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North to Monterey – Laguna Seca with the Vette Set Racers
by Walt & Bonniegay Bacon
Friday – August 16th “Start your engines”
We have five (5) cars driving up today. Dick & Toni left Thursday and will be staying at their daughter’s house and will meet us at Laguna Seca on Saturday. Joining us from Lake Tahoe are our member friends Anita Jones and Mike who will meet us at our hotel - De Anza Inn - later this evening.
The rest of our group – ten in total - eagerly gathered at the “Original Pancake House”, Redondo Beach at 7:00 a.m.; yes… way too early for some; for fueling our tummies before our long drive north to Monterey. We are going up the historic and beautiful coast on Hwy. 1. Our destination is the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2013 in Monterey.
While at breakfast, our fearless leader – Jimmy B. - gave us a couple of Audiobooks and a cozy blue fleece blanket (gee does he know something we don’t know??) Previously he had provided maps and directions to our trip stops with timelines. His departing words, as I remember them were…. “we all know anything can happen along the way, so yell “stop” if you want to pause and see anything”. Jimmy B. had a couple of two-way radios and gave one to Carl and Carl had two older radios that couldn’t transmit but we could listen – they were all most helpful during the trip.
With full tanks and full tummies we departed Redondo Beach at 8:00 am. The weather was a typical South Bay morning - overcast with sun beginning to shine thru.
As we drive thru the beach cities Walt asks Bonniegay “What happens if we lose some due to the signals?” - She replied “they will have to catch up.”
In the lead car is driver Jimmy B., his navigator Annie; we are the 2nd car with driver Walt; Bonniegay as navigator ; the 3rd car is driver Perry, Kathy as navigator; the 4th car is driver Don, Marlis as navigator and the last car (5) is driver Colorado Carl, and Karen as navigator.
We are doing great staying together as we roll past LAX at 8:25 a.m.…great time Jimmy, but is this too fast in the city?? We continue up PCH to Lincoln, where we come up to a fellow in a l963/64 Ford Galaxie who is hanging half his upper torso out his window while banging on the side of his door…He is obviously having a good time and he smiles at all of us and waves…Maybe he’s having too much of a good time and we steer clear of him. We are all glad when he turns right on Maxella and we go straight to Washington Blvd make a left and go down some very cute old streets in Marina Del Rey and Venice. Very unique buildings along the way. Walt and I comment that we don’t think we have ever been down some of these streets. I now realize that this was just the beginning of where Jimmy B will lead us.
We are now on Abbott Kinny and Main then to Pico for one block then onto Ocean and the sign says will take us to the beach! Yeah…I love driving along the beach. We also have a fellow in a C-5 red pull up and ask where we are going? We tell him and invite him to come join us…he says he wishes he could but has to go to work. Bye-bye.
It is sunny now and we are all grateful we can drive our corvettes on this lovely day to Monterey.
Santa Monica Beach to Malibu
We reach Santa Monica Beach at 9:00am…gee Jimmy we are doing great time wise…and we are only driving with the speed of traffic. In the Malibu area, around Pepperdine, I notice it is just Jimmy and us…no one else in rear mirror??? Where did we lose them?? Maybe red lights?? Where’s Perry?? Where’s Don?? Where’s Colorado Carl?? We are going in and out of slight fog…I guess Jimmy and Walt left the others in the fog (dust). Walt is doing a good job of staying up with Jimmy’s 2011 ZR1 C-6 which is also a 638 HP turbo.
We continue going up Malibu coast hills and around corners and we finally see Perry roaring up behind us…catching up fast. Good job…But we still cannot see Don or Colorado Carl behind us??? By the time we reach La Piedra Beach Perry is right behind us. Now we can see way far back in the fog the cruising lights of Don and Carl so we know they will be with us shortly. Continuing along, in and out of slight fog, but more and more sun shines thru with deep blue sky above and we lose all fog when we reach Vista Point area, Sycamore Canyon, Point Mugu by the Sea Bee base. We wind around the hills along the beach, with beautiful scenery.
Point Mugu - Oxnard
We turn off at Los Posas Rd. to pick up 101 North. After we turn off…seeing no one around, Jimmy puts the pedal to the metal…floors it…puffs of smoke come out his exhaust letting Walt know he’s testing Walt’s reserve…and the ZR1 vs the 350 go zoom zoom zoom…Walt puts his pedal to the metal and we are right on Jimmy’s rear end quickly…he can’t lose us heehaw. At 9:54 a.m. we are at the Los Posas Rd. 101 North…the first planned pit stop. Jimmy tells Walt “you caught up to me fast”…Yup…the little C-4 runs pretty darn good.
We leave at 10:10AM and enter the Highway 101.
The Santa Barbara Stall
Leaving Los Posas Rd. the drivers remain the same except Bonniegay now driver and Walt as navigator. We continue up 101 north almost to Santa Barbara and we slow down, cars in front of us are braking…stopping…a dead stop, halt…What happened ahead of us??? We all wait and wait, Carl gets out of his car to see?? Nothing ..Carl takes some photos…Bonniegay doesn’t know if we should turn off engine or what?? Just as we would the cars start to move ahead slowly…An Ambulance, Fire truck go by down center shoulder…another ambulance down side road…we can see the turn off but we are all in the center lane and cannot get off…so we wait…and wait….Carl calls this the Mother of all traffic jams….the wait was about 45 min. Traffic starts moving…we are back up to speed but none of us can see any remnants of an accident so we still don’t know why??? It will remain a mystery.
Santa Ynez – Lake Cachuma Pass
We continue up 101N. to our turn off at #154 – about half way into Santa Barbara - so we take this short cut, which is also a beautiful scenic drive behind Santa Barbara into Santa Ynez Vally and catches up with the 101 again outside Los Olivis. The newer cars have an outside temp gauge and they said it read 94 in this Valley.
On to San Luis……
We connect again with the 101 N. passing thru mountains, valleys, lots of vineyards that are new to us since our last drive up here. The area has been developing fast all around here. Soon the sign says San Luis Obispo exit so we follow Jimmy off and he drives directly into a gas station…we follow. We all fill up and then venture across the street to the Apple Farm. It is a lovely old house, enlarged a lot and made into a B&B with a lovely restaurant and boutique inside. Jimmy has made reservations for 10 for lunch…even though it is 1:30pm now they have a table for us. We all have a yummy and big lunch, but before we leave, Carl and Annie stop for some treats from the bakery to bring along. During our lunch we all noted that we are now about 1 hour behind in our schedule due to the wait in SB. We are not too worried as we think we can make some of it up along the road.
This is a lovely area, SLO is nice and the old town is picturesque. Jimmy leads us out thru old town so we can all see it. When he gets to the road to pick up 101 and he pulls off to side to wait for all of us, to be sure we are all together. Walt, Perry, Don..yes we’re here but we don’t see Colorado Carl??? We wait a bit and Annie calls him…where are you Colorado Carl??? Oh he took 101 S. and he’s down in Avila Beach now…oh no…so we follow Jimmy on another back road that takes us in to Los Osos then over to Morro Bay thru the Bird Estuary, and patches of fog. But no sign of Carl??? We are going not to fast…so he can catch up…we see the on ramp for the #1 and we must take it…so we are hoping Carl will put his pedal to the metal a little to catch up. It is very pretty thru this region and I tell Walt it is like Huell Houser would say “amazing”…it is. In SLO Walt took over driving so I can take photos again…
North to Cambria
We continue thru Cayucos, Harmony - cute small beach towns along the coast. We pull off into Cambria…hoping Carl can catch us here. It is 3:50pm…as we drive slowly thru this artsy village we can see the Friday night visitors coming into stay. Jimmy pulls off at the last gas station…no no we don’t need gas, hoping Carl will come up to us. In the meanwhile this gives the girls a chance to do a little looking and shopping…we are good and stay right there, we don’t wander away. Annie gets a sweatshirt and Kathy got a cute one also. Jimmy tells us Carl is on his way in to Cambria now…we watch for him…no see him…???? We finally get in our cars and take off over the bridge without Carl…he’ll catch up?? But we want to go this way so we can drive thru Moonstone Beach area where all the B&B’s are here. It is right on the beach and a beautiful area.
Now it is 4:20pm and Jimmy assures us Carl will be up with us shortly. OK…We drive across to entrance to #1. The sign says Monterey 104 miles and Ragged Point is 26 miles…Somewhere along the way just after San Simeon we see Carl has caught up. Yeah Carl, so good to have you back with us.
Elephant Seals….it’s chilly
We stop at an area that is marked to see the Elephant Seals barking, mating, and just taking it easy. Kathy is really excited to see and hear them. We park, get out, oh…it is cold and very windy…get jackets….go to overlook and stare into ocean, we can hear them barking alright, but we can just barely see some in the kelp…way out there. It is an Elephant Seal Rookery. Jimmy laughs and says oh well, this is just a slight sea mist! We make this a quick stop, look and hear, take photos, and then jump back in our cars (like we are in a race…) back on the road headed North.
At this Barking Point stop the sign said Monterey…94 Miles and Ragged point …14 miles. We continue driving along coast in and out of curves, up and down hills and notice we are mostly going up…up…in elevation. It is a beautiful area also…In and out of sea mist (slight fog). We reach Ragged Point at 4:48pm. Out of cars, we all take photos, have a tinkle stop and enjoy stretching our legs a bit. What views from this place! Bonniegay starts walking down this path and everyone follows…oh, look, it says we can hike this path down to the beach…right here..??? Anyone want to??? We all would like to but see we are pressed for time we opt to just enjoy the view and take a few photos…In the parking lot I notice a sign that says “watch out for the squirrels”…I ask if they also have signs about the Raccoons??? The last time Walt and I were here we spent the night…a lovely place to be on your bucket list is a must do…but there were lots of Raccoons then???
Ragged Point is cool – but Big Sur is cooler!
We are not making up much time so we leave this are at 5:15pm and continue up #1. We are having fun with our friends and enjoying the lovely scenery. On to Big Sur, the fog bank is out over the ocean so it is not hindering our drive but we can see it right there next to us. We drive the curves and see the hills around us.
We go through Gordo…a cute one gas station, one store, one eatery town…very small…cute…Whole town is one block long.
Lots of coves along this drive with signs of hiking trails down to the beaches and hiking trails up into the hills and canyons. We are in the Los Padres National Park. I think we are in the highest point of it now as all I see are the tops of the mountains. I also notice lots of wire to hold the rocks in/on the hillsides. We see a sign that says “signal ahead”. Oh my now, why would they have a signal on this road way out here?? As we round the curve we see a huge crane and then…yes a signal…it’s a construction zone, men at work…building a huge tunnel bridge…it looks very much like the tunnel/bridges they have in Sicily along the side of mountains. It is big and looks very strong, enough to withstand several rain storms and maybe even earthquakes..?? WOW – what a tunnel bridge.
We come to another cute little town…Lucia…There is a lodge along the hillside; we can see it…the rest of the town is in the valley. We can’t see food or gas but we know it is around somewhere.
Sign now says Big Sur 24 miles, Monterey 55 miles .. It is 5:50pm and sunny. We cross over many bridges but I can’t see much of them, I ask Walt if anyone of the bridges is the famous Bixby Bridge?? He says no…its further north. We see signs of Julia Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Beach. As we come around another turn we put on our brakes as we see Perry and Jimmy both turned in left here…we follow…
Big Sur - Nepenthe
This is Nepenthe, Big Sur. It has a bohemian spirit and is very woodsy. We go up staircase to top…beautiful views…all around….you can see forever….It is also perched on the hillside looking south, but if you walk to end you can also see north. The restaurant has several umbrella shaded tables, and the men set up a long area so we sit on the cement shelves on one side and in chairs on the other, but all of us together…good job guys…:):):)
This is a perfect place for us to sit and chill out for an hour or so…. Jimmy indicated that in our routing plan he estimated that Nepenthe would be 300 miles from our starting point – he said that when he turned in the parking lot he was at 299.8 miles! Also, just a few miles
south is the Big Sur Lodge….a must to enjoy a meal in the glow of a fireplace, the calm of a mountain spring, in the midst of nature’s greatest redwoods……
The waiter asks what we want, first we order appetizers and drinks…we enjoy the atmosphere and the company…but in a bit the waiter asks if we want a table inside for ten?? Someone says yes…so I guess we are staying and having dinner… Its good and the views are spectacular. We enjoy the sunset and the solace offered at this most delightful spot. They have a shop downstairs called the Phoenix, we didn’t get to go in…no time…next time…We now we need to get back on the road again, it is dark, no street lights so here we go again!!!
Evening Drive to Monterey
Bonniegay says she’ll drive because she can see Walt is way too tired to drive now. But, she tells Jimmy she doesn’t like driving in the dark to places she doesn’t know where to go?? So please keep me in you lights.
We take off in a typical Jimmy hurry, like we are in the Vette Set’s own slalom course. Oh P.S. Jimmy…Bonniegay doesn’t like slalom courses. We all really depended on Jimmy to get us to our night’s castle as none of us knew how to get there. But good old Jimmy had it punched into his GPS , so we went thru small streets, lots of turns, a stop sign or two…up the long road and down onto Fremont…the street….like a carnival ride…to where BW De Anza Inn is located…Thank you Jimmy for guiding us….although you did take some of those streets rather fast. When we reached the hotel, Perry came up to Bonniegay and said” gee Bonniegay you really hauled ass”” excuse my French…I took that as the supreme compliment…even in the dark, no lights, no signs…but we are here ok.
At our castle
We arrived and checked in about 9:30pm at the Best Western.
Saturday August 17th – Laguna Seca – “A day at the races”
We all got up early to have a free breakfast at the hotel. It was very good. Then we talked about who was driving and who wanted to take the bus to the track? The bus? What bus? It turns out Jimmy figured out that we could leave our cars at the hotel and as long as we showed the bus driver our tickets, it was a free ride to Laguna Seca and back, and they depart every hour. Not a bad deal, so Belsons, Bacons, and Popovich’s picked the bus while Cewinski with his special parking and the Cockrehams, with the Corvette Corral pass drove their cars. We are all set, meet at appropriate places and go…Opps…Perry comes back to pick up Kathy…He tells us they would only let 150 Corvettes on the track at one time today and he was 151…so he can do it Sunday…OK…Now we’re off… Some by car, some by bus.
The bus takes about 20-30 minutes to get us there. That’s fine as we can see the traffic lined up to get in…It takes us right to gate #37 – better than if we drove.
Laguna Seca Track
WOW…WOW….this is a much bigger track that I thought it would be.
WOW…WOW…I hear cars are racing already….
We walk thru some of the Corvette Corral parking to get to entrance…and go in…the first stop is the new Corvette-area they have set up…WOW…nice cars… C-7’s, they also have the Camaro and some big GM trucks…
It is Jimmy, Don, Carl, Bonniegay and Perry. WOW again…lots of vendors and lots of sales booths and lots and lots of walking. Saw the Saleen, Camaros, saw some vintage show cars on display…Then we saw Carl and Karen, we think they just signed up for a pretty blue C-7…but wait, Karen likes the fancy race white one??? Such decisions???
Then we meet up with Dick Whitford. He shows us where we can take good photos and just then some big stingrays go by…the man in front of me says, you’ll need to hold your ears cause they’re loud…I laugh at him and say I like loud, loud is good…he looks at Walt and says, boy I wish my wife would say that. Walt just smiled.
We go to the National Corvette Museum (NCM) booth and buy some goodies and get our programs. While I shop, Dick explains to Walt that they are not really racing now, they are just warming up. The real race starts at 1:00pm after lunch.
After hearing this we decide we can leisurely stroll thru the paddock area and the pits and see all the cars, and possibly drivers and talk to them. We saw so many neat, cool cars…then Walt saw his very favorite…a Mercer Raceabout…1911-14 vintage…they have two here that are racing - cool. We see Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Trans-Ams, British cars, Morris, M.G’s, lots of European cars I didn’t know their name. Lots of things to see and do, too much for 1 day…glad we have two. As we walked around we also took some time to see the warm up laps going on at the same time, also found seats so Walt could rest once in a while. Although he was doing very well I thought.
We came across our friend Noel Park and his two race cars were all ready to go. He has a 1917 Chevrolet and a 1955 corvette he races. So we talked and wished him luck and I told him I’d take his picture so to wave as he passed the grandstands…He said OK…what a good sport…..Noel and his wife were members when the Vette Set was at Champion Chevrolet in Manhattan Beach.
We walked and walked to see all we could in the pits. I am sure all of our group did the same thing. We headed to the grandstands to find our seats. On the way we got Hot Dogs and drinks…the Hot dogs were different…inside French bread rolls…yummy…
The opening ceremonies started …we saw the parade of Corvettes, we saw the Hot Laps of the race school car…then the first real race…the Vintage cars…Pre-War cars…All of them were really fun to watch…they only go about 25-30 MPR. So they do 20 minutes on the course and someone keeps count of their laps…whoever does the most laps wins…
We saw then next three races…then decided if we were going to the special dinner event to night “Meet the Team”…so we better slowly start walking back to the bus. It was about 2:30pm.
We went thru the special 60 year display of Corvettes and on to Stingray Island. All the cars are just great. Way too many to add to this report as I know it is getting way too long now.
Back at the bus stop, here come Jimmy and Annie too…good…we get back to the Hotel at about 4:45pm and decide we will all meet in the Lobby at 5:00pm to run to bus stop, because driver said he’d take us to Embassy Suites where dinner event is being held if we were at bus stop by 5:15PM..that is his last pick up for the day…
GM Special Dinner
We all met in lobby at 5:00pm and walked over to bus stop. We agreed we’d probably just share a taxi van back later as the bus stops now. Boy there was a long line to get into this event….out the door…..then Carl notices, they only have two girls checking off names with reservations….soon they bring out three more ladies and have five at the checking desk. Meanwhile, Carl takes some photos of our ladies with the Michelin Man…fun… Dinner was amazingly good…for a banquet type event we had Tri-tip Steak, veggies, salad, and a yummy dessert…cake with a strawberry cream filling, and coffee.
Then the Team was announced and came up and spoke about the new C-7 . How it came about and why. They had a special recognition and presentation to Dick Gulstrand for all he’s done for / with Corvette. They held an auction for a framed signed drawing. And some other smaller items. All proceeds go to the NCM. This entire dinner event was put on by NCM. This was a very nice event and we were glad Perry suggested to Jimmy that we attend.
As we left, Marlis went out to hail us a cab/van…when someone in our group saw the Embassy Suites Van and suggested to her to go ask him about a ride for all of us. She did an amazing job and got him to take us all back to the BW Hotel after we were out about 2 blocks, he got a call on his radio from base…asking him where he was going??? He replied, oh, I”ll be right back Just a short trip for these nice people….We tipped him…..What a great job Marlis…
Sunday August 18th… “On our own”
Walt and I did a road trip to see Pacific Grove, the lighthouse, Monterey Cannery Row and the Wharf then back to the Hyatt where they had the Mecum Auction. Jimmy and Ann went to San Francisco. I did not hear what others did on Sun. or Mon. but on Sunday evening I know Colorado Carl and Anita and Mike went Bowling.…I think
I heard that Anita wants a rematch Carl..so I think Carl won.
Mike popped the question to Anita..
On Saturday evening I also heard that Mike and Anita got engaged! It
must be something in the Monterey water!
Congratulations…Mike & Anita
Monday August 19th “Back to LA or wherever”
We all went in different directions at different times to head home.
There were no incidents, problems, and everything worked out as planned. Everyone had a great time and we look forward to Laguna Seca in 2014.
Thank you Jimmy for arranging this great run for the Vette Set to enjoy.