Coronado Speed Festival Highlights

Fleet Week is San Diego’s annual celebration of cool military toys and includes a unique historic race on the old Coronado Naval Air Base runway.  Like most everything in San Diego – the Speed Festival is a laid-back affair and seems more like a local car show than a big time race- but lots of cool cars show up and the racing is fun to watch.  Vintage racing is often times compared more to a parade than a real race due to the extremely high cost of wrecking one of these classics and the often questionable capabilities of the affluent guys behind the wheel – this can be forgiven the moment you hear, see and smell them on track.

A 1969 Mustang Boss 302 turns onto the main straight.

Modern race cars tend to be so stiffly sprung that minimal body roll can be seen by spectators- static photos of the cars look like they are in a parking lot.  This isn’t true with a vintage Trans Am car – especially when the rear end needs to be softened so that it can put down gobs of horsepower from high strung 5 liter V8s and it lifts the front wheel exiting turns.

1917 Chevrolet 490 Speedster with 2.8 liter engine.

But often more remarkable are the ancient pre-war machines out pounding the tarmac such as this 1917 Chevrolet.  The Chevrolet 490 Speedster was a crowd favorite and so slow that the driver would take turns waving with his left hand to the cheering grandstands and pointing faster traffic by on the right.

Faster traffic! A 1960 BMC-Huffaker Forumla Jr w/ 1100cc inline 4.

The Chevy was lapped multiple times by its competitors but it didn’t seem to affect the attitude of the driver who seemed to enjoy racing as much as the spectators enjoyed seeing it.  It is always good to see old race cars being used for what they were created – instead of wasting away in a museum.

1968 Porsche 911 2.0 liter flat-6 in Gulf Livery always makes a nice photo

The Speed Festival runs 9 different run groups -mostly 50s and 60s machines and tries to put similarly fast cars together.  A trip to the pits is always fun at a vintage event because they are open to the public and give you a chance to get up close to some seriously sweet cars.

Navy SEAL parachute team during a demonstration.

Sunday’s race groups were introduced by a flyby of some vintage and modern Naval aircraft and a particularly good display of precision by the Navy SEAL parachute team “the Leapfrogs.”  SEALS have been riding a tide of celebrity status since the Osama bin Laden raid and the crowd gave them multiple standing ovations.

Trans Am 1970 Dodge Challenger w 5.0 liter V8

We snapped a number of photographs of cars on track, in the paddock and pits – see our flickr album here: