Tag Archives: Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

BMW and Racing Heaven at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Words by Mitchell Weitzman

“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And for many, this is the week they wait for all year long. Another August, another
Monterey Car Week, and another Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca. This has been said by many before, but there is little else like historic racing, where you can see your hero cars you grew up watching, and some that you never thought you’d have the chance to see (for us younger folks), race. This is no simple cruise either, with many owners of these vintage beauties thrashing them the way they were meant to.

Photos by Mitchell Weitzman, Daniel Blodgett, and Cory Brundage

Garage queen is not an applicable word to the racing of such historic machines. BMW’s heritage is partly built around its racing heritage. Being ‘the Ultimate Driving Machine’ requires a certain degree of pedigree. From the display of racing BMWs in the paddock and on the circuit, it’s easy to see that the pedigree – the authenticity – is intact.

A blitz of howling 3.0CSL Batmobiles made up the majority of the BMW field in the highly competitive  GT category, supplemented by M1 ProCars, E21s, and a couple E30 M3s. Seeing them tangle with Porsches, and the many Datsun/Nissans (the featured marque this year) was a true spectacle. They sound rather nice as well. Diving in on the inside under braking into the corkscrew, the action was sublime.

Every year the BMW CCA sets up camp along the straight between turns 4 and 5. A large car corral is assembled as well, being able to spot the many interesting and rare BMWs on the hills of Laguna. Even a Z1 was present (the disappearing doors were closed/up, unfortunately). Inside the CCA tent were several more beautiful and classic examples, as well as dining for members and an optimal spot to watch the racing.

The elevation changes make Laguna Seca particularly fun to watch, with all sorts of hills, dips, and off and on-camber corners. The Corkscrew remains one of the most challenging turns on the planet, with its incredible drop and then down the chute into fast turns 8 and 9.

My favorite moment of the weekend? Seeing Double F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen rip around the circuit in the 1995 Le Mans-winning McLaren F1 GTR. This is no exaggeration when I say that this is the best sounding car I’ve ever heard – it’s aural intoxication. I got right up to the inside fence at the turn 1 crest while he blasted down the front straight. He literally kicked rubber slags into my face. It was awesome.

But the sound of that mystical BMW V12 is on another planet. It can be heard from the Andretti Hairpin while screeching up the Rahal Straight towards the corkscrew. The rifle-crack downshifts, too, send chills down the spine. Onboard video can be seen here from the weekend. Please, turn the volume UP.

Entry into the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion includes full access to the paddock, where every competing car can be seen up close. Most all the drivers, owners, and mechanics are invitingly friendly, too. And while most other events during Monterey Car Week cost hundreds of dollars, the Reunion is only pocket change for a full weekend pass. The variety is immense as well, from 1930s Grand Prix cars, vintage Formula 1 cars, and to Group C prototypes.

Go once, and it won’t be your last.

Ever see Rush? This is the exact real-life car that Niki Lauda drove in the 1976 finale in Japan, where he pulled into the pits and retired from the race because of dangerous, soaking conditions.


Afterburners on



BMW at Monterey Car Week

Photos by Mitchell Weitzman and Daniel Blodgett.

There’s nothing quite like vintage, historic motor racing where one can see such storied, beautiful, and valuable machinery be used the way they were meant to. Having BMW as the featured marque at the Motorsports Reunion only added to the appeal.

Where else can you see so many amazing, rare BMW’s in one place? Fortunately for Bavarian aficionados, BMW was a featured marque at several major events at Monterey Car Week, celebrating the centenary of the storied brand. As a result, BMW’s by the hundreds flocked to the Monterey Peninsula to commemorate the week and their cars.  There’s always been a large attraction of BMW’s here every year, but never like this. DSC_2457

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca shows that nostalgia is not a shameful condition. It’s only natural to yearn for days past and to live in another era, especially when it has to do with cars. There’s nothing quite like vintage, historic motor racing where one can see such storied, beautiful, and valuable machinery be used the way they were meant to.  Having BMW as the featured marque at the Motorsports Reunion only added to the appeal.

DSC_0466With 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’s’ tangling on track with M1 Procars and 2002s, it’s a marvelous sensation. If you’ve never had the chance to hear a Procar in person, wringing out the M88, it’s pure majesty. If I could, I’d have the sound played at my wedding. BMW brought numerous racing cars from their past on display in the paddock as well, including a F1 GTR, V12 LMR, M3 GTR, and a Williams F1 car featuring a BMW V10.DSC_2273

Also on track throughout the week with the BMW’s were Ferrari GTOs, Porsche 911s, Group C madness, Can-Am, Trans Am, and also now in its second year at Laguna Seca, classic Formula 1 cars. With the price of admission comes unparalleled access to the paddock, where all the racing cars are on display for the fans between races. The drivers, crew members, and owners are all incredibly nice too, offering conversation to admiring spectators.


Of course, the other, unofficial show are the parking lots. Anywhere you go, there’s exotic machinery. At Laguna, it was the BMW car corral inside the track. Elsewhere, be it on the streets in Carmel, or at the Embassy Suites, BMW’s were out in full force.

DSC_2467At the headline event, the Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance, classics ranging from original Mille Miglia-spec 328s to the exquisite Alexander Calder 3.0 CSL ‘art car’ were on display celebrating the brand along the coastal cliffs of scenic Pebble Beach. Seeing an old 328 in person, it’s every bit as elegant as a period Delahaye or Bugatti.


For anyone who hasn’t gone, put it on your car-bucket list. You won’t regret it. Here are some photographic highlights of BMW’s through the week.


Boris Said, along with Jonathan Edwards and Bill Auberlen, greeting fans.

DSC_0315 DSC_0318Anyone know the name of this color? It works brilliantly.


A rare BMW M3 Lightweight. Stock on these are rising fast.


Alpina stripes should be brought back on current offerings.


Who needs an M4 GTS? Absolutely menacing.


George Miller should use BMWs in the next Mad Max perhaps


Just. Look. At. It.


Once owned by the King, Elvis Presley, this 507 just finished a complete restoration by BMW in Munich.


M3ntal. The attention to detail is astounding.