The pride of America’s race and performance car, Corvette, was celebrated in the festive, racing environment of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion held at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Aug. 16-19. The 14 race groups were full and the sound of nearly every era of race cars filled the rolling hills and enjoyed by the 53,851 visitors who came to witness history in motion.
The expansive Corvette Anniversary display impressed visitors daily with Corvettes rarely seen. The GM Heritage Museum drove in six incredible cars from its collection, including the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans winning C8.R complete with its unwashed, untouched body direct from France, and the CERV I, II and III advanced prototypes. The stunning Corvette SS prototype from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum had crowds circling it, while the three 1960 Cunningham Corvettes that included the first Corvette to win its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans drew oohs and awes. Then there were the two of the original five Corvette Grand Sports poised next to each other, while the 1966 Daytona and Sebring class winning Roger Penske Corvette attracted abundant photo moments for the fans’ moment in time.
Corvette racing legend Ron Fellows served as Grand Marshal smiling and talking to fans as he waved the green flag, signed autographs, and entertained guests on the main stage alongside Peter Brock and hosted by MOTORTEND’s Ed Loh. Fellows also took the time to be an active participant, racing the 1987 Profab Corvette each day in the 1981-1991 GTO/Trans Am class, and earning accolades from competitors for not only his smoothness and speed, but his gentlemanly driving behavior.
“Walking throughout the paddock and Hagerty Marketplace during the week, I could see the happy families truly enjoying the activities,” said John Narigi, president and general manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “It’s all possible through the visionary work of everyone behind the scenes who work tirelessly to be able to produce this renowned event for everyone to enjoy. From the race participants, guests, sponsors, volunteers, community and the Advisory Council, it’s the year’s highlight to be able to produce our Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion each year. And a special thank you to our partners Rolex and General Motors for making it all come together for everyone’s enjoyment.”
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion annually recognizes the spirit of competition with extraordinary cars during the prize-giving, and not who finishes first. This year’s recipients were:
Peter Giddings Memorial Award – Ivan Zaremba in his 1935 Railton Light Sport Tourer
Ken Miles Award – Nick Grewal for his 1959 Lotus
Phil Remington Award, presented by Ford – Pedro Vela of the REVS Institute
Henry Ford Trophy – Philip Kadoorie in his 1963 Shelby Cobra
Bonhams Award – Alastair Chalmers for his 1975 Chevron
Motul Best of Show – Kevin McKay for his Number 9 Sunoco Penske 1966 Corvette L88
John Fitch Corvette Award – Wally Owens and driver Ron Fellows in the 1987 Profab
Rolex Group Awards – The Rolex Awards are presented to a driver who represents Overall Excellence in each Saturday race.
Group 1: 1955-1967 SCCA Production-Small Displacement – William Lyon in his 1960 Porsche RS60 Spyder
Group 2: 1961-1971 FIA Manufacturers Championship – Remo Lips in the 1969 Ferrari 312P
Group 3: 1927-1955 Grand Prix/Open Wheel Single Seat – Conrad Stevenson for his 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C2500
Group 4: 1981-1991 GTO/Trans Am – Rick Jeffrey in his 1986 Profab Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Group 5: Ragtime Racers Exhibition – Julien Pearl driving his 1911 White Speedster
Group 6: 1972-1981 FIA, IMSA, GT, GTX, AAGT, GTU – Glenn Chiou in his 1971 Datsun 240Z
Group 7: 1966-1974 Can-Am / 1963-1968 USRRC – Chris Springer for his 1972 McLaren M8F
Group 8: 1966-1972 Historic Trans-Am – Jim Hague in the 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302
Group 9: Formula 5000 – Bruce Leeson in his 1969 McLaren M10B
Group 10: 1955-1967 SCCA Production-Large Displacement – Jeff Abramson for his 1964 Chevrolet Corvette
Group 11: 1966-1985 Historic Formula One – Steve Romak in his 1985 Tyrell 12
Group 12: 1947-1960 Front-Engined Sports Racing and GT – William Rooklidge driving his 1955 Jaguar D-Type
Group 13: 1981-2007 GTP, Group C, DP, WSC, LMP & GT1 through 2009 – Jim Norman in his 1985 March 85-G
Group 14: 1955-1969 Saloon – Allan Thom for his 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti
The Spirit of Monterey – This award is presented to the driver or entrant who excels in the spirit of the weekend – Ron Erickson driving his 1957 Chevrolet Corvette
Corkscrew Hillclimb & Community Day
The second annual Corkscrew Hillclimb attracted a growing audience to watch a variety of historic race cars, specialty and exhibition cars reverse course and race against the clock up to finish at the Corkscrew. For crowds lining the pit lane, the squealing tires and high-revving engines as they launched toward the hard right-hander of Turn 11 had many guests covering their ears as they smiled at the spectacle and cheered their favorites.
The fastest lap of the day went to the former Porsche Werks driver and multiple Le Mans winner Patrick Long in the 1995 Porsche Gunther Werks Turbo. Long clocked a 34.26 run on his first attempt in a car that was rebuilt in just three weeks’ time.
The People’s Choice proved popular as five cars were selected for the final run up the hill. Not all were the fastest cars, but fans enjoyed them so much they wanted to see them run one last time. The results were:
34.69 – Chris Locke driving his 1976 Lotus Type 77 Formula One
35.32 – Patrick Long in the 1995 Porsche Gunther Werks Turbo
37.56 – Christine Sloss in her 2022 Ferrari SF90 Stradale
43.43 – Paul Freestone in his 1958 Austin Healey BN4
53.96 – Brian Antle in the 2017 Curry Pre-Runner
The top three drivers received custom-made Corkscrews with the inscription for second place being: “I screwed up on the famous Corkscrew and still managed 2nd in class.” The clever awards were created by Kevin Jeannette, owner of Gunnar Porsche Racing. Additionally, Christine Sloss, who finished third in her blistering quick 769 horsepower Ferrari, also received the Ladies Choice presentation and a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne.
Setting a new Hillclimb record for an electric vehicle went to Thomas Merrill in the 2023 Drako GTE with a time of 37.00, and an impressive launch off the start line as it hurtled toward the right-hander and up the winding hill.
The week proved once again that enthusiasts of all ages appreciate watching, hearing and experiencing race cars in their natural racing environment to watch motorsport history come alive. That’s the magic of Monterey Car Week, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the new week’s favorite Corkscrew Hillclimb & Community Day.