Rolex Reunion to celebrate Le Mans centenary

Rolex Reunion to celebrate Le Mans centenary

In 2023, the world’s oldest endurance auto race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, turns 100, but you don’t have to wait until then to get involved in the celebration.

For the 2022 edition of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the featured marque takes an exciting twist. Instead of focusing on a single manufacturer, the Aug. 17-20 event will showcase a curated selection of cars eligible to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans to kick off the official centenary celebrations.

It’s not the first time the country’s pinnacle historic racing event has honored a broader sweep of racing history, rather than a specific marque, having done so in advance of the 50th anniversary of IMSA in 2018, as well as honoring Dan Gurney and his creations in 2010.

“We wanted to do something different for this year,” says Barry Toepke, Director of Heritage Events and Public Relations at WeatherTech Raceway. “And with 2023 being the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it was a great opportunity to honor a race that has been so influential and the many brands that have been a part of it.”

The idea was presented to and warmly welcomed by the organizers of the French enduro classic, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO).

“Scott Atherton, formerly of IMSA, helped make the introduction to the president of the ACO, Pierre –Fillon, who was enthusiastic about the idea from the start,” recalls Toepke.

McLaren’s Zak Brown is among the luminaries attending, bringing his Jaguar XJR-10 for some track action.

Four run groups form the backbone of the celebration, with cars that have either raced at Le Mans, or would have been eligible to race there, divided as follows:

• 1923-1955 Le Mans Celebration
• 1956-1971 Le Mans
• 1972-1982 Le Mans
• 1981-2005 Le Mans Prototypes & GT1

“The wide speed disparity among the eligible cars caused us to put greater thought into how the run groups were organized,” explains Toepke. “We ended with what we believe are some compelling groups. We also know that each of the owners of these cars are deeply committed to historic racing and can balance competition with the need to preserve these amazing machines.”

As always, the Reunion will feature stacked fields of top-shelf cars across all 13 of its run groups.

In addition to the cars that are competing on track, there will also be a selection of significant cars exhibited in the Le Mans Heritage Display Presented by Motul.

“It will be a curated display of overall winners and class winners, plus cars of special interest,” says Toepke. “We anticipate 50 to 65 authentic and historic cars from private collections and museums. Along with the cars that are in the races, this likely means the Rolex Reunion will host the most Le Mans-era cars ever assembled in one location in America.”

Among the first cars to be revealed as part of the display (clockwise from top left) are “Old Number One,” the Bentley Speed Six that won in 1929 and ’30; the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Type driven by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson to an overall victory in 1956; the Ford GT40 Mk I that raced to overall honors in both 1968 and ’69; and the NART-entered Ferrari 250 LM that took the win in 1965 with Jochen Rindt and Americans Masten Gregory and Ed Hugus and remains the Italian marque’s last overall winner.

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion should perpetually be on any automotive and motorsports enthusiast’s bucket-list, but this year’s event truly qualifies as a once-in-a-lifetime happening. Don’t miss it.

Car lovers’ paradise

Monterey Classic Car Week kicks off with the Monterey Pre-Reunion on Aug. 13-14, which offers a great opportunity to get a more relaxed glimpse at many of the cars and drivers entered in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 17 through to Saturday, Aug. 20.

In addition to the 100th anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans celebrations, the Rolex Reunion will feature nine other car run groups, headlined by the Historic Trans Am cars of 1966 to 1972.

An open paddock offers a unique chance to rub shoulders with racing legends, and the on-track action is a great way to appreciate legendary racecars of the past doing what they do best – unleashed for full-throated laps of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

A full array of ticket options, from single-day tickets to luxury VIP suite packages, are available at weathertechraceway.com. Advance purchase prices are available through Aug. 12. Tickets may also be purchased at the admissions gate.

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