The Goodguys AutoCross calendar draws entrants from across the country as it makes stops in ten states, and multiple re-visits. The caliber of competition and exhibition of machines was unparalleled as the the event descended on picturesque Southern California and the Del Mar Nationals.
Friday morning offered overcast coastal cover, and pleasant temperatures. In the morning gray, the early-bird competitors took the opportunity to walk the track and assess the corners they would be navigating by 8:00am. Pre-race preparations were underway as tire pressures we checked, and cars adjusted. The day saw only one mechanical casualty requiring a tow, but a number of fluid spills plagued the track.
The list of A-list drivers was staggering and included “Fast” Mary Pozzi, Al Unser Jr., Robby Unser, Greg Thurmond, and Scott Fraser. These drivers put on a spectacle of compounding intensity as the day progressed, topping each others’ fast times repeatedly. The magnitude of driving skill was matched only by the quality of vehicles which propelled them.
When the dust cleared at the end of the weekend, the Unser clan of famed motorsports diversity and pedigree occupied the fourth and fifth spots of the Pro Class. Cousin to the man and legend, Robby Unser barely edged out his familial competitor “Little Al” Unser Jr. with a margin of .084 seconds. With such a narrow margin, we’re sure Al wishes he’d sidelined his passenger despite the ear to ear grin they were both wearing.
Mary Pozzi, queen of the autocross put on a clinic for the boys — she piloted her ’72 Camaro to clean run after clean run, and just when we thought she couldn’t best a time she’d go out an find a few more seconds. On a 60-second average track time over two laps, shaving time like that shows determination, focus and skill.
Pozzi, ever the jovial lady in the pits was keen to keep herself in the lead but merited a bronze finish.
Her attitude and humble nature at the event tempered the competition and reminded us how fun and welcoming an environment the Goodguys AutoCross is. Throughout the day Pozzi sat shotgun on other drivers’ runs to lend a few pointers, and results were obvious. Novice drivers were seen to best there personal records by seconds after her tutelage.
Pozzi’s final time was 55.754 seconds, and was hard fought — trailing the silver and gold spots by mere tenths.
Finishing second in the pro class was the iridescent-orange ’65 Fastback Corvette of Greg Thurmond built by his company GTS Customs. The attitude of this classic ‘Vette was a pleasant departure from the concours-perfection and originality exhibited by most examples of America’s Sports car. Custom painted graphics spill over the hood scoop and make for a mean facade.
Thurmond laid down a 55.647 time leading Pozzi by just over a tenth, and trailing the winner by .922 seconds. After a flurry of clementine colored runs through the cones, Thurmond had to concede for second position.
The man of the day was Scott Fraser driving a thoroughly-built ’66 Shelby Cobra, no plastic fantastic kit car, real British aluminum and Ford power. Wheeling an example of motorsports history this serious, around a course lined with unforgiving K-rails will make most collectors grimace — but Fraser left sentimentality at the gate and gave it all he had.
The rough little Cobra was unassuming at first glance, with so many facsimiles diluting the market, these legendary cars have become pedestrian — but this specimen reminded us what they really stand for. In the hands of Fraser the Cobra ran an untouchable 54.725, nearly a full second faster than second place.
Other notable runs of the day included the original Mini of Brad Winter, while not fast on the straights, railed it’s way through the corners — making full use of the short wheel-base and nimble handling. The Gulf-liveried, Factory Five Daytona Prototype of Pat Sheely made for colorful and nostalgic viewing and the ’68 AMX of Bob Gawlik brought some delightfully offbeat styling to the party.
Beyond the scads of early American Muscle was the humble VW-powered buggy of Mike Ahlstrom, just here to run for fun this budget Meyers-inspired buggy ran a time befitting of vehicles in the pro class at a fraction of the cost. Ahlstrom ran 57.564 seconds in his best run and shocked the field.
The event was full of great time trial racing around the cones, a diverse field of cars, and a friendly atmosphere. We stopped in to chat with a few of our favorite picks form the event, look for our in depth review with them!