Yet again I attended the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in Monterey, California at Laguna Seca Raceway for my birthday present to myself. I truly believe there is no better automotive event in the US for a true “car guy”. Where else can you freely walk in the paddock amongst multi-million dollar racecars, from brand new to 100+ years old, and poke your head around anywhere you want while chatting with mechanics and drivers? And then you actually get to watch them race around Laguna Seca. As someone who likes to really understand how things work and why things were designed the way they were, it gets no better!
I’m going to post all of the pictures and make comments on a few of them to point out interesting design features. These aren’t your normal sort of pictures of only full car shots, I get down into the real mechanics of the car. Just click on each picture to supersize it. Enjoy!
BMW V12 LMR – 1999 – Amazing sounding car with great looking carbon fiber work from 20 years ago. The naturally aspirated S70/3 6.0 liter V12 makes nearly 600 hp with twin 32.9mm air restrictors in place. A close variant of this engine, the S70/2, was used in the McLaren F1. I think the tiny kidney grills look pretty funny on this car. This car also has a pretty unique steering wheel design that’s necessary due to the compact dash. Look at all the tape on the seat as well!
Audi R8 GT3 – Modern – Interesting “swan neck” rear wing with marked micro-adjustments for positioning. Complete carbon fiber dash looks to be modeled after the road car. Very short and squat mufflers protruding through a large gap above the rear bumper makes this car very loud. Carbon fiber crash structure directly attached to the rear of the transaxle is pretty interesting.
Acura Team Penske ARX-05 – Modern – A very cool display with the engine sitting on a stand beside the car. The 600hp twin-turbocharged engine is known as the AR35TT and is based on Acura’s 3.5 V-6 that drives the Acura MDX, RDX, TLX and RLX. The BorgWarner turbos have relatively large compressors for high boost but relatively small turbines for fast spooling. The engine also has one of the smallest exhaust manifolds that I’ve ever seen. This looks to be the case because most of the exhaust pathway coming from the valve has been cast directly into the head.
BMW M3 GTR – 2001 – Awesome car but too bad the hood never came up to show off the amazing P60B40 engine. It is a flat-plane crank 4.0 liter V8 dedicated race motor with no real equivalent in a BMW road car (which made Porsche very mad at the time).
Here’s a great Road & Track feature on the car: https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/a22767418/2001-bmw-m3-gtr-test/
Chevrolet Corvette C5-R – 1999 – Massive iron brakes with nearly 1″ thick pads installed in the AP Racing calipers. This thing was made for endurance races for sure. The exhaust header snaking behind the setup is also pretty neat.
Lancia LC2 – 1983 – One of the most amazing cars that I’d never heard of (and I bet you haven’t either)! Powered by a nearly 800hp twin-turbocharged Ferrari 2.6 liter V8, this beast was created to compete against the Porsche 956s in Group C. You can see the Ferrari red crackle finish on the engine’s valve covers. The Brembo brake calipers are some of the largest that I’ve ever seen on a car. The entire brake assembly is nearly a work of art. Extremely complex routing of the turbocharger piping throughout the side pods of the car. The alternator is driven off of the transaxle output flange so that it only provides charging when the car is moving. All Italian labels on the very analog dash (except for the more modern Motec hiding on the side). Just amazing!
Nissan 300ZX IMSA GTS – 1994 – Another very impressive forced induction race car. This specific car won LeMans in 1994. It’s powered by a VG30DETT 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6 making around 800hp. Obviously the front bodywork is missing in these photos but the airducts hiding behind the bumper are impressive in how they route fresh air to the turbos, radiators and intercoolers. The size of those front tires are pretty astounding too. I’d never seen anything like those airboxes mounted to the front of the turbos before. It appears that there are restrictor nozzles in the interface between the turbo compressor and airbox. The exposed cam sprockets with adjustments are pretty cool too. Another very spartan interior as well.
Williams FW08 Formula 1 – 1982 – Driven by Keke Rosberg to win the 1982 World Drivers’ Championship in F1, this is an impressive but very fragile looking F1 car from the early days of ground effects based aerodynamics. It’s powered by an impressive sounding Ford-Cosworth DFV 3.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 making around 500hp. However, that’s plenty of power when the whole car only weighs around 1300 lbs. I couldn’t get over how small the front suspension components were and had to place my finger on one for size reference. Then you have the incredibly massive rear tires. Note how the rear wing is mounted directly on the transaxle casing. Amazing how the only things on the dash are the tachometer and coolant temperature. That green visor is definitely unique too!
Ford GT Mk II – 2019 – Here’s a special car that I didn’t even know existed when I came across it. This is a special limited edition Ford GT racecar (only 45 total) that is priced at $1.2M. It has a 700+hp 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 that’s supposedly “unrestricted”. Really nice carbon fiber work all around.
Here’s Ford’s official website for the car: https://www.ford.com/performance/gt/mkii/
Engine for NSX GT3 – Modern – Another engine sitting out on it’s own but this time without the actual NSX GT3 car anywhere in sight. This is a 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 engine making around 500hp with GT3 class restrictions in place. Cosworth labels all over the engine…
Porsche 962s – 1985-1989 – There were many different 962s at the event so I’ve thrown them all in one place. First, can you believe the size of that single turbocharger? It’s the most massive one that I’ve ever seen on a car. I can’t imagine the lag associated with this. One of the single turbo setups has the intercooler in the sidepod while another setup has the intercooler mounted right over the engine. Still another 962 has twin-turbos setup in the side pods with individual intercoolers. Very interesting to see all these different setup in the same general bodywork!
Nissan NTP-90 – 1990 – Apparently this Nissan was having some engine trouble as the entire engine was removed from the car and no where to be seen! The engine normally powering the NTP-90 is a 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 making around 750hp. It was very interesting to see all the hoses so easily disconnected and the entire rear of the car just gone. You can see the two very large fuel pumps mounted to the bulkhead. The turbos are also still mounted in the car on the sides, apparently not needing to come out with engine removal. The steering rack is mounted very close to the driver’s shins, I hadn’t seen a setup like this previously. An impressive car.
Lotus 77 Formula 1 – 1976 – Driven by Mario Andretti, the Lotus 77 was designed by Colin Chapman. It utilized the Cosworth DFV 3.0 liter V8 that developed around 500hp at 11,000 rpm. Many different small diameter suspension and chassis bars used in the suspension of this F1 car just like the other. The hand written “Fuel”, “Oil” and “Water” gauges behind the steering wheel are pretty humorous. The dual inboard calipers on the rear brakes look to be incredibly strong. All the rear suspensions components look to actually be mounted directly to the calipers! According to the mechanic, the purple rivets denote a special grade of fastener. I heard the mechanics fire the car up right in front of me. They hooked up some compressed air to a port on the rear of the engine somewhere, squirted starter fluid into each individual throttlebody and then hit the starter button. It fired right up very strongly and idled at 3,500 rpm. It’s really incredible how small these older F1 cars are compared to modern F1 cars.
BMW E36 PTG – 1995 – A rare BMW E36 racecar, it was powered by a 3.4 liter inline 6 cylinder making around 400hp. Some of the biggest fender flares that I’ve seen installed on an E36. This car is actually a four door. This may have been the only 4 door race car at the whole event! Incredibly simple dash and a very short height shifter. Cool car and the closest to my actual car being out on the track!
Mazda RX-792P – 1992 – Still my favorite sounding car at the event! The noise made from the naturally aspirated 4-rotor engine is unlike anything else. It somehow makes near 700hp without forced induction. That’s the key to the sound, no turbos to muffle the exhaust note. I think the design looks very futuristic as well, even for a 25 year old car. Look at the size of the gearshift lever! It looks like it was made for a 3 year old. It has a massive airbox with one induction runner per rotor. All that’s in the front of the car is a completely horizontally mounted radiator. Then there’s that massive X-brace bolted in over the engine in the rear. Sweet car!
Porsche 935 K3 – 1979 – This specific 935 was owned by Paul Newman when he drove it to a 2nd place overall finish in the 1979 LeMans with co-drivers Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen. Then this car was purchased by Adam Corolla (from Paul Newman’s estate) in 2016 for $4.4M. I briefly chatted with Adam while his team was prepping the car for his first practice, he was pretty excited to get on the track! The twin-turbocharged 3.3 liter flat-six produces around 800 hp. There’s a massive fuel tank in the front of the car to keep the beast feed during those long endurance races and help offset the weight of the engine in the rear. I thought that the intake manifold looked incredibly simple and basically just filled all available space above the engine. Amazing that air-cooling works for such a powerful powerplant tucked in a very tight place!
Porsche 935 K3 – 1979 – One thing’s for sure, Bruce Canepa really knows how to drive his 935. It was absolutely amazing to watch Bruce pass everyone in his class out on the track. He truly showed what the 935 was capable of. I highly recommend you check out the Canepa website where he details the process of a 935 restoration, a 935 dyno pull, and even an entire race around Laguna Seca using in-car and track footage. Amazing!
Chevrolet Corvette C6R GT1 – 2006 – Just a sweet looking C6R in it’s normal bright yellow paint scheme. The 7.0 liter V8 in this one pumped out around 590 hp in its restricted form. These cars were highly competitive in the LeMans GT1 class, regularly winning and placing very high overall.
Ford GT GTLM – Current – This Ford GT race car was just sitting out in the dirt all by itself! Carbon fiber everything on this car. Check out how low the rear valence is to the ground. Temperature stickers on the Brembo calipers. This car is run by Chip Ganassi racing pretty successfully.
Ferrari 550 Maranello ProDrive GT1 – 2001 – Another sensational sounding car! The naturally aspirated 6.0 liter V12 absolutely screams when it’s pumping out 600 hp. There are resistrictors on the dual air intakes that feed into the manifold which greatly decreases the horsepower that the engine is capable of. The steering rack looks to go right through the middle of the front carbon fiber timing belt covers, I’ve never seen that before! An amazing rear end with a great looking lower valence. Another setup where the alternator is tucked in the back and running off of the transaxle. Also note all the ducting in the back running to various oil coolers.
Audi R8 LMP – 2000 – The Audi R8 LMP family is one of the most dominant LeMans cars of the early 2000’s, winning it outright multiple times. Of the entire race event in Monterey, this was probably the fastest driven car out on the track with the lowest lap times. Power comes from a restricted twin-turbo 3.6 liter V8 making 650+ hp. It’s really amazing how tightly packed the space is where the engine resides between the back of the driver and in front of the rear axle. Look at all the empty space after the rear axle for aerodynamics and ground effects. They’re really trying to put all the weight in the center of the car. Everything just looks so solidly built and well engineered on the entire car. The carbon fiber brakes are also amazing. Also notice all the yellow paint marks on the fasteners to make sure nothing works itself loose without being noticed. This really looks like a typically efficient German designed racecar.
Panoz LMP-1 – 1999 – This was a strikingly unique looking racecar. It’s naturally aspirated 6.0 liter V8 (making around 620 hp) is in the front of the car though completely behind the front axle. However, the transaxle is in the rear and is connected to the engine via a torque tube. The driver sits incredibly far back in the car and to the left side (as the engine protrudes into the driver compartment). It’s quite strange looking in person. The engine is restricted by the two aluminum nozzles bolted onto the front of the airbox. All suspension components are bolted directly to the boxy carbon fiber structure. I found the rear suspension coil-over unit to be very compactly designed with its pushrod type arrangement. Quite the interesting overall design.
Toyota AAR Eagle MkIII – 1991 – The most powerful 4 cylinder car that I came across at the show! It’s single turbo 2.1 liter engine makes 800+ hp. You can see the red coil packs with red plug wires mounted on top of the valve cover. You can also just make out the timing belt and cam sprocket in front of the red double triangle engine brace. It doesn’t have a mega size turbo like the Porsche 962, it looks relatively normal. You can also see the restrictor mounted to the front of the compressor. The intake manifold just looks like a large pressure cylinder which I guess makes sense with this boost level!
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR – 1976 – Hurley Haywood’s Brumos RSR 911 is a great looking 70’s racecar! This is the naturally aspirated variant that was raced in numerous endurance races in 1976. This car is so incredibly clean both inside and out. Just look at that spotless grey paint in the interior. A mechanic told me that it was last painted inside 20+ years ago but they just wipe it down very well after each race. You can see in the underbody picture that one of the axles is disconnected from the transaxle. I don’t know what was going on but I suspect that’s why the car is on jack stands. An amazingly spotless underside as well. These naturally aspirated RSRs are brutally loud on the track with their straight pipes!
Chevrolet Corvette C8 – Modern – Finally, we have the new mid-engine Corvette! Chevrolet brought a full cutaway model of the car that allowed you to really take a look at the full chassis of the car. What struck me was how so many components of the chassis are bolted together, not seam welded or bonded with structural adhesive. I’m guessing that allows them to manufacture parts with larger tolerances and thus save cost. The exhaust headers are pretty amazing looking and I don’t think aftermarket companies could design something better. Cast magnesium is being used for the front bulkhead to save weight. Lots of honeycomb structures across the whole car as well to save weight but to add high strength. It’s just a really modular looking car to me that seems to be very well designed under the skin.
That’s it! Another fun time at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. I highly recommend that you attend someday if you’re really into getting close to rare racecars and then watching them rip around the track!
Official Website of the event: