The week is hectic and goes by so fast. But come Sunday everything culminates in what I like to call, High Sunday. I’ll try to set the scene:
By 5am, the security is already on the local roads with blockades and directions to the Lodge at Pebble Beach as well as the parking lots. The equestrian center has several large lots they open to the public and these too begin to fill, especially at this ungodly early hour. The media begin strolling down the long walk from their parked cars to the 18th fairway of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. Once down the hill and close to the Lodge at Pebble, you walk along the side road that parallels the more expensive ocean view suites. Owners, helpers and their cars begin to trickle down this road and enter the field one at a time. As you actually touch the blessed grass of the fairway, the sides of the path are already lined with early rising media, cameras in hand, and possibly a cup of complimentary coffee or donut in the other. The mist and early morning fog is still very present and presents everyone with a cold damp feeling. The cars come onto the show field creating a trail in the grass from the dew and their exhaust plumes look magnified in this near blackness of early morning. The sun is yet to show itself at this hour.
By 9am this same show field is filled with show people, media, owners and anyone else that has come to spend this High Sunday honoring these monuments to rolling art. It gets so crowded that one is glad they came so early as it gives one space that no longer exists for the remainder of the day. Pebble Beach Concours de’Elegance is of course the highest level of any car show in the world and has been getting better each year for the last 61 years. And each year although it repeats itself by honoring the great marques and models, it just doesn’t get any better than this.
The cars and motorcylces are as wonderful as anything you can imagine. The owners and those that work for them are usually very friendly folk, ready to talk about their car or anything car to anyone. The folks that pay top dollar to attend each year are interesting in their own right. Some dress up using this day to be sure they are noticed in their new zillion dollar cowboy boots, or fancy dresses traipsing on the ground or a wonderful collection of varied hats and colorful pants or those special crock shoes that they bought yesterday at the store that only sells the most expensive shoes. They love to come and enjoy and show themselves off too. It is part of the party here at Pebble Beach. But the main story is of course these incredible automobiles. The time and money spent to present them in this light is staggering. Most could not even conceive of being able to afford to do this in their life time. And each year Sandra Button the Chairman of the event and her staff assemble an amazing collection of prized cars that many have never seen before.
This year the event honored the Ferrari GTO’s 50th anniversary and some 22 examples graced the edge of the fairway and the water for all to ogle. The early vintage Mercedes- Benz cars along with the famous Stutz automobiles were also special features. And let us not forget the 50th anniversary of the car Enzo Ferarri himself called the most gorgeous automobile ever created, the Jaguar XKE.
In the two wheeled area, the Italian motorcycle was the main spotlight in this group with a varied supply of makes like Ducatti and MV Agusta, Mondial, Maserati, Aermacchi Chimera and others.
Two of the greatest race drivers that have ever lived were present as well. John Surtees, the only man to have ever won the World Championship on both two wheels and four was there to rekindle some old stories for the crowd with his 1964 Ferrari Formula 1 car as well as one of his MV Agusta bikes… and at a spry 80, he looks great. Stirling Moss who is a judge each year was of course there as well. And he had the pleasure of reuniting with his 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR that he and journalist Denis Jenkinson won the Mille Miglia in that year. He even got to drive it up the reviewing ramp and down to the waves, the whistles and the clapping of the huge crowd.
Up several hundred feet, on the practice putting green sat a selection of futuristic and ‘going to be made’ new cars. A roped off scene with the cars spread in a huge circle around the edge of the green so all can see them up close. There we witnessed an amazing futuristic cell powerd Mercedes-Benz, a current Lotus Evora, The Bentley Continental Supersports ISR, the Cadillac Ciel, the Fisker Karma sedan, the Ford Start concept, Infiniti’s Etherea concept and several more. Always a crowd drawer that putting green stuff, and just a tickler for what the folks will find when they walk down to the main fairway and see these 227 examples of classic pristine automobiles and motorcycles before their eyes.
As always the Master of Ceremonies, actor and voice over master Ed Hermann took to the microphone to make most of the announcements and awards, along with a few other special members of the organization and several lovely models. And of course, comedian Jay Leno was there to bring some lite and humor to this serious car show. He always seems to bring not only laughter to the scene but has this amazing knack for raising money for the underprivileged kids of California by selling opportunities to see his personal garage and collection at a $1000 a pop. Within less than ten minutes he raised over $30,000!
The Best of Show this year went to the French car builder Voisin, a C-25 dating back to 1934 and owned by Merle and Peter Mullen from Los Angeles. The car was spectacular in every way, as most Voisin’s are. There were so many other eligible entries that the mind can play tricks on you. But when the judges came down to what they felt was the most spectacular car, the one that best exemplifies the Pebble Beach BOS, this car was their choice.
This is a show that needs your attention if you love cars. And the fact that you may have missed this years presentations, does not mean you can’t plan now for next year. From top authority I have received word that the features will be the Maharaja’s cars, the Mercer, Fiat, the famous Saoutchik coachworks examples, German motorcycles and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AC Cobra. Now if that doesn’t wet your appetite, I don’t know what does. Make your plans today. Hotels fill up very early and everyone wants you to be there to party hearty.