Cars, Ships and the Pacific Ocean
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Oct 16, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story and Photos by Hector Cademartori Here’s yet another view of a couple of recent cool LA Car-type events, this time from guest editor Hector Cademartori the well-known artist, Illustrator, writer, racer, and true gaucho of the Pampas. –Ed. WARNING: The following accounts come from a participant’s personal point of view which, unlike the perspective of the spectator or the journalist, is always “tainted” by friendships, troubles, personal needs, knowing what most don’t (and never will), compassion, a competitive spirit and, yes, the ever present vile gossip. In other words, a purely subjective viewpoint ... in more words: my own. The first stop that I alluded to in the above title was my participation in a vintage car competition unlike any other since it takes place in the Naval Air Station in the island of Coronado, across a tall bridge which connects said body of land with the city of San Diego. By the way, can anyone explain why that thing is so high? It really looks like a waste of concrete, or whatever they use to build bridges with these days. I understand that ships need to cruise in and out under it, but you can drive an aircraft carrier carrying Mount Shasta under this one and still have enough clearance for one of Disneyland’s rides on top. I’m sure one of the members of LA Car’s vast audience can send us a reasonable explanation. (We’ll take unreasonable, too.) (First prize for the best explanation is a pit crew pass at Hector’s next race. Ed-) Tony Parella’s SVRA (Sportscar Vintage Racing Association) has been adding races to their national calendar for about four years and obtained this event in 2015 as part of their western expansion which includes races at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Sonoma, Portland and three more races in partnership with our local (and over 40 years old) club VARA, short for Vintage Auto Racing Association. Laid out over the base’s runways using cement barriers, cones and tires, the Coronado circuit is reminiscent of the races that were staged at military bases (March Field in Riverside many years ago, and the Marine Corps air station in Tustin more recently) in the 50’s all over the country. Considering the limitations of the venue, the Navy and SVRA put together a very decent racetrack which looks smooth from the outside but which is quite rough in some sections. There were some tricky transition areas, from concrete to cement, and some slippery paint stripes (landing markers ... airbase, you know). It was a small bother if that and racing there was really an enjoyable experience. On Friday evening, the Commander of Naval Air Forces, Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker and his wife, hosted a reception in their home, a few blocks from the circuit. Lovely soiree. I learned that Commander Shoemaker’s office deals with all naval aviation operations in the world, in other words, any naval aviation airplane that has a situation anywhere on Planet Earth his office gets the call and has to deal with it. “That’s a huge job”, I said to him during our chat that evening in a display of deep strategic and geopolitical knowledge. “Believe me, I have a lot of help”, he replied humbly. Commander Shoemaker, we thank you for your service and look forward to next year’s party. The variety of cars is worth the stroll in a perfectly military style laid-out paddock. From one-of-a-kind, such as Peter Giddings ex-Nuvolari 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza (if you squint long enough you can almost see Tazio in the cockpit holding the steering wheel) to more mundane Datsuns 240Z, 510 or Porsches 914s. The big Trans Ams and Stock Cars had to make a pretty good effort to negotiate the turns of the tight circuit all the while trying not to look like an inebriated wrestler in a chorus line. And then there was the pre-war group; wonderful examples of what racing was like 100 years ago with drivers replicating the moves of Barney Oldfield or “Terrible” Teddy Tetzlaff aboard Nationals or Stutz Blackhawks. Of course there were sleek formula cars, wired-wheeled sports racers, a ubiquitous Alfa Romeos GTA or two and Big Mother Mustangs GTs and Camaros. There was also a colorful midway with many booths and a great display of naval hardware including a Sikorsky helicopter that we were invited to board (We said a silent prayer hoping never be on the wrong end of those sidepods filled with missiles or Gatling guns.) The show of course, featured a classic car show organized by marques, a concert and a competition among Navy units in a NASCAR pit stop. My group was well attended and I enjoyed my weekend in spite of a clutch problem with my Ferratsun (We’re hopeful that Hector will explain this machine in another story -Ed) which prevented me from switching gears fast enough. The camaraderie of the Datsun contingent is remarkable; everybody was ready to assist and help with and problems. We were very pleased when the Grand Guru of Datsun tuners, Les Cannaday, showed up at our pit with an obscure slave cylinder fork pin to see if it would help. Thank you guys. You’re the best. Interesting side note: during one of the races the cockpit filled with a screeching noise and I thought that something really terrible was happening under my hood. With the balaclava, helmet and exhaust noise sometimes is difficult to immediately recognize sounds. Then, from the corner of an eye, I saw an F-18 taking off from a runway parallel to the track. Jeeez! WHAT A WEEKEND IN CORANADO. The following weekend I was again among cars, ships and only a few short meters from the beautiful Pacific Ocean: Long Beach. The Japanese Classic Car Show was started 12 years ago by Terry and Koji Yamaguchi, a charming couple from ... (OK, Right, you guessed “Lt. Columbo”) Japan. They decided that the products of their motherland deserved a show of their own and every year they reserve a grassy area at the feet of the Queen Mary and fill it with every kind of Japanese classic hardware that you can think of… and some that you never knew came to the US! With 340 registered cars and 60 display cars, there was plenty to see. This project is supported by the factories: Toyota (particularly through Susan Sanborn, head of the company’s beautiful heritage museum), Mazda, Honda and Nissan take their big trailers and display their classics, current production cars and racers. This year, Nissan brought their 2017 GT-R, Honda a 1969 600 serial number 000001, the first ever Honda sold in the US and Toyota celebrated the 50th anniversary of their Corolla. Mazda had a great display of their rotary racers, from early ‘70s little coupes to their 787B prototype similar to the car that won Le Mans in 1991, 25 years ago, the only Japanese manufacturer, I might add, that has won the French classic. Six years ago, JCCS added the Motorcycle section, a show within the show. A small group, about 30 (space is limited) classic motorcycles, reflect the success of the Japanese two wheelers long before the cars started attracting customers to their dealerships. This year, Yamaha Motor Corp, USA sponsored the awards of the Motorcycle group and we add its name to the list of manufacturers present at JCCS. ... I’ve been involved in the motorcycle part of the JCCS event since the very beginning both as a coordinator and as a judge as has my long time friend, Joey Cabrera from Motul USA, a main sponsor of the event. We get a lot of help from other members of the motorcycle community such as Ernesto Quiroga and Classic Cycle Events owner Marshall Baker, promoter of vintage motorcycle shows in Irwindale and Hanford, California and Honda super expert Tim Mings. Regarding Tim, he restored the serial # 01 N600 Honda that was the center of attraction in the Honda compound, but I was confused because it was white, not the lime green unit that he showed me last year so I decided to call him to clarify. Tim answered with his standard line: “Hello, how I can disappoint you, today?” and proceeded to explain: “... Someone had painted the car lime green, but the original color was white and the car is no longer mine, I sold it to American Honda. By the way Hector, do you know where I am? I’m at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama, racing my 1962 Honda in the vintage bike event”. Happy racing, Tim! We always have a great time and the motorcycles complete a wonderful display of the history of cars and motorcycles from the Land of the Rising Sun. If you haven’t been to this show, mark your calendars for next year, sometime towards the end of September. But the fun isn’t over yet. Next weekend we race our trusty and long-serving 1991 Volvo 740 Wagon at Auto Club Speedway with Chumpcar and I need to get a few things done. If you’re not sure what Chumpcar is the concept is similar to the 24 Hr. of LeMons; long distance races in cars worth $500 or less, sort of, well ... kind of anyway. Our Team Tango Volvo will be at the starting grid of the 10-hour long race in a circuit designed in the infield’s road course of the speedway fighting for fame and glory. Or, at least, to finish the race. I’ll let you know how we did…or didn’t. -HC We hope to hear more and soon from Hector and his Ferratsun (whatever that is?) – Ed.