GALLERY: Walking The Paddock At The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Photography by Alex Sobran
This past weekend saw the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I’m sure you’re aware of this. What doesn’t translate through the photos though is how down to earth it all is, because despite the first sentence’s injection of corporate sponsorship, the whole weekend is more akin to a group of friends gathering for a track day than the automotive version of the Bilderberg Group that the cars’ values and pedigrees imply. The camaraderie and openness rivals anything to be found among the plastic lawn chair paddock hangouts at your local circuit, but the cars that arrived here have a presence and an innate seriousness about them that’s just plain unmatchable. There are few places in the world that can make a 935 seem commonplace though, and I was lucky enough to be in the thick of it, weaving through rows and rows of cars as my sunburn ripened and my jaw constantly dropped.
The flanks of machines culled from their storage facilities around the world were one thing, but it was the density that you’re likely to remember most vividly. One reason for that is the sheer number of cars that can halt your stride and swivel your head; it’s too much to take in, and there’s a background sensation of missing out on something even when you’re standing in front of the cars that usually only exist on screens. It’s too much to remember, too hard to choose favorites, and I think it’s thanks in large part to the track.
Laguna Seca is small enough such that you can stand at the top of the Corkscrew within the blast radius of a 908/3 dropping down two gears and still see and hear a GT40 stretching out its V8 yawp all the way through it’s tall third on the front straightaway. It’s not a big place to begin with, but it’s relatively tiny when all this great nonsense arrives for the weekend. And seeing all these cars from different eras and continents gathered here, it begs the question: what will we remember from the “combustion era” once we engineer most of it away in a future increasingly reliant on electricity to propel this quieter and quicker new age of motorsport?
There’s nothing anyone can or should say to detract from pre-War juggernauts like the Alfa 8C or Bugattis 35s or the beasts of the Bentley Boys, but I think there are some absolutes at play here too. Already it is clear that the new generations of car enthusiasts aren’t very interested in cars that precede their own parents’ generations, but will this dynamic of being too young to remember, and thus care, hold true for the stuff that came later? Will a Mazda 767 ever really become so ancient and antiquated that we no longer connect with it? It’s hard to imagine that being the truth.
Whatever it is you like though, there are strong odds it was in the paddock area or out on the track at Laguna Seca a few days ago. Our on-track photos will be coming in a separate post, so for now I hope you enjoy this gallery of what it’s like to walk around the infield.