Pebble Beach Car Week 2019 | August 13-18
By Chris Mulvihill
For this enthusiasts the best ‘Car Week’ in the world started with a 90 mile drive North on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Beginning in San Simeon, the seductively winding road to Monterey provided some of the most beautiful scenery in America. An added treat was oncoming traffic peppered with classic cars most notably a 1920’s Bentley.
With so many car events packed into 6 days it is like Christmas every morning! This quandary presents a problem when selecting the best function to attend.
Perhaps one of the best free events of the week is the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concourse on Ocean Avenue. This judged event drew 400 applications for just 250 spots. The Concourse focuses on Porsche and Ferrari models through 1989 plus multi-marques from 1940 to 1973. Now in its 12th year, the proceeds from participant fees benefit the Carmel Foundation which supports seniors.
Held in the courtyard of a 250 year old mission, the 7th annual Carmel Mission Classic is the hidden gem of the week. Displaying 47 classic and exotic cars in a beautiful shady setting provides a great environment to talk to the very friendly car owners. In addition to beautiful cars, your entrance fee provides wine and craft beer sampling from 6 local wineries and 1 craft brewery. At the conclusion of the concourse the Mission Pastor blesses the cars and if desired, the owners. Proceeds from the admission fee supports a number of Carmel Mission charities.
Early morning the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegence begins at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center. Only cars that will be displayed at Sunday’s Concourse begin to line up at 7AM for a 9AM departure. The 70 mile tour route is a great drive down PCH and around the Monterey area. The tour stops for lunch in Carmel around 11:30 and the cars are parked on Ocean Ave for all to see. There is no cost for this event and it provides a rare opportunity to view and ‘hear’ close to 200 of the best examples of that car in the world.
‘The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering’ is the most exclusive event of the week. Held at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel, only 6,000 tickets are made available for purchase through a lottery system (tickets sell out quickly).
There were 250 classic cars on display with a select group of performance car manufacturers displaying their machines as well. The Quail is also known for new car unveilings and concept car displays. This year’s event highlighted the 100 years of Bentley Motors, the 25th anniversary of the McLaren F1 and a tribute to electric cars. Of particular interest was the introduction of the Lotus Evija, a two-seat electric powered super car. With a range of 250 miles and top speed of +200 MPH, this is a strong statement from the limited production British sports car manufacturer. Introduced as a 2020 model, only 130 Evijas will be produced for the world at a suggested retail price of $2.5M. Cars are not the only focus of this great event as your admission ticket provides access to six themed gourmet culinary pavilions offering award-winning wines, local brews and signature cocktails. If you enjoy the finer things in a great environment, The Quail is a must attend.
Laguna Seca Race track was opened in 1957 as a venue for the Pebble Beach races that were held in the Del Monte Forest during the concourse weekend. The Monterey Historic Automobile races began in 1974 and are held on the Pebble Beach Concourse weekend. Over 1,000 apply to race with 550 selected. Each car is reviewed by the selection committee for authenticity, racing provenance and period correctness. This year was a first as the race celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). IMSA is a sports car and road racing sanctioning body that oversees several different series. Hurley Haywood, A star driver from this series was the grand marshal. His involvement with IMSA began as a driver in 1971 with many accomplishments; three-time winner of the 24 Hours of LeMans, five-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and two-time winner of the 12 hours of Sebring. Hurley was at the track for a lunch time public interview and Q and A from the crowd. Laguna Seca is one of the few tracks in America with an open paddock area. This allows spectators to get close to the cars and watch the preparation work on the cars to ready them for the track. If you enjoy a hands on racing experience I highly recommend a full day at Laguna Seca.
The 69th annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance featured the 100 year anniversary of Bentley Motors, the 110 year anniversary of Bugatti and 100 years of Zagato designs. Over 210 display cars are placed in 31 categories to be painstakingly scrutinized by judging teams of three. Judging takes hours and winning a ribbon at Pebble can greatly increase the value of a car. Some of the more interesting vehicles on display; the oldest original production Bentley sold to a private customer, the first legendary ‘Bentley Blower’ race car and of course the Best of Show 1931 Bentley 8 Liter Sports Tourer. A display class that is a recent addition to the concourse is Historic Hot Rods. The selection committee deems these cars to be instrumental in the birth of Hot Rods and the post-World War II car culture. Some of these cars were made famous through small scale plastic models kids assembled in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
It goes without saying the celebrated marques this year provided more ‘jewelry on wheels’ than in past years. Bentley, Bugatti and Zagato styling flourishes today and produce some stunning vehicles. However, seeing the early models of these brands gives one a deeper appreciation for the folks who put their heart and soul into a product. There is no greater car event in North America than Pebble Beach. If you have even a passing interesting in cars or the history of a car brand, I highly recommend attending this event.