Coronado Speed Festival 2012: Part One

Words by Matt Willis

If you’ve followed the blog for the past few years, you know that one of our favorite events to cover is the annual Coronado Speed Festival. It takes place down at North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado Island, and is a clash of historic road racing and the classic car community. It is also the finale in a series of events around the city to honor and appreciate the our locally-based Navy and armed forces, called ‘Fleet Week’.

Prior to the event, I went down to Rotary Plaza and got a sneak preview of some of the cars during the event procession. During this little gathering I spoke to one of the Mustang owners, who said “I take the car to a lot of events, a lot of races,” as he pointed to a bunch of decals on the car highlighting past classic car events, “but this one makes it worth all the time and money. The dedication that some of these people have, it’s just, you really don’t find that anywhere else.” I thought his remarks wrapped up the Speed Festival in a nutshell – it is truly the dedication and passion of all the participants that makes the event so great. The drivers and owners coming back year after year, the thousands of spectators that visit, the car clubs and show teams on display, and the Navy for opening their doors and allowing it all to come together…though there are bigger and more “in-the-spotlight” events in the scene, the Speed Festival, in my opinion, remains in a class of it’s own. And it’s true, you really don’t find anything like the Speed Festival anywhere else. Some of the cars that are raced out on the track are so rare and valuable, every time they come wide out of a corner I find myself cringing.

I had some free time on the Friday prior to race weekend, so I headed down late in the morning to check out what was stirring at the base. When I arrived, the paddock was full and the teams were already preparing their cars for duty. In the show car area, the parking areas were being marked off and out front, the aircraft static displays were being towed in. Very little action on the track, other than a few that decided to test early. I only stayed for a couple hours, but it was nice to get shots of everything without all the people around.

Anyways, this post will focus just on material from Friday. The next installments will be more extensive as we go into the weekend events…



A black GT3 RS 4.0 rolling through the paddock. I’ve never seen one in black before…


One of DEI’s actual cars, I believe circa early 2000s but its hard to tell. Still has the Winston Cup logo on it. Could not even ballpark how much it’s worth…


Sam Simpson and Dan Cowdrey rolling out to test their Titan Mk6 open-wheels.


Donald Stark heading out in his Lotus 23B.



This was definitely an eye-catcher and received a lot of attention throughout the weekend. It’s actually a ’89 Nissan S13 custom body equipped 4.0-liter Nissan V8.


And when I say “custom body”, I mean that the only thing on this car reminiscent of an S13 is the roof line. Everything else has, more or less, been modified or refabricated.










Interesting, but not surprising, to see an FR-S on pit support. Love the color.



Classic Cobra. Although I think they are meant to be somewhat aggressive cars, I can’t help but like the simplicity and homage to the original on this one.


Lola T-212






This Boss 302 that I see every year is still one of my favorite cars in the event.


Most of the teams were fully loaded on race fuel, tires and other necessities.


The Brecht Motorsports’ lineup.


As I headed over to the grid area, I saw this being hoisted off the track. Early difficulties, I suppose.


The drift cars were just getting set up in their area.


For the first time in a while, the cars doing the drift demo were different from the usual squad. There were even a few Formula D cars present.




This S15 is just awesome. Love the body work and the matching satin silver paint/wheel combo. This car has been out here a few times before, but its the only time of year I get to see and it truly doesn’t get old.


Torque those lug nuts!


Completely random arrangement…haha…




Nissan Bluebird…


One of the newest events at the Speed Festival is the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. The group features current-generation MX-5 Miatas with aspiring race drivers behind the wheel, most of them fairly young. One of them is even a San Diego local – Elliot Skeer from Carlsbad, CA – and this is his car being prepared.


Though I am definitely a Porsche fan, I’ve never been fond of the 914. But I do like the widebody kit on this…



On my way out, I caught this nice NA1 NSX rolling through.

Last year, the Speed Festival celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation (shown in this aircraft livery), which was pioneered at North Island. This year, they celebrated 50 years of the Navy Seals. They had a few aircraft on display that I decided to snap photos of, since nobody was really around but the pilots…

V-22 Osprey…



F-5E Tiger II, in Russian adversary paint…


F/A-18E Super Hornet of the VFA-86 Sidewinders…



I know it’s a shorter post, but I don’t want to comb into the Saturday action just yet, as I’m still getting it put together. The next part will be up very soon.

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Thanks for reading!

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