A week of 8-digit rides (and a few lemons)
By John Lamm
It began modestly. California car enthusiasts staged a European-style race on the twisting, tree-lined 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula. Another local resident organized a companion car show.
Sixty-six years later it’s the Monterey Classic Car Week. It draws tens of thousands of attendees, many attracted by world-class people watching as well as car watching, and now extends to nine days.
It takes that long, as opposed to a proper week, to stage all the events. They include the 11 classic-car displays, six auctions, three-retro art shows and six days of vintage-car racing -- now called the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion -- at the peninsula’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The 550 cars on the racing entry list include a 1911 National Speedway Roadster, Formula 1 cars from the 1970s and BMWs, Porsches and Ferraris from the 1980s. Up to 65,000 spectators will watch the races.
Interspersed are so many parties and receptions that Classic Car Week runs on two lubricants: motor oil and fine California wine. There’s nothing modest about the “week” any more.
The main event is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, to be held this year on Sunday, Aug. 21. The 200 cars on display will parade onto the 18th fairway at the famous golf course at 6 a.m., half-engulfed in morning fog from Carmel Bay, with hundreds of hard-core enthusiasts already on hand.
By late morning the fairway already is jammed. The number could build to 15,000 by the time the coveted Best in Show award is announced in late afternoon.
Concours d’Elegance is French for car show: a field of perfect and polished automobiles. Most are vintage machines, but some are new and even advanced prototypes. Each displays a description and has its owner on hand, eager to talk about his/her car. Continued...