Monterey Car Week is perhaps best known for the high-buck coachwork that has made the trek to the Pebble Beach lawn each year for nearly seven decades. But for a certain breed of gearheads who would prefer to wear a crash helmet at a race track rather than a fedora at a golf course, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is undoubtedly the highlight of the event.
Held alongside Monterey Car Week since it was first established by Steve Earle in 1974, this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion brought more than 550 storied racing cars from across the globe to Laguna Seca to mix it up in class racing, just like they did back in their heydays.
As noted on the event site, each car granted racing entry from 1,000-plus applications that the organization receives is evaluated extensively to verify the entry's authenticity, race background, and period correctness.
Likely to be of particular note to European Car fans are the Group 2A, 5A, and 6B classes, which are comprised of 1955-1961 Sports Racing (under/over 2000cc) race cars; 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA, GT, GTX, and AAGT cars; and 1981-1991 IMSA GTO/GTU category cars, respectively.
A walk around the open paddock—which constantly crackles with the sweet sounds of old-school race engines—reveals everything from relatively humble Fiat Abarths and Triumph TR3As to race-winning Ferrari GTOs that are potentially worth tens of millions of dollars, and they're all at Laguna Seca to go wheel-to-wheel in a series of sprint races.
Porsche was out in force in Group 5A, as you might expect, taking three out of the five top positions in Saturday's race, while makes like Lotus, Maserati, and Jaguar traded positions in Group 2A, and the squared-off machines from 1980s IMSA racing revived a classic era of production competition in Group 6B.
Here's some of the stuff that caught our attention in the paddock, as well as some of the action from Turn 3, Turn 4, and Laguna Seca's world famous Corkscrew.
Originally purchased by Porsche Owners Club member Dale Hersh, this 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster was extensively campaigned in SCCA racing throughout the early 1960s. Powered by a 140hp, 1620cc flat-four, the 1,700-pound machine would take Dale to the top podium spot in the Pacific Division championship for the E Production class in 1965. The car is currently owned by Steve and Danielle Schmidt, who plan to campaign the Speedster in various vintage racing events in the near future.
Built by the Cooper Car Company in Surbiton, England, the "Monaco" debuted in late 1958. Named after the firm's Grand Prix victory in Monte Carlo earlier that year, this particular car was the third chassis produced as the Mark III version of the Monaco.
Built for U.K. driver Peter Berry, the car would eventually be piloted by none other than Bruce McLaren with a 2.7-liter Coventry-Climax FPF four-cylinder power plant under its finned bodywork.
Powered by a 2.7-liter, 270-horsepower flat-six with an 8,000 RPM redline, SCCA logbooks indicate that this 914 ran its first C Production race in May of 1972 at Laguna Seca, piloted by Richard Mandella, who had purchased the car new from Bozzani Porsche Audi in 1970.
The 914 would eventually transition over to the burgeoning IMSA series' GTU class racing before being put into storage in 1979.
One of 54 examples built by the factory, this Carrera RSR would take the IMSA GTO class championship in 1979 with American racer Howard Meister behind the wheel. Powered by a 3.0-liter flat-six producing 330 horsepower at 8000 RPM, this particular RSR was owned and campaigned by several famous drivers between 1977 and 1981.
The car would find its way into Chuck Kendall's collection in 1981, where it would stay until 1999. During that time Chuck's son, Trans Am racer Tommy Kendall, would occasionally use the car for driving schools.
Chassis M3 1/60 was purchased in 1986 by the Middlebridge Racing team, a Japanese-owned engineering firm based in England. After serving as a backup car in European events, the car was shipped to Japan to compete in the JTCC, where it would eventually end up in the hands of racer Anthony Reid.
Reid would pilot the car to a class win at the TI Circuit Aida race in August of 1993, along with half a dozen other podium finishes that season.
Originally campaigned by factory-owned racing team Autodelta, this is considered one of the most successful 1600 GTAs in Alfa Romeo's history.
Chassis no. AR 613.883 would take the class win at the 24 Hour Spa-Francochamps, as well as class wins at the Trento Bondone Hillclimb and the Coppa Alpe del Nevegal in 1968, and take another class win at 55th running of the Targa Florio in 1971 to go along with the six other notable podium finishes over the course of the car's racing career.