Sunday, September 25, 2011

2011 Quail: A Motorsports Gathering

Photos from 2011 Quail: A Motorsport Gathering

The 2011 Quail, a Motorsports Gathering was best described in the brief opening remarks of the Honorable Sir Michael Kadoorie, patriarch of event and the man on whose sprawling property the show has taken place for nine years. He said simply: “Enjoy yourselves and drink plenty of champagne.” Nothing more. Words to live by.

Kadoorie flies helicopters, loves race cars and owns about a million hotels all over the world, but it might be the race cars that he enjoys the most. So when the Quail became available to host an event after the raucous Concorso Italiano outgrew this fine setting, Kadoorie and a dedicated and talented team took the opportunity. Kadoorie had been hosting a rally for friends for about five years before that. So the Quail became a natural outgrowth of the rally.

Gordon McCall, who puts on the Motorworks Revival, more commonly known as the Jet Party, was pivotal in the Quail's formation and growth. Though growth is a bit of a misnomer, since the event is supposed to be limited to 3,000 attendees a year. Scanning the lawn this year, in the afternoon it seemed as if there were about 300,000 people there, but they were all pretty well behaved.

Among the honorees was the great Porsche driver Derek Bell, five-time winner of Le Mans. And not class wins, mind you--Bell won it overall five times. Organizers had lined up two cars to commemorate Bell's visit, a Porsche 935 and a Ferrari 250 GT.

“I didn't know what the 250 was there for,” said Bell. “Then someone explained that I had mentioned once that as a kid I had watched a 250 in a race and that it had inspired me to go into racing.”

The 935 was one Bell had raced but was not one of his more glorious mounts.

“I hit the wall at Pocono at 180 mph in this car,” he said. “I spun round to see Danny Ongias coming at me.”

Ongias braked and didn't hit him, but it wasn't like having one of the Rothmans 962s on hand. Not that anyone was complaining.

Bell later took the stage for a “fireside chat” with journalist Winston Goodfellow, during which Bell discussed his new book, a revision of My Racing Life.

“Now that I'm out of racing, I don't feel compelled to hold back on anything,” Bell said. Guess we'll have to read the book.

This year's Quail also commemorated the 50th anniversary of Phil Hill's world championship, and we saw members of the Hill family strolling the grounds.

There were tributes to cars that raced at Riverside, our favorite of which was the 1975 AAR Eagle Jorgensen Formula 5000.

The 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-type featured several examples of that great design, but the highlight was when a whole litter of them roared out of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, over Laureles Grade and into the Quail with full California Highway Patrol escort, assembling as the centerpiece of the show.

Among those cars were a pair of Can-Am entries, our favorite of which was owned and driven by AC/DC frontman and current best friend of Autoweek Brian Johnson, who spent a good 15 minutes or so hanging around with various Autoweek editors.

Who knows who'll show up in 2012?

Tickets are not on sale yet for next year's Gathering, but when they are you can get them at www.mccallevents.com.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110821/CARNEWS/110829986#ixzz1Z1shsGfJ

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