Calling all Classic and Indy car racing fans

It’s that time of year again, and I’ll be moved and settled in just in time for my two favorite auto races. First, I’ll do one day, Saturday, August 15th, at Laguna Seca at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Second, I’ll do all three days, Friday, August 28 through Sunday, August 30, at the Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma, which will be the last and deciding race for this year’s Verizon INDYCAR series championship. GO, HELIO!

And here’s the exciting part for YOU! I would love to find a race car fan to go with me. Friends and relatives are eligible. Even new friends if you’re the companionable sort. A single ticket (pre-purchased) for Laguna Seca is $80 and you have to be a very early bird willing to drive down at the crack of dawn the morning of the race to get parking. I already have purchased two 3-day tickets for Sonoma and price depends on which day(s) you chose to attend and how close a friend you are (hint, hint!). Friday is practice, Saturday qualifying, and Sunday the race itself. Very exciting track–I’ve done three amazing and very scary charity laps on this track on two different occasions.

Here are some photos and videos from prior years to whet your appetite.


Pit passes enable you to go on the track just before the start.

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My “date” last year!

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Not quite the real thing

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Explore the paddock at Laguna Seca


Name this VERY famous driver!


With my favorite driver. Go Helio!


The vintage cars on the track.

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Helio’s pit at Sonoma

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On losing weight and buying cars…

I know that other women get serious about losing weight when they start to salivate over a slinky new dress or want to look gorgeous for an upcoming wedding or be presentable at the beach. But not me. I think about whether I can fit into the car I want to buy. Right now I have a perfectly good KIA Optima which has plenty of room, sort of an automotive version of Not-Your-Daughter’s-Jeans. For those behind the times, NYDJ is the upscale très cher brand sold at Nordstrom’s with enough spandex woven in to bridge the gap between what size you think you are and what size you actually are.

MercedesI’ve never quite gotten over the fact that at age twenty-two, I owned a 190SL and could easily slide my then svelte body into its red leather seats and drive from San Diego to Illinois along Route 66 without a care.

Now I’m almost fifty more years down the road of life and I want a sports car again.

Honda S2000So off I went last week to look at a Honda S2000 which stopped production in 2009. It’s like a Miata’s much better-looking older sister with a tiger under the hood. I eyeballed it carefully as the salesman escorted me to the lot. Then I gingerly lifted one leg and squeezed myself into the seat. You know how bucket seats have raised edges–well, those protuberances felt like spikes sticking into my ample derriere, threatening to set off a major bout of sciatica. I extricated myself as gracefully as possible, relieved that the car’s battery was dead–my excuse for not taking a test drive. I’m sure the salesman had a momentary scary thought that he was going to have to bring in a crane.

2007_porsche_cayman_coupe_base_fq_oem_4_500But back in the showroom was a charcoal gray 2007 Porsche Cayman, with all the dangerous moves and fast-snapping speed of its namesake, the caiman alligator. It appeared roomier and I took the chance. Sliding in comfortably and with the smell of leather in my nostrils, I took to the highway. It sprang to life, although the dark tinted windows all around made me feel like I had just joined the subterranean world of drug lords. Aveline & Estelle April 2014

Price was right but the little upturned faces of my two and four-year-old granddaughters flashed before my eyes. They would want to ride in Mimi’s car but would be denied. How could that ever work!

MiniSo today I found a compromise. A brand new 2015 MINI 4-door hardtop. A entirely new model this year for those wanting easier access to the back seat without the clunky appearance of the Countryman. And in my favorite color Volcanic Orange with a black top plus a sunroof, automatic transmission and enough power, especially in Sports Mode, produced by its 2.0 Liter 4-Cylinder Engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo 189 HP engine to make you believe you’ve got your foot on the pedal of a sports car. Would have snapped it up on the spot but my daughter stepped in and brought me back to reality. I had gone in thinking I would take advantage of a real deal–but that was, of course, on the 2014 models. Isn’t it always true that you think you’ll buy the stuff of sale but see the new stuff and succumb? So although they were willing to deal, I need to wait 6 months until my lease is up on the KIA–big bucks to get out of leases early.

And, in the meantime, I can lose a few more pounds so that this smart and sassy little Volcanic Orange MINI will fit Mimi like a glove.


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The Maserati Alfieri Concept car in the early morning fog

A great time at the 2014 Rolex Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca. Drove down from the Bay Area at the crack of dawn to get a good parking space. I was delayed by a big spill of tomatoes on the freeway but because the track was fogged in still arrived in time for the first race run. Found a very wet seat in my favorite stands by Turn 4. By 10 am the seats and the track had dried out. Enjoyed taking a little Track Taxi (run by Veterans to raise funds for Wounded Vets) up to top of the track where you can see a view of the entire track off one side of the hill and see the race cars zoom through the corkscrew turn on the other. The Mark this year was Maserati and it was great to see both the classic versions and this stunning new Alfieri Concept.

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After the race maintenance

Under heavy fog Group 3B Can-Am comes out to play including Craig Bennett in his 1974 Shadow DN4 (scroll down through the photos on this Sports Car Digest article). On the left is a photo I took after the race with the chassis exposed for some repair work. I’d also seen this car up at Sonoma last spring. Great to watch it pull away from the rest of field here at Laguna Seca.

So much fun watching classic race cars zoom through the corkscrew at the top of the hill on a pace lap.

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My friends weren’t able to make it, but never fear, I met a really great guy. Big and fluffy! And hel’ll never give me any back talk!


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Look this one up to see the sponsor!!

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My favorite gull-wing classic

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Read all about this Alfa in the photo below

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Beef brisket enchiladas. The best in Mex California cuisine

2014-08-17 15.27.44I hit the road in the early afternoon in order to stop at my favorite restaurant in Willow Glen.



But look what I missed by leaving early!  Right in front of the stands where I had been sitting. A wheel flying into the stands.



Thelma and Louise

hot summer nights

Ah, summer! And Danville, California’s Hot Summer Nights Hot Rod & Classic Car Show. Row after row of the cars we all necked in the back seat of back in the Fifties or wished we could ride in but were too dorky to snag the cool guys who drove them.


Mergy I’ve been a car buff since I got my very first car at age 16, a Morris Minor that seemed more like a blue-gray pre-pubescent VW Bug. Of course, I didn’t even drive stick shift on that 16th birthday day and poor “Mergy”–named after my dread of merging into freeway traffic–suffered the arrows and slings of grinding gears for several weeks. But once mastered, Mergy became THE mode of transportation for me and my three best high school friends. It took us to evenings at Oscar’s, the local drive-in restaurant, where root beers and french fries sat on metal trays attached to the window. In my college years, it made the trip up and down the coast of CA to college at Stanford and then UC Berkeley (yes, I went one year each to both of these rivals, causing each to lose Big Game when I attended!).

MercedesUpon graduation from college (by then it was San Diego State, and, yes, much to my mother’s chagrin another school was interposed in between), I somehow talked said mother into car number two, a stunning 1959 Mercedes Benz 190SL. This photo was taken in 1965 just before I drove back to graduate school at the University of Illinois via Route 66. And the thrill of driving the last leg from Salinas, Kansas, without reverse, 1st, or 2nd, and no starting motor. Found a motel on a hill and popped the clutch in 3rd that last morning of the journey.

Alas, the Mercedes succumbed to the evils of Midwestern winters (sold it for $3000 to my father’s milkman–now worth $95,000!) but it was replaced by a 1966 green Mustang, another classic I wish I still had. Check out this ad1966 Ford Mustang Ad-01 from the era.

My era of cool cars disappeared as I entered into marital bliss and was talked into a 1968 Plymouth Fury III in a sickening pea green combo.plymouth But it did have a hot motor to help us escape from the Hawk (the wind blowing off Lake Michigan in the winter).

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THELMA & LOUISE about to go on the lam!

So back to the car show which I attended with my best friend. The owner of a too-cool Thunderbird took pity on us poor old ladies without a ride of their own and took these great photos. So here we are–Thelma and Louise. I actually was hankering after a Jaguar Mark II (of Inspector Morse fame) and my friend got hung up on hood ornaments!

Maybe next year I’ll have my own entry for the show.

hot summer nights

LAVERNE & SHIRLEY at the drive-in!