As the sun shone on the Monterey Peninsula, California, historic cars from around the world raced wheel-to-wheel from 23-26 August at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The awe-inspiring sounds of automobiles dating from 1911 to 1995 resonated around the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, truly honouring the cars’ racing pedigrees. Since 2001, Rolex has partnered this cornerstone event of Monterey Classic Car Week, united by values of tradition and innovation that have shaped the watchmaking and automotive worlds.
This year, 551 genuine and period-correct race cars competed at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, having passed a strict scrutineering process that enshrines the event’s authenticity. The 15 categories on show told an emotive visual narrative of motor racing history, with the Formula 1®, Can-Am and Trans-Am cars proving particularly popular. The cars, in varying shapes, colours and sizes, first took to the asphalt on Thursday as the drivers got to grips with the iconic anti-clockwise 2.238-mile circuit. Following two days of practice and qualifying sessions, they raced in earnest on Saturday and Sunday, unleashing the majestic performance and beauty of these automobiles on the famous corners of The Corkscrew and Andretti Hairpin.
Sir Jackie Stewart, Rolex Testimonee and three-time FIA Formula 1® Drivers’ World Champion, first competed at Laguna Seca in 1965 and this year celebrates a 50-year partnership with the Swiss watch brand. The Scottish legend said: “It is an honour to witness these incredible motor racing cars compete as they were built to; from the early 20th Century right the way through to the 1990s, they truly tell the story of the heritage and evolution in our sport. The highest standards of precision and engineering on show link Rolex and the Reunion, while underlining Rolex’s commitment to motor sport globally.”
Nissan, and its US predecessor Datsun, was celebrated throughout the event, as the brand became the first Japanese manufacturer to be honoured at the Reunion. Nissan’s long-term involvement in motor sport was exhibited, from the 1971 Datsun 510, to the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo – the 1994 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA winner – and the 2019 Formula E Nissan racing car. Meanwhile, legendary chassis from Lotus, Lola, McLaren, Gurney Eagle and Surtees formed part of the 50th anniversary of Formula 5000.
The four-day Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion ignited the senses on and off the track. During Picnic in the Paddock, legends of the sport, Sir Jackie Stewart, fellow Rolex Testimonee Tom Kristensen and FIA Formula 1® Drivers’ World Champion Mika Häkkinen, recounted motoring anecdotes that will live long in the memories of those who attended. While drivers and collectors passionately explained the illustrious history of their vintage racing cars to spectators of all ages. Rolex aligns itself with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and classic car events globally, thanks to an appreciation for the past and a desire to tell stories of by-gone eras that continue to shape the present.