Highlights from the Monterey Motorsports Reunion
The featured marque at the 2016 Monterey Motorsports Reunion was BMW and the German manufacturer pulled out all the stops to celebrate its centenary at Laguna Seca. An impressive seven cars from the collection of the North American subsidiary were entered in the actual races. These included the 1999 Sebring 12 Hours winning V12 LMR and the famous "Stars and Stripes" M3 GTR that won its class at the 2001 Petit Le Mans. These were complemented by a fabulous selection of privately entered examples of all shapes and sizes. Among them was an M3 brought and raced by Alpina's Andreas Bovensiepen and the very M1 Procar that won the 1980 Japanese Endurance Championship and was brought over especially for this event from Australia. Another highlight was to see all four of the original BMW 320 Turbo Group 5 cars together, two of which were entered in the event, while the others were on hand for display purposes only. The sheer number of the ever striking 3.0 CSLs present, including several works cars, was simply mind-boggling.
BMW 3.0 CSL.
Can-Am at 50:
The abbreviation Can-Am, short for Canadian-American Challenge Cup, gets many enthusiasts' hearts beating faster. In its original guise, the virtually no-limits series ran from 1966 through to 1974. With just one exception, all of the nine championship winning cars were represented either in a special display in the paddock or on the track. These included the inaugural Can-Am winning Lola T70 of John Surtees and the very rarely seen Porsche 917/30 used by Mark Donohue in 1973. Freshly restored by Canepa for its new owner, it was displayed with all of its bodywork removed, revealing its mighty mechanicals. Great Shadow enthusiast Jim Bartell received the Spirit of Monterey award for bringing a pair of Shadow DN4s. Among them was the car crashed heavily by Craig Bennett just a few months ago. Not recovered quite as quickly as the car, Bennett's driving duties were taken over by his brother Kirt, who duly won the Can-Am race ahead of the sister car.
Coming across just one Ferrari 250 GTO is for many people a once in a lifetime experience, so seeing no fewer than three examples race, of what is the most expensive car in the world, is really quite special. We did just that in Group 3A, which also starred a pair of 250 GT SWBs and a "Tour de France" for good measure. This is what typifies the Motorsports Reunion and was one of many highlights. Another, providing both visual and aural delights was a four-car Mazda entry in the GTP race. All four of these were powered by howling four-rotor engines. Elsewhere, in Group 3B, a pair of two-rotor R100 Mazdas, brought all the way from Japan, added some rotary flair. Perhaps the single most impressive car in the entry was Charlie Nearburg's recently acquired Toyota-Eagle Mk III. Virtually invincible in period, this Dan Gurney built GTP racer proved very quick in its first post restoration outing but unfortunately suffered from some technical problems.
Ferrari 250 GTO.
In the true Olympic spirit, winning is secondary to competing at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion and driving standards are very strictly upheld. This is crucial to attract the level of cars we are used to, and to encourage owners to actually take them to the track. Even within the tight bounds, there is room for some exciting racing. This proved particularly fascinating in Group 1A for pre-War cars, which saw experienced hands Derek Hill in a Delage-ERA and Paddins Dowling in another ERA compete at very close quarters both in the morning and afternoon races. Hill eventually took the afternoon win in a car that proved remarkably quick for the museum exhibit it has been for many years in the Mullin Automotive Museum. Another museum that believes wholeheartedly in having their cars raced is the Revs Institute in Florida. This year they brought over an Elva Porsche and a Porsche 908/02, both of which were driven with great flair by Gunnar Jeannette. Also putting in a very impressive drive was young Cooper MacNeill in his father's mighty Porsche 935 K3. In both Group 4A races, he valiantly fought off the combined efforts of the very quick Ken Epsman in a Chevrolet DeKon Monza and Jean Bernard Bouvet in his Greenwood Corvette.
Over the four-day period a record breaking 70,525 spectators attended this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. With the near constant track action complemented by many sights and sounds in the paddock they were certainly not disappointed. Once again the Motorsports Reunion has proven to be one of the anchor events of the car week on the Monterey Peninsula. Our 280-shot gallery provides a pictorial impression of what was these 70,525 spectators enjoyed.