The announcement came late last week that two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen would substitute for the originally scheduled Jenson Button behind the wheel of Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1974 World Championship-winning McLaren M23-Ford at this weekend’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, August 17-20.
The “Flying Finn,” now 48, made 130 Grand Prix starts for McLaren between 1993 and 2001, winning 20 of them and earning back-to-back World Championships in 1998 and 1999. His on-track battles with Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher are part of F1 folklore, and Häkkinen therefore endures as one of the sport’s “most iconic, ironic, laconic and popular superstars.”
“Though we were looking forward to having Jenson Button at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, we are delighted that a driver of Mika’s caliber is able to take his place,” said Gillian Campbell, the raceway’s Senior Vice President of Event Operations. “Formula One is the pinnacle of racing advancement, and Mika will be able to showcase a car with great racing history during his spirited exhibition laps.”
The McLaren M23-Ford contested 80 Grands Prix between 1973 and 1978, winning 16 races and three World Championships, drivers titles in 1974 and 1976, and the constructors crown in 1974. Häkkinen is scheduled to make a pair of 15-minute exhibitions each day that will begin on Friday, August 18, at 12:50 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. and Saturday, August 19 at 12:30 p.m. and 3:50 p.m.
This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will host more than 550 historic entries while honoring the 60th anniversary of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca itself as well as recognizing the Diamond Jubilee of Formula Junior and the 70th anniversary of Ferrari. For complete information please visit www.mazdaraceway.com