El Cajon has new standing in vintage car racing

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In addition to being the hometown to NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, East County is home to many other successful drivers in other racing disciplines.

One who recently made a splash at a national level event is Jeff Gerken, general manager of BMW of El Cajon.

Competing in a series dedicated to vintage cars, Gerken placed second while racing in his 1973 BMW Alpha CSL, one of the world’s most prestigious cars in its class in the Historic Motor Sports Association.

In addition to being the hometown to NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, East County is home to many other successful drivers in other racing disciplines.

One who recently made a splash at a national level event is Jeff Gerken, general manager of BMW of El Cajon.

Competing in a series dedicated to vintage cars, Gerken placed second while racing in his 1973 BMW Alpha CSL, one of the world’s most prestigious cars in its class in the Historic Motor Sports Association.

“There were only 470 of them produced, of which about 47 are racecars,” said Gerken. “It has 400 horsepower and is the car which dethroned Porsche, which had won several world championships before BMW took the championship.”

Gerken loves being behind the wheel behind his classic automobile.

“I reached as high as what can be called as Triple-A Baseball in driving,” he noted. “Once I realized I wouldn’t become the world driving champion, I settled into the competition of vintage cars, which is extremely popular all across the country.”

In the recent Wisconsin event, more fans attended the Vintage event (some 40,000) rather than the main Indy-car circuit event (about 30,000).

“There is even an event here in San Diego each year,” Gerken added. “It’s held in Coronado at the Naval Air Station, where they close a runway to create a racing surface.”

“The Navy is thoroughly involved and is a great supporter of the event, which benefits a fund for military widows and their families.”

NAS North Island next hosts the weekend of racing with the 17th annual Coronado Speed Festival on Sept. 19-21. This year’s event celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, all in conjunction with Fleet Week San Diego.

Nickname the “Race at the Base” is the birthplace of Naval Aviation.

Gerken is thankful for being able to contribute while driving many of these legendary cars, many which are often more valuable than Indy or Formula-1 racing vehicles.

“My vocation is operating our local BMW dealership,” Gerken noted. “This gives me the opportunity for my avocation of racing. It’s been a gas.”

Another major event is the upcoming Monterey Auto Week, Aug. 11-17, in northern California, which will be televised on NBCSN.

For this, Gerken welcome the chance to be dedicated is his sport.

“It’s great fun racing against other drivers with decades of experience in some of the most historic vehicles ever manufactured,” he said.

Gerken is also known locally as the former girls basketball coach at El Capitan High School, once reaching the semifinals in CIF playoff competition while coaching his daughters along with 202-03 East County co-player of the year Jessica Cable.

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