Acuras, past and future, star at 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
· Parker Johnstone takes Spice Acura from museum to pole, podium finishes
· Next-Generation Acura NSX supercar on display
· Winning 2009 Acura ARX-02a LMP1 also featured
MONTEREY, California (August 15, 2015) – Capping a week-long celebration of Acura’s motorsports heritage, highlighted by multiple appearances of the new NSX supercar, former IMSA champion Parker Johnstone started from the pole and scored a pair of second place finishes Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in a return to the cockpit of his multiple title-winning Spice Acura.
More than 550 entrants took part in the 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Part competition and part pageantry, the Reunion brings racing history to life as cars from nearly every era at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The cars, selected for their historical significance, authenticity and correctness for the period, are divided into 15 classes, based on the type of car, displacement and era of origin.
"This is Acura's first time participating in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, so it is only fitting that we celebrate the launch of the next-generation NSX with another iconic machine, the record-setting champion Spice Acura GTP Lights car," said Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager of the Acura division. "Today's results reflect Acura's performance heritage and performance future of the brand."
Starting in 1991, Johnstone partnered with Acura, several co-drivers and the Comptech team to win three consecutive IMSA GTP Lights championships from 1991-1993. Powered by a race-modified 3.0-liter VTEC V6 engine, the heart of the first-generation NSX, Johnstone, Acura and Comptech swept the GTP Lights manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships all three years, setting all-time qualifying and race win records, including victories here at Laguna Seca, the 12 Hours of Sebring and two triumphs at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
After being retired from competition following the 1993 season, the Spice Acura has most recently been on display at the American Honda Automotive Museum in Torrance, California, and was prepared for its return to the track by former Comptech team principal Doug Peterson. Taking part in the 35-car IMSA GTO/GTP race group, many of them larger-displacement GTO and GTP cars, Johnstone led both practice sessions to earn the pole for today’s races.
Despite its long layoff from competition, the Spice Acura ran flawlessly throughout the weekend, giving best only to a single, larger-displacement Porsche 962 in each of today’s races.
“Professionally, the success we had with this racing program is incalculable--in how it affected both my life and the life of the team. It's the car that vaulted us into IndyCar," said Johnstone. "And to race it again here at Laguna Seca, where some of my earliest memories as a child
occurred and where I drove my first competitive race car, is indescribable."
Between appearances on track, the Spice Acura was on display in the Acura Garage in the Laguna Seca paddock, flanked by the Acura ARX-02a LMP1 car driven to five victories – including Laguna Seca – in the 2009 American Le Mans Series title by drivers Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagneaud; and the new Acura NSX.
With a pair of entries fielded by Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports, the Acura ARX-02a dominated the 2009 ALMS season, winning eight of ten races to finish 1-2 in the championship. In addition, the Fernandez Racing organization won eight races in the LMP2 class to win the class championship in an Acura ARX-01b.
The NSX at Laguna Seca was one of a trio of the next-generation supercars, which were featured earlier in the week at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. Powered by a 75-degree twin-turbo V6 mated to a nine-speed dual clutch transmission and three electric motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. It will be produced at the new Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio.