Former World Champion Jenson Button will once again drive a Formula One McLaren when he gets behind the wheel of Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1974 world championship-winning McLaren M23 at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on August 17th-20th. The event, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, represents all that is good and glorious about classic motorsport, with more than 550-historic entries on the race card for the weekend.
For Jenson, who notably drove the M23 at Silverstone and in London’s Leicester Square at the premiere of the Rush movie in 2013, the Monterey event will mark his first outing in Formula 1 machinery since hanging up his F1 helmet in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2016.
“It’s always special to drive a grand prix car with an illustrious history, and the M23 wrote one of the most significant chapters in motorsport history throughout much of the 1970s,” said Button. “It’s a somewhat strange sensation to drive a car from this era – you sit much more upright in the cockpit, and you feel like you could almost reach out of the cockpit and touch the front wheels. But, once you drive it, you quickly start to understand what made it so successful – it’s incredibly easy to drive, has a really consistent balance, and plenty of feel. Everything you put into it, you get out of it, which is very rewarding for a driver.”
The McLaren-Ford M23 contested 80-Grands Prix between 1973 and 1978, winning 16 races and three world championships (1974 drivers’ and constructors’; 1976 drivers’).
“We are honoured to host Jenson Button at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and showcase a car with such great history,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of racing advancement and Jenson’s spirited exhibition laps will provide a superb link to motorsport’s past that fans will assuredly enjoy.”
This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion honours the Diamond Jubilee of Formula Junior and the 70th anniversary of Ferrari, as well as celebrating the 60th anniversary of the raceway itself. The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has matured over the decades to become much more than a showcase of exemplary historic and period-correct cars racing at an iconic venue. It is a lifestyle experience where like-minded premium brands assemble to celebrate motoring’s finest cars with enthusiastic collectors, racers, fans, and journalists.