Discovering America’s answer to Goodwood Festival of Speed

Velocity Invitational is rapidly becoming the USA's home of celebrating motorsport history


There was one place to find an all-encompassing motorsport heaven last weekend: the third annual Velocity Invitational at Laguna Seca.

This year, alongside countless loud and legendary road vehicles, roared our very own historic rally cars. Steve Rimmer, owner of DirtFish, brought six beasts out to play: the Peugeot 206 WRC, Ford Fiesta Pikes Peak car, MG Metro 6R4, Travis Pastrana’s Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Tommi Mäkinen’s Subaru Impreza WRC2002, and a Lancia Rally 037 driven by former European Champion Fabrizio Tabaton.


Friday morning started slowly, with a thick layer of fog coating everything in sight and pausing start time on track. Display spots were stealthily filled by trailers meticulously rolling out their jaw-dropping assortment of vehicles. Crew members pulled off sopping wet car covers to reveal a mist-covered beauty. Very quickly the pause was shattered by the arrival of the 1927-1949 Grand Prix and Voiturette cars, with the 1927-1937 Sport and Touring cars joining to rip through the fog as the first group on track.

Within a few hours, the sun came out and the party had begun. Historic Trans-Am cars, FIA prototypes, Production GT cars, and vintage sports racing cars all took their spots in their display sections. Windshields were wiped, cars were shined up, towels in everyone’s hands, as we all tried to shift the morning moisture. Lucky for us, our rally cars are used to the weather, and they were soon sparkling.


Not only were they looking the part on display, but five of these beasts got to hit the track themselves. Alister McRae displayed his champion status behind the wheel of the Mäkinen Impreza and the MG Metro 6R4, while Max lovingly shredded the tires on the Pastrana Impreza WRX STi. Benjamin Pedersen exemplified his knowledge of the track in the Lancia and then the Pikes Peak car.

The bewinged, 800bhp Fiesta was similarly tamed by James Rimmer. James also enjoyed the Impreza codenamed S8, a car driven by Mäkinen in Corsica and Petter Solberg in New Zealand in 2002.

Nate Tennis, DirtFish’s chief instructor had the chance to practice his Tarmac lines in the 6R4 and was even able to squeeze his 6’3” frame into the Lancia (which was very much built for shorter people).


Alister, Max and Benjamin also took part in Saturday’s autograph session, sharing the table with the likes of Mario Andretti, Mika Häkkinen and Zak Brown.

Exploring the paddock was a dream. On one side, a rare Ferrari GTO. On the other, a full-spec McLaren F1 car. Just ahead, the brand new Lucid all-electric car, and just past that, with AI-developed, 3D printed suspension components, the Czinger.

Then you turned to the track; a battle of two Lotuses: a 23B vs the Elan 26R, with their inside front wheels off the ground half of the time, the grand prix cars without any type of roll cage and requiring sheer physical muscle to operate. And there was the gaggle of Minis fighting it out with Mustangs.


I found my favorite viewpoint at the Sip & Savor pavilion. No, not because of the wine tasting (okay, maybe that was enjoyed a bit in the afternoon), but because it offered the best seat in the house, allowing us to see four corners of the Laguna Seca track and this astonishing collection of cars and drivers in all their glory. It was loud. So loud that the whole pavilion shook. I loved it.

This weekend was one to remember. We’ll take any opportunity to share what we love.

Velocity has stated that it wants to be the US equivalent to Goodwood’s Festival of Speed. And I must say, I think it’s well on its way…