HomeNews and EventsSpeed thrills: Velocity Invitational revs up at Laguna Seca

Speed thrills: Velocity Invitational revs up at Laguna Seca

Inaugural event celebrates motorsports past while anticipating its future


The Velocity Invitational made an impressive debut this past weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. 

Staged by the team that was responsible for the 2019 Sonoma Speed Festival, the Velocity Invitational drew the Mercedes 300 SLR once driven by Stirling Moss, featured McLaren F1 and drew an audience of more than 10,000 people to the track and another 600,000 viewers on a YouTube streaming syndicated by none other than Goodwood Road & Racing.

Oh, and in addition to all sorts of historic racing cars, the event was a multi-day festival of food and wine.

Among the races was a throwback Mustangs vs. Minis event

“We have all missed racing and seeing these extraordinary and rare cars in the past year,” event founder and O’Neill Win chief executive Jeff O’Neill said when the Velocity Invitational was announced in May. “So we’ve decided to make up for lost time with an event that is sure to please both drivers and spectators. 

“With McLaren bringing cars not seen in years that showcase extraordinary technology Velocity Invitational will try to set a new standard for automotive lifestyle festivals in the United States,” he added at the time.

And in the aftermath of the inaugural event, he said: “We created Velocity Invitational to introduce a new generation of enthusiasts to a hobby that many of us have been involved in for decades. 

“This is the only event in the world which combines the best in food, wine and motorsports. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response from the community and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Among the event highlights were a trio of Ferrari 250 GTOs, six Porsche 917s, seven of the eight Ford GT LM GTE Pro cars in a reunion 5 years after their victory at Le Mans — and with Ford chief executive Jim Farley among the drivers — plus a few race-winning McLaren F1 cars, and with former F1 champion Mike Hakkinen back in his 1998 MP4/13A and also giving rides in the 2-seater MP4/98T.

Oh, and IndyCar racer Pato O’Ward got to drive the ex-Hakkinen McLaren as well, his first drive in an F1 racer.

In all, more than 250 race cars from various eras took to the track.

Farley not only drove, but joined McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown in a program titled “The Future of Motorsports.” 

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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