There are literally hundreds of events contributing to Monterey Car Week every August.
And, yes, whilst it’s true you have to be a zillionaire to enjoy some of the more exclusive opportunities, for those of us with more modest means, there is more than enough to fill the week.
To say Car Week is one for the bucket list is an understatement. It practically IS the bucket list so be warned: going once will only ignite the flame for later visits.
Usually I detest Top Five lists – after all, who am I to try and distil one mega-week down into five highlights? So here’s the five I think offer the most fun and value for money.
#5Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance
For the uninitiated, the rugged coastline of Big Sur National Park is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the World, where plunging cliffs meet swirling surf.
This is the route for Thursday’s Tour d’Elegance, a key part of the judging process of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
It’s a photographer’s dream, with more than 100 cars against a stunning ocean backdrop, watching these machines performing how they know best – on the road.
Pick a spot on the side of the highway, watch the procession go by, and when the parade is over, top it all off with a delicious Cali-seafood lunch at Nepenthe, one of Big Sur’s finest lunch destinations.
#4Baja Cantina Cruise-In
For the hard-core revhead, the Baja Cantina Cruise-In is the place to be on a Thursday night.
Although not officially part of the Car Week program, it has cemented itself over the years as the unofficial opening night party for those “in the know”.
Located 20 minutes east of Monterey in Carmel Valley, this place does more to break down the barriers between car people than any other, and we all get to enjoy late model Lamborghinis and Porsches side-by-side with rat rods and American muscle.
The beer flows freely and the Mexican-inspired BBQ hits the spot.
Best of all, it’s a no holds barred meeting of minds – turn up alone and with a hundred new mates. It’s just that kind of place.
#3RM Sothebys Auctions
If you had a sweet USD 48.4 million burning a hole in your pocket, you might have been the successful bidder for the 1962 Ferrari 250GTO sold at Saturday night’s RM Sothebys Auction – a record price paid for any car at auction ever.
Sure, for most of us it might as well be $50,000 as $50 million, but when bids of quarter of a million bucks are flying thick and fast, it’s pretty exciting stuff, and the audience response proved that this high-end auction game is as much a sport for the fan as it is for the bidder.
#2Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Take the footbridge across the track at Weather tech Laguna Seca, and enter into Nirvana.
Spread across acres of paddock are some of the most famous, successful and important race cars ever to grace the track, their drivers’ names a lexicon of champions – Gurney, Stewart, Hill, Clark, Rutherford, Brabham, McLaren, Hulme, Shelby, Hunt…
There is literally more history here than you can read in books.
Then there is the track action and the famous “Corkscrew”. The cars might be priceless but their owners race them HARD.
A major accident on Thursday’s “warm up day” saw at least one car totalled and its driver in hospital.
#1Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
This is the big one of the week and it doesn’t disappoint. More than 60 years of experience have rightfully positioned “Pebble” as the queen of concours, so a word of advice: Spend your hard-earned on the Club d’Elegance ticket to experience this show in style.
The food and wine is exceptional, but it really is all about the cars, more than 200 of them from all around the World.
With so may Delages and Hispanos on the field one could be forgiven for thinking those marques alive and well and with a range of cars from the 1910 Thomas Flyer through to the 1970 Ferrari 512S Modulo PF Coupe prototype, there is literally something for everyone.
This year’s winner was an exquisite 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta from California, but it was encouraging to see an Australian collector pick up a Best in Class gong for his 1939 Lagonda V12 Rapide Drophead Coupe, proving that we Aussies can indeed, compete with the best.
Written by: Paul Mathers