Wheel-to-wheel historic racing at Laguna Seca

Shelby Mustang GT350

Dawn Patrol is great to see concours cars on the move, but the real place to see cars in their natural environment during Monterey Car Week is at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. More than a dozen classes of vintage and not-so-vintage race cars fired up their engines and tackled the technical turns of Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca as drivers pushed the cars and themselves to shave a few tenths off their lap times.

Many of the 20-minute heats are done with deliberate care and mechanical sympathy, although several classes, particularly Trans Am, is legit racing for series points and had real competition with several lead changes.

If you missed this year’s Reunion, don’t blame us. We’ve been proselytizing about the event for ages. However, as consolation, we do have a gallery of photos of some of our favorite cars in action.

Javelin Trans Am
Brandan Gillogly
Javelin Trans Am

Bill Ockerlund, from Holland, Michigan, was often at the front of the pack in his ’71 Javelin. Which is appropriate, as it’s the same car that Mark Donohue used to dominate the 1971 Trans Am season, winning seven of 10 races.

Grey Ghost Tempest Laguna Seca Rolex Historics
Brandan Gillogly
Grey Ghost Tempest Laguna Seca Rolex Historics

Pontiac engineer Herb Adams turned a daily-driver 1964 Tempest into a privateer Trans Am racer that held its own among the big-money factory teams in 1971. It’s now owned by John Hildebrand, who could always be found just behind the lead pack in fifth place. It certainly stands out among the curvy pony cars.

Martini Lancia Laguna Seca
Brandan Gillogly
Martini Lancia Laguna Seca

Some of racing’s most storied liveries were on full-speed display on the track, including Wynn’s Porsche 962, Penske blue on both Porsche and Camaro, and of course Martini’s famous red, white, and blue 1984 Lancia LC2, piloted here by Zak Brown.

Vintage Sports Cars Rolex Historics
Brandan Gillogly
Vintage Sports Cars Rolex Historics

The 1955–61 Sports Racers class had some of the most colorful and shapely entrants. The field included Lotus, Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Devin, Aston Martin, and Jaguar.

Bugatti Grand Prix racers Laguna Seca
Brandan Gillogly
Bugatti Grand Prix racers Laguna Seca

Where else but the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will you see Bugatti Grand Prix cars racing wheel-to-wheel?