Throughout the year, the Monterey Peninsula is a festival by the sea. It’s a celebration of lights, of music, of whales, of food and wine, of art, of golf. Yet, for 10 days every August, the place becomes a racetrack, a road rally, a motorsports reunion, an automobile beauty pageant and, often, a parking lot.
More of a gridlock, really, of Hondas, Toyotas and Subarus, alongside Maseratis, Bentleys and Ferraris, inching along that bend in the road on Highway 1 that reveals the magnificent Monterey Bay. The automobiles riding on trailers will park on the greens at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and other classic car pageants.
This week, those just trying to get to work will get caught up in the parade unless you remember to head out early, leave late, or wind through surface streets along alternate routes.
Many of the guests who buy the $575 ticket that grants them access to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance premier automotive beauty pageant on Sunday, Aug. 20 don’t own a car worth more than $35,000. But they are looking forward to seeing the vintage vehicles of those who do. Spectators will take to the greens to witness one of the most beautiful spectacles in the world, when Figoni automobiles, in celebration of the marque’s centennial, and cars from the Mercedes-Benz S Series, which debuted in 1927 and continued until 1933, and 1953 Pegaso Z-102 touring cars, and Vanderbilt Cup era cars, among others, roll onto the 18th fairway, for the 72nd annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
First conducted in 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is considered the world’s premier celebration of the automobile. Only the most exceptional and rare automobiles are invited to appear on the famed 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links each year, as connoisseurs of the art and technology of the automobile gather to see this year’s marques and celebrate those that achieve Best in Class and the pinnacle award, Best of Show.
The day-long Concours marks the culmination of what has evolved into an entire Classic Car Week, which now runs 10 days. Yet even those who don’t pony up $575 to attend the beauty pageant on the 18th green, can navigate days filled with fine art, fine food, fine wine, and fabulous automobiles all over town. You just have to know where to go, and when. For a complete list of events and an interactive map visit https://www.seemonterey.com/events/sporting/concours/
Some of the highlights
The cars are rolling into town now and many will be previewed at Friday’s Monterey Car Week Kick-Off, from 5-7 p.m. on Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey. Many of those historic race cars will next head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for this weekend’s Pre-Reunion to get practice time for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which starts Wednesday at Laguna Seca.
On Thursday, Aug. 17, it will cost nothing to station yourself along the road, perhaps with a folding chair and a flag, to get a glance at the classic cars that will compete for Best of Show as they parade by in the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance from 7 a.m. to noon. You just have to know where to stand.
The Tour d’Elegance is an annual driving event that showcases the elegance of the automobile in motion, while highlighting the early history of Pebble Beach. The parade of more than 150 classic cars traces portions of the original 17 Mile Drive, traverses nearby mountains and valleys, dips down Highway 1 and returns to Pebble Beach. Tour participation is limited to Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance entrants, whose participation earns them a tiebreaker advantage on the show field, come Sunday. Spectating is open to everyone.
So is the Concours Village, which houses a visitor information center, vendor displays, and Pebble Beach RetroAuto, a pavilion which features rare collectibles and memorabilia, as well as the latest luxury goods and technological tools curated to enhance today’s driving experience. Exhibitors represent a variety of retail and manufacturing categories, including historic automobilia, auto parts, original poster art, books and literature, fine art, photography and posters.
On Thursday and Friday, Aug. 17-18, authors Richard Adatto, Patrick Kelley, Raoul Balcaen, and Robert Yeager will appear, alongside their work.
Next Thursday through Sunday, guests don’t need a Concours d’Elegance ticket to shop, sip, socialize in the Concours Village or to attend the Pebble Beach Classic Car Forums; although each requires a separate $50-$75 ticket available at https://theconcoursstore.com/collections/forums. Presented by Alliant Private Client, the series brings together key automotive figures to discuss topics and issues facing the collector car world today.
Wait, there’s more
If you decide to drive home in a different car than you came in, consider attending one of the many auctions held during the week, including the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auctions, the Mecum Monterey Auction or the RM Sotheby’s Auction. Gooding & Company has set numerous world records, including the highest price paid for a prewar American car at auction. It’s quite something to witness.
While Classic Car Week is driven, arguably, by the Concours d’Elegance, the celebration extends beyond Pebble Beach to punctuate the Peninsula with additional events designed to dazzle classic car guys — and gals. Among the traditional highlights will be the Automobilia in Seaside, the Little Car Show in Pacific Grove, MotorLux at Monterey Regional Airport and the Concours d’ Lemons, a showcase of the worst in motorsports. Among the new events this year are the Corkscrew Hillclimb at Laguna Seca, the Monterey Motorsports Festival at the Fair & Event Center, and Carmel’s Acura in the Park. For more information on these events see The Herald’s special Classic Car Week section in Sunday’s paper.
While Classic Car Week is an exciting time to visit the Peninsula, increased traffic and limited parking warrant some special considerations. Start early en route to your events. Make reservations at local restaurants, and make tasting rooms, art galleries, and specialty shops a targeted destination.
Customize your schedule to suit your interests and expectations, and by all means, enjoy the week. Choose comfortable shoes, and clothing that suggests casual elegance. You might even want to pick up a scarf or driving jacket at RetroAuto, or apparel and souvenirs from other classic car events or specialty shops in town, especially for that moment when the fog rolls in, the light shifts, and the afternoon slips into an evening of art, auctions, aliments, and entertainment.
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