The front of a vintage Bentley on the lawn at the Concours d'Elegance.

April is traditionally the time car aficionados preparing to show their collectible cars during Monterey County's Car Week in August have to get to work.

"It is the trigger month for all of the prep work—people are putting tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars into their cars," says Rick Barnett, chair of the Concours at Pasadera, a smaller show scheduled to begin on Aug. 7, oriented around a Ford v. Ferrari theme, inspired by the 2019 film.

But it's one of the many ancillary events around the big centerpiece of Car Week—the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach—that is looking increasingly precarious. 

On Wednesday, Concours announced they are canceling their 70th annual  event, a decision they reached shortly after the car selection process was completed for this year's Aug. 16 event. 

“My heart goes out to all of the people who are involved in the Pebble Beach Concours and who are impacted by this decision,” Concours chair Sandra Button said in a statement. “Many of our entrants have been working on a special car for years, and this was to be their moment. Some of our overseas entrants were nearing the point of putting their cars on boats and planes, and their own travel arrangements have long been made. The same is true for many of our international cadre of judges." 

By the next morning, RM Sotheby's notified Monterey city officials they would cancel their Car Week auction. Later in the day, Mecum and Russo & Steele followed up with news of cancellations.

"This is sobering news for us," Assistant Monterey County Manager Nat Rojanasathira said in a press briefing on Thursday morning. 

The city of Monterey routinely experiences a bump in tourism revenues from Car Week each year. Typically, the city projects an 87.4-percent hotel occupancy rate, and in 2019, July and August generated $6.7 million in hotel taxes—one-quarter of Monterey's hotel tax revenue.

Organizers of the Concours d'Lemons—which invites non-collectible old cars to Seaside every year during Car Week—also announced on April 23 they are cancelling this year's event. 

As of Tuesday, before the Concours announcement, Barnett was still planning to move forward with the Pasadera event, which is relatively small and easier to keep people dispersed. 

"We can create necessary social distancing," he says. "We're in a good spot. Needless to say, it's going to be tough. This is not going to be an easy year."

Pam Marino contributed to this report.   

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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