Click image above for high-res gallery from Laguna Seca
This year's edition of The Toyota Race of Legends looked to be another exciting race, giving fans a chance to see former racing greats mix it up in identically prepared Scion tCs. Basically they are the same cars that are used in Long Beach for the Pro/Celebrity Race. The lineup of drivers included last year's winner, Derek Bell, along with other former F1 and sports car racers like Eddie Cheever, Danny Sullivan, Johnny Herbert, Alan Jones, John Watson, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Patrick Tambay, and Alain de Cadenet, as well as current Toyota F1 hot shoe, Timo Glock.
As a bit of a twist in the proceedings, local tuner and sometime racer Bruce Canepa had won a spot on the grid during a charity auction. Bruce quickly promised to beat the pants off the pros, citing his experience at Laguna Seca (his shop is just down the road), his prior racing experience (he has teamed with Bobby Rahal and Rick Mears at the Daytona 24 Hours and was on the Porsche AG 935 factory team), and his recent Scion tC track training.
Alain de Cadenet, for one, wasn't about to take that challenge lying down. He told us as much on Wednesday night at the Jet Center. A little friendly rivalry could only add to the fun. The stakes were raised when the officials held the draw for starting positions. Wouldn't you know it, Canepa landed the pole. Well, the gauntlet was thrown down and when the flag was waived, it was time to put up or shut up. Follow the jump for a brief rundown of the results.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.
While de Cadenet missed a gear and fell way off the pace, there was a jumped start that resulted in an additional pace lap. Some early jockeying saw Canepa fall back a few slots but then he leveled off and settled in for the remainder of the race, finishing a respectable seventh. One of the most hotly anticipated drives was that of Timo Glock. While he had drawn a starting slot way at the back of the field, nobody expected him to stay there long. And true to form, Timo quickly moved up and eventually grabbed the lead on lap 2. That certainly didn't mean it was a runaway win. Jean-Pierre Jarier who had started fourth, took advantage of the action ahead to slot in behind Timo and he never let the youngster shake him. Not bad for a guy who is old enough to be Timo's grandpa. Right behind them was the always feisty Eddie Cheever.
Behind then it seemed like the order changed every time the cars rounded turn 11. By the time the checkered flag fell, however, it was Johnny Herbert in fourth, Derek Bell in fifth, Patrick Tambay in sixth, Canepa in seventh, followed by John Watson, Alan Jones, Danny Sullivan and de Cadenet bringing up the rear. Not the result Alain had hoped for perhaps, but at least Canepa didn't win. We stuck around after the race a bit and talked to a few of the drivers and even snagged a couple of autographs. Timo said he didn't feel any pressure to lose to the old guys but didn't find the race too difficult either once he wound his way to the front. Cheever seemed happy with third, playfully soaking his comrades in water afterwards, in lieu of any champagne. It was a fun event and a good follow-up to last year's battle royale.
Final finishing order below with qualifying position in parentheses:
1st Timo Glock (10th)
2nd Jean-Pierre Jarier (4)
3rd Eddie Cheever (2)
4th Johnny Herbert (6)
5th Derek Bell (3)
6th Patrick Tambay (8)
7th Bruce Canepa ( 1)
8th John Watson (11)
9th Alan Jones (5)
10th Danny Sullivan (9)
11th Alain de Cadenet (7)