Vintage cars, a storied racetrack and a grand setting.
All of which makes Pacific Raceways a fitting back yard for drivers, mechanics and fans yearning to see yesteryear racing.
Kent’s 10-turn, 2.25-mile road course comes to life with horsepower blasts from the past with the 31st annual Pacific Northwest Historics (PNWH) vintage auto races July 5-7. The show-and-tell race showcase, known world wide, is considered one of the largest and most prestigious stops on the national vintage race-car calendar.
Pacific Northwest Historics Vintage Racing Charities and the Society of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts (SOVREN) present the three-day program, a benefit for Seattle Children’s, with the majority of the proceeds supporting uncompensated care at the hospital.
The field includes 300-plus entries of all makes and models, featuring many of the world’s rarest and most pristine pre-1985 race cars.
“One way people describe it is ‘we’re not just collecting art, we’re racing it,’ because these cars are art,” said Martin Rudow, a former racer, president of the PNWH and past president of SOVREN. “They’re beautiful pieces of machinery, and much more so now than then. Now, cars are much more utilitarian. In those days, a lot more went into the design of the car, its aesthetics, and that’s something that we really celebrate.”
True to tradition, the vintage race program brings out fan-favorite marques BMW, Mustangs, Camaros, Porsches, Alfa Romeos and Ferrari. Corvettes and Camaros will give chase. Even unheralded race cars – like Marcos, Devin, and Piper – will appear.
Car owners and tuners come from throughout the Pacific Northwest, along the West Coast and Canada.
Most of the machines are in mint condition through extensive restoration, and many attain straightaway speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour.
But vintage car racing isn’t about going wheel-to-wheel or challenging the leader bumper-to-bumper through tight corners and narrow passing zones in the straightaway.
“It’s hard racing but it’s not running somebody into the wall or pushing them off the track … that kind of thing,” Rudow said. “A lot of cars out there will be driven hard and fast, but in vintage racing there’s a lot more respect for the vehicles than there are for other types of racing.”
The weekend celebrates the 50th anniversary of IMSA racing, a popular and premier sports car racing series that grew and thrived over five decades.
“It was the biggest thing in road racing,” Rudow added. “It had the biggest races and the wildest cars.”
Rudow encourages fans to take in the road course from all viewpoints, visit the paddock and pit area and see the cars and drivers up close between races.
The stop at Pacific Raceways is a family-friendly experience, a time to revere racing’s past, Rudow said.
“It’s a great tribute to all the great days in motor racing,” he said. “Nowadays is great, too, but these were really fabulous days with wonderful cars and big personalities. It is a salute to all of that.”
• Event: 31st annual Pacific Northwest Historics vintage auto races
• Track: Pacific Raceways, 31001 144th Ave. SE, Kent
• Schedule: July 5-7. Gates open each day at 8:30 a.m., qualifying in the morning and racing in the afternoon, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.
• Field: Featuring pre-1985 race cars. Favorite marques include BMW, Mustangs, Camaros, Porsches, Alfa Romeos and Ferrari. Celebrating 50 years of IMSA Racing
• Special guests: Kathy Rude, the first woman to capture an IMSA class win (1982 at the 24 Hours of Daytona). Mitch Bishop, son of IMSA founder John Bishop, who is an active racer and author of a new book, “IMSA 1969-1989.”
• Admission: Adults: $25 one-day pass Friday, Saturday or Sunday, $40 multiple day pass; children ages 7-16: $5 per day; children 6 years and under are free; military with identification $10 per day.