2018 Rolex Monterey Historics Reunion: Weekend rundown from Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, CA - 1991: General view as vintage autos drive on the track at Laguna Seca Raceway during the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in August of 1991 in Monterey, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
MONTEREY, CA - 1991: General view as vintage autos drive on the track at Laguna Seca Raceway during the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in August of 1991 in Monterey, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

The 2018 running of the Rolex Monterey Historics Reunion is soon to be underway as the massive group of vintage racing machines looks ready to perform.

As a fan of vintage racing of all kinds, there is no better place to spend a weekend than at Laguna Seca for the 2018 running of the Monterey Historics Reunion. The track has taken on new sponsorship from the WeatherTech floor liner company and is set to host an IndyCar race in 2019.

Every year, the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca organizers come together to choose a featured mark that will be celebrated. This year belongs to Nissan and is many iconic racing endeavors. Nissan’s story begins in 1937 when the three-year-old Nissan Motor Company Ltd. earned its first race win at the Tamagawa Speedway. Since then, the iconic brand has stood with racing legends Bob Sharp and Paul Newman with the “Z” car brand.

Nissan would expand into the pinnacle of prototype speed by partnering with the Electromotive engineering company based out of Chino, Southern California, for the 1988 IMSA GTP series. The GTP ZX-T (1988), RC90C  (1989), NPT30 (1990) and NPT91 (1991) dominated the IMSA GTP series from 1988-1991 with Geoff Brabham, the son of Formula 1 legend Jack Brabham, by winning the driver championship four seasons in a row. The most recent achievement for the proud Japanese company came recently in 2018 when the EMS Patron team took an overall win in the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring.

The cars to remember

While Nissan is this year’s featured mark, it is by no means the only highlight of the Rolex Monterey Historics. Some of the earliest racing cars to compete will be out in force with names like Lagonda, Maserati, Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Delage and Talbot working around the Laguna Seca Raceway with wooden spoke wheels and skinny treaded tires in the Pre-1940 sports racing and touring cars class.

The 1947-1955 sports racing and GT cars class will feature cars from the makes of Jaguar, Austin Healy, Triumph, Allard, Porsche and Crosley, where the progress of early racing development can be seen with the transition from exposed wheel cars to full body sports cars.

The 1955-1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000 cc will feature the pioneers of early large displacement engines with a 1959 Lister Corvette and 1960 Maserati Birdcage competing with the light and nimble Cooper, Ferrari and Jaguar sports racers of the time.

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The favorite class of Monterey Historics comes next with the 1967-1984 Formula 1 cars taking the stage with another massively impressive lineup. Some of the instantly recognizable cars that will be seen thundering around the historic track include a 1974 Brabham BT-44, a 1973 Shadow DN3, a 1976 Ferrari 312 T2 and a 1979 Tyrrell 009.

Next up for the star-studded cast is the 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA, GT, GTX, GTU, and AAGT class with the iconic sights and sounds of Porsche, BMW, Nissan, Chevrolet, Datsun and De Tomaso in an always competitive pack.

The hits keep on coming with the following class sure to draw plenty of eyes and rattle eardrums. The 1966-1972 Trans-Am class fields American classics such as the Pontiac Trans Am, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, AMC Javelin, Ford Falcon and Dodge Challenger.

Take a few steps in a different direction and we arrive at the FIA Manufacturer Championship class. The 1971 Ferrari 312 P Sparling, 1968 Porsche 908, 1970 Chevron B16, 1966 Ford GT40 and 1978 Chevron B36 will be just some of the few traversing the classic Laguna Seca course.

A class that  will be celebrating its 50th anniversary landmark will be the 1968-1976 Formula 5000 class. In attendance will be one first cars in Formula 5000 history, a Lola T140, chassis number 11, driven by Paul Kuhl, restored to its original 1968 form. Making up the field of upwards of 40+ cars will be a 1974 Talon MR1A, a 1969 Gurney Eagle, a 1970 Lola T190, a 1970 Lotus 70, a 1977 Elfin MR8 and a multitude of other Lola, Crossle, McRae and McLaren cars. Many of this year’s Formula 5000 participants have made the long travel from Australia and New Zealand, where Formula 5000 racing is alive and well in the current and ongoing Tasman series.

Next up are the 1955-1962 GT cars. The smaller displacement experts will work around Laguna Seca in makes from Lotus, Porsche, Morgan, Chevrolet, MG, Elva and Ferrari. The specialized 1955-1961 sports racing cars under 2000 cc will take to the track with cars such as the iconic Lotus Eleven and slippery Elva racing cars. The 1961-1966 GT cars under 2500 cc are next. The featured Datsun “Z” cars will compete with Porsches, MGs and Lotuses.

Taking a different direction, we see the 1958-1963 Formula Junior class, which is where Formula 1 legends began their careers in Lotus, Cooper, Brabham and Huffaker cars. The next class takes a significant leap in racing engineering. In the 1966-1974 Can-Am class, rules were vague to non-existent . This class provides spectators with cult classics such as the McLaren M8, the Lola T70 and the Shadow DN4.

The racing is not even close to being completed when the 1963-1966 GT cars over 2500 cc take to the track. The thundering sounds of Corvettes, Shelby Cobras, Sunbeam Tigers and many more will traverse the famed corkscrew. Last but not least is the 1981-1991 IMSA, GTO, GTP and Trans-Am class. Highlights of this class will be the Porsche 962C, the Audi 200 Quattro and the All American Racing Toyota Eagle MK111 GTP.

Something for every fan of racing

Whatever your favorite class of vintage racing might be, or even if you have never been to a vintage race before, the Monterey Historics Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has something for every type of motorsports fan. The opportunity to see this many vintage racing legends in this good of racing shape doing what they were built to do is a rare opportunity.

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Bring a chair, bring a tent, bring the family and enjoy the best that racing history has to offer as the racing gets going from tomorrow, Thursday, August 23, through Sunday, August 26.