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Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion announces 500-plus field

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Dekon Chevrolet Monza, an IMSA GT veteran, leads a Porsche 935 through the Corkscrew (turn 8A here) at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway during the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. All photos by the author.

The unofficial “Monterey Car Week” presents so many options beyond just the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the auctions that a car guy really needs to decide just what he wants to do each day and what he is willing to skip. Among the shows, tours, and sales, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, aka the “Monterey Historics,” is among the few where you can see, hear, and feel (if you get close enough) some of the most amazing unfiltered, unmuffled, full-throttle race cars on the planet as they get together and go all out on speed on one of the most picturesque tracks in the country, a track with perhaps the most famous series of curves as well.

For those that haven’t been, the scale and scope of Monterey Historics are unlike almost any other vintage racing event in the U.S. WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca recently announced that more than 500 entries have been accepted to the August 15 to 18 event. The confirmed entrants—from around the world—range from a 1911 National Speedway Roadster and a 1911 Fiat S74 to a 2014 Lola Toyota Rebellion LMP1 prototype, encompassing more than a century of motorsport.

Andial Porsche 935

Cars will be divided into 14 classes, or run groups, ranging from Pre-1940 Sports Racing, Touring and Race Cars, and 1927-1951 Racing Cars (that’s all one group) to 1983-2016 Masters Endurance Legends.  The full list of run groups can be found here: Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 

While a manufacturer or team with race history is typically the featured marque, the 2019 Rolex Reunion will fete the IMSA race series on its 50th anniversary as the featured marque. Founded in Florida in 1969 by John Bishop with significant backing from NASCAR’s Bill France, IMSA has gone through a significant number of changes over the years, among them splits and reaffiliations and name changes since the original moniker was revived with the reunification of professional sports car racing in the U.S. a few years ago.

Historic Formula 1 cars go through Turn 10 at Laguna Seca.

Featured IMSA run groups include IMSA Prototypes—GTP, WSC, LMP, DP; 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA, GT, GTX, AAGT; 1981-1991 IMSA GTO/GTU; and 1967-1981 Formula Ford (IMSA’s first sanctioned race was Formula Ford and Formula Vee event held at Pocono Raceway in the fall of 1969).

The event sits a seven-person Selection Committee that reviews the applications of what has been reported to be as many 1,000 submissions each year. With IMSA the featured marque, applications for cars with IMSA history were plenty, with the committee ultimately choosing 145 cars for the various IMSA-related classes, including a 1991 AAR Eagle-Toyota Mark III, Porsche 935s, 1976 Dekon Chevrolet Monzas, Greenwood Corvettes, Riley and Scott Mk IIIs, and a variety of Mazda GTO, GTU and GTP cars. Coupled with various GT run groups, the Trans-Am class, and others, expect plenty of sports and GT car action at Laguna Seca. The Reunion promises to field a “full grid” for the 1966 to 1985 Formula One group, essentially spanning the Cosworth-Ford DFV years.

Vintage race cars back to the earliest eras of motorsports have been welcomed at the Monterey Historics.

Other attractions included plenty of static race-car displays in the paddock, exhibited by manufacturers, private collectors/racers, and vintage race support teams as well. Racer extraordinaire Hurley Haywood has been named Grand Marshal and a special tribute for the 100th anniversary of Bentley has also been planned. If you really plan on staying for more than a week in Monterey, the racing festivities begin the week before when some 300 cars invade Laguna Seca for the Monterey Pre-Reunion, which features 10 run groups in all, with on-track activity on August 10 and 11.

Beyond the racing scheduled for 2019, the County of Monterey-owned track also recently announced its progress toward rebuilding parts of the facility. Notably, an “extensive drainage project” completed in 2018 proved worthy of handling the near-record rainfalls received in Monterey in the months since.

Porsche 935 entering the Corkscrew at Turn 8 at Laguna Seca during the 2018 Rolex Reunion.

The list of projects currently underway is rather extensive and includes the construction of a temporary two-story hospitality structure overlooking turn 3, road improvements and repaving the Marketplace and main entry areas, relocating the television broadcast compound, removing the octagon tower at the start/finish line, enhancing corner marshal stands for both marshal safety and driver visibility, and some track safety fencing work. These ongoing projects were announced as being “steps toward the major construction projects being studied on the master facility plan” at the 542-acre Laguna Seca Recreation Area, of which the track is a major part of.

A full lineup of race cars at one of the nation’s most storied tracks, beautiful Monterey weather, and improving facilities? You might need a pretty strong reason not to go.