Photo: Bob Heathcote.
Each year the best of the best in historic and authentic race cars from nearly every decade are among the 550 invited to compete at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, to be held Aug. 17th-20th. Likened to a museum that springs to life each August at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the scenic Californian Monterey Peninsula, the cars are always the stars.
With more than 900-requests for entry for the limited field, the task of researching each entry request goes to a seven-person Governing Committee who meet regularly to pore over each car’s credentials to ensure authenticity. Cars are accepted based on their provenance, period-correctness – both in livery and mechanicals – to ensure the cars are proper. The intent of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion from its very beginning is to celebrate motorsports history and the entered cars’ heritage. The spirit, history and intent of the car’s original constructor always takes precedence for the Governing Committee. This is why replicas, tribute or continuation cars are simply not allowed.
Entrants take great pride in racing and presenting their car on and off the track in their paddock pit space for visitors to enjoy. Yet before they reach the green flag, each car must go through a scrutineering process by technicians from the Historic Motor Sports Association. This knowledgeable team inspects everything from drive trains and suspensions to correct tires for which the car was accepted to the general condition of the car, including safety features. Moreover, they ensure cars are period-correct in appearance, such as no modern day advertising.
Because of the strict adherence to authenticity, the diversity of the field is represented by the range of years competing in the 15 groups. From Group 1A’s 1911 National Speedway with its 50 horsepower that will be driven by Charles Test III, the great grandson of the National Car Company’s founder and president, to the “newest” car racing in Group 8A, the 1992 Nissan NPT91 that boasts 750 horsepower that won four straight GTP championships from 1988-1991.
This year is a special one for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary. As such, there will be myriad activities throughout the marketplace and paddock that celebrates the iconic facility that has hosted many of the greatest drivers of all time. Danish sports car driving legend and nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen will be the featured guest on Saturday for the annual Picnic in the Paddock where he will be meeting fans and sharing racing anecdotes.
Complementing the on-track racing will be 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button who will be driving spirited exhibition laps in the McLaren M23 that Emerson Fittipaldi drove on his way to win the 1974 Formula One world championship.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is one of the cornerstones of the world-renowned Monterey Classic Car Week. The largest series of events held annually in the coastal community, visitors worldwide descend on the area to enjoy the historic cars in action and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, along with the supporting activities that comprise the vibrant motoring week.