The Trans Am SpeedFest, Historic Racing & Portra 400
Green Flag

The sweet smell of spent fuel lingered in the cool morning air; my ears tingled with the cumulative rumble of thousands of horsepower.

Picking up where I left off at the Trans Am SpeedFest, it was right about time for the track to go hot at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.


It was the perfect weekend to have a picnic and take in a few days full of racing. Although the name of the event implies an American leaning, which there was, there were plenty of interesting cars from around the world taking to the track as well.

As a quick aside, the Trans Am SpeedFest was round three of the Trans Am series, and I’ve already shared a quick look at the modern classes in a separate story. I didn’t waste too many film shots of them, though, as the older cars were much more fitting for the two rolls of Kodak Portra 400 I shot over the course of the day.


The different groups included cars which spanned generations and continents, and during the early stages of the weekend multiple groups were on track at any given time for practice laps. It was interesting to see the different lines the various cars took, and the format presented some interesting results in terms of lap times, too.

Lap Times From Abroad

The most prominent Japanese car on track was the Datsun 510, which could be found racing against BMW 2002s, Porsche 911s, 914s, and the like. Taz Harvey, pictured, managed a 1:44.974 during his races and finished in fifth and six (each group races twice), although the fastest lap for the class was a blazing 1:41.376 set by Troy Ermish who handily took the win in both.


Although I didn’t manage to get a photo of Troy on the Portra 400, if you’re familiar with the 510 platform you’re likely familiar with this man’s work. Either way, I recently paid a visit to Troy’s shop and that feature will be along soon.


Also hailing from Japan, the ’89 Nissan GTU was good for a 1:39.242 lap, but I think it was fairly clear there was a lot left in the car. While vintage race weekends are certainly competitive, there’s a certain dilemma at play — many of the cars which are capable of going a good deal faster end up being slower. In order to take advantage of all these cars have to offer, it would require a seasoned professional and a lot of courage, especially given that the particularly quick cars are also the most brutal on the limit.


This 1976 March 76B was probably leaving a good few seconds on the table and clocked in a 1:38.702, although an updated March F2 car was able to break through the 1:30 barrier during the same race.


Another example of a car not being driven at its limits was this Repsol Porsche 962, which was good for a 1:38.438 during its races.


I’ve seen 962s in the 1:26s at the track in the past but, again, that isn’t necessarily the point at a historic race weekend. Just seeing these cars on the tarmac decades after racing around the world is more than enough for me.


On the topic of iconic cars, this ’74 BMW Schnitzer 2800 CSL was out on track as well. Under the bodywork, a 3.5L power plant howled away as the Coupe Sport Leichtbau flew around the course.


Clocking a time similar to a ’90s Miata was this 1965 Alfa Romeo GTV; I can only imagine the amount of work behind the wheel it would take to get a lap in the 1:50s in a car like this, though.

Separated by nearly 20 years, this Lotus 23B and this 911 SC set fastest laps of 1:40.121 and 1:41.670 respectively. It just goes to show how quick a dedicated race car can be.


Meanwhile, this 1986 E30 M3 Evolution III went just a couple ticks faster with a 1:39.151. Like with some of the other rare cars on track, I imagine there’s a good few seconds on the table, but no one wants to see this car have an off.


No matter the event, historic racing at Laguna Seca always brings a wild variety, be it a Kremer 935 or a ’69 TVR Vixen S2.


In the actual Historic Trans Am races, Jim Hague won the first race in his Boss 302 Mustang, with Jim Halsey taking the victory in the second outing. In this class, cars were lapping in the mid 1:40s.


Perhaps it was my imagination — or maybe just the sheer difficulty of driving cars from the ’60s wheel-to-wheel on the limit — but it seemed like the vintage American cars were being pushed harder than the cars in other classes. They’re a whole lot louder, a whole lot more intense, and I’d urge you to head to a similar event if you’ve never been.

The cars are just so cool, and you never know what’ll turn up. Case in point: this happens to be one of just a dozen Dekon Monzas ever built, recently restored by Impeccable Inc. to period specification.


Beyond that, I could endlessly wax lyrical about how much I love historic racing — and muscle cars in particular — but I’ll save that for the final roll I shot at the Trans Am SpeedFest.

In the meantime, enjoy the gallery of unadulterated American bad-assery below.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto

More stories from Laguna Seca on Speedhunters

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Awesome pics my fav being the Dekon Monza so rare and epic would have been amazing to see it going round.

Thanks for sharing


Same, I'll have a feature on that Orange one coming soon, along with the shop that restored it to period spec. Last year it was red, with big aero!

Brennan McKissick

Ah these are awesome, really nice work.


Being reminded of the Dekon Monza really made my day...


I love them all, but that DeKon Monza (or any DeKon Monza) is very dear to my heart. Thanks for the wonderful images and words, Trevor.


Thanks Chad!


That's a '70 Boss Two, the only Boss in '71 was the 351 and that's a whole 'nother animal.


Yep definitely a '70, entry list shows it as a '71 though. Never cared much for them myself after '70 anyway haha thanks for catching that.


That Boss is a Ford factory provided “Body in White” chassis that went directly to Bud Moore after receiving the special Kar Kraft modifications. It wasn’t raced until 1971 by Peter Gregg, and this why the owner and group refer to it as a 1971 Bud Moore Boss.


Interesting... The plot thickens


To be clear, nobody is saying this car is a 1971 production body.

For even more clarity, at the end of 1970, Ford made four chassis, that were stamped out of lightweight
sheetmetal. These uni-body chassis assemblies did not come down the factory assembly line, and
thus never received a passenger car serial number. Delivered unpainted, they became known as
"Bodies in White.”

Of the four chassis Ford built, only two were completed and raced in the SCCA Trans-Am series, in 1971. The “Bodies in White” are significant in that they were stamped out of thin-gauge sheetmetal instead of being acid dipped for lightness. Also, they were the only Bud Moore Mustangs built from 1970 model bodywork, as all the other factory bosses began as 1969s.

These “Bodies in White” were then sent to Ford’s racing subsidiary, Kar Kraft, for the roll cage
installation, modifications to the suspension mounts, and bodywork (most noticeably the
sectioning/raking/drooping of the front sheetmetal), before being sent to Bud Moore’s shops in South
Carolina for final assembly.

The 1971 season began with Parnelli Jones in a car he finished the 1970 season. Parnelli's teammate was Peter Gregg. This Peter Gregg car was the first "Body in White" car put into Trans-Am competition, and is therefore usually referred to as BIW-1, or Body in White #1.


hhhnnnnngggg that monza!, got to be one of the best looking race cars ever! one used to race in the sports sedan class here in Oz, loved watching and hearing them at the local track a few kms from my house as a kid


For sure. A complete feature on the car is coming soon

Michael Anderson

Was a really fun race weekend!

So glad to see the coverage of some of these awesome machines. I had an awesome battle with Taz, and racing with Mark in the Burgundy/Silver 510 is always a blast.

And that S13 is worthy of it's own feature. The level of detail in creating a "Built to the limit of the rules" car is unreal. Next time, ask Phil about the engine..


Do I see an S14 240SX tube-frame car in front of that #60 Camaro?


Is the yellow Hillsdale Dodge a dart? I don’t know enough about Mopar cars. That thing is rad.


Yeah looks like a '67-'69 Dodge Dart Swinger to me.