Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion: Celebrating IMSA's 50th
This year, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) turns 50 years old. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has celebrated this milestone with a book that was released last year, IMSA: Celebrating 50 Years highlighting the moments, stories and heroes of North America’s sports car racing history. It’s a stunning collection of glossy pages with drool worthy photos that we covet. (We note that for the cost of the book you could spend three days looking at the very cars and meeting the very drivers that are highlighted in it’s thick glorious pages)
And speaking of awesomeness, WeatherTech and IMSA’s birthday…….
August offers us our favorite event on the TLP calendar, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (August 15th-18th). This year, the Reunion pays tribute to the aforementioned 50th Anniversary of IMSA. The Reunion is perhaps North America's greatest display of automotive and racing history and it coincides with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Concorso Italiano, Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction, The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering and several other high profile auctions and events held all over the Monterey Peninsula.
The Reunion is a living museum featuring hundreds of historic, classic and often priceless sports and racing cars in attendance. Unlike a car show of trailer queens, every car at the Reunion must race on the track. This is one of the only places we know of where historic and sometimes one-off creations, iconic racers, grand prix (including pre-war), TransAm, Can-Am and international endurance racing cars are driven to the limit (mostly), and in some cases, by the very people/personalities that made them notable.
When the announcement was released last year that the theme of this year’s Reunion would be a celebration of IMSA at 50, our imaginations speculated on the potential and (probably) massive scope of what this could be. We discussed amongst ourselves what cars and drivers would appear over the weekend, as dipping into the IMSA talent pool both past and present could have infinite outcomes of pure amazing! In anticipation of more people and things going on at the track this year, we’ve decided to curtail our other weekend plans on the peninsula in favor of spending more time at the Reunion.
It was when we saw the entry list only a few days ago that speculation turned to reality. Organizers have finalized the seventeen page….let’s repeal that…SEVENTEEN PAGE (single spaced) entry list of cars spanning from the prewar era to the modern beast of 2011 BMW M3 GT which rounds out the Endurance Legends category. Speaking of this “Legends” category, it includes around 27 endurance sports cars spanning the last twenty years or so. This alone would get us to make the drive even if we only had one day to take in the event. We have only just started comparing this year’s entry list with previous years, but it’s clear that this year will see one of the largest and best fields of cars ever to race at the Reunion.
But wait, there’s more…
Personalities and legends typically walk casually through the paddock of the course of any Reunion weekend. Drivers like endurance legend (and event Grand Marshal) Hurley Haywood, Formula 1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart, 9 Time LeMans winner Tom Kristensen, and even Adam Corolla. However, this year someone returns who was a highlight of both the 2017 and 2018 Reunions, Finland’s F1 World Champion and Bond villain, Mika Häkkinen. Last year, Häkkinen drove the 1995 LeMans Winning McLaren F1 around the famed turns of Laguna Seca. In 2017 he did the same in an ex Emerson Fittipaldi McLaren M23 formula 1 car. This year, the two time F1 champion returns to drive a 1970 McLaren M8D/3 “Batmobile” powered by a puny 7.6-liter Chevrolet engine. The M8D/3 won 9 rounds of the 10 round 1970 championship season. We’re sure he will put on another great show this year.
The point here is that the Reunion is always amazing, and its only just a week away. As we consistently recommend to anyone who’s asked (or who’ll listen to our blathering), if you can only attend one event at a racetrack this year, you owe it to yourself to attend the Reunion. As we do every year, we will post full reports on the Reunion as well as the other events that we check out over the weekend.
Link to previous coverage of the Reunion and our Car Week Guide: