Nissan and Datsun race cars will be honoured - along with the late Formula 1 driver Dan Gurney - during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca, with F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart involved
Nissan is to be honored as featured marque at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion vintage racing event at Laguna Seca, while Sir Jackie Stewart and Chris Cord will form part of a special panel in memory of the late Dan Gurney .
Monterey Motorsports Reunion, taking place in California on August 23-26, is one of the most prestigious vintage racing events in North America. It is held annually during the Monterey Car Week, which also features the world-renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Nissan is to be honoured alongside the Datsun brand, which Nissan owns, becoming the first Japanese company to receive this honour.
‘The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has honoured a variety of legendary marques steeped in racing history since the event began in 1974,’ said Barry Toepke, Laguna Seca’s vice president of communication and historic racing.
‘Never before has a Japanese automaker been so honoured. We wanted to change that course and feature Nissan and Datsun because the brands resonate internationally and have fully established their racing pedigree. We felt it was time to recognise and honour the Nissan brand for its past, present and future.’
In addition more than 50 Nissan and Datsun racing cars are registered to compete on track at this year’s Monterey Motorsports Reunion. These include IMSA champion Steve Millen's Daytona and Le Mans-winning Nissan 300ZX Turbo and Hall of Fame racer John Morton's BRE Datsun 240Z. Comedian and vintage car collector Adam Carolla will drive his SCCA National GT-1 Championship 300ZX Turbo, originally raced by Paul Newman.
Over the past 50 years Nissan together with Datsun has won more than 100 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championships and more than 200 IMSA races.
‘Since the first Nissan race win in 1936 in Tokyo with the supercharged Datsun NL-75, motorsports has been a core element of the company’s success all of which continues today,’ said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s global design chief.
‘Nissan is a brand that is quite at home spending the week powering down the corkscrew at Laguna Seca.’
A variety of historic Nissans will also be on display in the paddock, including the original BRE Datsun 510 John Morton drove to the 1971 and 1972 SCCA titles, the GTP ZX-Turbo Geoff Brabham piloted to eight consecutive wins and an IMSA drivers’ championship in 1988 and Bob Sharp’s four-time SCCA CProduction Champion 240Z.
Nissan North America has also curated a special collection of 14 cars in its paddock area display, three of which are making their American debuts – the 1969 Japan Grand Prix winning Nissan R382, the one-of-a kind Nissan R390 GT1 road car and the just-introduced Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign, which debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The all-new Nissan Formula E car will also be on display. Nissan is debuting the FE series next season, taking over from alliance partner Renault. This is Nissan’s first move into major international racing since its LMP1 effort in 2015.
In addition Sir Jackie Stewart and Chris Cord will join the panel of the Monterey Motorsports Reunion's annual Picnic in the Paddock - taking place on the Saturday, August 25 - to remember the late Dan Gurney, who passed away in January aged 86.
Gurney achieved success at the highest levels of motorsport as a driver - winning races across a variety of series - as well as a constructor and team owner, attaining legendary status as he did so.
Three-times Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie and Cord who won the 1987 IMSA GTO drivers' championship for Gurney's All American Racers team - Gurney's first championship since retiring from driving in 1970 - will share their stories on Gurney with fans and answer questions on the Paddock Stage starting at 1:10pm. This will be followed by a special vocal tribute from Donald Osborne.
Picnic in the Paddock provides a rare opportunity for fans to listen and ask questions of motorsport legends over their lunch, and has become a firm favourite among visitors to the event.
Dan Gurney and Jackie Stewart image courtesy of LAT Archive