"Legends of Riverside II" A Big Success!!!

MARCH 26-28, 2010


Riverside, Calif. - - Many people who thought that the inaugural Legends of Riverside Film Festival and Gala in 2009 was a unforgettable event had to make some room in their memory files for Legends II this past weekend

Again the Riverside International Automotive Museum played host to a gala gathering of the greats and the faithful to renew old friendships, to remember the day, and to celebrate the camaraderie that made life and times at Riverside Raceway such an incandescent memory for so many.

Set over a picture-perfect weekend, the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday gathering featured hundreds of planned public moments and engendered thousands of private moments with some the true heroes of the twisting road.

Guest of honor Carroll Shelby with special guitar created by “Guitar Man” Gilbert Cadena which celebrated the Cobra team’s  Fourth of July win and clinching of the World Cham- pionship for GT cars in 1965. 
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 Can-Am videos. 

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 Vaughn.

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 their lives.

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 winners.

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. 

-Doug Stokes

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