Automotive

Pictorial: Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca

Pictorial: Rolex Motorsport Re...
Each year the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has a featured marque and this year Datsun (Nissan) really rose to the occasion
Each year the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has a featured marque and this year Datsun (Nissan) really rose to the occasion
View 106 Images
Four time Indy Car series champ and three-time Indy 500 winner, Dario Franchitti, was on hand to give New Atlas the official tour of various Nissans, new and old.
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Four time Indy Car series champ and three-time Indy 500 winner, Dario Franchitti, was on hand to give New Atlas the official tour of various Nissans, new and old.
Tuning up the former Paul Newman 1984 Nissan 300ZX race car in Nissan alley
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Tuning up the former Paul Newman 1984 Nissan 300ZX race car in Nissan alley
1960s era Datsun Fairlady racing roadster resides inside the Nissan paddock
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1960s era Datsun Fairlady racing roadster resides inside the Nissan paddock
Before Nissan there was Datsun as seen on the nose of this roadster racer
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Before Nissan there was Datsun as seen on the nose of this roadster racer
1966 Datsun 1600 roadster on display at the Datsun paddock
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1966 Datsun 1600 roadster on display at the Datsun paddock
Nissan speed racer #83 under the marque's tent at this year's Rolex Motorsport Reunion
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Nissan speed racer #83 under the marque's tent at this year's Rolex Motorsport Reunion
An extremely rare 1998 Nissan R390 GTI, sporting a  500 hp twin-turbo 3.5 litre V8 , is a homologation car built so the marque could participate in GT racing in the late 90s
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An extremely rare 1998 Nissan R390 GTI, sporting a  500 hp twin-turbo 3.5 litre V8 , is a homologation car built so the marque could participate in GT racing in the late 90s
A 1998 Nissan R390 GTI in the marque's tent is only one of two cars in existence
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A 1998 Nissan R390 GTI in the marque's tent is only one of two cars in existence
Almost never seen in the open, this 1998 Nissan R390 GTI is considered one of the rarest production cars in the world
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Almost never seen in the open, this 1998 Nissan R390 GTI is considered one of the rarest production cars in the world
Nissan's GT-R50 made its North American debut at Laguna Seca this year
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Nissan's GT-R50 made its North American debut at Laguna Seca this year
Redesigned by Italdesign, the Nissan GT-R50 sports an upgraded twin-turbo V6 good for 710 horsepower and 575 ft. lb of torque
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Redesigned by Italdesign, the Nissan GT-R50 sports an upgraded twin-turbo V6 good for 710 horsepower and 575 ft. lb of torque
The bespoke GT-R50 will set your pocket book back USD $1.05 million
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The bespoke GT-R50 will set your pocket book back USD $1.05 million
Nissan plans to make only 50 of the custom GT-R50s
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Nissan plans to make only 50 of the custom GT-R50s
Pit lane at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion features everything from this 1964 Ford Falcon to 1930 era Alfa Romeo's
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Pit lane at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion features everything from this 1964 Ford Falcon to 1930 era Alfa Romeo's
1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 makes its way out on to the track
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1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 makes its way out on to the track
Camaro in the staging area, part of the Trans-Am series
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Camaro in the staging area, part of the Trans-Am series
1968 Chevy Camaro Z28 shows driver, Ronald Atchley, discussing pre-race details
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1968 Chevy Camaro Z28 shows driver, Ronald Atchley, discussing pre-race details
No 88 a MOMO badged 1980s Porsche 935 J was one of the standout vehicles at this year's races
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No 88 a MOMO badged 1980s Porsche 935 J was one of the standout vehicles at this year's races
Team support crew on hand to assist cars into staging areas when needed
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Team support crew on hand to assist cars into staging areas when needed
Backend of a Ferrari making its way to pit lane
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Backend of a Ferrari making its way to pit lane
Ford GT40 in the background on its way to the races
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Ford GT40 in the background on its way to the races
This 1966 Ford GT40 was one of several on hand at this year's races
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This 1966 Ford GT40 was one of several on hand at this year's races
1962 Lotus 23 waits in the pits
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1962 Lotus 23 waits in the pits
Kendall GT-1 racing oil sponsored car on display behind the pits
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Kendall GT-1 racing oil sponsored car on display behind the pits
Porsche #26 endurance racer on display
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Porsche #26 endurance racer on display
One of many rare models tucked away at this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
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One of many rare models tucked away at this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Early 2000's era Ford GT in the garage with its newer brethren
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Early 2000's era Ford GT in the garage with its newer brethren
A Ford GT '68 Heritage Edition (background), decked out in the Gulf Oil livery, was unveiled at this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
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A Ford GT '68 Heritage Edition (background), decked out in the Gulf Oil livery, was unveiled at this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Spring Mountain Racing out promoting their exclusive track and race car inventory
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Spring Mountain Racing out promoting their exclusive track and race car inventory
Jaguar i-pace trophy in the marques paddock
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Jaguar i-pace trophy in the marques paddock
Jaguar all-electric I-PACE performance crossover  set a production EV record lap at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with a time of 1:48.18 
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Jaguar all-electric I-PACE performance crossover  set a production EV record lap at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with a time of 1:48.18 
One of the great names in motor-car racing, Dan Gurney, who passed away earlier this year, was honoured at this year's event
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One of the great names in motor-car racing, Dan Gurney, who passed away earlier this year, was honoured at this year's event
Porsche 908 makes its way down the big straight towards the final turn for home
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Porsche 908 makes its way down the big straight towards the final turn for home
1970 Porsche 908/3 trimming the apex on the final turn
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1970 Porsche 908/3 trimming the apex on the final turn
One of several Porsche's participating in this years event
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One of several Porsche's participating in this years event
Ford GT40 turns its nose towards the finish line
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Ford GT40 turns its nose towards the finish line
1966 Ford GT40 heading out of turn 6 before heading up Rahal Straight
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1966 Ford GT40 heading out of turn 6 before heading up Rahal Straight
Indy cars in the staging area
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Indy cars in the staging area
Indy racer waiting patiently for the green light
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Indy racer waiting patiently for the green light
Cars from 1968-1976 stage up to compete in the Formula 5000 event
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Cars from 1968-1976 stage up to compete in the Formula 5000 event
Formula 5000 cars stage up for racing in the 8A category
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Formula 5000 cars stage up for racing in the 8A category
1969 McLaren M10B flies up the Rahal straight at this year's historic races
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1969 McLaren M10B flies up the Rahal straight at this year's historic races
Mika Hakkinen  gets educated on how a LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR works 
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Mika Hakkinen  gets educated on how a LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR works 
Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
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Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR, featuring Mika Hakkinen
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1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR, featuring Mika Hakkinen
Formula 1 winning driver, Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
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Formula 1 winning driver, Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
Nissan GT-R50 prior to hot lapping Laguna Seca
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Nissan GT-R50 prior to hot lapping Laguna Seca
Mika Hakkinen brakes hard in the 1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
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Mika Hakkinen brakes hard in the 1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
Mika Hakkinen  in the 1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
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Mika Hakkinen  in the 1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
Mika Hakkinen heading into the pits after three demo laps in the1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
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Mika Hakkinen heading into the pits after three demo laps in the1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
Nissan GT-R50 braking before accelerating up Laguna Seca's long straight
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Nissan GT-R50 braking before accelerating up Laguna Seca's long straight
Mash up of Formula Junior cars and others parked for pre-race adjustments
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Mash up of Formula Junior cars and others parked for pre-race adjustments
Engine bay of the stunning Maserati 4CM
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Engine bay of the stunning Maserati 4CM
1933 Maserati 4CM driver's lounge
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1933 Maserati 4CM driver's lounge
Slightly flared up, a 1976 Porsche 935 K on display in the pits
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Slightly flared up, a 1976 Porsche 935 K on display in the pits
Latest endurance racer on display at the Mazda suite
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Latest endurance racer on display at the Mazda suite
1989 Mazda 767 B
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1989 Mazda 767 B
One of Mazda's most famous race cars, the 1989 767 B chills inside the marque's tent
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One of Mazda's most famous race cars, the 1989 767 B chills inside the marque's tent
Oversized Rolex timepiece outside the sponsor's tent
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Oversized Rolex timepiece outside the sponsor's tent
Repairing up for the next race
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Repairing up for the next race
Visitors need be mindful of traffic in the inner sanctum at all times
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Visitors need be mindful of traffic in the inner sanctum at all times
1960s era Alfa Romeo racer sits next to a stunning Siata coupe
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1960s era Alfa Romeo racer sits next to a stunning Siata coupe
Analog adjustment device
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Analog adjustment device
Inside the engine bay of one of the 1920-30s era racers
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Inside the engine bay of one of the 1920-30s era racers
Old time drivers environment didn't believe in stuff like safety so much
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Old time drivers environment didn't believe in stuff like safety so much
1932 Alfa Romeo Monza were modded up, faster versions of the 6C
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1932 Alfa Romeo Monza were modded up, faster versions of the 6C
Brilliant example of a 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza
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Brilliant example of a 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza
Suspension detail of the 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza
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Suspension detail of the 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza
Under the hood of the 8-cylinder equipped 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza
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Under the hood of the 8-cylinder equipped 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza
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1920s era Bugatti 37A
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1920s era Bugatti 37A
Talbot-Lago racer displays massive heads and triple carburetors in blue car alley
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Talbot-Lago racer displays massive heads and triple carburetors in blue car alley
Hood off of the 1946 Delage D6
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Hood off of the 1946 Delage D6
Cockpit of 1920s era Bugatti shows minimalist amenities
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Cockpit of 1920s era Bugatti shows minimalist amenities
Life in the pits
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Life in the pits
1912 Packard 30 in for repair between races
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1912 Packard 30 in for repair between races
Brilliant example of a 1914 Mercer 45
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Brilliant example of a 1914 Mercer 45
Super early era Morgan hangs in the garage
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Super early era Morgan hangs in the garage
Extremely rare 1935 Alta Grand Prix prior to heading out for the "Pre-1940 Sports Racing & Touring Cars" races
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Extremely rare 1935 Alta Grand Prix prior to heading out for the "Pre-1940 Sports Racing & Touring Cars" races
The car that made Henry Ford, a 1915 Ford Model T in racing livery
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The car that made Henry Ford, a 1915 Ford Model T in racing livery
Bugatti alley sports several highly collectible, not very affordable race cars from the era
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Bugatti alley sports several highly collectible, not very affordable race cars from the era
In the grille of a 1938 Bugatti Monoposto
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In the grille of a 1938 Bugatti Monoposto
1938 Bugatti Monoposto
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1938 Bugatti Monoposto
Tobacco sponsored 1976 Lotus 77 (F1) chases down its dinner in the 1967-84 Formula One series
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Tobacco sponsored 1976 Lotus 77 (F1) chases down its dinner in the 1967-84 Formula One series
1959 Sadler Mk4 races in the "1955-61 Sports Racing Over 2000 cc" class at this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
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1959 Sadler Mk4 races in the "1955-61 Sports Racing Over 2000 cc" class at this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
A 1976 Ferrari 312 T2, sporting famed driver Niki Lauda's name , flies down the straight in front of the Rolex bleachers
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A 1976 Ferrari 312 T2, sporting famed driver Niki Lauda's name , flies down the straight in front of the Rolex bleachers
1977 LEC CRP1 participates in the 1967-84 Formula One series
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1977 LEC CRP1 participates in the 1967-84 Formula One series
1955 Aston Martin DB3S flies under one of Laguna Seca's pedestrian overpasses
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1955 Aston Martin DB3S flies under one of Laguna Seca's pedestrian overpasses
A haunchy1958 Lister Knobbly accelerates out of a turn
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A haunchy1958 Lister Knobbly accelerates out of a turn
Inside the driver's seat of the LeMans winning Audi R8
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Inside the driver's seat of the LeMans winning Audi R8
Piloted by Mr. LeMans, Tom Kristensen, the multiple LeMans winning Audi R8 on display in the Audi tent 
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Piloted by Mr. LeMans, Tom Kristensen, the multiple LeMans winning Audi R8 on display in the Audi tent 
Beautiful racer edition of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 190SL
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Beautiful racer edition of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 190SL
One of the few places in motoring where visitors can walk amongst some of the greatest automobiles in various states of repair
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One of the few places in motoring where visitors can walk amongst some of the greatest automobiles in various states of repair
Nissan rolled out many of the high points of its racing history, such as a hyper-rare Nissan R390 GT1 Road Car used for homologation purposes were on display, as were cars like Paul Newman's SCCA National GT-1 Championship 300ZX Turbo, the Daytona and Le Mans-winning Nissan 300ZX Turbo driven by IMSA champion Steve Millen, a beat-to-hell Datsun 510 raced in period in the Baja 500, many of its racing roadsters and the famous 1970 #46 BRE Datsun 240Z driven by Hall of Fame racer John Morton.
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Nissan rolled out many of the high points of its racing history, such as a hyper-rare Nissan R390 GT1 Road Car used for homologation purposes were on display, as were cars like Paul Newman's SCCA National GT-1 Championship 300ZX Turbo, the Daytona and Le Mans-winning Nissan 300ZX Turbo driven by IMSA champion Steve Millen, a beat-to-hell Datsun 510 raced in period in the Baja 500, many of its racing roadsters and the famous 1970 #46 BRE Datsun 240Z driven by Hall of Fame racer John Morton.
Mika Hakkinen in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
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Mika Hakkinen in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
1914 Mercer 45
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1914 Mercer 45
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Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
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Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
The Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca celebrates the majority of motorsport's 124-year history and squeezes it into a couple of days ... all in one place.
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The Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca celebrates the majority of motorsport's 124-year history and squeezes it into a couple of days ... all in one place.
Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
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Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
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Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
Each year the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has a featured marque and this year Datsun (Nissan) really rose to the occasion
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Each year the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has a featured marque and this year Datsun (Nissan) really rose to the occasion
1914 Mercer 45
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1914 Mercer 45
Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
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Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
One of the most thrilling experiences for any member of our team at Monterey Car Week was that of Angus MacKenzie, who experienced a lap of Laguna Seca in one of the new 2018 Lexus GS F cars that were provided by Lexus as pace/safety cars for the racing.
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One of the most thrilling experiences for any member of our team at Monterey Car Week was that of Angus MacKenzie, who experienced a lap of Laguna Seca in one of the new 2018 Lexus GS F cars that were provided by Lexus as pace/safety cars for the racing.
Ford unveiled the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition on the Paddock Stage on Friday, August 24, 2018. This is the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition in the pits with one of the originals in the background. 
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Ford unveiled the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition on the Paddock Stage on Friday, August 24, 2018. This is the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition in the pits with one of the originals in the background. 
View gallery - 106 images

Attending the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca was not just a time travel experience, but a time compression experience too. Motorsport has been underway since that first Paris–Rouen motor race of 1894, and the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca celebrates the majority of the 124-year history and squeezes it into a couple of days ... all in one place.

It's the third leg of the perfect trilogy that comprises Monterey Car Week: the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is a static display of 200 of the world's most authentic period automobiles, the Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance demonstrates those roadgoing cars in their natural habitat, and the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion demonstrates the history of the science of speed around a road course.

Under the hood of the 8-cylinder equipped 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza
Under the hood of the 8-cylinder equipped 1932 Alfa Romeo Monza

Racing is exciting, but for aficionados of the automobile, it is in the pits where you can get the full context of being up close and personal with the machinery of each era, and see the engineering history of motorsport unobfuscated by bodywork. You can watch as engines are fettled and repairs are undertaken, and unlike current cutting-edge motorsport, where the technological advantages are administered behind roller doors, it's all there to see.

Roaming the pits, you can be transported back in time to more than a dozen different eras to see what they drove and the limitations of engineering of the period – not just the engines, but the brakes, the suspension, and all the technologies available – and then witness the resultant speeds on the track.

1914 Mercer 45
1914 Mercer 45

Around 1000 entry applications were received for the Rolex Motorsport Reunion this year, with the best 550 cars accepted to showcase so many different cross sections of motorsport during that wonderful 124-year history.

It's an interesting time to be looking back on the history of motorsport because during qualifying for the 2018 Italian Grand Prix at the "Cathedral of Speed" (Monza), Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari did the fastest lap in Formula One history, averaging 163.785 mph (263.586 km/h) for a lap of the high speed Italian home of motorsport, beating a record that had stood for 14 years.

The previous record lap speed of 162.95 mph was set by Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams at Monza in 2004, and it broke a record that had stood for 19 years, that had been set by Keke Rosberg in 1985. Now best known as the father of 2016 F1 champ Nico Rosberg, Keke lapped his Williams around Silverstone during qualifying for the 1985 British Grand Prix to break the 160 mph average lap speed for the first time. He already had pole position sewn up, but in contrast to the rational business approach that characterizes motorsport these days, Frank Williams let him go out one last time for a berserker lap and a crack at the record, and he responded with a lap of 160.007 mph (in falling rain with a slow puncture).

Putting that in context, Formula One lap speeds have improved just 3 mph in the last third of a century, indicating the extent to which racing authorities have added track chicanery and limited engine capacities in an attempt to slow down racing cars since that time, and for some considerable time before that too. Competition has indeed improved the breed, moreso in motorsport than in any other competitive arena except for perhaps all-out warfare.

Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca

The progress of the science of speed is an interesting one to consider over the last 124 years, and there's no better way of plotting that progress than the fastest lap speeds at "the Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indianapolis 500.

The first 90 mph lap of Indianapolis was in 1915, 100 mph was achieved in 1919, 110 mph in 1925, 120 mph in 1927, 130 mph in 1939, 140 mph in 1954, 150 mph in 1962, 160 mph in 1965,170 mph in 1968, both 180 mph and190 mph were beaten in 1972,200 mph in 1978, 210 mph in 1984,220 mph in 1989 and 230 mph in 1992.

Oversized Rolex timepiece outside the sponsor's tent
Oversized Rolex timepiece outside the sponsor's tent

That's quite some progress and it is no coincidence that the long-time sponsor of the event, Rolex, has been so relevant to our collective affliction across that period, because motorsport boils down to using scientific method for just one thing – getting from point A back to point A in the quickest possible time. The scope and detail of the understanding mankind has achieved in its race against the clock was magnificently displayed in the pits and on the track at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca
Privileged access to glimpses of history - the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca

The classes at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion spanned racing cars from a 1911 National Speedway Roadster in Group 1A, to a 1995 Nissan 240SX in Group 7B – the period in which Indianapolis lap speeds rose from 90 mph to 230 mph. Seeing, smelling, feeling and hearing all the differences of the period-based classes was an overwhelming experience of the highest order. You aren't allowed to touch, not unless you have a Presidential Seal, but you were certainly close enough to see every detail.

We've attempted to capture many slices of that diverse experience in the images in the gallery, but here are a few highlights of the weekend for us.

Nissan rolled out many of the high points of its racing history, such as a hyper-rare Nissan R390 GT1 Road Car used for homologation purposes were on display, as were cars like Paul Newman's SCCA National GT-1 Championship 300ZX Turbo, the Daytona and Le Mans-winning Nissan 300ZX Turbo driven by IMSA champion Steve Millen, a beat-to-hell Datsun 510 raced in period in the Baja 500, many of its racing roadsters and the famous 1970 #46 BRE Datsun 240Z driven by Hall of Fame racer John Morton.
Nissan rolled out many of the high points of its racing history, such as a hyper-rare Nissan R390 GT1 Road Car used for homologation purposes were on display, as were cars like Paul Newman's SCCA National GT-1 Championship 300ZX Turbo, the Daytona and Le Mans-winning Nissan 300ZX Turbo driven by IMSA champion Steve Millen, a beat-to-hell Datsun 510 raced in period in the Baja 500, many of its racing roadsters and the famous 1970 #46 BRE Datsun 240Z driven by Hall of Fame racer John Morton.

Each year the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has a featured marque and this year it was Datsun, more recently known as Nissan. This was the first time a Japanese manufacturer was designated as the featured marque in 42 years of the running of the event, and Nissan really rose to the occasion, bringing in many important cars from Japan to offer a museum-like collection of the marque's finest.

Four time Indy Car series champ and three-time Indy 500 winner, Dario Franchitti, was on hand to give New Atlas the official tour of various Nissans, new and old.
Four time Indy Car series champ and three-time Indy 500 winner, Dario Franchitti, was on hand to give New Atlas the official tour of various Nissans, new and old.

Apart from providing four-time IndyCar Series champion and three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, Dario Franchitti, Nissan rolled out many of the high points of its racing history. Cars like a hyper-rare Nissan R390 GT1 Road Car used for homologation purposes were on display, as were cars like Paul Newman's SCCA National GT-1 Championship 300ZX Turbo, the Daytona and Le Mans-winning Nissan 300ZX Turbo driven by IMSA champion Steve Millen, a beat-to-hell Datsun 510 raced in period in the Baja 500, many of its racing roadsters, and the famous 1970 #46 BRE Datsun 240Z driven by Hall of Fame racer John Morton.

Nissan's GT-R50 made its North American debut at Laguna Seca this year
Nissan's GT-R50 made its North American debut at Laguna Seca this year

There were a couple of far more modern highlights in the Nissan display, most notably the next generation Nissan Formula E car and the new million dollar plus Nissan GT-R50 limited-edition road car by Italdesign. The combination of the words Nissan and GT-R once meant a bargain basement supercar, but as the legend has grown to match the performance, so has the prestige and the price.

Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
Mika Hakkinen, gets prepped up before heading out on track in the LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR

Another of the many highlights this year was the 1995 McLaren F1 GTR that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Rather than just show the priceless car, it was demonstrated on-track by two-time Formula 1 World Champion, Mika Hakkinen.

Mika Hakkinen heading into the pits after three demo laps in the1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR
Mika Hakkinen heading into the pits after three demo laps in the1995 LeMans winning McLaren F1 GTR

Watching Hakkinen being briefed on the car before he went onto the track was almost as exciting as watching and hearing the McLaren doing its thing around the famous 2.2 mile (3.6 km) course.

One of the most thrilling experiences for any member of our team at Monterey Car Week was that of Angus MacKenzie, who experienced a lap of Laguna Seca in one of the new 2018 Lexus GS F cars that were provided by Lexus as pace/safety cars for the racing.
One of the most thrilling experiences for any member of our team at Monterey Car Week was that of Angus MacKenzie, who experienced a lap of Laguna Seca in one of the new 2018 Lexus GS F cars that were provided by Lexus as pace/safety cars for the racing.

One of the most thrilling experiences for any member of our team at Monterey Car Week was that of Angus MacKenzie, who experienced a lap of Laguna Seca in one of the new 2018 Lexus GS F cars that were provided by Lexus as pace/safety cars for the racing.

Here's how Angus described it: Having been a fan of the track since the 1960s, hot lapping Laguna Seca in Lexus' new 467 hp V8 powered 2018 Lexus GS F was one of the top automotive drive experiences of my life. Lexus provided three of its new super-sedans piloted by professional drivers, to provide hot laps to an assortment of media. The big saloons chased each other about the iconic speedway hitting 120 mph on the home straight and providing a drivers eye view to those who normally only get to report from trackside. Thanks to my years of training on PlayStation's GranTurismo series, I was able to verbally assist/humour the driver on braking points and apex lines. It isn't the fastest circuit in America by a long stretch, but Laguna Seca is one of the more technically challenging. The one section that Laguna Seca is famous for is of course Turn 8 and 8A, otherwise known as the Corkscrew. This blind turn can't be seen as you come hard on brakes after blasting up Rahal Straight. All you see is sky and asphalt until you come up over the small rise before placing yourself in the hands of the racing gods and dropping 18 meters down and to the left.

One of the great names in motor-car racing, Dan Gurney, who passed away earlier this year, was honoured at this year's event
One of the great names in motor-car racing, Dan Gurney, who passed away earlier this year, was honoured at this year's event

Dan Gurney is one of the giants of American Motorsport, and is one of only three drivers (alongside Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya), to have won races in Sports Cars, Formula One, NASCAR, and Indy cars. He is the only person to score maiden Formula One Grand Prix victories for three different manufacturers: Porsche, Brabham and Anglo-American Racers (better known outside F1 as "All American Racers").

Beyond driving though, he was so much more than that, having also been a race car constructor, team owner and race engineer of the highest order. Gurney started All American Racers and contributing much to the aforementioned progress in the science of speed. His mechanical and aerodynamic innovation is still evident in that the "Gurney Flap" bears his name, and his log file of first includes being the first driver ever to use a full face helmet in Grand Prix racing.

Gurney is a legend in so many ways that it's difficult to mention his name without listing a few that normally don't get listed in a racing drivers resume. For starters, Gurney began one of motorsport's most famous traditions, when after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967, Dan was the very first person to spray champagne on the podium.

Even more infamously, Dan and maverick journalist Brock Yates won the inaugural Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, (the "Cannonball Run"), driving coast-to-coast in 35 hours and 54 minutes in a 1971 Ferrari Daytona 365 GTB/4. Gurney's famous quote on the dash across America was, "at no time did we exceed 175 mph."

Gurney passed away in January of this year and he was honored in a touching tribute in the latter half of the "Picnic in the Paddock" event on Saturday, which was hosted by Murray Smith and featured stories from Sir Jackie Stewart and Chris Cord and a musical tribute by Donald Osborne.

Given the strongest association with motorsport of the many components of Monterey Car Week, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has now grown in stature to the point where it is beginning to become a world stage for the first showing of concept cars.

Ford unveiled the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition on the Paddock Stage on Friday, August 24, 2018. This is the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition in the pits with one of the originals in the background. 
Ford unveiled the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition on the Paddock Stage on Friday, August 24, 2018. This is the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition in the pits with one of the originals in the background. 

Audi used the event as a platform for the world premiere of the 2019 Audi PB 18 e-tron concept car on the Paddock Stage on Thursday, and Ford unveiled the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition on the Paddock Stage on Friday, August 24. Derek Bell drove the car up to the stage. Above is the 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition in the pits with one of the originals in the background.

Cars from 1968-1976 stage up to compete in the Formula 5000 event
Cars from 1968-1976 stage up to compete in the Formula 5000 event

The Formula 5000 race group celebrating the 50th anniversary of the series provided another highlight. The racing and revelry drew participants from around the world including 14 from New Zealand alone.

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced its 50th anniversary book on the Paddock Stage, too. IMSA will be featured at next year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on August 15-18, 2019.

Be sure to have a look through the many images in our 2019 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion photo gallery.

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