Everything That's Not On the Track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

For the best vintage automobiles that aren't on the Concours lawn at Pebble, look no further than the track paddock.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

Monterey Classic Car Week is a hyperbolic and overwhelming expression of every aspect of what it means to love cars. Vintage, invaluable motorcars line both the greens of exclusive golf courses and the streets of Monterey and Carmel. There are dinners and parties and opportunities for hobnobbing, but the real action happens behind the scenes in the paddock area at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where vehicles are prepped for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

Next to anyone with a track car, there's someone with an equally valuable/beautiful/lustworthy vehicle used as personal transportation. Succor is paramount in the paddock, where the trials and tribulations of vintage car ownership and maintenance are prominently on display. If you're bored by looking at cars behind a rope, you can browse the paddock area and spend all day talking to owners about their cars—or just snapping photos of the ones you love. What follows is a compendium of some of our favorite moments from two days at the track.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

You never know who or what you'll see heading toward the paddock area on either race day. The driver and passenger of this Jaguar XK140 might not be going out onto the track today, but they can't show up in anything less than a stunning transporter.

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Jeffrey Jablansky

Interspersed among the racecars designated for track use are their homologated brothers and sisters, like this BMW 3.0 CSL that's rushing to the marque's area near the track. While not everyone gets a trackside parking pass, it's not uncommon for prestigious, non-racing cars and trucks to speed by.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

It's been argued that the most interesting vehicles at Car Week are the ones in the parking lot. This fenced-in Oldsmobile makes a great case.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

Seeing a classic car doing daily-driver duty turns a sea of modern cars into a backdrop worthy of a rental car parking lot. An Alfa Romeo 1750 can brighten just about any day, giving hope to a dying movement of classic car custodianship. Oh, and Pebble/Monterey attendees love vanity plates. The classier, the better, please.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

To get around the paddock, you need to be quick and nimble, which is why not all the vehicles on the ground have four wheels. But if it's going to be at a Car Week event, transportation absolutely must be cool and vintage, like this Honda Trail 70.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

Off the track, it's a see-and-be-seen atmosphere. This black-plate Alfa Romeo, waiting patiently at a tent in the paddock, contributes authenticity and taste to the whole affair.

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Jeffrey Jablansky

Rhyme and reason coexist, but without context, in the paddock area. That partially explains why a Ford Mustang, a Maserati, a Ferrari, and a track-biased, right-hand drive car are parked next to one another in the paddock tents area.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

Owls gather in a parliament. Cranes appear in a herd. Quail come in a bevy. We're not sure what the proper term is for a gaggle of Porsches, although this trio in the paddock hardly represent the number of air-cooled 911s on-site over the weekend. Think of them as the Toyota Corolla of the 1 percent.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

You might not need a reminder of the big players in racing, but they're not afraid to help you remember. Large transporters sit paddock-side, bringing in their respective teams and waiting for them to finish the day.

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Jeffrey Jablansky

Modern cars certainly have a place at Monterey, even if it's off the track, as a representation of where brands are going. No one in their right minds would shove either this beautiful BMW M2 or its race-going sibling off to the side.

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Jeffrey Jablansky

In most paddocks, a crowd would be a permanent fixture surrounding a classic Lister, a Porsche, and other brightly colored icons of racing provenance. At high noon on race day, there are more important spectacles to watch—it's that simple.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

As an ant can carry its own weight on its back, so do classic cars trailer one another. Who says that old age is a mitigating factor for usefulness?

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

Early in the morning, the scene in the paddock is an otherworldly film set where legends hang around before dawn. The fog eventually lifts, but that hardly stops the conversation about the bloodlines of the classics, like this BMW.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

Zoom in from the big picture in the paddock, and the details emerge to prove that this is the coolest cohort of cars assembled on the planet.

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Jeffrey Jablansky

As exciting as it can be to watch poster cars of reality fly by in the paddock, everyone is really there to see the main event: vintage race cars, racing. A push start never hurt anyone.

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Jeffrey Jablansky

At the end of the day, not every exotic is a luxury machine or performance champion. We don't know exactly what to make of this four-door, Chevrolet C/K pickup at the top of the parking area hill.

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Jeffrey Jablansky

In context, this Porsche 959 makes sense at the track. In every other way, there's no sense about parking a priceless Porsche in the dirt adjacent to the parking area. Owners will do anything to snag a primo spot at or near the paddock, subjecting their pride and joy cars to torture tests.

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DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

Thanks to the munificence of drivers like this one, everyone leaves with a smile. Because a coachbuilt Fiat 750 hasn't truly existed on the road in Monterey unless it's been detained behind a larger, slower, modern vehicle.

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