August 17-19, 2007
s if having the most perfect weather on Earth wasn't enough, every summer herds of classic cars flock, much like the region's famous sea lions, to Monterey for the classic car weekend. Drool at any time during the four days and your saliva is more likely to land on a vintage Maserati than the ground. To the west, we have the Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance, to the north there's the Concorso Italiano, and to the east there's the Monterey Historics held at Laguna Seca. In between, there's automobile auctions held by Christie's, Kruse and Russo & Steele. With million dollar specimens of the finest automotive art rolling into town like the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, it's no wonder the price of every hotel room on the peninsula balloons stratospherically.
Naturally, corporate sponsorship abounds, as evidenced by the full name of the event and its venue: The 34th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races presented by Toyota at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A name almost as long as the 2.2 mile track itself. Toyota, of course, is celebrating dual milestones of its fiftieth year of selling cars in America and its fiftieth year of motorsports, while Mazda is commemorating the fortieth birthday of the rotary engine. We're not really familiar with the other title sponsor. We heard they make clocks or something.
With fast company like Ferrari and Lotus cruising the circuit, Toyota pulled out all the stops to bring together 25 of the 40 2000GTs, including two of the Shelby racers, to form the largest gathering of Japan's first supercar ever held outside of Japan. Precious few classics populated the remaining spaces in the Toyota corral, inhabited mostly by sleek new Lexuses, tricked out Scions, and a Cressida station wagon worth slightly less than anything parked inside the Ferrari corral.
Toyota also provided three brand spanking new Lexus IS-F pace cars and almost a dozen 215hp Scion tCs for the likes of Al and Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Rahal, Parnelli Jones, Vic Elford, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ove Andersson and Derek Bell to race, slam, and generally abuse in the name of charity. A Toyota nut could be convinced that he had died and gone directly to the afterlife upon witnessing a screaming new IS-F lead a stream of 2000GTs down the seven-story drop of Laguna Seca's infamous corkscrew turn.
Mazda exhibited significant rotary-powered machines from its past, including an IMSA GTU RX-7 and two Cosmo 110 Sports, one long and one short wheelbases, the latter of which was purchased just six weeks ago from Glenn Roberts (azfast1 in our forums). While Nissan didn't have an official presence, their fans represented old school Dats with several 510s and 240Zs in their corral and a aero-bodied GTU 240Z hit the tracks with Porsche 935s.
Many of us may have visited laguna Seca in Gran Turismo, but in person, in all its tarmac and sand pit glory, with cars ranging from a 1927 Bentley Speed Six to a race-modified Corvette Stingray roaring around the bends, the live experience seems almost, well, unreal.