Thornton Sweeps the Weekend with Masters Historic Formula One Sunday Race Win at Rolex Monterey Reunion
Greg Thornton again checked out from the crowd in the Masters Historic Formula One Sunday race here at the Rolex Monterey Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Driving his ex-Elio de Angelis Lotus 91/5, Thornton’s flag to flag win made for a sweep of the weekend’s two races including pole position. A well tendered drive from the back by runner-up Erich Joiner, was left wondering ‘what could have been’ had his transpond-er worked during Friday qualifying.
Thornton powered away at the start from Ethan Shippert’s Tyrrell 010 from the line, followed by the thunder of 16 Ford Cosworth DFVs. Missing from the grid today were Bud Moeller’s Ensign MN179 and Chris Farrell’s March 821 which suffered engine blow ups yesterday. Thornton was running a fresh DFV from the beginning of the weekend. Again, sunny skies and moderate tem-peratures made for a spectacular show. The group completed 13 laps in the 20-minute session.
“It was on rails this weekend,” declared Thornton as he celebrated the sweep in his paddock. “The boys told me to slow it down a bit, so I took a second off it and just brought her home.” An engineer by trade, Thornton was very analytical, “The track was slick all weekend. Last weekend I watched other cars on slicks, coming out of the final corner (turn 11) and losing grip. To make up time, I put the load on the fronts and gently eased the throttle.”
Two stellar drives by Erich Joiner in the Williams FW08C both Saturday and Sunday resulted in fourth and second places respectively. “I would have liked to know what would have happened had we started from the front row,” pondered the runner up. “When you start last you just keep passing cars. I just tried to have fun. Yesterday I made some risky passes, but today I just really tried to pick my moments.” Joiner also races a Porsche professionally in the Blancpain GT World Challenge series.
Great scraps continued throughout the field. Once again, the Arrows A6 of Chris Bender and ex-Brett Lunger McLaren M23 of Danny Baker ran close until the Arrows expired with a mechanical on lap 10. Steve Hartley in the Arrows A4 was also in the fray until retiring on Lap 7.
Martin Lauber caught Shippert for second place on Lap 9, then Shippert faded and retired. Lauber blew up with a lap to go, ceding second place to James Hagan in the Tyrrell 011 — who was then passed by Joiner. Steve Romak took his class win in the Fittipaldi class and finished 4th overall.
The field of Masters Historic Formula One cars, while all running Cosworth DFV motors, repre-sented a diverse and special era from the mid-1970s to the early 1980’s where a team of twelve or so people could fabricate a car, buy a customer motor and competitively go racing in the world’s top-elite series. The oldest cars in this weekend’s field included the high-airbox 1974 Shadow DN3, owned and run by Harin de Silva; a 1975 Hill GH1, run by Brad Hoyt; and a 1976 Penske PC4, run by Doug Mockett. The relative newest were Joiner’s 1983 Williams; and Bend-er’s 1983 Arrows.
The series next heads to Circuit of the Americas November 1-3, where it will be a historic support race for the Formula One United States Grand Prix.