Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2016 | As Good As Time Traveling
Only one descriptor comes to mind when asked about the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion: sensory overload. Beinga bit of a BMW fanatic myself, this year marked the pinnacle of excitement for me with BMW celebrating 100 years and being the chosen marque for the event. There was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to witness BMW touring cars from the 1960’s through the 21st century take to the world famous Laguna Seca Raceway and duke it out on the tarmac.
The smells, the sights, the sounds, they all blend into one euphoric experience. This isn’t a pretentious event covered with velvet ropes and white gloves either. These are people who are here to use their cars, and to race and compete with their cars. There’s a certain level of respect when roaming the paddock area, where owners and mechanics allow the general public to flow through their tents and inspect each car up-close. Participants welcome others into their personal space, and are generally ecstatic to tell the story of the car they’re racing from various decades ago. Nowhere else will you find such an eclectic mix of people who are so inviting and open to share, surrounded by millions of dollars in cars alone (not to mention the haulers).
It’s the next best thing to time traveling. These historic races provide a look at motorsport and auto racing over an expanse of nearly 100 years. The early pre-war cars date all the way back to 1915, with people such as Ed Archer who embodies the spirit of vintage racing and hauls his Ford Model T racer to the track in a period correct Chevrolet flatbed truck.
Moving forward through time a few decades, you’ll come across Trans-Am alley and realize the abundance of Z28 Camaros, Boss 302 Mustangs, AMC Javelins, and maybe even a Pontiac Tempest! Google it. Thunderous V8s and iconic American muscle cars comprise the entire field, and when the green flag drops it’s real racing. These guys offer some of the best racing out of the entire weekend, with changes for the lead happening almost every single lap.
Now if you remove the “stock” bodied chassis’ and up the displacement of these V8s significantly from the Trans-Am series, you’ve got yourself a recipe for some of the classic Can-Am cars of the late 60’s and early 70’s. In an era where safety didn’t exist in anybody’s vocabulary, and vehicle aerodynamics were in their infant stages, Can-Am ruled all. With a class consisting of big power, big wings, and big balls, the only word engineers knew in designing cars for this class was “more.”
Then you have my personal favorite, the touring cars. These are race cars that resemble a model you can walk into the dealership and buy. Sure, the street-going versions of these cars built for homologation purposes don’t wear 12 inch wide flares attached to the body, or fire-breathing engines in race trim. That being said, you had the “cool” factor of driving the same cars that could be seen trading paint and flying (or sliding) around race tracks across the globe.
Essentially, the point I’m trying to get across is that if you contain a hair on your body that’s interested in cars, you should make the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on the top of your priority list. At times I feel like a motorsport evangelist and find myself repeating my call to action, to visit this vintage race car holy ground. I stand firm in my belief however, and encourage everyone I meet to attend at least once in their life. I can guarantee that if you go once, you’ll be hooked.
Check out the gallery below. All photos by Nick Caron.