Three weeks off from the show, but we still have been busy…Project Nickel and Dime (Davis’ 1967 Mustang), Belmont Car Show, new look for the website, SEMA news, SEMA Action Network, Project Street Legal..and more! Might actually have time in October to get some stuff done.
Getting up at 4 a.m. and driving for two hours can be a chore, but trying to get on an active U.S. Navy base before it opens to the public is almost completely impossible. We had some problems last year as well when we attended the Coronado Speed Fest vintage races. This year, we thought we had outsmarted the gate security by showing up at 7 a.m. when the base would open up to the public. We were wrong. The base opened at 8 and we had a mandatory media meeting at 7:30. Our names were not on the media list as promised, so we got bounced around the gates for 20 minutes. Common sense prevailed and we were finally allowed to enter the base. We drove past the low information volunteer directing traffic for the media parking lot. We were now late.
The double-backing from booth to booth without wristbands, hand stamps and double security checks finally paid off at exactly 8 a.m. when the first group of race cars left the staging lanes. We hastened to turn 9 to watch the group make its rounds and started working the shutter buttons on the DSLR and video cameras.
We had arrived.
This was the 17th annual Coronado Speed Fest on Coronado Island in California across the bay from San Diego. We noticed on our trek to the road course that there were fewer racecars in the pits and less spectators than last year. The attendance did pick up slowly and by lunchtime, the stands were mostly full. The car show area contained fewer classics and muscle cars from year’s past, but seemingly had more late model imports. There was a stronger presence of local car clubs who rolled in a bit later than the 8 a.m. time slot. At least they got decent parking spots. Don’t get me wrong, the few cars that did attend the show, were spot on beautiful. Throw in a few Ferrari’s, vintage Porsche’s and some vintage Detroit steel muscle, it was still amazing.
The military displays of helicopters, trucks and amphibious vehicles were all open for the public to sit in and to be topics of discussion with the Navy veterans. Some of these guys look like kids, talk about feeling old. “Wish I had one of those” a helicopter pilot said as we watched an early, mean, gloss black 73 Dodge Charger roll out of the parking lot. That’s a gearhead in the military. Also of interest for the military, was the Pit Crew Challenge. 16 groups of 10 active military personnel participated in changing four wheels on newer NASCAR track cars, which included an all-out dash push/run for some 40 feet to the finish line. They did the task in about a minute. If you wanted to tour a retired aircraft carrier, you could take a bus to the U.S. Midway.
Back at the track, we captured some ridiculous number of images and then it happened. Yes, Group 4 had some traffic and some unwanted results. A former GT series car and Porsche managed to meet and resulted with the Porsche getting all four wheels off the ground. Two cars simply cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Out came the black flag and as per the track rules, the driver would be banned from future events for a year. Nobody was hurt, except for the checkbook.
We love the vintage NASCAR class but wished the 72 Richard Petty Dodge Charger made the field. Too bad there are no pics of number 43 for you. The vintage Trans Am and Production B classes feature mostly small block factory Chevy’s and Fords, but they just sound great with the unrestricted exhaust. This is kind of a good change of pace for us since we shoot a lot of drag racing here in Southern California.
We walked the pits, shot more pics of the relatively empty lot and packed up for the longer drive home with traffic. Next year? Probably not. We’ll try something new like Monterey or Buttonwillow towards the middle of the state. Change is good, easy entrance is golden.