Enthusiasm ran at full throttle as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion celebrated motorsport history with 400-plus incredible historic race cars, large enthusiastic crowds and a tribute to the 24 Hours of Le Mans to kick off its yearlong centennial. From the moment guests arrived at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and drove by the large Le Mans sign, the stage was set for the enhancements created for a new welcoming and friendly experience.
“We are very pleased by the initial feedback to the new Wednesday through Saturday format, activities and features put in place, the car selection and driver camaraderie, and ticket sales,” said John Narigi, president and general manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “I want to also thank our County of Monterey supervisors who participated to see just how important the Rolex Reunion is among the motoring world.”
Advance ticket sales surpassed 2021 by 92 percent and exceeded the pre-pandemic 2019 event by 11 percent. “We are still auditing admission sales, but it was very encouraging to see so many people purchasing tickets as they entered. Our admissions team of volunteers and service clubs did an incredible job at quickly processing purchases to minimize wait times,” Narigi added.
Saturday was action-packed from the moment the green flag waved. The Picnic in the Paddock hosted an impressive lineup of Le Mans legends to share stories before an appreciative standing-room-only audience. Attending were Grand Marshal and nine time Le Mans overall winner Tom Kristensen, six-time overall winner Jacky Ickx, four-time overall winner Henri Pescarolo, one-time overall and two-time class winner Stefan Johansson, overall winner Jochen Mass, two-time class winners John Morton and Ron Fellows, Shelby Daytona Cobra designer Peter Brock, and the President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest Pierre Fillon. The session was hosted by automotive historian Murray Smith.
An autograph session followed and included additional Le Mans dignitaries Lyn St. James, Bob Garretson, Margie Smith-Haas, Scott Atherton, Rick Knoop, Dominic Dobson, and Allen Berg who signed autographs well past the designated time.
The Le Mans Legends Heritage Display, presented by Motul, was a daily hub of activity from dawn to dusk. Inside were 51 Le Mans-winning cars and selected specials. From the 1929 and 1930 overall winning Bentley Speed Six, and two Ferrari 250 GTOs, to the 1967 winning Ford Mk IV and 2005 Audi R8, the collection provided a remarkable evolution of motorsport history.
Among the popular new activities were the Café Le Mans where guests enjoyed Moet Champagne, lining up along the new pre-grid for the Le Mans style start, where drivers ran across to jump into their cars for the start, to the Hagerty Marketplace where families enjoyed racing go-karts, visiting vendors and taking a ride on the Ferris wheel. There were also two movie nights, bustling car corrals, and viewing from nearly every area on the track.
Prizes are presented to individuals based on exceptional performance in their race groups, not based on race results, and are selected by stewards. The 2022 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion prize recipients are:
Peter Giddings Memorial Award – Nathanael Greene: 1925 Bugatti Type 35
Ken Miles Award – David Woodhouse: ex-Ken Miles’ 1961 Dolphin Mk2
Phil Remington Award, presented by Ford – Francois Sicard: 1962 Stanguellini
Henry Ford Trophy – George Krass: Ford-powered Panoz LMP900
Bonhams Passion and Spirit Award – Ernie Spada: 1981 Lola T600
John Fitch Corvette Award – John Goodman: 1971 Chevrolet Corvette
Stellar Performance in Braking Award – Horatio Fitz-Simon: 1964 Lotus 26R
Motul Best of Show – Bruce McCaw: 1952 Mercedes-Benz W194
1958-1963 Formula Junior – Phillip Ribbs: 1963 Lotus 27
1974-1979 Formula Atlantic – Laurent Parmentier: 1977 Chevron B39
1955-1966 SCCA Production Cars – Horatio Fitz-Simon: 1964 Lotus 26R
Ragtime Racers – Rob Dyson: 1913 Isotta Frachinni
1923-1955 Le Mans Celebration – Max Jamiesson: 1957 Porsche 356
1956-1971 Le Mans – Gray Gregory: 1969 Chevron B16
1972-1982 Le Mans – Jonathan Feiber: 1974 Porsche RSR
Le Mans Legends Exhibition – Flavien Marcais: 1975 Alpine-Renault A441
1981-2005 Le Mans Prototypes and GT1 – Malcolm Ross: 1985 Porsche 962
1955-1969 Saloon Cars – Don Racine: 1961 Austin Mini Cooper S
1966-1972 Historic Trans-Am – Dennis Singleton: 1970 Chevrolet Camaro
1966-1985 Historic Formula One – Chris Locke: 1976 Lotus 77
1981-1991 IMSA, GTO, Trans Am – Walt Brown: 1987 Chevrolet Camaro
The Spirit of Monterey – Presented to the driver or entrant who excels in the spirit of the weekend was awarded to Martin Lauber who entered his 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI and 1976 Porsche 911 RSR, as well as participating in the Monterey Race Car Show in downtown Monterey Aug. 12
Closing the weekend was the Corkscrew Hillclimb and Community Day where 60 cars raced reverse course and up the hill to finish after cresting the iconic Corkscrew. Formula Drift champion Matt Field entertained fans lining the fence all the way up the hill to watch him drift his 1,000-horsepower Corvette to the top. Another fan favorite was the Fabulous Hudson Hornet “Doc Hudson” that was the acclaimed character in the movie Cars and driven by Bruce Canepa.
Fastest time honors went to Gunnar Jeannette who recorded a 36.25 in a 1971 Porsche 908/3. Second place went to Chris Locke in his ex-Mario Andretti 1976 Lotus 77 Formula One car at 36.78. Third place was awarded to Patrick Long in his 1995 Porsche Gunther Werks Special at 37.33.
“The first-ever Corkscrew Hillclimb and Community Day was a resounding success and attracted many of our area residents for the first time,” Narigi said. “It really was a fun, relaxed day that provided a new form of entertainment for drivers and fans who could enjoy their experience at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area. We learned a lot and will definitely expand upon the Corkscrew Hillclimb and Community Day for 2023.”