Jaguar Lady Stalks Monterey Peninsula

About this time last year I was spritzing my car, making it sparkle as an entrant for our Jaguar Ass. of New England (JANE) Concours, when I overheard the guys in our Club begin to talk about Pebble Beach. My ears perked up. I love Carmel! Maybe this could be an adventure for me!

Immediately I went to the woman who knows all, Prebble Eklof, a real car lady, to find out who is the “expert” on Pebble Beach.  “Peter Bourassa, Publisher of MMRsite.com is the go-to person,” she said. Peter and our own Club member Keith Carlson are part of a team who would be presenting a seminar on Pebble sometime after the first of the year at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Bad news for me, I’d already be long gone, basking in the Florida sun. So, with a “formal e-mail of introduction” from Prebble to Peter, on my behalf, I had an appointment with Mr. Bourassa, to meet and find out what this Pebble Beach hoopla was all about. I wanted to know it all; Where to stay? What tickets to buy? All the particulars of each event …

I prefaced my call to Peter, by saying, “I’m about to start my 365 days of fun and adventure, and would like to include ‘car events’.” Peter’s first question, “Do you have only a year to live?” “No, not this girl! I just diagnosed myself with a need for 365 days of car adventures.”
 

The day and hour finally arrived for Peter and me to meet. Peter handed me a sheet of paper with the title “Car Lady Plan.” Four hours later I left knowing almost nothing about Pebble Beach. There was mention about an impossible ticket for something called the Quail and explicit instructions to fly out for seven days, Monday to Monday. He handed me the 2010 Sports Car Market - Monterey Supplement  and said, “It’s all in here.”

At this year’s JANE Concours I wasn’t an entrant, I was a Jaguar Concours Judge! It dawned on me that Peter had truly sent me off on 365 Days of Fun and Adventure. The adventures that lead up to Pebble were beyond anything I could have imagined. An entire world of motorsports was unfolding in front of me. The foundation for understanding and enjoying Pebble Beach was in the making from that first meeting. However, I didn’t realize it until I was actually there.    


To see Pebble through my eyes you first have to know who I’ve become over the past seven months. My e-mail signature block says “Motorsports Enthusiast.” What I really am is a motorsports junky, a race track groupy, a woman who lusts over everything about cars, their history, their sounds. As if this wasn’t enough, I’ve discovered the most precious children’s charity, Guardian Angels of Motorsports, which is my inspiration.     Two years ago, all I knew was to renew my AAA membership in case I locked myself out of the Jeep. I knew nothing about cars … zip. What little I did know was that life is too short to pass on something you’ve always wanted. For me that was a convertible.  How I got that convertible is a story in itself, but what I did get was a Jaguar. A used car dealer picked it out for me, without my knowledge, at auction … a Jaguar! Wow!

My Pebble Beach adventures did span seven days, arriving Monday before most of the spectator activities began. What I noticed in my pre-planning is that everyone has their own favorite way to approach this mega week.  Sheldon Steele, Director of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, had given me the perfect advice on lodging. “Stay in a spot you love,” he said. For me, I knew it would be Carmel. It was a good choice, as it afforded me quick access to the Pebble Beach grounds where most of my adventures were to take place. I could scoot down Ocean Avenue, through the back gates, and be parked near the Gooding Auction tents in seven minutes. Staying in Carmel was a plus for watching Tuesday’s Cars on the Avenue event unfold on the main street before my hotel. On Thursday morning I was able to quickly scoot back into town after watching the Concours d’Elegance cars prepping for their tour of the neighborhood and the previewing the Gooding auction cars.

Most memorable was the camaraderie. Car owners, whom I may never have had the privilege to meet in my lifetime, were willing to share any detail of their precious automobile I could think to ask. And yes, Jay Leno truly is everywhere … and he gave me a hug! My marque, Jaguar, was my constant companion. I started every adventure first heading over to the Jags, for they and their owners are my family. Watching fellow JANE member Michael Kaleel race his XK120 at Laguna Seca was amazing. Keith Carlson, another Jane member who has attended the event over twenty times, was the ultimate guide on the Concours field Sunday afternoon.      .

This brings me to the top highlight of my Pebble Beach experience. Although there were many, this was precious for me. Yes, I also went to the Quail with my coveted lottery ticket.  Yes, I waltzed amongst the lovely people, cars, and private jets at the McCalls Motorsports Revival. Yes, I was starry-eyed over all the beauties (cars) during the RM and Gooding Auctions. And yes, I actually learned how to spot the best car buys at the SCM Insider’s Seminar. But for me, this adventure was my very favorite.

Whenever my daughter and I travel overseas, it’s the unusual we seek out. Since we love early morning markets and watching a city come alive, I knew I’d enjoy getting up Thursday morning and parking along Highway 1 around 9 a.m. to watch the Concours cars on their Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance after they leave the 17-mile drive en route to their final destination for lunch and display on Ocean Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Just by chance, the night before, I happened to overhear someone say the “best” place to be is up at the Equestrian Field around 6 a.m. to watch the cars come off their transporters and line up to actually take off at 8:30 a.m. for the Tour. Bingo!  An insider tip!  

So there I was at 6 a.m. sharp, wrapped in every layer of clothing I had brought, trying to stay warm, standing in the dark next to the wire fence enclosing the hundreds of huge transporter trucks. Now what?  The Hagerty team was just arriving, which I learned meant that coffee and the best doughnuts on earth would be out shortly. I asked someone in an official-looking Pebble Beach jacket, what kind of fancy ticket I needed to walk inside the gate to see the closed trucks. “Nothing, just walk in,” was the response! So there I was, tickled pink, like a little girl on Christmas morning.  

For the next hour and a half I walked, probably skipped, along the rows of transporters, down the sides and everywhere, in my very private wonderland. I watched in awe as the latches were lifted and heavy, shiny metal doors slowly opened to reveal their precious cargo. Some of the cars had special “blankets” covering them, others were wrapped in giant clear baggies. Each had been put to bed the night before, and now, at this very moment, I and the transporter crews were watching them wake up. The crews started their cars and I watched each gurgle and sputter and then settle itself down. Backing out of the truck was an art all in itself. In more than one instance I held my breath as the wheels rolled to the very edge of the platform before the car was lowered to the ground. You had to be there to even begin to imagine the sight! I was beside myself. I stood in amazement with the utmost respect, as cars I had learned about during my adventures to LeMans, Sebring 12, the Daytona 24, and Amelia Island rolled out of bed.  These cars represented international motorsports history. Many had once been loyal companions to some of the most famous people and race car drivers in the world. I gazed at the XK120 Jaguar and imagined how those early Jaguars looked on the tracks at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. Sporty cars that raced and won LeMans, now an event near and dear to me since meeting Davey Jones and Stirling Moss, were rolling out of bed.   As if this wasn’t excitement enough, the cars gradually worked their way into sections onto the roadway in front of the Gooding's tent, where they sat, feeling the misty drizzle before their debut into Carmel. What a thrill to stare at them up close. What an honor to meet their owners. Within the next 30 minutes they cranked up their engines and zoomed off.   

Could it get any better than this morning? Yes, it would. I discovered I could do it all over again on Sunday! I didn’t leave the transporters to wander down to the Concours field to be part of the Dawn Patrol. I arrived at 6 a.m. and just stayed with the beauties and watched them all wake up again, roll out of bed, and get ready for their big day, the 61st Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It was magical.

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast