The Free Way
How to do car week gratis (or on a budget that knows no speed limit).
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The best things in life are free. They just don’t go zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds.
The 2009 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, a prototype showing at the Concours concept gallery on Pebble’s putting greens, does. The winning bidder on the car dubbed the world’s fastest roadster will also earn the opportunity to travel to Germany to oversee the car’s detailing.
That should run hundreds of thousands of bones. In fact, just to watch the bidding will cost some good coin.
With that in mind, maybe the real winner this weekend will be the one who hits the most retina-stretching sights without the benefit of a limitless checkbook. For that shoe-leather connoisseur of car week, the Weekly has compiled the following list– and, compassionately, some notes for the people that have to spend money (note: some events include both free and pay components; events are listed on the day of their most popular event):
CAR WEEK FOR FREE
THURSDAYTOUR D’ ELEGANCE
While the purring procession that grips the area’s most scenic streets today is worth millions of dollars, a spot on the side of the road to watch it go by doesn’t cost a thing, though dropping $4 for a breakfast burrito and $2 for a garage-sale folding chair are sound investments.
This year the standard tour adds a shorter “veterans” loop for antique vehicles that can’t quite cope with the highway-style acceleration but still feel oh-so-alive on 17-Mile Drive and along the Carmel coast. They’ll take Scenic over to the Carmel Mission, parking in the center of the gorgeous courtyard to mingle with local docents and inspect the parallels in preserving classic cars and historic buildings. The larger fleet of chariots loop from the polo fields in Pebble to Aguajito, through Tehama to Carmel Valley Road and over to Highway 1. Lunch for the land sharks happens at Carmel’s Devendorf Park.7am/cars line up on Portola Road alongside Polo Fields, Pebble Beach; 8:30am/departure. 10am/veterans arrive at Carmel Mission; noon/cars are parked along Ocean Avenue, Carmel. Download a map of the route at www.pebblebeachconcours.net. 622-1700. BLACKHAWK EXHIBITION SALE
The self-described “Purveyors of Rolling Art” behind this exhibition aren’t exclusive about who gets in: In other words, there’s no admission.
Among the Zephyrs, Continentals, Aston Martin, Bentleys and Bugattis, those guests will see a featured Mercedes S Saoutchik Roadster that Blackhawk owner Don Williams estimates should sell for $7 million or $8 million.
“The event’s like a mini Concours to get everybody ready,” Williams says. “Only it’s free and all the cars are for sale.
“For 15 years I’ve been asked why I don’t fence it off,” he adds. “I’m a car collector, and this is a time to share– there’s enough charging on the Peninsula elsewhere.”9am-6pm/Thu-Sun. Peter Hay Golf Course, 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach. Free. (925) 736-3444 or www.blackhawkcollection.com. RUSSO AND STEELE MONTEREY
The auction is pay-to-play, but the Russo and Steele preview is free Thursday through Saturday. As excitement downtown speeds up over the course of the weekend, a tour of this lineup of cars offers a fun way to start or finish off an evening.10am-5pm Thu, 10am-10pm Fri-Sat/free preview; 5-10pm Fri-Sat/auction. Parking structure, Calle Principal one-half block south of the Monterey Marriott. 602-252-2697 or www.russoandsteele.com.
FRIDAYANNUAL PACIFIC GROVE CONCOURS AUTO RALLY
This year the junior Tour d’Elegance hosts Kelly and the Beachcombers, who jam on Lighthouse Avenue as interested locals and visitors scope the scores of cars that will soon loop from Lovers Point over to Pebble and back starting at 6pm. Free to look; $65 to drive (not including the purchase price of the car).1-5:30pm/car staging along Lighthouse; 6pm/cruise starts; Staging: Lighthouse Avenue. Free. 372-6585 or www.pgautorally.org.
NOT SO FREE
THURSDAYRUSSO AND STEELE MONTEREY
When it comes to this central car-week event, Autoweek speaks for the everyman– or at least the everyman who drops $75 for a chance to bid Caribbean condo’s worth of cash on, say, the “original post-war supercar” (a 1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster, appearing here this weekend). “This is way more fun than any of those other auctions… ” Autoweek opines. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. They can have their Bugattis. Gimme this any day.”
This year, say auction reps, a few rare vehicles have sparked a lot of media interest, including a one-of-a-kind Lamborghini Jota, a pristine Daytona Spyder, and none other than the Cobra fit for a King– the car Elvis Presley used in MGM’s Spinout.6:30-9:30pm/charity reception; 10am-5pm Thu, 10am-10pm Fri-Sat/free preview; 5-10pm Fri-Sat/auction. Preview: parking structure, Calle Principal one-half block south of the Monterey Marriott. Auction: Second Floor, Marriott. $100/bidder. 602-252-2697 or www.russoandsteele.com.
Out here the land is level, the peace complete and the Italian flavor intact. The new setting also allows the largest-attended event of the week to flex its favorite “I” word even more– not Italian, but “inclusive.” Prepare for takeoff.
No exhibitor is turned away, which will lead to everything from rare yaughts to submersibles joining the runway fray. The other engaging elements include a typically massive amount of Italian artwork, including salutes to 1) visiting designer Marcello Gandini, the man behind the Lamborghini Countach and Miura, 2) Forty-five years of Automobili Lamborghini and 3) Forty years of the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.
The new venue also triggers a new “Blending of Art and Engineering” gala in the Marina hangar Thursday night, spiked with guest speakers from the Speed Channel and Formula 1 racing, models circulating fresh fashions and a lavish dinner following cocktails.
On Friday, Il Fornaio caters a symphony of Italian food for the 6,000 to 7,000 anticipated guests. Those guests will do well to stay near the epicenter of the event, where organizers always have something lively going on. Last year cashmere sweaters even rained from the car week’s most active stage.
“It’s a new event, a new year,” event manager Samantha Tobias says. “We want to knock their socks off. We got an airport.”5:30-9pm/Thu; 9:30am-5pm/Fri. Marina Airport. $85/gala; $100/concorso in advance; $150/VIP; free/child (12 and under). 883-8594 or www.concorso.com. RM MONTEREY SPORTS AND CLASSIC CAR AUCTION
The 1958 Chrysler Diablo Convertible Coupe, a stunning shape conceived by Chrysler design head Virgil Exner and one of the most impressive concept cars this country, let alone this car week, will see, looks like a peaceful baby blue cloud– but it’s got thunder in its belly and lightening on its mind.
And it’s got plenty of storied company up there in the atmosphere: Among them a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta, a rare barrel-side 1930 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton and an elegant 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Special Town Car, considered by most historians to be one of the greatest RRs ever built.
Two other things to help car fans’ hearts downshift and accelerate, respectively: Three days of included wine tastings hosted by Ventana Vineyards 2-4pm Thursday through Saturday and a look at the all-new 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.7-9pm Thu/gala reception. 9am-5pm Thu-Fri/preview; 5pm-midnight Fri-Sat/sale. Portola Plaza Hotel and the Monterey Conference Center, 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey. $40/three-day event pass; $100/catalog; $200/bidder registration (includes passes). 1-800-211-4371 or www.rmauctions.com. THE QUAIL: A MOTORSPORTS GATHERING
If the Concours is the glamorous king of car week, this would be the rather spoiled crown prince. It’s certainly got the week’s most pampered pleasures (massages, multiple gourmet options and a stacked lineup of high-end liquors) and plenty of pedigree (this year will yield another edition of Butterfield and Bonham’s superlative auctions, a tribute on wheels to the Twelve Hours of Sebring, a collection of cars celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the legendary Porsche 959, and a stable of Lamborghinis highlighting the career of the firm’s storied test driver, Valentino Balboni). And it also reliably retains a tempting bit of rebellion befitting a prince– two years ago, a VW bug with a huge jet engine burned a scar with its red-hot exhaust in Quail’s manicured grass; last year, a stunt pilot’s aerobatics were so dramatic, it looked at times like the bi-plane might careen into the caviar.
Meanwhile, the sun shines in the valley and the price continues to be all-inclusive and devoutly worth it– the 3,000 spots sell out annually. After decades with the Concours and as a judge, co-founder Gordon McCall apparently knew what he was doing when he set out to hand-carve a VIP event that went beyond awe-inspiring autos. “People travel the world to attend something like this– that’s what they do,” he says. “It’s a great group to please. Great food and martinis all day long. Absolutely.”10am-3pm. Quail Lodge, 8000 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel. $200; sold out. 877-734-4628 or www.quaillodge.com.
FRIDAYANNUAL PACIFIC GROVE CONCOURS AUTO RALLY
A good 200 “rally cars” and thousands of spectators turn out for this resolutely Pagrovian piece of car week, which includes a cruise between Lovers Point and Asilomar then Pebble Beach and a sure-to-sell-out block-party barbecue at Chautauqua (starring Skip Barber Racing School raffles and awards). This year the ever-evolving mini classic by the bay continues to improve with contributions from Kelly and the Beachcombers, who rev their riffs during the festive staging activities.1-5:30pm/car staging along Lighthouse; 6pm/cruise starts; 7pm/dinner; 8pm/awards presentation. Staging: Lighthouse Avenue; dinner: Chautauqua Hall, 16th Street and Central, Pacific Grove. $65/drive; $20/dinner (limited space available for both) 372-6585 or www.pgautorally.org.
SATURDAYROLEX MONTEREY HISTORIC AUTOMOBILE RACES
Every year the historic cars display the same amount of impressive aesthetics and legendary engines as any other event in the area– they just pour on a century’s worth of action and adrenaline as well. (And they do it Friday and Saturday– but Saturday is the day to get it in gear.) While a surreal number of top cars carve up Laguna’s corkscrew– some 400 cars all told– none other than the heartbeat of race history, Mario Andretti, sits in as guest of honor.
In its 35th year, the Historics won’t slow down there. Title sponsor Rolex will present its Silver Event Design Award-winning Motor Sports History Display “Moments in Time”– in other words, attending mortals can anticipate cars historic heads can only dream of driving, like the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C-2900B Mille Miglia Spyder that Phil Hill drove to first place in the Del Monte Trophy Race in 1951 at Pebble Beach, the 1908 Grand Prix Mercedes owned by former Oregon State Senator and vintage racer George Wingard, and the 1927 Delage Grand Prix of the Collier Collection in Florida.
Here, history unfolds awfully fast.12:05pm Sat/legends race; 7am-5pm Fri-Sun. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Highway 68, Monterey. $55/Fri; $85/Sat; $55/Sun; $115/2-Day (Sat/Sun); and $145/3-Day; 1-800-327-SECA or www.montereyhistoric.com. KHAKI’S ANNUAL FERRARI EVENT
This up-and-comer graduates to gourmet this year, drawing food from more than a half dozen restaurants top Barnyard restaurants and juice from 11 wineries. Meanwhile, live jazz fills the air and the Italian artwork (Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and other Italian sleds, many fresh from the Concorso) canvas the parking lot, often with the owners holding serve from the curb. All proceeds go to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Carmel Youth Center, making this a feel-good event for those who have a good feel for Italian flavor.4:30-7pm. Barnyard Shopping Center parking lot, Rio Road and Highway 1, Carmel. Free; $40/donation for food and wine; $10/under 21. 625-8106. Pebble Beach Auction Presented by Gooding & Company
There’s a little picture with a big number next to it on Gooding’s website: $4,455,000. That’s what a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder went for at last year’s auction. In the picture, the thing looks minty enough that you’d think the bidder would round up to $4.5 million. Then again, five grand does make for a decent post-party.
After the Concours lavishes attendees with a look at cars that largely aren’t for sale, this big tent event would be where the big boys come to throw their weight (in gold) around to pick their own piece of machinery.6pm/Sat-Sun. Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, Portola Road and Stevenson Drive, Pebble Beach. $40/all events; $100/catalog and two passes; free/under 12. (310) 899-1960 or www.goodingco.com.
SUNDAYPEBBLE BEACH CONCOURS D’ ELEGANCE
Maybe it’s to keep up with the aesthetic appeal of the “resort-casual” outfits and the splendor of Stillwater Cove, but the organizers here have not stalled in their quest to remain the world’s best car event– they’ve only enhanced it. This year that means as diverse a range of vehicles they’ve ever welcomed onto Pebble Beach’s 18th fairway.
The 25 competitive classes on hand will cover everything from collections of Lancias and Lamborghinis that only the Concours can summon to cars powered by former tank engines used in WWII (including a’53 Chrysler tank engine car from Concours favorite son Jay Leno). They’ll be cars as historic as a 1892 Peugeot Type 3 Vis-a-Vis that can run on dry cleaning fluid and concept vehicles as futuristic as the best engineering imaginations allow.
Meanwhile, a centennial celebration of General Motors will draw plenty of eyes and special classes will focus on early participants in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and the Ferrari Spyder California, and, per usual, both prewar and postwar preservation cars will also be on hand.
The granddaddy’s never been better.9am/judging starts; 10:30am/show opens; 1:30-4:30pm/award presentation (around 4:30pm/best in show). $150/in advance; $175/day of show; free/children 12 and under; $500/Club d’Elegance package. 622-1700 or www.pebblebeachconcours.net.