Provenance is Key to Acceptance
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Countdown

A 1983 Williams F1 car descends The Corkscrew.

How do you narrow down a list to 550 cars from more than 800 applicants, each with historically-significant race cars? That’s an arduous task for anybody, but this year’s Governing Committee was up to the challenge and the results are in the paddock before your very eyes…and ears.

This month marks the 38th year of historic car racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It all started in 1974 with just 66 cars rolling into the paddock for what founder and vintage racing pioneer Steven Earle of General Racing Ltd. coined the Monterey Historic Automobile Races®. That fateful day (they ran only on Saturday) was the spark that ignited vintage racing events across the country.

But what distinguishes the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion from other vintage races? Foremost, it’s the participants and their cars. Each entry is scrutinized for its historical significance and provenance, race history, authenticity and period correctness. Modifications that improve performance over its original specifications are simply not allowed.

There are cars, and then there are Monterey cars.

There are a number of cars entered each year that only race in Monterey. The strict scrutineering process reassures owners of some of the world’s rarest cars that their entry is not running against a replica, and thus much less valuable. As one participant pointed out, “I won’t run my car against someone who is driving a reproduction.”

“The Governing Committee goes to great lengths to ensure each car is historically accurate,” explains Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Cars that are ‘overbuilt’ or ‘over restored’ are not accepted because that’s not how they originally ran. This sport is for enjoyment, not hardcore racing, and provides everyone a chance to relive a part of history.”

Upon arrival, each car undergoes a comprehensive technical inspection to ensure it conforms to the accepted entry. The Historic Motor Sports Association (the event’s sanctioning body) has a field of technical inspectors who carefully analyze the car and logbook and has on some occasions declined cars from participating unless they correct the infraction. Too demanding? Not for this event. 

The participants who own these wonderful cars from racing’s bygone days are the caretakers of history. And the owners and crew are always eager to share stories with visitors.

“This event truly is a museum springing to life,” Campbell adds. “There’s nothing more enjoyable than watching the faces of our young fans light up upon seeing and hearing a car they’ve only read about.”