2015 Rolex Motorsports Reunion Preview
This August 13-16, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will return to Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. This event is billed as the largest of the events during Monterey Automobile Week. Being there is a bit like entering a time machine and walking out into any automotive era of your choice. The cars that were invited to participate will consist of some really old relics, cars from modern times and everything in between. But they all will be doing the same thing; they’ll be on the track racing, continuing a tradition that began here in 1974.
Many cars make application to participate but not all receive invitations. About 550 are approved, based upon authenticity, race provenance and period correctness. The fortunate ones will compete on Mazda Raceway’s 2.2 mile road course. The course includes 11 turns, 300 feet in elevation change and the dramatic Corkscrew, a five-story, twisting steep descent.
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Why it matters
This year the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang, by making it the featured marque of the event. The Shelby GT350 Mustang was a higher-performance version of the 1964 Ford Mustang, and was produced by both Shelby and Ford in the late 1960s.
The 550 invited cars are spread among several Race Groups. For 2015 there have been some changes to these Groups.
Ford Motor Company considers this 50th anniversary very meaningful. The company will make a very limited-production run of 137 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustangs in 2015. The car will be a new Shelby GT350, sporting the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever made.
Motorsports artist Bill Patterson, also the accredited Artist of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since 2004, is preparing a likeness of the Shelby GT350 Mustang for this year’s commemorative poster of the featured marque.
The image on the poster represents the Mustang once owned and raced by racing legend Sir Stirling Moss in vintage competitions.
The 550 invited cars are spread among several Race Groups. For 2015 there have been some changes to these Groups. Below are the groups that are scheduled to appear:
- 1927-1951 Racing
- 1955-1962 GT
- 1963-1966 GT over 2500cc
- 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA, GT, GTX, AAGT, GTU
- 1981-1991 FIA Manufacturers Championship; IMSA GTO/GTP
- 1955-1961 Sports Racing over 2000cc
- 1955-1961 Sports Racing under 2000cc
- FIA Manufacturers Championship
- 1947-1955 Sports Racing and GT
- 1961-1966 GT under 2500cc
- 1968-1976 Formula 5000
- 1967-1984 Formula One
- 1966-1972 Trans-Am
- 1965-1970 Shelby Mustang
Often at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, a person with noted accomplishments in the motorsports world appears as the guest of honor. Scott Pruett of sports car fame will be that person at this year’s annual Picnic in the Park. Sir Jackie Stewart, OBE, a three-time Formula 1 World Champion, will also be present as a special guest. Motorsports historian Murray Smith will be onstage describing highlights of their distinguished careers. Listeners will have the opportunity to ask questions of these acclaimed drivers.
Often at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, a person with noted accomplishments in the motorsports world appears as the guest of honor.
From the Paddocks, to reach the Park most directly and through the concession and purveyor areas, take the footbridge between Turn 3 and Turn 4 over the race track. Exiting the footbridge, turn left and pass through Yamaha Marketplace to the Park.
There is an alternate, longer route to reach the Park from the Paddocks. The reward is to see the car corrals along the way. Take the footbridge between Turn 3 and Turn 4 over the race track. At the concession area at the bottom of the bridge, turn right, stroll a bit, and head left into the long parking area. The car corral often starts there in two rows, skirting the lake and Ducati Island. After a long stroll, turn left and find another car corral with multiple rows of cars covering a distance equally long. That is a lot of automobiles and most will be really well-prepared and worth seeing. These two alternate paths from the Paddocks to the Park give a feel for the facilities at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Time is well-spent in the car corrals. I have perused some of the most exciting show-prepared cars I have ever seen, right there. Expect many participating cars — some quite rare. A good number of the corral cars are usually the make of the featured marque of the Reunion. But many other makes often appear too.
In the Paddocks, cars are prepared to race and cared for after the race. Here the race cars can be seen and photographed up close. This is yet another place where real rarities can be discovered. I have discovered many a gem in the Paddocks.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is one of the ones not to miss.
Also in the Paddocks and under the pit row suites is an area known as Automotive Alley. This garage area will play a significant part in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Here, automakers will share their heritages as well as their futures in the form of interactive displays. Ford, Porsche, Nissan, Jaguar, BMW, Chevrolet, Acura, Land Rover, and Michelin will all take part in this visual automotive narrative.
Alongside Ford’s new GT will be the iconic 1966 Ford GT40 (chassis # 1015) that Ken Miles and Denny Hulme drove to a second-place finish overall at the Le Mans 24 hours endurance race where Ford GT40s finished 1-2-3.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is one of the ones not to miss. To sum it all up, the Reunion is simultaneously a race, an automotive history lesson, a show-car concourse, an auto mechanic’s symposium, a car celeb lineup, a recognition of driver’s accomplishments and automotive anthropology, all rolled into one grand multi-day event.
Look for my coverage of the event right here on TopSpeed.