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Step back into motor racing history at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 24 August 2016

FOR four action-packed days, the California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosted the finest collection of historic automobiles, gathered together for last week’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

As the constant heartbeat of the Monterey Classic Car Week extravaganza, the Reunion brought 550 vintage vehicles to life in their natural racing environment.

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Every morning the eerie fog hanging over the undulating raceway on the Monterey Peninsula cleared to reveal a hive of activity on the infield; owners, drivers and curators enthusiastically tinkering in the garages and pit lane.

As the Californian sunshine began beating down on the asphalt and the sound of engines reverberated around the hillside, the cars captivated onlookers as they battled out on track, speeding down the renowned and challenging Corkscrew turn, tackling blind crests and tricky apexes, all the way to the chequered flag.

The Reunion brought together 15 classes of cars from every era of motor racing history. Each year the event also features a brand, a specific model, a type of vehicle, or even an accomplished racing driver.

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The featured marque for 2016 was BMW as the German manufacturer celebrated its centenary. An impressive 64 BMWs entered the Reunion, from the 1937 BMW 328 to a 2001 BMW M3 GTR, all adding to this distinctive rolling motoring museum.

As the scene of America’s golden years of sports car racing, Laguna Seca has witnessed some of motor racing’s finest moments since 1957, including the thrilling and extreme Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am), which celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Reunion this week.

Also featured were historic Formula One cars from the 3-litre era, 1967 to 1984. While the Raceway has never hosted a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, many of the greatest Formula One drivers have competed here, including Rolex Testimonee and three-time FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Champion, Sir Jackie Stewart (main pic, centre), who attended this year’s event and fittingly was twice victorious in the 1971 Can-Am, driving the Lola T-260.

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After robust competition and exciting racing, it was Car 101 in Group 7A Can-Am (1968-1974), the 1971 Shadow Mk II (above), that triumphed, claiming the Spirit of Monterey Award and the ultimate racing driver’s watch, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. This timepiece, awarded to the winning car’s owner, Jim Bartell, was the perfect way to commemorate such a momentous achievement.