Another year, another Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. And yet, the gathering at Laguna Seca never gets old.
It’s a rare weekend of the year where manufacturers, engineers, drivers, and spectators alike all get to bask in the nostalgic glory of their younger years at the race track. Maybe even this race track, watching some of these exact cars scream past. For those of us who weren’t quite around when these cars were designed and built, RMMR provides a unique opportunity to experience them as they were meant to be experienced: at speed.
Every day at this event is a special one, a collective roar from motorsports past — a roar heard around the world.
Cars from every corner of the United States turn up, and attendees arrive from around the globe. It’s tradition now, and a vibrant source of motorsport folklore.
During this weekend there are more stories in the Laguna Seca paddock than you could fit in an encyclopedia, and there are plenty of wise old voices that are quick to share a few. Or several. Dozens of stories, even.
It makes sense, too, as many of these very cars raced this storied course in decades past. And even better, some of the drivers at the event actually raced here when it really mattered.
This is the holy grail of historic racing in America, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. You can feel it on your skin; you can taste it in the air. The atmosphere is thick with the history of these cars, their owners, and their accomplishments. It’s a serious ordeal, and it’s a genuine privilege to experience these cars up close, year in and year out.
It’s one thing to see these giants of motorsport in a museum, but it’s just that much more awe-inspiring to hear them wound up on a race track. I’m not exaggerating when I say you can feel the downshifts, the flat-out acceleration, and the raucous backfire inside your chest cavity.
As I touched on in my visit to Impeccable Inc.— where this Duracell-liveried ’91 Trans Am champ resides — this is all even more amazing when you consider the collective hours invested into maintaining these racing machines from bygone eras. If you actually run the numbers on restoring the cars present at this event, it comes to roughly one million man-hours, probably more. Dollars-wise, I don’t even want to know.
But what I do know is that there’s nothing like a vintage race weekend, especially at the usually sound-regulated WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course. The track has been under threat of wealthy noise-adverse neighbors for a long time, and this is the exact reason that dozens of other circuits around the globe have had to shut their doors for good.
It boggles my mind that some people wouldn’t want to hear the glorious howl that pumps out of long-tube headers on a giant V8, but they do exist. I’m far from the first person to point this out, and I’m sure I’ve said it here before, but what kind of dense individual would you have to be to move next to a race track and then complain about all that wonderful noise?
All I can hope is that the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the traditions surrounding it never die. I doubt they ever will, and although it’s a bit hard to imagine what I might be doing in the year 2050, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I found myself at Laguna Seca once again.
Right here at the bottom of the Corkscrew, admiring the racing heroes of 2020 as they fly past, obsolete internal combustions at wide open throttle, dancing about with a dash of oversteer. See you there?
Trevor Yale Ryan