Tag Archives: Gary Horrocks

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Not Seeking Closure

2021 is now in full swing, in the “real world” the insanity of 2020 seems set to continue for the time being. DDC Towers is a busy place, hence the shameful neglect of this website. However, I have been sitting on a sad, but beautiful, tale of one of the casualties of this wretched pandemic. Take it away Mr. Horrocks…………..

Closure on COVID-19 is something we’ve all been waiting to experience for what seems like a long, long time. But as the days go on, the only closure we seem to be seeing is that of businesses as they find the struggle to keep afloat eventually defeats them. Because of the various mandated restrictions that have been placed upon enterprises sadly many have been forced to simply shut their doors for good.

One of the closures due to COVID-19 was World of Speed Motorsports Museum. This collection, located south of Portland Oregon, was a haven for the gearhead. While it focused on the history of motorsports in the area, it really encompassed the entire world of motoring competition. When the doors initially closed for the first COVID-19 lock-down, the display floor was just transitioning from having Mustang as the featured marque to Ferrari. 

Unfortunately, the Ferrari exhibit was never to be seen by the public – the board of directors chose to lock their doors for good not too long after hoping to celebrate five years of being open. The celebration never happened. For those involved, the only closure was the locked doors.

I found about the museum in late 2014.  This looked to be a good place for me to deposit the items I’d accumulated in my travels – PR kits, programs and various handouts I had taking up space in my basement. When I donated the items, I was given a tour of the facility as well as introduced to some of the management. I soon found this was also a recruitment session as they were looking for volunteers. As it appeared that my involvement in covering racing was reaching a limited future, I thought why not? It was closer to home and wouldn’t involve any redeye flights in order to get back for work after an event.

 It was here that I was able to reopen an enthusiasm for all things motorsports as I’d been so micro-focused on sportscar racing for so long. Sort of bringing my gearhead life full circle. I found myself face to face with things from my youth – drag racing, Indycars, muscle cars, customs – you name it. There was even room for unlimited hydroplane boats, something I grew up with as a kid while living in the Seattle area.

And that wasn’t the only things from my youth. In these walls was none other than Challenger 1, Mickey Thompson’s massive 4-engined land speed record car that went 400 mph in 1960. This was a car that I’d built multiple models of as a kid – and still likely have one or two stashed away for safe keeping. Wow! It was also surrounded by other cars from his stable – all used to bring various records back to the United States as well as to his sponsors. Eventually Mickey’s son Danny brought the Challenger 2 that Mickey built in the late ‘60s back to the salt. He updated it and ran it to 448 mph at Bonneville in 2018. We had the two cars side by side for a while and it was spectacular.

I’d also found myself face to face with a car closer to home – a homebuilt drag car that I’d seen race when I was a young kid. It was made out of an old Dodge Pickup and featured a bed cover with an embroidered Thumper – the Thumper that stole the show in the Disney movie Bambi. That was important to a five-year-old me back then and suddenly became important to a much older me.

Through the nearly five-year run, the museum hosted tributes to many different and unique “marques”.  The first big one was to celebrate the 100th running of the Indy 500. This display garnered the museum some good notoriety, as it featured at times up to 35 Indy cars ranging from 1914 to 1997. Included was Jack Brabham’s Cooper from 1961, a Lotus 56 turbine from 1968 and the Nigel Mansell Newman-Haas Lola among many others.

Other features included Corvettes (including the 1961 model that was in the film, Animal House), Muscle Cars, Porsche 911, as well as the previously mentioned Mustang and Ferrari. Another spectacular exhibit was a tribute to Mario Andretti in 2019, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his win at Indy.  Up front and in your face was the Ford GT Mk4 that he and Bruce McLaren won Sebring in 1967 and next to it was a replica of his Daytona 500-winning Ford from two months earlier. That GT got everybody’s attention in a very big way. It was a stunning way to highlight the versatility of racers back then, especially Mario.

But it was more than the feature exhibits. As you can see in the accompanying photos, it was a spectacular ride. Unfortunately, it simply didn’t last. The hardships placed upon it due to COVID-19 was just too great to succeed.

I hope that we’ll soon be back to what we considered to be normal, or at least close to it. We can’t afford to have places we’ve enjoyed simply vanish from our existence. Sure, World of Speed was minor in the trials and tribulations of our modern times, but to many it was a great distraction from reality. We all are in need of positive distractions…

Good news is that much of the content from World of Speed has been distributed to other museums that are open or still have hopes in reopening. Just recently I saw one of the drag cars on display in the window of a speed shop/museum close to where I live. Also, the International Motor Racing Research Center located at Watkins Glen recently announced it had received a large shipment of archival material from World of Speed. Likely some of my old donations are also there. While it is good to see that some of the items that were at the museum are resurfacing elsewhere, it is still a sad reminder of what we had so close to home…

Gary Horrocks, January 2021

The Magic of Monterey

One of the many pleasures of running things at DDC is how old friends pop in and contribute. Gary Horrocks will be a familiar name to anyone who has followed IMSA since Doctor Don revived the show at the turn of the century. Gary was of the stars in the world of DailySportsCar.com – his reporting of the American Le Mans Series was top notch, keeping absentees like myself informed and entertained in full measure. When he offered to give us a flavour of the scene around Monterey earlier this month, I jumped at the chance.

Laguna Seca under any name has always been a favorite track of mine.  I’ve been going there on an off and on again basis since 1984. 

Even after covering the ALMS and Grand Am series from 1999 thru 2016 and being at so many different tracks, any trip to Laguna almost felt like going home. 

When it was announced the featured “make” at the Monterey Historics was to be IMSA, I knew one way or another it was to be on my schedule.  50 years of IMSA sounded awesome.  Well, it wasn’t pretty, but I did manage to take in the sights and sounds for a day at least…

First of all, I opted to not apply for credentials – I didn’t expect to be “working” although eventually I did accomplish some work.  That brought on sticker shock – $90 for a Friday only ticket.  It was an additional $120 for Saturday. 

I’m sure there were packages available and such, but with prices like this, well yikes.  Then on top of that you have the business principle of supply and demand shining thru in regards to hotel rooms.  I saw a particular room I’ve used for the IMSA races at $170 a night up to a staggering $499 per night for this event.  As if the area isn’t expensive enough.  I’ve heard of many that are much better off than I that are staying away simply because of the expense.  This week isn’t for the common folk anymore…

Any trip to Laguna typically includes stops at In-n-Out Burger (a double-double will do just fine) as well as a stop at Canepa Motorsports.  During the week of the historics, their restoration shop is open for viewing and as always, their showroom and museum are open for your drooling pleasure…

This place is staggering.  Again, not a place that I really belong in, especially now being retired, but a great place to see some unique and special cars.  Thru the years that I’ve been visiting I’ve seen the inventory in both the showroom and museum change, but it seems that you can always count on the core being present. 

Gulf 917?  Check.  Mass/Ickx 962?  Check.  Audi R15 plus?  Check… 

What was of most interest to me was the appearance of the John Paul Greenwood Corvette.  This was the last of the line for Greenwood, but this Bob Riley car was the most extreme of a long line of extreme Corvettes.  I’d seen the car in the shop in 2016, stripped to the bare frame and to see it complete now was a sight to behold.  What a fantastic beast.

Anyway, on to the main event  the Monterey Historics.  Before arriving I’d stayed away from the entry lists on purpose – I simply wanted to be surprised.  I guess the car I most wanted to see (and hear) again was a Panoz.  Just one more time to see the beast in action.  While it wasn’t the coupe as I’d witnessed at Laguna in ’97 and 98, it was none other than the full on wacked out roadster I feel fortunate to have witnessed in 1999 and later.  Mags and Brabs could always be counted on to give it their all in the beast.  Even though it was typically an Audi show back then, the Panoz was still something to behold.  Good times…

Another highlight was Tommy Kendall’s RX-7.  If my feeble mind remembers correctly, this car was originally constructed by Jim Downing, raced by Jack Baldwin to two championships and served as Tommy’s entrance into IMSA racing.  All told, the car won 5 championships (Downing 1, Baldwin 2 and Kendall 2) in the IMSA GTU category.  None other than Dan Binks was Tommy’s crew chief back then and thru much of his career.  It was also Dan that was responsible for getting the car back in running order.  Tommy said, “we just wanted to get it running.  Mechanically it is great – Dan did a great job with it.  Cosmetically we didn’t do much to it.  It is as it last ran.  We did vacuum up the cat fur out of the car though.  My cat loved to sleep in the drivers seat when I was recuperating from my injuries.  It was sort of my therapy buddy…”  Dan added that the car is “quite slow when compared to today’s racing, even to a current street car.  We only got a bit over 300 hp in it.  That’s not much anymore.”

Even though there is a featured make, there are also other stunning cars in the paddock.  In this case it wasn’t just IMSA.  There are always an interesting assembly of F-1 cars, from back when the cars were unique and different.  Even if the featured make isn’t your thing, it is still worth the effort.  Just make sure you’ve the funds to make it work.

Anyway, what I was able to do didn’t disappoint.  Sure, I’d have loved to have had more time at the track, but it just didn’t work out this time.  At least I got one day at the track.  Poor Brian Mitchell – he and his lovely wife Linda made the trip, only for her to take a tumble on a pedestrian bridge.  The result of the fall was a wickedly messed up leg with multiple breaks.  He spent more time in the hospital with her than he was able to be at the track.  She faces a long recovery time – sadly she had just retired from many years of teaching.  Keep them in your thoughts…

Gary Horrocks, August 2019