It’s not hard to understand their continuing appeal, and in the paddock at Laguna Seca the passion of those who maintain and race these cars is obvious. It takes a huge amount of effort to bring any of them to Laguna to race. ‘They’re not too hard to keep running,’ says Eric Ramos, crew chief for the 1967 M6A owned and driven by Brian Blain, ‘but they want to shake themselves to pieces, and they run through a lot of parts. But if you stay on top of them, they’re fine.’
On the other side of the paddock we find one of the quickest cars of the weekend, the 1972 McLaren M8F driven by sports car and Le Mans veteran Rick Knoop. With its bodywork lifted off, the alloy chassis looks vast, as does the 8-litre V8 that sits behind the cockpit.
‘My father used to own this car,’ Knoop explains. ‘Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago. Craig Pence, who owns the car now, said: “I can’t bring your father back, but I can let you drive the car.” And that’s why I’m here.’
The M8F might be over 40 years old now, but it hasn’t slowed with age. With around 875bhp from its big-block Chevrolet V8, and weighing just 770kg, it’s one of the fastest cars at the Reunion. Even with his considerable racing experience, Knoop admits it’s a car that needs to be treated with extreme respect.
‘It’s an engine stand on castors, basically – it weighs less than a small city car, and it’s got more power than you could ever call necessary. It’s explosive but accurate, the massive acceleration in the lower gears means you have to be careful in the slower turns.’
Knoop says the car was recently clocked running at 197mph at Road America in Wisconsin. ‘You have to drive with confidence, but never arrogance – you always leave a little on the table.’