Monterey Preview #5-The Big One
It is rare that human's problem-solving thought processes becomes a tangible object to be judged, envied or feared. This is the beauty of the automobile, specifically the purpose built sportscar/racer. It is a manifestation of the answer to the question of "how do we go faster from A to B while getting to B before anyone else?" The answer is varied and often influenced by regional philosophies. The Americans use brute force through big tires and huge displacement. The Germans will maximize mechanical grip and add lightness and cleverness. The Italians will make a borderline erotic shell, paint it bright red and add a banshee screaming V12. Every body panel, exhaust header, suspension component, size of displacement and weight reduction strategy is there for us to see and judge. It is the imagination come to life, to take an otherwise mundane method of transportation and push the limits of engineering capability. All of these things come to life at the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion, and in our expert judgement, the Reunion is the true highlight of Monterey Car Week, and also one of the best motorsport events in North America. Europe gets the Goodwood Festival of Speed, we get the Reunion. Every year of the Reunion is special and guaranteed to (re)establish memories for spectators and participants. This year the featured marque is BMW, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary.
This year, the Reunion will feature examples of the most significant cars in BMW's history.
BMW's 1999 LeMans winning prototype, the BMW V12 LMR will make the journey from the BMW Museum in Munich to Laguna Seca to be reunited with perennial BMW ace driver Bill Auberlen, who shared a code brown moment with the car during a race at Road Atlanta. A year after its 1999 LeMans win it became (in)famous for giving BMW driver Bill Auberlen a terrifying ride as the prototype Beemer did a back-flip leaving Auberlen with nothing more than a bruised elbow.
The Reunion is a car show, a race, a history lesson and memory maker. Spend any time in the paddock and you will either hear someone else say, or you may say to yourself, "I remember that car at such and such track..." or "I remember that car so many years ago." The best part is that in many cases you get to see some amazing racer actually driven by the person who made it amazing or historically significant in the first place. In past years, we've seen Sirs Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, and Norman Dewis, Carroll Shelby, Phil Hill, Emmerson Fittipaldi, Brian Redman, Derek Bell and countless others in the paddock and on the track. And if the race calendar permits, you're also likely to see familiar "active" drivers from the IndyCar, WEC, F1 and IMSA series. You really have to keep your head on a swivel to catch everything happening around you.
Honestly, if you're on the Monterey Peninsula in the middle of August, you're going to have your mind blown...and more than once. Some people feel that the Pebble Beach Concourse is the anchor event of car week and Concorso Italiano is't that far off, but frankly for the enthusiast that needs to not only see history, but to feel it and smell it, the Reunion is the real draw. A ticket to Pebble Beach is pricey ($325 in advance and $375 at the door...and most of the cars don't move an inch!) but a ticket to the Reunion (the 3 day will set you back $140 and includes parking) will be the best automotive/racing dollar you can spend. You will not only be able to get close and personal to the cars of your favorite era, but also bump into personalities and legends of auto-racing (and Jay Leno, cuz he's there every year). If you love cars and racing, this is a no-brainer. If it's not on your bucket list, add it now and head to Monterey in a couple of weeks to check it off. You will not be disappointed.