Coming to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is always a joy and that joy seems much more noticeable when it is the Rolex sponsored Historic weekend. For the most part the weekend is one to sit back and remember the way things used to be.
To celebrate their 100th anniversary, BMW brought out some very tasty toys to see and hear in action. Among those were 5 CSL Coupes that saw action in IMSA in the mid-70’s, and they were joined by a multitude of other CSLs, some original and some that were faithful recreations. These special cars were joined by a handful of M-1s, some of which saw competition in IMSA as well as many other significant BMW race cars, including the 1986 IMSA GTP, the 2001 controversial V8 powered GTR, the fire spitting 320i turbo, Art Cars, etc… An absolutely mind numbing and a great way to spend a few days.
In addition to BMW, the event also celebrated the 50th anniversary of two revered US based series, the Can Am and the Trans Am. The Can Am in the day featured a very basic set of regulations and from it sprung forth some of the most impressive and raw racing cars ever seen. Pure power, kept on the track by ever increasing tires width, rudimentary aerodynamics and drivers of incredible skill and bravery.
The Trans Am, which was for so-called production based cars was the hunting ground of the factories back in the day and featured some of the most imaginative rule bending ever seen in racing. Acid dipping, both figuratively and likely in a recreational sense was a part of the design and build of these cars back then.
But besides the feature “cars”, there is so much more to be seen here. It is really a step back in time to be able to see and sometimes even touch cars that made history, both good and bad. Seeing a certain car would cause flashbacks in my barely function brain, a March F-1 car driven by Vittorio Brambilla moving past me immediately made me think of the Monza Gorilla and his solitary win in the series, in which after crossing the checkered flag he threw both his hands into the air in jubilation, only to forget he needed to still steer the car. Let’s just say that the car that made it back to the pits was no longer pristine…
Let’s not forget the factories, they too were there. Among those showing their wares were Ford, who had the heritage edition of the new GT at the track. Lexus too took advantage of paddock space to show an example of what they hope to be racing in the (hopefully) near future.
The spirit of this weekend at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion was perfectly summed up by none other than Gunnar Jeanette. “This is my favorite weekend of the year. I always look forward to driving here. There are no balance of performance adjustments here at all. These cars are from the days in which racing was pure, regulations were made and the manufacturers made cars that met those specs in order to race.”
This statement was made by Gunnar, just as he was getting into a Porsche 908-02 “Flunder”, brought to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by the REVS Institute and was restored by none other than his Dad, Kevin. Ironically, Gunnar was wearing his Weather Tech drivers suit that he has used in IMSA competition up until recently…