For the third time this year, Sub5Zero traveled once again to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, home of the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Each year, around the 3rd week of August, the Peninsula plays host to dozens of car-related events – including what is probably our favorite, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
Over the course of 2 days, more than 500 cars, divided into 17 race groups, each took part in 2 20-minute races. Cars varied from a 1907 Renault Grand Prix car, to Mazda IMSA GT Prototypes from the early 1990’s.
Group 2B featured the 1958-63 Formula Junior cars. Many of the cars in this group were built by famous marques such as Lotus, Cooper, Brabham, and Lola. The car pictured above, a Lotus 18/21, was driven in 1961 by none other than Sir Stirling Moss. He took the car to victory at two events, including the famous Brands Hatch circuit. This Lotus was also driven the following year by Graham Hill – who was Formula 1 Champion that year. In those days, it was not uncommon for a Formula 1 driver to participate in other racing events during the season, something that I’m sure is strongly forbidden by modern-day Formula 1 driver contracts.
The fire-spewing machine in the photo above is a Mazda 787, which was the last rotary-powered car to ever compete in the World Sportscar Championship. In 1991, a slightly modified version of this car, the 787B, was the only car from a Japanese marque to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A total of only 5 787’s and 787B’s were built – and we believe a few replicas as well. The car seen at Laguna Seca this week may have been one of these replicas, but it still looked and sounded phenomenal to us.
Every car enthusiast has a list of cars they dreamt about growing up. The BMW M1 is one that I’m sure was on many of our lists. The M1 was first designed to compete in Group 4 of the World Sportscar Championship. In order to support the homologation requirements for that series – a little over 400 street versions of the car were also built. It is still to date – the only mid-engine BMW to be mass-produced. The M1 also competed in the Procar Championship – a one-make series that ran in support for Formula 1 races in 1979 and 1980. In each race – top Formula 1 drivers competed against local drivers from each stop in the Formula 1 calendar. The Procar series only survived for two years, with Niki Lauda winning the inaugural season and Nelson Piquet its last. The M1 in the photo above competed in the IMSA GTO category, in events such as the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Ferraris are always a fan favorite at most motorsports events. This year’s Reunion featured many pristine examples of the historic marque. The car pictured above was part of Group 4A – 1955-62 GT cars. This group featured everything from Lotus to Alfa Romeos, and quite a number of other Ferraris. This car, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Competizione, and like many cars racing this past weekend, is worth north of $1 million dollars. But that didn’t stop this and many others of similar value from racing hard throughout the weekend.
As many of you know, Carroll Shelby passed away in May of this year. Even before his passing, Shelby’s cars had been chosen as the featured marque for this year’s Reunion event. Group 3A was one of the most anticipated groups to take to the track this weekend – featuring over 40 of Shelby’s creations. The car seen leading the group is a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe – one of only 6 ever built. A second Daytona Coupe was also at the track – inside Ford’s display featuring such historic Shelby Cobras as the original prototype, and the first production model. The Daytona Coupe in the Historic display was the actual car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965, the Daytona 24 Hours, as well as the 12 Hours of Sebring that year. It was driven Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant, among others. Rob Walton drove the Daytona Coupe pictured above. And in case you are wondering, yes – it is that Walton family. Wal-Mart anyone?
In all – it was another fabulous day at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Once again we cannot thank the track’s team enough for their hospitality. Each year, Laguna Seca hosts many great events, but the Reunion continues to be one of our favorites. It is simply difficult to match the variety of cars and the non-stop track activity. And not much can beat seeing racecars that are more than 100 years old, and a few hours later on the same track – a Le Mans prototype. We’ll be back to Laguna Seca soon for one more event this year. Stay tuned for our coverage of the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival – featuring the Grand-Am Sports Car Series.