic #14 J2 out from the east coast in honor of the late Bill Pollack. While in California, it was on display at both the McCall Jet Center Party and The Quail. The car was the focus of attention one week later as it took center stage on the front lawn of Bill Pollack’s Sherman Oaks home as friends & family celebrated his full life.

Allards & Allard Folks at Monterey 2015

If you are an automotive enthusiast, the Monterey Car Week cannot be missed. If you have the means and have not attended yet, you should make your reservations now. There simply is no other event in the world that brings together such a diverse range of cars. The only disappointment has been the steady decline of Allard’s on the Monterey Peninsula – be it on the track, the show lawn or the roads. However there is never a shortage of Allard enthusiasts on hand. 

Steve Schuler was on track at the wheel of his Allard J2 (3rd place finisher of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950) bracketing this year’s nine day Monterey Car Week. Steve’s week began with the Monterey Pre-Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway on August 8 & 9, and concluded on Sunday, August 16 where he raced to a 7th place finish at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion – despite the fact that his brakes went out in the early laps of the race. Steve had a busy weekend as he was also racing his insane IMSA Roush Mustang that keeps trying to destroy itself.

Three Allards were on display at various car shows in the course of the week. David Rossiter showed his immaculately re-restored red K2 at Tuesday’s Concours on the Avenue in Carmel, and on Wednesday Martin Allard’s cream-colored K3 earned the Blessed and the Best of British Cars award at the 3rd Annual Carmel Mission Classic. Jim Taylor’s unique red & white J2X was one 150 vintage sports and racing cars gracing the prestigious field at The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering on Friday.

On Friday we had a nice visit with Jim & Lisa Stec, who came out from Wisconsin to witness the sale of their Allard K3 at the Bonham’s auction. This K3 also happens to be the car that my son and I rebuilt and traded with Lisa’s uncle Paul a couple years ago. Paul passed away a few months ago and the family regretfully decided to divest themselves of much of his eclectic collection of preserved classic cars. We were all on pins and needles when the K3 drove up the ramp. Although the car did not hit the $100,000 estimate, it did sell for a respectable $87,500.

Martin Allard invited me to join him on his annual Thursday morning ‘mini-tour’ toward Big Sur to witness a part of the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance as the tour participants traveled out to Highway 1’s iconic Bixby Creek bridge before returning back to go on display on Carmel’s Ocean Avenue. 

On Sunday morning, three generations of Warnes’ rolled out of bed at 4:30 am, and with credentials in hand, partook in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance ‘Dawn Patrol’. Despite the early hour, it is a special privilege to gather on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links to witness the Concours entrants make their way onto the show lawn at the picturesque Carmel Bay. 

While there were no Allards in this year’s field, Jim Taylor showed his 1954 Cunningham C-3 Vignale Coupé where he earned 2nd in the Post War Cunningham Class.  We also had a nice visit with Wayne Carini (“Chasing Classic Cars” on Velocity Channel). Wayne was sharing his enthusiasm about the Allard J2X that he recently purchased from long-term owner Bill Bauder. Wayne plans on keeping the car in his personal collection and has big plans to enjoy his new toy.

It may a be a bit premature, but you may want to pencil in the dates for Car Week in 2017…we’ll keep you posted if anything interesting develops!


Review: "Racing Through The Forest"

The premier showing of RACING THROUGH THE FOREST took place at Pebble Beach’s Spanish Bay resort as a part of the Monterey Peninsula’s 2014 ‘Car Week’.

The focus of this 80-minute film documentary is the Pebble Beach Road races that were run just a few miles from this pristine golf resort. This film gives a succinct portrayal of this historic venue – beginning with the inaugural 1950 running, through the events in 1956 that set the stage for the purpose-built Laguna Seca Raceway some 20 miles to the east.

By means of a well-paced balance of narration, historic race footage and interviews with key players, it effectively presents the Pebble Beach Road Races as a microcosm of the post WWII sports car racing scene in the US.  The Pebble Beach racecourse comprised of a series of hay bale-lined two lane streets and some unpaved roads winding through the towering Monterey pines of Del Monte Forest. Most of the cars in the 1950 race were an array of British imports and California home-built specials, and the drivers were all amateurs – some with strong track records, but many with little or no training or experience.

While the Pebble Beach course itself saw little development in the seven years of its operation, the story clearly reflects how both cars and drivers became more sophisticated – and faster – with each passing year. It all came to a head in 1956 when Ernie McAfee and his Ferrari went out of control on the downhill home stretch, became airborne and flew sideways into one of the aforementioned Monterey pines.

The timing of this production was most fitting, as it includes a blend of familiar, and also never-before-seen race footage – along with current day interviews with several race veterans reflecting on their experiences from 60+ years ago. They included Bill Pollack, winner of the prestigious Del Monte Trophy in ‘51 and ’52; and Derek Hill, son of Bill’s close friend Phil Hill, who won the main event in ’50, ’53 and ’55.

Both Bill and Derek, along with other Pebble Beach Race veterans, were present at this premier showing. They all did a great job of sharing their insight and experiences after the screening. The show’s poster is focused on Tom Carsten’s iconic black Allard J2 that was Bill Pollack’s primary mount, a car that gets considerable footage throughout the movie.

This is a very well done professional production, a ‘must see’ film for all vintage racing enthusiasts. The producers are currently concentrating on film festivals and other private screenings, with a showing at the Blackhawk Museum on Sept. 19, and the Peterson Museum in LA in October. After that they are preparing for Sundance Film Festival in January. We’ll share more when information about distribution comes available.

-Chuck Warnes

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.
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The Moss Files, Part 6

In this instalment, Al writes to the AMC about his near success at the first Pebble Beach Road Race, which very likely would have resulted in an Allard victory if it weren't for a bit of bad luck! Mr. Moss also provides some constructive criticism while sharing a bit of growing frustration with the build quality of the cars. Click here or the image above to read the 2 page letter.

Monterey 2011

The experience of searching one’s way through Sunday morning pre-dawn fog, curves and pines of Pebble Beach is somewhat surreal. At times the only connection with the real world seemed to be the intermittent signals from random flashlights that eventually directed us to our parking lot. The experience gave us a special appreciation for the diligent efforts of hundreds of employees and volunteers who had been on duty half the night.

Our goal was to arrive at the Del Monte Lodge before the first of the Pebble Beach Concours entrants began to chug, purr or roar their way from the Polo Grounds to their designated spots on Pebble Beach’s 18th fairway overlooking Carmel Bay and Point Lobos. The low overcast sky and moderate temperatures were a photographer’s and spectator’s dream.

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The Pebble Beach Tour, 2009

For a number of years, the organizers of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance have forced their entrants to drive their beautiful cars 70 miles along the Central California Coast so they can be ogled at for free by the general public as they are parked along Ocean Avenue in Carmel. Not only is this event a test of every entrants cooling system (there are a number of traffic jams), but is also a test of every owners ability to trust Joe Six-Pack not to scratch their million dollar Bugatti's.

Click here to view the Pebble Beach Tour Photo Gallery

Cheers,
Colin