2011 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

2011 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion December 2011
The 2.23 mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road circuit is one of the iconic venues in the United States and in the world. Complete with its famous 'Corkscrew' and six-story drop, this iconic circuit played host to another couple of GT racing icons during its Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

On August 19-21 of this year Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca served once again as the backdrop for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Over 550 cars, covering 17 classes would descend through the 'Corkscrew' revitalizing the imagination.

Ever since opening in 1957, Laguna Seca has played host to just about every known type of motor racing series. It would even welcome Formula One cars from time to time trying to tame this 'Dry Lake'. It is fitting then that this circuit, with its wide and varied clientele would come to host such historic racing.

This year's event would focus on a couple of important golden anniversaries. This year marked the 50th anniversary of Jaguar's E-Type. Besides celebrating the anniversary of the elegant E-Type cat, this year's reunion also served as the backdrop for another important anniversary. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with its storied racing heritage, would celebrate the 50th anniversary of the inestimable Ferrari 250 GT, one of the most dominant GT cars of all-time.

As usual, Monterey would welcome other classes of car that weren't to be missed. Historic Grand Prix/Formula One cars would take to the circuit on Sunday afternoon and would feature such wide and varied examples including Tazio Nuvolari's 1935 German Grand Prix winning Alfa Romeo Tipo B, a Ferrari 312 T5, a Lotus 77 and many other models from throughout grand prix racing's history.

The Can Am class would feature a large number of cars including a rare Shadow MK2 and the McLaren M6A and M8F chassis. The large field would make for some action-packed racing and a lot of great action.

This year's motorsports reunion would feature fewer classes which would allow spectators more time watching some of the other great action. Some of the great action would be provided by Group 5A. This class pitted Sports Racing USRRC cars against the bigger Can Am cars and made for some exciting and tight action.

But besides the Formula One, Can Am and Trans Am classes, the stars of the event would be the special classes set aside just for the anniversary cars. Taking center stage at this year's event was Jaguar and in particular its E-Type chassis.

Launched in 1961, the E-Type would become one of the most famous and desirable of all Jaguars, even in the whole of the automotive industry. Listed in the Daily Telegraph on its list of '100 most beautiful cars' of all time, the E-Type's iconic and elegant lines make it a true work of art. Even Enzo Ferrari would say it was, 'The most beautiful car ever made.' Despite being produced in numbers exceeding 70,000, the E-Type had remained a highly coveted and priceless Jaguar. It was expected that over a dozen of these beautifully designed Jaguars would take to the track on Saturday afternoon.

Then, on Sunday, the Race Group 5B would take to the circuit filled with a compliment of Jaguar XK120s that would battle it out for class honors. Just beforehand, C and D-Type Jaguars will take to the track causing imagination and memory to stir. This will be a special time in its own right as these will be the cars that earned Jaguar its great successes at Le Mans and some of the other great race tracks of Europe.

In all, there would be over 50 Jaguars of different types to make it to Monterey for the celebration of the E-Type's anniversary. But while the sight of the contingent of Jaguars was a truly remarkable sight to behold an even more rich experience to behold would also take to the track on Saturday afternoon.

Listed by Motor Trend Classic as the 'Greatest Ferraris of all Time' and the eighth-best sports car of the 1960s by Sports Car International, the Ferrari 250 GTO is truly something special and unspeakable to behold. Balanced perfectly with its short, blunt rear end and beautifully low-slung and shapely nose, the 250 GTO was a fierce competitor on the track with looks that made the car just intoxicating. It was the epitome of looking good while in the midst of a fight.

Upon its debut at the 1962 12 Hours of Sebring, the 250 GTO would be driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien to a 2nd place finish behind the Testa Rossa of Bonnier and Scarfiotti. This would be just a glimpse of the success the car would achieve over the length of its lifespan. In fact, the 250 GTO would go on to win the 2000cc class GT Manufacturer's title in 1962, 1963 and 1964. It would be one of the last front-engined cars to remain competitive in the top levels of sports car racing.

With this kind of racing success and history, and the fact that only 39 GTOs would be produced, it is not at all surprising that some examples command upwards of $30 million dollars. And yet, despite their value, there would be nine that would line up to do battle amongst themselves during Saturday's race. Given its incredible success in GT racing it was of little surprise that some of those present at the event still bore scares and other evidences from past races.

In the case of Chip Conner's example, enthusiasts would have the opportunity to look upon a multiple race winner. Conner's example would earn a victory in its debut at Spa. That victory would be followed up with another victory at Zolder. It would then go on to earn a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its career would then be rounded out with a GT class victory at Reims.

While there would only be nine of the extremely valuable 250 GTOs that would take to the track they would be joined by a number of other Ferrari Gran Touring sports cars. In fact, the field would include a number of 250 GT SWBs, 275 GTB/Cs and 330 GTOs.

While the anniversaries of the Jaguar E-Type and the Ferrari 250 GTO were certainly the main emphasis of this year's motorsports reunion there was still so many other things around the circuit for the ticket-holder to enjoy.

Not only were there the Heritage Displays in the paddock area celebrating Jaguar's racing heritage, but there was also a Showcase Stage where classic car enthusiasts could go and listen to stories from those fortunate enough to have piloted some of the incredible machines situated around the circuit.

Playing a lesser, but not less important, role in the weekend's events would be the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Mazda's sponsorship of the Laguna Seca circuit. This fact would not be trivialized or treated flippantly by Mazda as they would do something absolutely special to mark the occasion. Not only would some of Mazda's famous GTP cars, like the RX-792P, come and play a part in the ceremonies, but perhaps the most famous Mazda Sports Prototype would also come to be part of the special event.

The Mazda 787B, serial number 002, would be carefully packed up and shipped to the United States to be part of the proceedings. Serial number 002 was the actual 787B that earned Mazda its historic victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 1991. Even to this very day it is still the only Japanese-made car to claim the overall victory in the famous French classic.

In addition to the actual race-winning 787B, another 787B, which finished 8th during that same year's 24 hour race, would also be part of the special moment. The whole experience would be accented by one of the RX-7 GTO cars, an RX-792P and a couple of Mazda-powered Group C2 Lolas. The whole scene would be a truly memorable and touching moment as the screams from the rotary engine would serve as a truly fitting celebration of Mazda's racing heritage, success and partnership with Laguna Seca.

Filled with legendary cars, personalities and events, this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion was yet another action-packed event that offered something for everybody and delighted all of the senses. While all about the cars that made the history, the exhibits and the hard work of so many people helped to make this year's event yet another successful and historic moment in its own right.

By Daniel Vaughan

Galleries
1911 Fiat S74  
1915 Ford Old Number 4 Racer  
1916 National Model AC  
1922 Ford Model T  
1925 Bugatti Type 35C  
1925 Ford Frontenac Special  
1926 Bugatti Type 39A  
1926 Frazer Nash Boulogne  
1927 Bugatti Type 35B  
1928 Bugatti Type 35B  
1929 Lagonda 14/50 Two-Litre  
1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS  
1931 Bugatti Type 51  
1931 Chrysler CD-8 Le Mans  
1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300  
1932 Studebaker Indy Racer  
1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3  
1934 MG N-Type NA  
1934 MG NE  
1935 Era B Type  
1935 Frazer Nash TT Replica  
1935 Railton Eight  
1935 Shaw Indy Special  
1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS  
1939 BMW 328  
1939 Lagonda V12 LeMans  
1939 Maserati 4CL  
1953 Morgan Plus Four TT LeMans Special  
1955 Cooper T39  
1955 Elva MKI  
1955 Porsche 550 RS Spyder  
1956 Lotus Eleven  
1957 Elva MKIIA  
1957 Lotus Eleven  
1958 Lotus Eleven Series II  
1958 Lotus Fifteen  
1958 VAY Special  
1959 Ambro Peerless Special  
1959 Byers Volvo Special CR90  
1959 Cooper Monaco MKI Type 57  
1959 Lola MK1  
1959 Lotus 17  
1960 Centaur Piranha CRV-II  
1960 Lola MK1  
1960 Porsche 718/RS60  
1961 Dolphin America  
1961 Porsche RS 61  
1962 Elva MK VI  
1962 Lola MKI  
1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce  
1956 Ferrari 250 GT Boano  
1956 MG MGA 1500  
1956 Porsche 356A  
1957 AC Ace Aceca  
1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta  
1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce  
1957 Chevrolet Corvette C1  
1957 Ford Thunderbird  
1957 MG MGA  
1957 Porsche 356  
1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta  
1958 Porsche 356A  
1959 Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato  
1959 Byers MGA Special  
1959 Elva Courier MKII  
1959 Jaguar Mark 1  
1959 MG MGA  
1959 Peerless GT  
1960 Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato  
1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT  
1960 Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite  
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB  
1960 Lotus Elite  
1960 Porsche Abarth 356 Carrera GTL  
1960 Porsche 356B  
1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint  
1961 Volvo P1800  
1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ  
1962 Aston Martin DB4  
1962 Lotus Elite  
1962 MG MGA 1600  
1962 Sunbeam Alpine  
1963 Morgan Plus Four  
1964 Alfa Romeo TZ1  
1964 Porsche 356  
1957 Cooper T43 Mark II  
1959 Bandini FJ  
1959 Elva 100 Formula Series  
1959 Stanguellini Monoposto Formula Junior  
1960 Cooper T52 MKI  
1960 Huffaker BMC MK1  
1960 Kieft Formula Junior  
1960 Lotus 18 Formula Junior  
1961 Cooper T-56 FJ  
1961 Cooper T53  
1961 Lotus 20  
1961 Scarab FL  
1962 Cooper T-59 MKIII FJ  
1962 Cooper T62  
1962 Lotus Type 22  
1962 Lotus Type 27  
1963 Brabham BT6  
1963 Lola MK 5A  
1963 Lotus Type 27  
1964 Saab Quantum Formula S  
1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1  
1962 Jaguar E-Type XKE  
1963 Jaguar XKE E-Type  
1967 Jaguar XKE E-Type  
1970 Jaguar XKE E-Type  
1953 Cooper Porsche Racing Special  
1954 Jaguar Type D  
1955 Aston Martin DB3S  
1955 Jaguar XK-D D-Type  
1956 Jaguar XK-D D-Type  
1956 Lotus Eleven  
1957 Ferrari 250 TR  
1957 Ferrari 625 TRC  
1957 Lister Jaguar  
1957 Lotus Eleven  
1957 Maserati 200 SI  
1957 Maserati 300 S  
1957 Monsterati Special  
1958 Devin SS  
1958 Echidna Racing Special  
1958 Lister Costin  
1958 Lotus Fifteen  
1959 Byers Volvo Special CR90  
1959 Cooper Monaco MKI Type 57  
1959 Devin SS Special  
1959 Hagemann Sutton Special  
1959 Lister Special  
1959 Lola MK1  
1959 Lotus 17  
1960 Kellison Corvair Special  
1960 Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage  
1960 Porsche 718/RS60  
1961 Dolphin America  
1961 Porsche RS 61  
1962 Elva MK VI  
1969 Chevrolet Corvette C3  
1970 Chevrolet Camaro  
1970 Datsun 240Z  
1970 Porsche 914/6  
1971 Alfa Romeo GTV Veloce 1750  
1972 BMW 3.0 CSL  
1973 BMW 3.0 CSL  
1973 Chevrolet Corvette C3  
1973 Datsun 240Z  
1973 Porsche 911 RSR  
1974 BMW 3.5 CSL  
1974 Porsche Carrera RSR 3.0  
1975 Porsche 934 911 RSR  
1976 Chevrolet Dekon Monza  
1976 Porsche 935  
1977 Porsche 934.5  
1979 Porsche 935  
1980 Porsche 935 K3  
1967 Lotus Type 49  
1970 Ferrari 312B  
1970 March 701  
1974 March 741  
1975 Hesketh 308C  
1975 Shadow DN3B  
1976 Ferrari 312 T2  
1976 Lotus 77  
1976 March 761  
1976 Penske PC4  
1977 McLaren M23  
1977 McLaren M26  
1979 McLaren M29  
1979 Williams FW07B  
1980 Ferrari 312 T5 F1  
1980 Lotus 81  
1981 Arrows A3  
1982 March 821  
1983 Tyrrell 012  
1983 Williams FW08C  
1962 Cooper Monaco  
1962 Lotus 23B  
1962 Lotus Type 19  
1963 Huffaker Genie Mark VIII  
1963 Huffaker Genie MK10  
1963 Lotus 23B  
1964 Bobsy SR3  
1964 Brabham BT8  
1964 Lotus 23B  
1964 Lotus Type 30  
1964 Townsend Mk 4  
1964 Webster Special  
1965 Elva MK8  
1965 Lola T70 MKI  
1965 Lola T70 MKII  
1965 McLaren Elva M1A  
1965 Merlyn MK6A  
1966 Lola T70 MKII  
1966 Lotus 23C  
1967 Lola T70 MKIII  
1967 McLaren M6A  
1967 McLaren M6B