Photo Captioned “Under the Bridge, Oct ’64, Laguna Seca.” Photograph taken by Cameron A. Warren, PO Box 428, Santa Barbara, CA. If you know how to contact Mr. Warren, please send an email to us using the link at the bottom of this page.

John Masterson driving his new Lotus 30 at the Monterey Grand Prix, Laguna Seca, October 18,1964.

John “Bat” Masterson

John “Bat” Masterson was a popular Southern California racer and a member of the family that ran Masterson Motors, a VW/Porsche dealership in Ventura, CA.

This is the car that Mike Spence was to drive in the 1964 Riverside 200 Times GP race, but due to engine problems, Spence was unable to qualify. John bought the Series 1 Lotus 30 (30/L/3) immediately after the 1964 Riverside 200 Times GP.

Working on John Masterson’s Lotus 30. Monterey GP at Laguna Seca, October 18,1964.

These photos were taken at the Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca on the following weekend, 18 Oct 1964. Unfortunately, John’s car spun out of control and crashed during practice for the race. John was seriously injured but recovered fully.

In John’s Own Words

John doesn’t remember much of what happened that day. Here in his own words, is his best recollection.

“Sunday is a day that I don’t remember.  Oh, I remember having waffles, bacon and eggs for breakfast, that the famous foggy mist of Monterey was heavy when we arrived at the pits but really, everything from then on is what someone has told me.  I am completely blank.  This is what supposedly happened. 

Crashed During Qualifying

Morning qualifying was the last chance to get into the afternoon event.  As I had not qualified earlier, I had to put the pedal to the metal.  Supposedly, after leaving turn 4 (old Laguna Seca configuration) I was hot on the loud pedal heading under the bridge towards #5.  A car (Lotus 23?) ahead of me had blown its engine and I hit the oil at 80-90 mph.  I lost it, tried to correct it but instead ended up hitting the concrete bridge.  It totaled the car and me.  My wife was back in the pits anxiously awaiting word. 

The amazing thing was the car didn’t catch fire.  If it had, I would be crisper than the mornings bacon.  Evidently I was drenched in fuel being that the driver is surrounded by fuel tanks.  Remember this is 60’s non-safety regulations. 

A good friend, Jerry Titus, offered to drive my wife to hospital in his BMW 2002.  She was told that I was dead or soon would be.  Months later, she told me that that short drive was the longest ride she NEVER wants to take again.  In fact, she refused to going racing with me afterwards, saying “Just have them call me when they know your true condition.”  I remember coming around to reality the following Thursday. 

Funny to say, but one of the first faces I remember seeing was my banker.  He professed concern over my health but I am sure he was worried about the loan.  Seemed the papers weren’t totally legal as the President of the corporation hadn’t signed on the loan.  (Much later, I signed up making me, not the Corporation, the one responsible for the $12,000.) 

My parents showed up about the same time.  They were vacationing in Arizona and read the headlines about my accident.  There are two ways to be a headliner.  I don’t recommend this way.  Anyway, they drove to Monterey immediately as the reports were very negative.  Really, all I ended up with were broken ribs, concussion, and bruised heart. 

How’s the 30?

My first question when I came out of the ether?  “How’s the 30?”  My thoughts? “Twelve grand in debt, no furniture, and my credit shut off in the parts department.  Where am I going to get my next race car?”

All Photos courtesy of John Masterson

Last Updated on March 30, 2021 by Kirk Keyes

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