|Being a film festival, of course there were films: great ones, good
ones, and some fun stuff, all of which were effectively the support fabric
of the event. Some, like Barry Landon’s very seldom seen classic
“Circuit” were rare glimpses of times gone, by while others, like “Sound
of Speed” directed by Bruce Kessler (who personally introduced his film
to the event) were regular expected/anticipated components of the event.
Joining in the been-there-done-that in person aspect of the movie
side of the event, producer Stuart Rowlands introduced his action-packed
“F1Comparo” DVD, former Riverside announcer Bruce Flanders talked about
making “Circuit” and Marilyn Fox went on stage to discuss her own unique
Legends Medals were presented to many drivers and special participants
who, for space reasons, we’re simply going to list alphabetically.
Many of their bios are on the Legends of Riverside website (and elsewhere).
We were proud to have had all of the following join us this year, and pre-apologize
if we miss anyone …
These are Champions, Legends, all: Tony “A2Z” Adamowicz, Toly Arutunoff,
Bob Bondurant, Dusty Brandel, Jeff Bucknum, Lois Bryant, Tim Considine,
Rod Campbell, Bruce Canepa, Jim Dittemore, John Dixon, Jerry Entin, Art
Evans, Bruce Flanders, Marilyn Fox, John Fitzpatrick, Elliot Forbes-Robinson,
Dave Friedman, George Follmer, Howden Ganley, Doctor Bret Ginther, Dan
Gurney, Gary Grove, Allen Grant, Jerry Grant, Dick Guldstrand, Eric Haga,
Phil Henny, Doug Hooper, Alice Hanks, Jim Jeffords, Chuck Jones, Davey
Jordan, Ed Justice, Jr., George Keck, Bruce Kessler, Bob Koveleski, Rick
Knoop, Bill Krause, Allen Kuhn, Jim Law, Pete Lyons, Brett Lunger, Michael
Lynch, Sherrie McDonald, Denise McCluggage, Tom Meehan, Bruce Meyer, John
Morton, Lothar Motschenbacher, Dave Nicholas, Ralph Ormsbee, Jim Parkinson,
Scooter Patrick, Don Pike, Joe Playan, Phil Remington, Martin Rudnow, Carroll
Shelby, Bob Schilling, Doctor Lou Sell, Tony Settember, Lew Spencer, Pam
Shatraw, Michael Schoen, Chic and Cris Vandagriff, Shin Yosihkawa, Dave
Wolin, and (what classic racing event would be complete without her?) Linda
Friday night’s family tributes to a number of drivers where were
gone but far from forgotten was both simple and touching. Family
members (some of them just babies when their famous fathers died) of Phil
Hill, Dave MacDonald, Ronnie Bucknum, and Richie Ginther all took turns
talking about these famous drivers not as fans, but as their children.
Bucknum, McDonald, and Hill’s wives all spoke about their husbands and
how much the unconditional support of the racing community has made in
In the main event Saturday evening, guest of honor Carroll Shelby
was skillfully interviewed by Ed Justice Jr. who put many questions rarely
asked before in public to the old Cobra Charmer. Shelby held the
audience entranced for a full forty minutes of very special reminiscences.
After the event many of the Shelby insiders in attendance admitted they
had never heard some of the stories that Shelby told that night!
Mister Shelby seemed to sense that he was among a group of friends and
really opened up.
A number of special awards and recognitions were handed out at the
event with Norma Jordan, one of the indefatigable behind-the-scenes event
workers caught totally off guard by being called up to receive the prestigious
Lee Iaccoca Award for her service on behalf of the event in particular
and for her personal dedication to the sport in general.
The 500cc Club of America’s Harry Morrow Award went to a trio of
individuals who were all part of the early days of 500cc racing on the
west coast: George Keck, Ralph Ormsbee, and Tom Meehan. Fittingly
three prior Morrow awardees (Bruce Kessler, Bob Schilling, and Bob Wenz)
were all on hand to present the elderly alloy Cooper Wheel to the 2010
Other honors went to Arlene Sidaris (Andy Sidaris’ widow) and Bruce
Kessler for their contributions to motorsports film and to Cobra photographer
Dave Friedman for his superb still work over the years.
Howden Ganley was announced at the first winner of the new Peter
Bryant “Challenger” Award. Ganley accepted the engineering award
from Bryant’s widow Lois. As many know Bryant died very suddenly
after returning home from last year’s “Legends” event. His memory
as a racing car designer is celebrated by this trophy which features pieces
the same metal that his famous Ti22 titanium race cars were crafted from.
Ganley, a mechanic who worked his way up from the race shop to a successful
driving career in the Can Am, Formula 1 and at Le Mans, was a friend and
colleague of Bryant’s, and indicated that he was quite humbled by the honor.
A fund raiser auction featured a number of very special personalized
items, photos, and prints and included an authentic COBRA cold weather
team jackets, a Shelby Setson hat, two specially-painted and autographed
Koveleski Kid Racers, and a helmet signed by all of the participants. A
very special “2601” guitar, created by “Guitar Man” Gilbert Cadena which
celebrated the Cobra team’s Fourth of July win and clinching of the
World Championship for GT cars in 1965. Two of the drivers of that
car were on hand at the event: Bob Bondurant and Allen Grant and both caught
the significance of the number on the guitar instantly. Understandably,
the guitar (signed by each of the legendary participants) fetched the highest
bid of the evening, an astonishing $4000.00 being the hammer number when
the smoke from the spirited bidding finally cleared off.
Earlier in the evening all of the people in attendance who had been
involved in F1 were asked to come forward for a group shot drivers, owners,
and crewpersons which filled the offstage area and had every camera in
the house blazing away.
This was really the archetype for the “you had to be there event”.
Hard to explain in so many (above) words. But heart-filling to be
a part of. Riverside Raceway turns out to be some sort of place that’s
exponentially greater than the sum of its parts. The stories, both
exultant and sad; the memories of sun, sand, and windburn; the way that
3.2 miles of asphalt effected so many lives is impossible to explain or
sum up in a few hundred words.
The best way that I can explain in personal terms: I’m an only
child, all of my close relatives have passed away long ago, I know that
I have a few cousins who’ve I lost contact with decades back. But,
there I was, over the weekend, at an old fashioned “family reunion” with
long-lost “relatives” all there, all celebrating the family that we were
… NO, that we are. I helped a bit to organize the event the
past two years, so this might sound a bit self-congratulatory, but it was
a lovely a weekend as I’ve ever spent … This is my real family, and we
were all there to celebrate each other. You simply can’t ask for
better than that.