A preview on the Monterey Classic Car Week 2018
The Monterey Classic Car Week, traditionally held in the third week of August, will this year be taking place in the fourth week instead, getting under way on 21st August 2018. The reason for this change, which is a revolution of sorts, is quite simple, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the classic car world. For the other 51 weeks of the year, The Lodge resort in Pebble Beach is, primarily, a golf course. This year, the World Junior Golf Championship is being held there in the third week of August, making it impossible to accommodate the classic cars that usually “invade” the green’s 18th hole in that period. So, with Pebble Beach postponed by a week, the whole Monterey Classic Car Week has been put back a week as well. The change will have an impact in Europe, too, given that the Concours d’Elegance at Hampton Court Palace (London) falls the very next weekend. There is no doubt that collectors participating in both events face a real transcontinental tour de force!
Kickstarter of the Monterey Classic Car Week: Concours on the Avenue
The Monterey Classic Car Week will start on Tuesday, August 21st, kicking off with the small Concours on the Avenue in Carmel, one of the few events that can be attended without needing to purchase a ticket in advance. The venue is located in downtown Carmel, and the Concours serves as a general warm up for everybody. Usually rich in Porsche and racing cars, often arriving by road from the nearby Laguna Seca race track, it has one of the main attractions in the person of classic car expert, writer and appraiser, Donald Osborne. One of the official voices of the show, Donald always manages find something fascinating to say when describing a car. He used to be a professional opera singer, and his voice is also the one singing the national anthem: a real show within the show!
Most elegant Cruise: Pebble Beach Tour
The Pebble Beach Tour, held on the Thursday, is one of the highlights of the entire week. The event was created some years ago with the aim of proving that the cars on show were not just trailer queens. The approximately 60-mile trip takes the entrants from Pebble Beach to Laguna Seca and then on to Big Sur, before they make their way back on Highway 1, one of the USA’s most famous and most scenic roads. The event quickly grew in popularity, with the result that, today, almost all the cars entered in the Sunday show also take part in the tour. There is little to be gained in terms of scores from doing so, but the sheer pleasure of driving classics through such breathtaking natural scenery is such that very few owners are able to resist the temptation of signing up to take part.
For spectators, one of best vantage points is the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center (just in front at the Gooding & Co auction tent), where you have to be in position before sunrise in order to see the start. Alternatively, you can go to Highway 1, where it is sufficient to take up position at around 10-10.30 a.m.; then, all you need to do is sit and wait for a century of motoring history to pass before your eyes. To see the cars closer up, you need to be in downtown Carmel around lunchtime, in the exact spot where, two days earlier, the Concours on the Avenue took place. But it is worth remembering that parking here can be quite a problem.
The Quail 2018
The Friday is, traditionally, the day of The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. This event is held in the resort of Quail Lodge, in Carmel Valley. It was first held in 2003, and quickly developed to become the second most important show of the week, after the Pebble Beach concours. Tickets are quite expensive; last February, as usual, they were offered online with a starting price of USD 500 and sold out in the space of just a few hours. Now available only as resales, they cost in the range of USD 600–1000. It is important to add that that the ticket price covers everything, and in this case “everything” is quite something, given that The Quail is as renowned and interesting for its food and drink as for the cars on show. Indeed, there are various dedicated tents where attendees can be sure to find their favorite kind of food, prepared by star chefs. The Quail 2018 has a dedicated class celebrating 70 years of the Porsche 356, and another marking the 50th anniversary of the Lamborghini Espada and Islero. The Great Ferraris and The Alois Ruf Reunion are another two notable classes, as are the Pre- and Post-War Sports and Racing ones.
Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca
Saturday is race day. Even though every day of Monterey Week sees some activity on the Laguna Seca race track, the Saturday has the most interesting and packed program, with races of Monterey Historics starting very early in the morning (so early that the start is sometimes delayed because of morning mist) and continuing all day long. The day is a magical opportunity to see, on the track, the evolution of racing, from the early 1900s to the late 1970s. Spectators need to kit themselves out with ear plugs, sun cream and a hat in order to enjoy, to the full, what will surely be the most amazing and exciting day of classics on the Monterey Peninsula. This year, the 550 racing cars registered will include one driven by Mika Hakkinen, celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first F1 World Championship victory; he is scheduled to do some parade laps in a McLaren F1 GTR. As always, the most eagerly awaited races will be the ones dedicated to Trans-Am, Can-Am and historic F1 cars.
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Sunday is the day of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and you will need to make a very early start — ask for a 4 a.m. wake-up call — if you plan to enjoy the breakfast on the field and want to try and get your hands on one of the coveted Hargerty Dawn Patrol hats. Something of a status symbol, these hats are handed out, in a limited number, to those who manage to be on the field well before sunrise, and anyone lucky enough to get one will wear it with pride throughout the day. First held in 1950, the Pebble Beach concours is by far the world’s most important and the oldest existing classic car show. Highlights for the 2018 show include the classes dedicated, respectively, to the Motor Cars of the Raj, OSCA (the Maserati brothers’ last company), and Postwar Custom Citroën cars. There will, of course, be more than one Ferrari class, and there will also be the increasingly popular and historically important preservation classes (one for Prewar and the other for Postwar cars). Master of Ceremonies at the event will be Derek Hill, racer and son of Phil Hill, a guy who grew up surrounded by racing and classic cars. His father, Phil, after winning the 1961 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship established a highly regarded restoration shop and won Pebble Beach on two occasions, first in 1955, when he showed his grandmother’s 1931 Pierce-Arrow 41 LeBaron Convertible Town Cabriolet (the first classic car to win at Pebble), and then in 1977, with a 1927 Packard 343 Murphy Convertible Sedan that he had restored himself.
Other events at the Monterey Classic Car Week 2018
The full list of car-related events taking place during “the Week” is too long to include here. Suffice it to say that every moment there is something interesting going on, related either to classic or to modern cars. The auction houses will, as always, be making an important contribution, with the Bonhams sale being held at The Quail on the Friday (August 24th) and the RM Sotheby’s sale on the last two days (Friday 24th and Saturday 25th August). This latter auction will include a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO with an estimated value of USD 45–60 million. Finally, Gooding & Co., the official auction house of the Pebble Beach concours, will be holding its two-day sale on the Friday and Saturday, too. Look out for the Classic Car Trust Monterey Auctions previews which we will be publishing in the next few days. The “Little Car Show” at Pacific Grove promises to be a highlight of the Thursday, while the iconic and ironic “Concours d’Lemons” will be held on the Saturday in Seaside (CA). The Automobilia show will also be held in Seaside, opening on 21st August. Every afternoon and every evening is filled with parties, both private and sponsor-organized ones, in a crescendo of activity that, on the Monday during the breakfast at the Red Hood Café in Pacific Grove (another tradition of this Car Week), will have you thinking “Never again!”, only to change your mind before lunchtime!
All photos in the galleries courtesy of the author.