BimmerLife has partnered with BBS USA to bring you stories from Monterey Car Week 2023. Stay tuned as Kyle van Hoften shares his adventures from this week-long automotive extravaganza.
If you see Kyle, or any of the other BMW CCA crew, make sure to say “Hi!” Kyle has some swag from BBS to hand out to new and renewing members. If you’d like to start or extend your BMW CCA experience, click here.
Statistically, most of you have not made it to BMW CCA’s Festorics. Statistically, most of you just wondered, “What is Festorics?” Statistically, the clear majority—perhaps all?—of the 200-plus members who come to Festorics, each Monterey Car Week at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, love it. Food, drink, fun, friends, fast cars (and some slow ones), raffles, and trackside seats with rockstar parking tend to generate that response.
The name is a blend of the words festival, or “fest” as so many automotive events have adopted, and historics, as the Rolex Reunion sees more than 400 cars each year that spend two full days ripping around Weathertech Raceway. Festorics is the party within the party, located at Turn Five on the eleven-turn iconic racetrack where the racers pass mere yards below.
The larger scale fun is the aforementioned Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, first established in 1974 here at Laguna Seca by Steve Earle as the Monterey Historic Automobile Races. It’s grown up quite a bit, now seeing approximately 50,000 people each August. While we can presume that most BMW CCA members at Festorics are there to cheer on BMWs, it’s hard to ignore the hundreds of other cars, ranging from 1920s Grand Prix cars, Formula 1 icons, Trans Am heroes, FIA/IMSA cars, GTP/LMP warriors of past, and the fun B and C-sedan saloon cars.
One constant in historic—and modern!—motorsport is the ubiquity of BBS wheels. While admiring Chandler Briscoe’s Jagermeister-liveried 1973 CSL, you can’t help but appreciate its BBS wheels, screaming period-correctness alongside similarly-shod Porsches and more. “I always enjoy getting out here at the Rolex Reunion racing this car. Everyone seems to appreciate the Jagermeister livery and I love how the whole car exudes the period style. Like the BBS wheels that just look so right on it; when you think historic—and modern!—motorsport, BBS wheels go hand in hand. Around here, we see it on cars like these CSLs and so many other cars of the era. And like on my old E46 M3, BBS wheels look perfect on those.”
This year, there was somewhat of a dearth of BMWs on the track. While some years, Festorics attendees have spent Rolex Reunions watching 20, 30, and even more BMWs in multiple run groups spanning different eras, this year, there were fewer than ten cars sporting the roundel: a 2002, two 1600s, two CSLs, and two Neue Klasse examples. Some years, BMW brings an array of cars, like the McLaren F1, the LMR, the E46 GTR, and more.
While the other race groups kept Festorics crowds glued to the fence at Turn Five, CCA Director of Marketing Jason Kazian hosted a paddock tour to see the BMWs up close and talk to the drivers. More than 30 members strolled from Turn Five over two pedestrian bridges into the paddock to get a closer look.
Even the walk there was fun, first stopping by the Griot’s Garage tent and then visiting Frank Vasquez, KW Brand Manager, in the KW Suspension booth. “Seeing the huge group of CCA members come through on their way to the paddock reemphasized the energy and fun around the club, Vasquez says. “We had a chance to say hi and share an update about KW products and meet some new friends, too. It also reminded me I need to check in on my club renewal status!”
The drivers were great, taking time after and before their heats to meet the members and show them around the cars. Avi Sen has come out to the track for events often but loved getting that special access to the cars. “For me, it was really special to see the 1973 Jagermeister CSL. I was born that year so when I see that car, I feel a connection, especially with what else was going on at the time. BMWs were racing, creating a lifelong passion for the brand. I actually got to sit in the car during the paddock tour. Even more special for me was that my favorite colors are orange and green and I drive an ALPINA car now as my daily driver! (I’ve also been known to enjoy a shot or two of Jagermeister!)”
Brian Dunbar agreed with the paddock tour energy. “The paddock tour was a great experience. It allowed me to make a connection with the teams and cars we met and interacted with and then see the same cars on the track.”
Shortly after talking with us at the Paddock, David Murray hopped in his 1600 and claimed fifth place driving with Chandler Briscoe (owner of the Jagermeister CSL) in a crowded field of more than 30 entrants.
Rial Barnett, owner and driver of the Hyde Park 2002, said it was great seeing so many people enthusiastically asking about these cars. “I was pleasantly surprised how many members came down to the paddock to the see the cars, meet us, and learn about their history, Barnett says. “It reminded me why BMW owners are so passionate and loyal to the brand. They have a genuine interest in the past, present, and future.”
Some members learned a fun surprise talking with Barnett, too. They knew the car in an earlier livery when CCA member Steve Walker owned and raced it, including races at Laguna Seca. Many had not known the car wore this livery originally.
This unique experience at the track takes a lot of work year after year. Sven Schindler is one of members instrumental in making this happen. “In my role as event coordinator, I’ve seen things evolve over the years,” Schindler says. “One thing that never changes is the people and their enthusiasm for Festorics. It’s such a great location here at Turn Five with front row seats to the action for all the historic racing, plus food and drinks all day!”—Kyle van Hoften