The Monterey Car Week and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has been on my “Must Do” list for the last several years. I was not planning to go in 2016 due to a busy schedule at work and home. However, a last minute business trip put me in nearby Silicon Valley on Thursday 8/18, giving me all day Friday and Saturday to explore until I had to board my return flight on Sunday.
While I would have preferred to attend the entire week’s festivities, I was determined to make the best of the 2 days available to me. An added treat was that my daughter, now a California resident, was able to accompany me on this last minute trip. It would have been nice to attend the actual Concours event on Sunday, but since I had to travel that day, it was off the list. The silver lining in missing the Concours is that it saved me $650, as admission tickets are $325 per person, even when purchased in advance!
To be honest, the event that I most wanted to attend was the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Don’t get me wrong, I would certainly have enjoyed seeing 200 of the finest classic cars in the world on display on the lawn at Pebble Beach. However, I think that SeeMonterey.com best captured my sentiments, “While seeing classic cars on a golf course may be a treat, watching them compete on one of the world’s finest racetracks is a can’t-miss experience.”
So the game plan was to spend Friday in and around Pebble Beach / Monterey, and then spend Saturday at Laguna Seca in nearby Salinas, CA for race day.
Friday began with a drive down the scenic 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach to the Inn at Spanish Bay to attend the Pebble Beach RetroAuto exhibit which included a large number of vendors offering rare collectibles and automobilia. In addition, they had a nice display of modern and classic exotics in the courtyard.
Following RetroAuto, we did a little sightseeing around Cannery Row, viewed the vehicles at the Russo and Steele Auction, then headed over to the Portola Hotel to view the RM Sotheby’s auction cars and grab a late lunch at one of the hotel restaurants. The display in the lobby of the Portola was just incredible and included a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Belinetta, a 1958 250 GT California Spider, and a 1957 BMW 507 Roadster. After lunch, we returned to Russo and Steele to watch some of the “Auction in the Round” action.
Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to head to Laguna Seca. General admission tickets were $100 each at the gate ($80 each if we had purchased in advance). I was fortunate to be able to attend this event in 2016 as several of the features were absolute favorites of mine. This included-
- The 50th Anniversary of the original Trans Am Racing Series
- The over-the-top Can-Am series of the 1960s-70s
- The 100th Anniversary of BMW
Going to Laguna Seca is a spiritual experience for any car guy. It begins with the twisting access road that takes you through the mountains. You can hear the cars lapping the track before you see them. The sounds cause your pulse to race, then you see it … the legendary track, the Rolex and Laguna Seca signage, the world famous Cork Screw turn, and 550 historic authentic race cars in 15 different racing groups spanning over 80+ years from 1910 to 1990s. The Trans-Am group alone had over 35 cars on the track!
While I’ve always favored the vintage V8 powered Can-Am and Trans-Am cars, I must say that the high pitched note of the 12-cylinder Ferrari GT cars is truly addictive.
During the lunch break, we headed to the paddock to get an up close view of all of the magnificent racers as the owners worked on them to prep for the next round of racing.
As mentioned previously, BMW was celebrating their 100th anniversary and had a huge tent with many of their most famous historic racers on hand. I also had the pleasure of meeting Car and Driver editor, Eddie Alterman, while viewing the BMW exhibit.
After a quick visit to the souvenir shop for a couple shirts and hats, we grabbed lunch and then returned to the stands for the remainder of the afternoon racing session. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and plan to return for future events.
You have to really give credit to these car owners for risking these irreplaceable, high dollar cars out on the track. I thank the owners and drivers for a great exhibition. This is where these cars belong … blasting around the track … not simply being displayed and polished with a diaper!