GALLERY: The On-Track Action From The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Photography by Alex Sobran
A lot of people wish they were the drivers who competed from the seats of history’s significant racing cars in period, but only a few get the next best thing: entering historic track events like the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. I’m not sure if it’s pettiness generated by envy, an instance of deriving pride from jadedness, or just common parroting, but the vocal detractors always make their presence known. You hear it in accidental trackside eavesdropping on the day of, and inevitably you’ll read it somewhere online not long afterwards: “This isn’t real racing.” No shit. But you know what? It’s still some kind of racing, and it’s pretty much the only thing affording us the chance to see these titans getting some exercise, decades after their job’s been done. Are we so spoiled that this isn’t enough?
Compare it all you want to the more intense attitude toward this stuff that exists in Europe, and this is not to take anything from the competition that occurs at the Revival for instance, but the drivers at Laguna Seca were still spinning, locking up, bumping, passing, and most importantly, motor-mouthing to each other in the shade of their pop-up tents afterwards about how much they enjoyed sharing the track with friends they trust in cars they love. They might not be bouncing off of death’s threshold with every lap like the drivers who originally sat in these cars, but put yourself in the cockpit of something engineered decades ago with half-a-thousand horsepower and turbo lag and flush yourself down the corkscrew with someone on your door before scoffing at these “parade laps.” Again, I’m not saying this is anything like elite racing, I’m asking why some think it’s supposed to be. It’s funny the standards that people can apply in cases like these; where’s the value in dousing the enthusiasm of a wedding by pointing out that the cover band is not in fact the Rolling Stones?
The enjoyment we take from weekends like these doesn’t come from the competition (though I always enjoy Bruce Canepa’s seemingly yearly charge from back of the grid to its podium positions), but instead from the sheer spectacle; from the chance to see former rivals hunting apexes together again; from the view atop the hill that lets you see an entire track dotted with legends in motion and in song; from the ability to follow these cars into the paddock to inspect the details that were moving too quickly to catch at speed. It comes from an appreciation of the cars, an appreciation for their owners who keep them race-ready, and an appreciation for seeing all of this happening at half-throttle as opposed to asking for full and being left with nothing.