None other than three-time Formula One champion and Rolex Testimonee—essentially Rolex’s “brand ambassadors” long before the term was coined—Sir Jackie Stewart will grace the flurry of activities scheduled in the 2018 Monterey Classic Car Week, which will be held on a picturesque spot of California’s Monterey Peninsula that’s facing the Pacific coast.
Composed of a heady array of auctions, tours and concours series, most of which set to happen from August 23 to 26, this heritage event has seen Rolex’s presence since 1997 when the Crown brand first partnered with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Other notable activities lined up are the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering.
“It is always a pleasure to return to Monterey, where the atmosphere and the genuine enthusiasm for motor cars is unparalleled. And this year it will be particularly poignant for me as I mark my 50th anniversary as a Rolex Testimonee. The event will give me the opportunity to reflect on my career in motor sport and the fantastic evolution of the car during this time. I can’t wait to see the style and elegance that will be on show,” Stewart says of this year’s event.
Both concours at Pebble Beach, billed as a means to “create the ultimate moving museum,” can trace their roots to similar events that started in 1950. The Concours d’Elegance honors specific marques and classes each year, and for 2018 the chosen ones are Motor Cars of the Raj, Rollston Coachwork, OSCA and Tucker, as well as a selection of sporting vintage cars, post-war Citroens, Eisenhower-era convertibles and cars related to the Indianapolis 500. Also set to be unveiled is the Mercedes-AMG Aesthetics Progressive Luxury EV, a concept car inspired by Mercedes-Benz’s speed record cars from the 1930s. Now, as is usual, the spectacle will culminate with an estimated 200 cars gathering on a Sunday afternoon at Pebble Beach’s famed 18th hole, where the Best of Show award, as well as other plums, will be announced.
For Rolex though, its week will actually start on August 23 with the Tour d’Elegance, of which Rolex has been a presenter since 2007. The Tour will traverse 128 kilometers of scenic routes across the Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur Coast, including over some portions of the legendary 17-Mile Drive.
But it’s the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which the watchmaker has sponsored since 2010, that’s going to be the largest event during the Monterey Classic Car Week. To be held once more at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca—yes, the track with the fearsome “corkscrew” turn—the event this year will see 550 historic and period-correct racecars from 15 series, including those from Formula One, Can-Am and Trans-Am, competing over four days. Among the prominent drivers set to race is two-time Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen.
Meanwhile, scheduled on August 24 is The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, for which Rolex has been the official timekeeper since 2005. A more genteel affair evoking the more intimate vibe of the early days of the Concours, it is considered as the crown jewel among all the activities arrayed at the Monterey Classic Car Week. The event fuses vintage sporting automobiles with a culinary experience, and each recent edition sees one of the cars being named Rolex Best of Show, as voted for by participants. The winner is then admitted into the prestigious Rolex Circle of Champions.
Another Rolex Testimonee, nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, will make his appearance as a judge at the Concours. Saying he is “looking forward to learning more about the incredible cars and understanding the stories that shape their history,” he chalks up Rolex’s involvement in motor sports as simply a part of the watchmaker’s philosophy.
“Rolex supports the most iconic races and the finest events around the world, always adding an element of prestige to the partnerships,” he says.
Clearly, the Crown made no mistake in choosing the Monterey Classic Car Week.