Monterey Motorsports Reunion: Celebrating 50 years of Formula 5000


The 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion saw the Formula 5000 series celebrate its 50th anniversary with the largest field of cars to date.

The Formula 5000 series began in 1968 in the United States under the sanctioning body of the SCCA and was given the name of “Formula A”. The regulations were famously relaxed with the engine regulations, allowing for a displacement of up to 5000 cubic centimeters, or five liters.

The Chevrolet 302ci V8 was used to significant success in the American Trans-AM series and was carried over to Formula 5000, where it become the most popular choice of powerplant from the beginning to the end of the series.

The American Formula A series lasted from 1968 to 1976 and traveled to classic tracks such as Riverside Raceway, Laguna Seca, Mosport and Lime Rock. Britain, Europe and New Zealand had their own Formula 5000 series that traveled to circuits such as Hockenheim, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Surfers Paradise and Adelaide.

The American-run series saw the biggest names in motorsport participating with the likes of David Hobbs, Sam Posey, Tony Adamowicz, Brian Redman, Jody Scheckter and Peter Gethin all taking part and relishing in the mix of raw horsepower and the nimble driving style that was specific to cars of an open-wheel design.

2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 50th anniversary

While the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion had set Nissan as its featured mark, the 50th anniversary of Formula 5000 brought out an equally impressive showing of more than 45 cars, with nearly 20 of them making the long trip from New Zealand, Australia or the United Kingdom to take place in one of the most significant reunions in motorsport history.

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The impressive group fielded three cars that took place in the inaugural season of Formula 5000 competition. Timothy Osborne took to the field in an elegant 1968 Crossle 15F while Bruce Sevier displayed a 1968 Lola T140 in its cigar shape configuration.

Paul Kuhl and the Spirit Racing team brought out another 1968 Lola T140 that had just undergone a significant restoration process to return the car to its original livery and configuration as driven by Dick Jacobs and later Pete Helfrich.

The field continued on through the many years and iterations of Formula 5000 cars with a hearty helping of Lola, McLaren, Chevron, McRae, Talon, March, Shadow, Gurney Eagle, Surtees, Lotus, Elfin and Crossle cars. Craig Bennett in his Dodge-powered 1976 Shadow DN6 blitzed the field in the final race, setting lap times that would have been competitive back in 1976 driving in the competitive series.

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion was made even more special for the drivers and spectators when Formula 5000 and motorsports legend David Hobbs was found pacing through the Formula 5000 paddock looking at the cars he used to race and finding a few familiar faces.

Hobbs continued his participation with his favorite racing group by moving up to the commentators’ booth and reminiscing about the thunderous group for the final Formula 5000 race of the event weekend.

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The Formula 5000 series existed for a relatively short time (1968-1976) but left behind a wealth of classic cars that bring out participants and spectators alike. The engines were massive, the tires were larger and the drivers were fearless back in the day and still are now.

Formula 5000 still brings out massive crowds that flock to the look of nimble open-wheel formula cars that produce the ground-pounding and chest-thumping sensation that only a large displacement V8 can.