Are you ready for the car show season? Read the first part of our guest writer, Harvey Sherman’s, road trip to last year’s Pebble as he looks back at the sun and warmth from the dark of winter.
When the page of the calendar turned to March first, the sports car has been mothballed now for four months. Thoughts of motorsports, of automotive events of all kinds dropped out of mind with the leaves of fall. I usually think about the coming year in winter when the auction reports are published. This time of year, memories occupy my mind and I begin to think about the best of them as one year has come to closure and a new one as begun.
The biggest of them takes me back to August when I drove to Monterey for the Rolex Historics at Mazda Raceways (formerly Laguna Seca), the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and related events.
I attended the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance for the first time in 1991, brought the show poster home with me. Writing about the 2015 event reminded me of it. Did I still have it? I did, framed and hanging in a hallway. It’s a nice one, a print of a painting of a Rolls-Royce facing a Pierce-Arrow, parked in the evening in front of a mansion, their bright work and fender lines illuminated by house lights beneath the branches of a tree. Chauffeurs stand at attention beside them. Between the limousines, a man and a woman in formal evening attire, embrace inside the house behind two stories of windows. Tall chauffeurs stand like statues, a scene right out of The Great Gatsby. I could imagine Edward Hermann, long time fixture in the Automobile Concours world before passing, playing piano, hidden behind a mansion wall as he did in the 1974 film.
During the Amelia Island Concours in March 2014, I first heard what I considered to be a rumor that Ford Mustangs might be accepted to the Pebble Beach Concours in 2015. Couldn’t happen I thought. It’s a Concours d’ Elegance. As much as many people love Mustangs, I’m not sure anyone ever called them “elegant”. What would the Ferrari and Packard crowd say?
Hadn’t someone said something like “There will never be a Mustang at Pebble Beach?” The thought lingered. How could a rumor this nutty be completely without some truth, some possibility of it? It couldn’t be. I brushed it off like an urban legend.
(More below photographs.)
Sometime in summer, maybe fall, I heard it again. I did a little investigation, discovered it was true, but it sounded like display only, not part of the judged competition. Probably on the putting green between the buildings for a few hours the day before the show, I thought. Space reserved for concept cars on Sunday.
One of my friends asked if I planned on going, said he would take his car to the Rolex Monterey Reunion at the Mazda Laguna Seca race track where early GT350s were the featured race cars. No, I said, too much trouble, so expensive.
(More below photograph.)
Then it happened. Sometime after Laguna Seca announced the GT350 would be the honored race car in its 50th anniversary, I learned the Pebble Beach Concours decided to include a GT350 Class in the judged competition. I knew two owners with cars accepted into the group. When would THAT happen again? It didn’t take long to think about it. I had to go.
The week of the Monterey Historics is a series of vintage automotive events like no other, in a place like no other. Anyone who calls him or herself a car person, has a chance to go and doesn’t, at least once, should be taken behind the barn and shot. If not one, but two or more people they know own cars that are accepted into the Pebble Beach Concours, and featured in the Monterey Historics and don’t go, they should be shot twice. I might be willing to be shot once, for my country maybe, but not twice.
If you never had the chance to attend, everything you hear about it is true. It’s crowded. It’s expensive. It’s hard to get the room you want without booking months in advance, and paying as much as double the rate required any other time of year. You may have to book the room for a three-night minimum. Some people begin looking for the following year, on the day after the events end or leave a deposit with the place they stayed in the current year when they checkout.
It’s hard to obtain a meal without a reservation. It can be hard to obtain service when you sit down. The roads are jammed. It takes forever to get around. It can be sunny and foggy, hot and cold on the same day. It can rain. It’s nearly a week long, 16-hour a day hassle.
And it’s worth it.
(More below photograph.)
The Monterey Bay is the only place I found in North America where the color of the sky, the water, and the land between them, resembles the northern coast of the Mediterranean. It’s stunningly beautiful. The town of Carmel is adorable, Pacific Grove is wonderfully eclectic, and Pebble Beach is magnificent. All of the coastline and the drive along it; is wonderful, from San Francisco, to San Simeon and parts north and south of them.