Taking centre stage at the 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion was the Chevrolet Corvette, which was first introduced 60 years ago. Another anniversary celebrated was the 50th of the venerable Porsche 911. While Corvettes were featured in several of the weekend's 16 races, a dedicated race for early examples marked half a century of the six-cylinder engined Porsche. The other groups out on track ranged from early 1910s Nationals, Packards and Mercers to 1970s Formula 1 cars and spectacular IMSA GT and Prototypes of the 1980s. The most modern car competing during the weekend was a 2003 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, which fittingly boasted that the 50th anniversary livery used at Le Mans that year. Corvettes were also omnipresent in the paddocks as owners were invited to bring their pride and joy.
Where the very busy schedules permitted, our photographers were at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to capture each of the 16 groups. The result is this action-packed, group by group 280-shot gallery
. We were also at the track the weekend before for the Pre-Reunion as can be seen in this 200-shot gallery
Sixty years of the Corvette
Introduced in 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette has been America's leading sports car from its inception. During these six decades, there were six distinct generations and this year a seventh broke cover. All evolutions were raced in some sort or another but only very rarely by a works team as General Motors opted to stick with the 'no racing' gentleman's agreement between the big three American manufacturers. To showcase the racing heritage of the Corvette and the competition influence on the production cars, the main Corvette display in the paddock featured a racing car and a production counterpart of each of the six generations. Among them were the 1960 Le Mans class winner (a first generation car) and the more recent C5-R and C6.R that were fielded by the official Corvette Racing squad. Also on display was the last of the Corvette GTP cars, which was entered at Le Mans in 1990 powered by a 10.2 litre, twin-cam V8. As a special treat, Corvette Racing debuted and demonstrated a heavily camouflaged version of the upcoming C7.R works racer intended for international endurance racing from 2014 onwards.
Grand Prix greats
Among the earliest cars on track were the pre-War and immediate post-War Grand Prix cars that raced in Group 2A on Saturday afternoon. These included some of the all time great designs from four different decades. From the 1920s came Peter Giddings' newly acquired Delage 15 S8. This beautifully crafted machine dominated what is the equivalent of the current Formula 1 World Championship in 1927 and continued to be raced for many more years. It was the first time in many years that one of the original cars was raced in anger as the other three are all part of museum collections. The 1930s representative was the Alfa Romeo Tipo B or P3 brought by Jon Shirley. This was the actual car used by Tazio Nuvolari in his epic win of the 1935 German Grand Prix, beating the local Silver Arrows in front of a crowd of high ranking Nazi party officials. One of the very first post-War Grand Prix cars was the Talbot Lago T26C of which two were fielded by Peter Mullin and David B. Duthu respectively. The newest car in the field was Jeffrey O'Neill's Maserati 250F, which represented the 1950s. All of the aforementioned were beaten by US-based Irishman Paddins Downling in a superbly driven Maserati 4CL.
Spectacular sports cars
On the opposite end of the end of the spectrum were the two races for IMSA and Trans-Am cars of the 1970s and 1980s. The earliest of the two groups focused on 1970s machines and small displacement cars of the 1980s. Among the familiar machines in this group (6A) were a host of Porsche 934s and 935s, a Dekon Monza and BMW CSLs and M1s, which were complemented by a choice of Corvettes including one of the twelve 'Widebody' racers built by John Greenwood. On Sunday, in 6B, the quicker cars starred and among them were four instead of the usual three Mazdas. The fourth was a sister car to the Le Mans winning 787B, driven by Yojiro Terada; a veteran of 29 Le Mans races. Another legendary driver in this race was Brian Redman, who was reunited with one of the Aston Martin AMR1s he raced back in 1989. Our eye was particularly caught by the wild IMSA GTO and Trans-Am cars in this group like the Audi 200 Quattro, Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Beretta silhouette racers. Pieter Baljet in one of the latter particularly impressed as he managed to mix up it up with the prototypes throughout the weekend, finishing third behind winner Weldon Munsey in a Mazda RX7-92P and Jeremy Barnes in a Mazda RX-7 GTO.
Porsche 911 at fifty
Launched as the 'Porsche 901' at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show, Porsche's first six cylinder road car was soon after renamed the 911 on the insistence of Peugeot. These three digits certainly stuck and have long since become stuff of legend. Since the 911's inception, the car has been raced and it is hard to imagine an international sports car race without a 911. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Group 8B on Sunday afternoon was dubbed the 'Weissach Cup' dedicated to early 911s. Over 40 examples were entered but eventually 'only' 30 took the start of what was the final race of the weekend. Among the drivers was Porsche stalwart Jurgen Barth piloting a 911 ST liveried in yellow with red 'hippy' stripes. In the end he finished eighth in the race won by Erich Joiner in a larger engined 911 2.4S. To further liven up the event the Porsche Museum was also on hand to demonstrate some of the most extreme 911 motorsport derivatives. These included the 2-litre 935 'Baby', the 935/78 'Moby Dick' and the actual 1998 Le Mans winning 911 GT1.
The aforementioned were but a few of the many spectacular and rarely seen racing cars among the 550 entrants during the weekend. Also out on track was machinery like a Maserati 450 S, a freshly restored Shelby Can-Am racer from 1967 and also two early 1970s Ferrari F1 racers. To get each of the groups out on track twice on their respective day, requires a very tight schedule. This was followed almost to the minute, which meant that the spectators were treated to non-stop action on the track. As always they could also get up close to the, often multi-million dollar, racing cars in the paddock or enjoy a stroll to the packed Yamaha Market Place on the other side of the track. Unfortunately, there were some unusually big accidents but as far as we know all drivers walked away unharmed.
To relive the experience or catch up on what you have missed, we now invite you to take the time to explore our galleries from the Reunion