Mazda was a long-term headline sponsor of Laguna Seca Raceway and a strong racing presence at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. We enjoyed the likes of its 787 and IMSA GTP competition cars for years and hats off the Mazda for its involvement. Now WeatherTech headlines the race track. With that, Nissan jumped in and became the first Japanese automaker to be the honored marque in the 44-year history of the vintage race car event.
They pulled out all the stops. On display was a pair of rare Nissans – a R390 GT1 and R382 Group 7 race car – brought all the way from Japan. The automaker gathered an impressive lineup of race machines from its Datsun and Nissan brands, from the early 510 sedans plus 2000 and 240Z race cars to the likes of Steve Millen’s early 1990s IMSA championship 300ZX. Racing group 5A had a total of 16 Nissans or Datsuns, out done by group 3B, which counted 34 race cars from the automaker.
Consider, of course, that the total field at this event is around 550 race cars, ranging from a 1911 National Speedway Roadster to the 1992 Mazda RX-792P IMSA GTP machine. Spread out in between are race cars from Formula 1, Trans-Am, Can Am, little H Modified sports racers, howling Formula 5000s and Porsches of all sorts.
Revs had two important cars in the mix. One was a product of Carlo Abarth, who often worked with Fiats. In this case he was contracted with French automaker Simca, which was trying to add pizzazz to its line of economy cars. This 1964 Abarth Simca 2 Mila Corsa from the Miles Collier Collections has a 1946-cc, 204-horsepower twin-cam four mounted well out back in the chassis. Around this is a small, smooth aero shaped body with a kick-up spoiler at the rear.
The second Revs’ machine was created by Colin Chapman, a low red Lotus 23 and was a recent donation to Revs Institute. Weighing a mere 1100 pounds and rushed along by a twin-cam four out back, the 23s were famous for outrunning larger, more powerful machines. Its 1962 debut at the Nürburgring is legendary as Jimmy Clark “ran away and hid from the rest of the field.”
Gunnar Jeannette again did the driving honors for Revs proving again he can drive anything quickly even while stuffing his tall frame into these two rather small race cars.
Besides the racing, this year’s event saw Mika Häkkinen do hot laps in the 1995 Le Mans-winning McLaren F1 GTR, Audi launch its PB 18 e-tron electric supercar concept and Ford unveil a version of its GT sports car done up in the Gulf colors of the 1968-1969 Le Mans-winning GT40.
We were proud that at the prize giving Revs’ Dave Klym, who created the famous Fabcar race cars, was presented with the Phil Remington Award. Remington was a legendary fabricator and race car fixer, and the award is given each year to a mechanic who demonstrates exceptional skill. Remington also worked for many years at Dan Gurney’s All American Racers, which just happened to create the beautiful award.
We also found out that the “featured marque” for the 2019 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is not an automaker, but a celebration of 50 years of IMSA racing. Don’t forget your earplugs.
Did You Know?
There are 1,000 automotive posters in the collection. This is from the 1955 Mille Miglia.