Preserving Motoring Heritage
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Pays Tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a Five-Day Celebration in California.
The Triple Crown of Motorsport are perhaps not coincidentally the world’s three most famous races — the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of Le Mans, the world’s toughest endurance race, and this August in California they marked this occasion with legendary Swiss watchmaker Rolex once again being title sponsor for a five-day celebration of the great
race with activities, racing and paying homage to motorsports history all around the Monterey Peninsula.
Le Mans is unlike anything else in motor racing as an endurance test for both man and machine. It is the world’s oldest active endurance racing event, and unlike traditional fixed-distance races whose winner is determined by the fastest time across the finish line, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is won by the car that covers the greatest distance in 24 hours, even allowing for rolling starts by the racers. The cars on the track near the town of Le Mans, France, can go up to 366 kilometres per hour, and the challenge for teams is they must balance the demands of speeds with the cars’ ability to run for 24 hours without mechanical failure.
The annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a celebration of automotive excellence over its five days on the Peninsula, from the challenging Corkscrew Descent and double-apex Andretti Hairpin along Highway 1 to a spectacular closing event and vintage automobile showcase on the famous 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links. It is car-crazy California paying homage to Le Mans and preserving motoring heritage.
“I’m immensely proud of the legacy of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and it makes me very nostalgic when I see these events in California recognizing it,” says this year’s Event Grand Marshal and Rolex Testimonee, Tom Kristensen, who holds the record at Le Mans with nine career victories, seven of which with Audi. “Marking milestones and reflecting on the past helps you move forward, succeed and achieve new records. It’s what Rolex and motorsport are about — always improving and breaking down the boundaries of possibility. Taking part in such a wonderful occasion gives me the chance to reminisce on the remarkable time I had competing, and it also inspires me to look ahead to the future as technology rapidly develops.”
Headquartered in Geneva, Rolex is the very essence of elegance, beauty and tradition, attributes that may explain its deep connection to motorsports since the 1930s. Rolex became associated with Formula One having supported the legendary Rolex Testimonee Sir Jackie Stewart since 1968, who personified the word ‘perpetual,’ which is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch, by being the very best motor car driver in the world for decades.
More than 500 historic cars took part in this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which, over its four days of racing, covered an undulating 3,602-kilometre track, marking the largest-ever assembly of winning or historically significant Le Mans cars in appreciation of the legendary race.
The tour began with the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex as more than 150 cars from across the decades began a scenic journey along the Pacific Coast on famed Highway 1, including the notable 17-Mile Drive, in a return to Pebble Beach Golf Links, a six-time host of the U.S. Open Men’s Golf Championship.
“Marking Milestones And Reflecting On The Past Helps You Move Forward, Succeed And Achieve New Records” — Event Grand Marshal and Rolex Testimonee, Tom Kristensen
Set against the backdrop of the Santa Lucia Mountain range the next day, the greens of the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel welcomed the American debut of the new Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Phantom II, with an all-electric Meyers Manx 2.0 also being unveiled. The festivities also included the “50th Anniversary of the BMW M Division,” “All Things MINI Cooper” and “70 Years of Jaguar and their Wins at Le Mans.”
The Quail event drew out the motor car enthusiasts, as well as the famous, including new Rolex Testimonee, Jenson Button, the 2009 FIA Formula One Drivers World Champion. “The Quail is truly unique and inspires everyone who attends,” says Button. “I love seeing pioneering new designs and prototypes being launched by the resourceful and independent coach-builders, alongside car manufacturers who are household names. Equally, the style and functionality of Rolex watchmaking is reflected here in the beauty and longevity of these classic cars. For me, it’s all about the stunning lines and seeing machines that are carefully sculpted works of art.”
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the grand finale of this motorsports extravaganza, staged on the final day on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. A glamorous showcase of automotive design and engineering, the Sunday afternoon concluded with the Best of Show being awarded a Rolex Timepiece and a trophy to honour their exceptional commitment. Much like a Rolex itself, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a timeless marking of tradition, precision and perpetual excellence.