New York native Lawrence Auriana was 12 years old when he purchased his first car. The 1929 DeSoto cost him $65, and he parked it in a residential garage in the Bronx that cost him $4 a month to rent. Young Auriana and his teenage brother, Mark, went there on weekends to work on the car.
“It was my life savings. I’m amazed that my parents let me take the money out of the bank and buy this car,” he says. “My brother owns it today. It’s still in the family.”
Auriana never lost his love for automobiles. The core of his current collection of rare Italian vehicles spans approximately 60 years–from a 1913 Isotta Fraschini to a 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder, plus gems by Stanguellini and Moretti, Important OSCA (Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili) releases, and significant cars by Cisitalia.
The Connecticut collector will showcase several cars at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which celebrates 100 years of the iconic Italian automaker, Maserati. Auriana is exhibiting a 1928 Maserati Tipo 26B at the track; the Grand Prix car is one of the oldest running Maserati racers in the world. He is also bringing a rare 1959 Maserati 5000 GT, a 1953 Maserati A6GCS and a 1954 Maserati A6G/54 with a Frua body.
Additionally, Auriana will display the 1953 Formula One Team Transporter that carried the Maserati racing team to European events in the mid-1950s. He purchased the vehicle in Pebble Beach in 2002, and it was restored in Italy under the direction of automotive historian Adolfo Orsi. Orsi’s grandfather and father, Adolfo and Omer Orsi, owned Maserati between 1937 and 1967.
Another of Auriana’s automobiles will join 550 vehicles racing in 15 classes during the
reunion. His Maserati Tipo 151 is the lone surviving car of its kind and one of just three ever built. It was made for American racer Briggs Cunningham and in 1962, raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Competing in the car at Laguna Seca will be Derek Hill, son of the late world champion race driver and frequent Monterey Car Week guest, Phil Hill.
“Derek is a terrific driver and a wonderful person, just like his dad,” says Auriana.
With automobiles representing 80 years of racing history and renowned drivers like Hill,
Derek Bell and Sir Stirling Moss in attendance, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO and General Manager Gill Campbell says the Rolex Monterey Motorspor ts Reunion offers “a wonderful panoramic view of motorsports.”
“We take cars that are beautiful standing still and get them to do what they were born to do—and that is to race,” she explains. “Some of these cars are 100 years old, and they’re being raced like they were on the day they were built. That is a wonderful testament to the manufacturers, to the cars themselves and to the current owners.”
While races headline the reunion, off-track activities are just as exciting. In addition to commemorating Maserati’s anniversary, the event also honors 50 years of the Sunbeam Tiger. Designer Carroll Shelby transformed production Tigers, made famous by the 1960s television show “Get Smart,” into competition cars worthy of entry in 1964’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Friday features a special celebration of Italian marques, with a Maserati heritage display in the paddock, celebrity meet-and-greets, and preferred parking for Italian car owners. Sir Stirling Moss is the honored guest for Saturday’s Picnic in the Park session. Additional exhibitions, a vendor marketplace, wine and cheese tastings and
entertainment round out the schedule. For collectors like Auriana, who will also display
his cars at weekend auto events in Pebble Beach, the event offers an opportunity to catch
up with friends and connect with others who appreciate fine automobiles.
“My collection is a tribute to the great engineers, designers, fabricators and drivers who
built and raced these cars and made an important contribution to automotive engineering and design, while, at the same time, entertaining millions of people,” he says.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion takes place August 14-17 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Thursday pre-race paddock entrance costs $20. Advance purchase general admission for racing starts at $50, and three-day passes are also available. For tickets and information, visit www.mazdaraceway.com or call 800/327-7322.