35th Annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races

Mario Andretti in Lotus 79 F1The Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races presented by Toyota will celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2008 by celebrating highlights from the event’s illustrious past.

The event will take place on August 15-17 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will salute the Alfa Romeo, which was the first marque to be featured at the Historics in 1975.

To commemorate the event, a variety of featured marques from the past 34 Monterey Historic races will be recognized during the weekend of exciting and highly competitive races.  Legendary driver Mario Andretti will be the official guest of honor for the event.

“We are extremely pleased to have Mario Andretti join us at the Rolex Monterey Historic this year. He is a living legend for all of us, and we’ll join together to celebrate the anniversary of his winning the World Championship in 1978,” said Steve Earle, President of General Racing Ltd., the event founder and organizer.

Earle went on to add, “With great cars like the Alfa Romeo 8C-2900B Mille Miglia, the star of our second event back in 1975, returning; with the 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes racing in its 100th year; with Historic Trans-Am cars, barely retired when the event began, and racing as close as ever; with the presentation of past Monterey Cup winners; the Toyota “Race of Legends”; the Ferrari Historic Challenge; autograph sessions; and enhanced Consumer Expo, I believe that fans will find this an event they will long remember.”

Andretti, who is widely considered the most accomplished driver in motorsports history, will participate in a variety of events throughout the weekend, including driving a few demonstration laps in his Formula One Championship winning Lotus 79 and autograph sessions both Friday and Saturday.  Today, he remains the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), the Daytona 500 (1967), and the Formula One World Championship (1978).

“The Rolex Monterey Historic is the premier historic auto racing event in the country,” said Andretti.  “I am pleased to be a part of these festivities and look forward to spending time with fans and enthusiasts from across the country who travel to Monterey for this wonderful event.  Laguna Seca has always been one of my favorite tracks.  For a driver, it’s a truly technical and challenging course that provides immense satisfaction.  For a spectator, it’s phenomenal because of the many vantage points to watch the action.”

Award-Winning Rolex “Moments in Time” Display

Rolex will present their award-winning Motor Sports History Display “Moments in Time” honoring the singular achievement of a car and driver in racing history.  The display, which won a 2006 Silver Event Design Award, is each year highly anticipated by enthusiasts who can experience these wonderful automobiles first-hand.

Highlighting the display is the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C-2900B Mille Miglia Spyder that Phil Hill drove to first place in the Del Monte Trophy Race in 1951 at Pebble Beach.  Hill and the Mille Miglia Spyder have a long history, as he drove the Spyder again during the second Monterey Historic Automobile Races in 1975 where he took the checkered flag. 

Hill sold the car in 1951 and over half a century later, the car is now fully restored back to its original 1938 specifications and race trim and is part of fashion designer Ralph Lauren’s collection.  The car is one of four made and came second in the Mille Miglia in 1938.

Hill is well-known internationally for becoming the first American to win the Formula One World Drivers Championship in 1961, the ultimate competition in all of motorsports.  For 17 years he stood alone with that title and today shares the title of World Champion with only one other American, Mario Andretti.

Hill has a particularly close relationship with the Monterey Historic, having been raised in California, racing in the early days through the nearby forest at Pebble Beach.  Establishing his credentials as a champion driver and a consummate car enthusiast, he raced and showed his cars with equal passion.  Coming out of retirement to drive his old Alfa Romeo 8C-2900 for then owner Brooks Stevens in 1975, Hill thrilled the fans and won the hearts of all of the participants.  He was elevated from “hero” to “a real car guy” and has attended numerous events since that time.  In 1984, the name of the event’s major award, “The Pebble Beach Cup”, was changed to “The Monterey Cup – The Phil Hill Trophy.”

Additional historic automobiles featured in the “Moments in Time” display will include the 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes owned by former Oregon State Senator and vintage racer George Wingard, and the 1927 Delage Grand Prix of the Collier Collection in Florida.

Formula One and Formula Junior
Formula Junior, the original “support series” for Formula One, will also be taking part in the festivities by celebrating its 50th anniversary through its Golden Jubilee series.  Monterey serves as the Series’ fourth stop, with the Series taking place across the globe in New Zealand [Pukekohe], Australia [Philip Island], Europe [Monza, Brands Hatch GP and Nurburgring], USA West Coast [Monterey], USA East Coast [Lime Rock],  with the grand finale in South Africa [Killarney].

Historic Formula One cars from 1967-1978 will be one of the fourteen groups take part in race activities throughout the weekend.

Continued announcements will occur throughout the summer regarding exciting activities at the event.

[Source: Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races; photo courtesy of Paul Webb]