Foto Finish

Driving a 1974 Carrera RSR in the final act of the 36th and last Monterey Historics

August 6, 2010

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In garages and race shops around the world, engines are being reunited with famous chassis. Gear oil is being changed, centerlock lug nuts swapped for tie-down lugs — all for one big race weekend along the Central California coast. As “The Week­end” approaches, my mind wanders to last year’s Monterey Historics.

I remember walking up to the bright green FotoQuelle RSR sitting in front of its trailer, knowing I wouldn’t be watching it this time. I can still hear its flat six and gears grumble behind me, still smell exhaust fumes laced with race gas as I follow another RSR through a paddock jam-packed with race fans. I can see their eyes peering into each car, straining to spot a famous driver. It’s not a memory you’d forget, either.

This year, tens of thousands will flock to an event they’ll still likely refer to as “the His­torics.” What they’ll get is something different to the 36 annual gatherings executed by Steve Earle, who started the Mon­terey His­toric Auto­mobile Races for the right reason: to gather friends and enjoy some track time. Origi­nally meant to buttress a little old-car assembly known as the Pebble Beach Con­cours d’Ele­gance, Earle’s side show in motion grew into the 400-car anchor of a ten-day automotive extravaganza featuring seven concours, eight auctions, four drives, multiple memorabilia shows, and countless private parties.

Under the direction of SCRAMP — the body managing Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca — the 2010 Rolex Mon­terey Motor­sports Reunion will feature 640 cars. What was already big is about to get even bigger.

For me, “The Week” had already gotten to be a bit much. More years than not, I’d get my Week­end in the weekend before, at a well-kept secret called the Pre-Historics. Held at Laguna one week before the His­torics, it featured most of the cars but none of the crowds. I’d hit a few weekday shows and then, come The Weekend, celebrate the car somewhere far north — on backroads quieter than San Francisco’s financial district on Christ­mas Day.

There would be no getting out of The Week­end in 2009, though. Porsche was the featured marque at Earle’s final Monterey Historics, and it wasn’t long after I learned about it that I got a call from a familiar and grum­bly voice. “Want to drive an RSR at the Historics?” The voice didn’t bother introducing itself, but I knew it was Kerry Morse. “Yes…,” I said — only to hear click.

A few weeks later, at the Pre-Historics, I shake hands with Ari­zonan Jim Ed­wards, owner of the FotoQuelle RSR. Tall with wild, woolly white hair, he’s the trackside T-shirt and shorts alternative to paddock collars and khakis. Next to his trailer, a pair of too-tall mannequins in ex-Hurley Hay­wood driving suits make it plain he’s into vintage racing for one reason: to have fun. There’s nothing casual about the focus of his clear blue eyes, however, nor the cars he’s got parked out front: The Last 935, the Burton 934, and two Carrera RSR 3.0s.

The RSR I’ll be driving is 911 460 9060, a car I’ve known since I was in high school. Back then, Larry and Jan Grove brought it to various events in Northern California where, more often than not, it was in close proximity to 911 460 9073, the Jäger­meister RSR. The cars have been something of an item for decades, having left Ger­many for Hong Kong together in 1980 after ex­tensive competition careers in Ger­many. They left China together, too, destined for a third life on America’s left coast.

Built in April 1974 and painted bright green, 9060 was equipped with engine 684 0083, a 3.0-liter, 330-hp six with slide-valve injection. It was delivered to Auto­haus Max Moritz, which hired Rein­hard Stenzel to drive it with FotoQuelle sponsorship from 1974 through 1976. 9060 would take eleven wins, seven of them coming at Hocken­heim. When Max Moritz sold 9060 to Rolf Göring in June 1977, it was wearing Group 5 bodywork with a 935-like nose. Göring took 9060 hillclimbing in 1977 and put it on the podium every time but once, taking eight overall wins, four seconds, a third, a class win, and two seconds in class.

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