Saturday, August 21, 2010

Monterey Car Week 2010

Arrived Wednesday around noon and headed straight to the Jet Center to get my credentials. Another year of Classic Car Week in Monterey was about to begin. It's the single most impressive gathering of collector cars in the world – a series of events that stretches from Wednesday night's McCall's Motorworks Revival to Sunday's crowning of Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the most prestigious concours around. In between there are dozens of unveilings, parties, races, auctions and other concours.

There are actually events stretching back several days and ending well after Pebble, but the primary events are McCalls, the Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance, Concorso Italiano, The Quail - A Motorsports Gathering, Concours d'LeMons, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and Pebble. I made it out to all but LeMons this year and snapped about 5,000 photos and a few videos to chronicle it all. It's taken an extra week, but those photos have been separated into event-specific galleries and I even added a Highlights album for those of you who don't necessarily have hundreds of hours to peruse the entire collection. Here are the links to get you to where you want to go:

McCall's Motorworks Revival
Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance
Gooding Preview and McLaren MP4-12C debut
Concorso Italiano
The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
Random Awesomeness from Monterey
Highlight Gallery from Monterey 2010

McCall's was its usual incredible self with the hoity toity shopping for new jets all while being wined and dined by some of the best restaurants and caterers in California. Oh, and there were some cars there too. Many of the other events during the week give McCall's a sneak preview by bringing cars to the Jet Center for the party. Lotus showed off its new Exos T125 open wheel car for customers as well as the GT4 Cup edition of the new Evora. Heck, I even got to meet Lotus driver Takuma Sato.

The Tour on Thursday morning is always a special event as well. It's our first look at the cars that will be competing in the Pebble Beach Concours on Sunday and the views of the cars whistling along 17-Mile Drive and PCH are spectacular. Seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and sometimes event tasting the cars thundering by is like no other experience in your life. Well, the races at Laguna Seca come close, but these are road cars on some of the most scenic roads in the world.

Concorso and Quail on Friday are like Abbott and Costello. Concorso is for the car clubs and those who like to see quantity, while Quail is for the select few who prefer quality above all else. Both have their charms, but seeing a line of 200 Ferraris at Concorso is always amazing, as is watching a whole class of cars from the track come driving into and out of Quail for lunch. It makes for a long day, but both should be on your bucket list.

We usually devote Saturday to the track, and this year was no exception. It's hard to explain it, but unless you've been to a vintage car race, you might not understand how awesome it really is. Imagine your favorite race cars from virtually any era – Cobras, Mustangs, Porsches, Ferraris, Bugattis, whatever. Now imagine a field full of them...check that, imagine 19 classes filled with 30-40 of them in each grouping. Now imagine that that Cobra is the ultra-rare Cobra Daytona Coupe and that the Porsche is a 917K. Yep, that's the RMMR. Only Goodwood comes close to this type of gathering, and even that classic British event can't match the appeal of Laguna Seca and its iconic Corckscrew.

Sunday means Pebble and the close of the week. We generally get up at 4 am to get to the 18th green by 5 so we can be a part of Haggerty's Dawn Patrol. They hand out coffee and donuts and hats to those insane enough to get there early enough to watch as the contestants arrive and take their position on the fairway at the Links. Featured marks fill about half of the field and there are often dozens of cars that are display-only, but that still leaves about 75 cars that are being seen for the first time at Pebble or anywhere else most likely. It's extremely exclusive and many of the cars are being shown for the first time after undergoing multi-year restorations.

We try to figure which cars might have the best shot at Best of Show so we can be sure to have some extra shots of them, but this year was a bit of a surprise, the honors went to a 1933 Delage D8S that was stunning, but a bit too monochromatic for our tastes. Still, the judges know a lot more about these matters than we do and the car is definitely beautiful and deserving. To be honest, we spent more time perusing the Ferrari SWB class and the Jaguar XK-SS class this year. Of the 16 Jags to leave the factory, twelve were here on Sunday. For someone who likes this car, seeing one is a lifelong memory. Seeing more than one in the same place at the same time is almost unheard of. Seeing a dozen of them together – as the commercial says, "Priceless."

Scattered throughout the week were some pretty significant debuts as well, including the new McLaren sports car, the new Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Boss 302 Mustang, the aforementioned Loti, the Ferrari 599 GTO, and the Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid to name a few of the better ones. We skipped the auctions for the most part this year but apparently not everyone did. There were dozens of records set as some amazing vehicles crossed the blocks at Gooding, RM, Russo & Steele, Bonhams and Mecum this year. Well, enough talk, let's get to those pictures. Enjoy, and please leave comments if you have any thoughts or questions you'd like to share. Also, as you'll notice, all of the photos are available for purchase in a variety of sizes. If you have an editorial interest in any of them, please contact me.

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