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Laguna Seca, 13th - 14th of August

Every August the classic car world is looking to Monterey for the biggest ongoing car festival in the world. With the Monterey Car week just around the corner the first cars arrived to Laguna Seca a week early for the annual Pre-Reunion. Although the car week is mostly known for the numerous Concours events and the headline auction of the various houses the racing activities are very well presented with the Rolex Motorsport Reunion. For those who want to do the little bit of extra racing or who are busy with the various other events next weekend the pre-reunion offers the possibility to enjoy two great days on one of the most famous race tracks without the turmoil of the actual main event.

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11 races in different race groups were held both on Saturday and Sunday and while the main tents for the jubilee BMW are set up one could have a preview of the cars coming for the next weekend. BMW is known for its sportive image and so it is no surprise that a whole lot of BMW 3.0 CSL were lined up in different tents by privateers even before the museum will bring their own cars. With the very popular Porsche RSR as main opponent the race group of the FIA, IMSA and GTO series of the mid and late 1970s was one of the highlights of the weekend and will be even more next with much more cars entered.

After a quick look around on Friday the cars left the pits for the first time on Saturday morning and very unusual for this time of the year at Laguna without the typical morning fog creeping over the mountains. Standing on the highest point of the track at the corkscrew one could overlook the hinterland of Monterey and Salinas and the idyllic surrounding could hide the fact that very close one of the biggest forest fire in recent Californian history keeps the locals in suspense. Even the car week will be affected by moving the Pebble Beach Tour d´Elegance away from highway 1 where the fire fighters are busy to bring the flames under control.

The first cars on the track were the pre-1955 race cars and with no separate pre-war race group this year a sole BMW 328 could be seen, whereas at the front of the field a Kurtis 500S was chased by a Ferrari Mondial and a duo of Jaguar D-Types.

Bravest man of the weekend most have been Chris Cox, Just after a reported record sale of a Ferrari 250 GTO Cox brought both his Swedish-livered Norinder GTO and the Ferrari 412 S to Laguna Seca and with winning the GT race and finishing on the podium in the Monza-Indianapolis special he did not nurse the cars around the track. The glorious sound of the 3-litre Ferrari engine followed by no less than 3 Ferrari 250 GT SWB and a race prepared Lusso were certainly a highlight for all the Ferraristi as only one other classes featured one of the later racers from Maranello, a sole 365 GTB/4 Daytona.

Very popular in the US are in particular the Trans-Am cars. Less capricious then the European racers and with a good supply of spares and tuning parts the Mustang and Camaro are raced in anger and with the deep sound of the big engines they are certainly a crowds favorite. Talking about loud deep engine sound one has to mention the race of the Can-Am series. Before Porsche basically killed the series with the dominant turbo engines in the 917/30 the Can-Am saw huge capacity engines, most of them from Chevrolet as seen in the famous orange McLaren racers.

Last but not least the fire spitting turbo engines of the IMSA GTO series of the 1980s finalized the weekend and both the Mazda RX7 and 787 held the flag for the Japanese manufacturer on the Mazda Raceway, unfortunately the 767B fought with engine trouble the entire weekend.

Monday Monterey will take a last deep breath before the car week will be kicked of officially on Tuesday with the Concours-on-the-Avenue. Wednesday the various auction houses will open their display of the multi-million dollar lots and unfortunately just in what might become a record year RM has to sidestep from the usual display in the ballroom of the Portola to an outside tent due to construction work in the hotel. The evening will be finalized with the Jet Centre Party of McCall.

Thursday will see the tour as mentioned in a smaller edition due to the circumstances on highway 1 and as reported the participation will not count on the concours result so one might be curious how many cars will make the tour anyway.

Friday is the Quail Motorsport Gathering with the Quail Auction by Bonhams as well as the first auction days of RM. Saturday will see the Concorso Italiano as well as the first race day of the Motorsport Reunion before finally Sunday the Concours of Pebble Beach will be held at the famous golf course and the week will be finalized by Gooding & Company´s second auction day. Certainly there are many other events with various car shows and parties giving everyone a lot of alternatives during the week as it is impossible to visit everything.

We try to keep you up-to-date with the main events and the auction throughout the week as not everyone is lucky enough to spend the week in warm California.

Report & images … Peter Singhof

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