It’s definitelya busy week for car lovers and for Rolex this week and weekend as we embrace Monterey Classic Car Week. Held in the Pacific coastal town of Monterey,California, the week consists of a host of events that draw automobile enthusiasts from around the world — most of which are either sponsored or timed by Swiss watch brand Rolex. Celebrating the tradition of automobiles, the event officially began yesterday and comes to a close on Sunday August 18, when the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance takes place.
Rolex has been the key supporter since 1997 of this magnificent week, hosting events such as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Pebble Beach Tour D’ Elegance presented by Rolex, The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering (where Rolex is the Official Timepiece), and the Pebble Beach Concours D’ Elegance held on the 18th fairway of the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links golf course, and for which Rolex is the Official Timepiece. With breathtaking panaromic views of the Monterey peninsula, and equally as enviable views of classic vintage cars, this is not the place for the feint of heart. These days bring together the concepts of motorsports history and a passion for speed, endurance and tradition.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Rolex has been the title sponsor since 2010) is the largest event during this extravaganza and is staged at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca circuit (previously Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca), the scene of America’s golden years of sports car racing since 1957. This circuit is particularly intense thanks to the 11 turns over the 2.2-mile counter-clockwise course, which includes the famed Corkscrew – a 1,000-foot crooked plunge of track. I have been fortunate enough to have attended this great race with Rolex in the past, and was envious of the winner– who receives the Spirit of Monterey Award, as well as a steel and gold Daytona watch. (Sadly, this is also where I met Jay Leno, who was incredibly rude to my auto-loving then-teenage son who was so excited to meet Leno — leaving me with an indelible disdain for him forever more.)
This year the three-day Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion celebrates the 50th anniversary of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). More than 550 authentic and period-correct automobiles – spanning 103 years of motor sport history – will compete in 14 categories around the challenging course.
Today, against the backdrop of the Santa Lucia Mountains, an array of eclectic cars and motorcycles assemble for The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. In its 17th year, this distinguished event will present the ’25th Anniversary of the McLaren F1′ and ‘A Tribute to the Electric Car Movement’ among its featured themes. Judged by fellow entrants, car collectors compete to reach the Rolex Circle of Champions, where the vehicle of the highest calibre is awarded the Rolex Best of Show (and a Rolex watch).
On Sunday at the Concours D’Elegance Pebble Beach, more than 200 prized automobiles will be on display on the course. This year, Bentley cars will comprise about a quarter of the entrants and will feature across six classes as the manufacturer marks its 100th anniversary. The cars are judged on design, historical authenticity and finishing. The best cars are selected as First in Class, and those winners drive to the front of the Lodge to receive their honors. The judges then further inspect this small group and pick just one Best of Show vintage automobile to win the much-coveted victory.
Mark Webber, the Rolex Testimonee and multiple Formula 1® race winner who will be attending the annual celebrations for the first time, says of Rolex’s participation, “We all like to look forward but it is equally important to reflect on what has been achieved and to appreciate the remarkable stories and legends of sport. Look at Mercedes Gleitze swimming across the English Channel in 1927 and Sir Malcolm Campbell breaking land speed records in the 1930s – Rolex was a part of these amazing feats. That’s why it is so important to celebrate events such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Rolex has such an authentic relationship with these events because of its long history and strong links to pioneering moments of the past.”
If you would like to hear more about Mark Webber’s take on time and racing, you can read a complete interview with him that I published on Forbes.
Rolex’s intense involvement with the events of the week underscores the brand’s long-standing relationship with motor sports that dates back to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s World Land Speed Record successes in the 1930s, when he became the first driver to break the 300 mph barrier at the wheel of Bluebird. Since then, Rolex’s presence in motor racing has grown steadily, and the brand supports iconic endurance races such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and other classic events and races including Goodwood Revival and Formula 1.