- Like an automotive exhibit brought to life, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca hosted the Motorsports Reunion on Saturday.
- Our Drivers Project made a pit stop at a private Gunter Werks house party to celebrate unveiling its new made-to-order Tornado.
- The week’s mainstay is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and we arrived before sunrise.
- We chowed mouthwatering food the entire weekend at restaurants like Flaherty’s in Carmel and The Tap Room at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
If you somehow missed our updates about the Monterey Car Week festivities, we published articles focusing on our Prelude to the Drivers Project, the start of our Drivers Project: Monterey Car Week presented by Hawk Performance, and the first group of events we attended. We’re picking up where we left off and sealing out the trip’s recap by reliving a couple of traditional Car Week events and a private house party.
ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION
The morning of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion started like any other on this trip. An immensely early wake-up, a stop to get coffee at a nearby Starbucks, and gazing at a rare McLaren Sabre — one of only 15 in existence. Totally normal, right?
From there, our group headed to the renowned WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Motorsports Reunion event. The BMW Car Club of America treated Drivers Project guests to special admission tickets granting us access to the BMW corral parking and VIP viewing tent. On a hot, sunny day like it was, we were grateful to be watching the action on track while surrounded by shade, a mix of classic and modern BMWs (each unique in its own way), and copious amounts of water, snacks, food, and fine BMW CCA merch.
This event is excellent for motorsport fans of yesteryear because it features numerous racing classes in which highly-prized restored vintage racecars from varying decades pound the pavement in a spirited competition once again. However, entering to compete may not be very plausible, considering the cost to purchase one of these motorsports treasures, the cost to restore it to a fit level capable of competitive lapping again, and the financial risk of a racing incident. Still, it’s a wonderful event for a spectator as we enjoy these collector’s items in anger, battling it out for position akin to races that made us enamored with them in their heyday. Even Zak Brown, McLaren Racing’s CEO, hopped in his 1989 Jaguar XJR-10 IMSA GTP racecar and hit the track for some Group C sessions.
GUNTHER WERKS TORNADO HOUSE PARTY
Having heard of the Gunter Werks house party during Car Week, I knew it was at a glamorous house not far from Laguna Seca. I didn’t realize the scale of what we were about to attend, though. From the moment the gatekeeper allowed us entry into the grounds (yes, there was a gatekeeper), it was a unique experience I won’t soon forget. Vehicles parading down the tree-lined driveway included our crew of Drivers Project guests and some random Ferraris. Again, totally normal, right?
Trying hard not to look out of place, I checked into the front desk alongside a bright yellow Gunther Werks 400R. Then, I grabbed some catered food, mingled amidst the guests, and toured the house’s interior turned showroom before stumbling onto the showstopper: Gunther Werks’ new Project Tornado, finished in brilliant orange paint.
The twin-turbocharged engine and carefully sculpted exterior panels are the most noticeable differences between this new model and the traditional Gunther Werks vehicles. Now equipped with a 700hp Rothsport Racing 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged powerplant, the new Project Tornado also weighs 500 pounds lighter than the original platform at just 2,700 pounds. It was a sight to behold, and I’m thrilled we had the privilege to witness it in this setting.
DINNER AT FLAHERTY’S IN CARMEL
We gathered the geese and reserved an entire room at Flaherty’s in Carmel-by-the-Sea. If you’ve ever been to Carmel during Car Week, you’ll know that seeing a 250 GT California street parked is not out of the realm of normalcy. Oh, and the food was delicious, too!
PEBBLE BEACH CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE
This one is the shining star of events for the whole week. It’s the reason this entire Car Week thing started in the first place. I do think it’s kind of funny that the most important day for the Car Week migrants is also the earliest morning and the final day of the week. Everyone is essentially running on fumes by this point, but it doesn’t show. Our day started before sunrise — in complete darkness — as we navigated the confusing roads leading to the main show area, boarded the parking shuttle from our far away lot, and walked the length of some fairways before ever entering the actual show grounds. As the sun made its presence known in the gloomy morning sky, we witnessed many of the Concours entries during their roll-in period.
Seeing these time capsules in their finished perfection was comparable to visiting a museum exhibit in motion. It’s such a rare experience being surrounded by this much eliteness in one locale, let alone in functional form. Priceless is the only word I could use to describe it, but there is most certainly a hefty price tied to each of these entries.
One of this year’s feature categories was past Le Mans racers celebrating the centennial of the inaugural 24-hour endurance race. It was unforgettable to see Le Mans-winning poster cars like the Rothmans Porsche 962, the Sauber C9, and the Bentley Speed 8, among others.
Highlights in the concept car lawn included a one-off Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo art car designed by top American designer Sean Wotherspoon. The combination of multiple loud colors and offbeat material construction seen throughout the build is a perfect representation of the designer’s signature style. Elsewhere on the lawn, hypercars from Czinger and futuristic concepts from Lincoln caught our attention.
We stopped at the Ferrari 75th Anniversary celebration at the Casa Ferrari on our way out, and it was overwhelming, to say the least. Each generation of Ferrari Challenge chassis greeted attendees at the tee box to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary. From there, Ferrari organized a historic showcase by curating a specific vehicle from each of its 75-year existence. Contenders representing some of the heritage included a pristine Ferrari 641 F1 car driven by Alain Prost, the glorious V12 supercar F50, and the pinnacle of the company’s XX Programme, the FXXK Evo.
We ended our time at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance by checking out this small Yokohama/JDM Legends showcase. It featured Dai Yoshihara’s AE86R and a well-built Hakosuka Skyline, among other Japanese showstoppers. Afterward, we bid farewell to all of our Drivers Project tripmates before they embarked on their journey home. This trip really was memorable in so many ways, and I’m honored we had the opportunity to host it thanks to our presenting sponsor, Hawk Performance, and the rest of the trip partners, including Akrapovič, ARP, Fluidampr, Gates, MOTON, MSS, SPAL, and Turbosmart.
HISTORY OF DRIVERS PROJECT
For more information on previous Drivers Project programs, we invite you to visit the links below:
Drivers Project I: 1,200-Mile Adventure to Las Vegas
Drivers Project II: Northwest Road Trip to New York – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
Drivers Project III: Off-Road and Off the Beaten Path
Drivers Project IV: California Road Trip for Monterey Car Week – Part 1, Part 2