MMR Blog

Car Shows – An Evolution

Posted on September 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Automobile shows officially began in America in Boston and New York in 1900. Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit followed in 1901. Today, most small towns and all the large ones have at least one car show and several billed as concours feature specific categories, makes, or countries of origin.

The words concours or concorso are French and Italian for contest. The often-added addendum d’Elegance or d’Eleganza are self-evident in meaning and often not a standard for entry.

By far the greatest number of car shows in America feature local cars on display for local enthusiasts. Most allow fellow competitors or the public to choose their winners. Some larger events are judged. Here winners are chosen based on the opinions of local enthusiasts possessed of varying degrees of competence for the tasks. The latter system can be more controversial than the first but since the stakes are but bragging rights and trophies, no one is harmed.

National level contests have burgeoned in the past ten years. Once the purview of Pebble Beach, Amelia Island and the now renamed Concours d’Elegance of America (formerly Meadowbrook), winning these events had, and still has, meaning for car owners. Today, with the expansion of national events to the stately golf courses in America and the stately homes and country estates of Europe, many more vehicles are receiving national and international attention. Despite that, only Pebble Beach and Amelia in America and Villa d’Este in Europe have gravitas in the eyes of national and international competitors.

For Pebble Beach, Amelia and Villa d’Este, considerably more is at stake at every level. For collectors, winning can mean a significant and immediate difference in the value of the vehicle and the remainder of the collection. It is also a valuable feather in the cap of the restorer. The crucial difference between events at this level and all others is the quality of the judging. Top tier events invest in recruiting and developing world class judges. This investment assures participants that their vehicles will be judged by recognized experts. Some well known collectors will not show their cars at events where they could be beaten as a result of poor judging. Such losses devalue the car in the eyes of the public and prospective buyers.

There will always be a future for both the top tier and the local car shows. The battle for survival is at the middle level. Each event struggles every year to differentiate itself from others and its own previous presentation. They all have the added burden of finding and maintaining sponsorship from national brands that have a growing demand for their resources.

Then there is the enthusiast. Unlike before the internet and 24-hour-live coverage of events, enthusiasts have a plethora of motorsports activity options every weekend. Attending a car show is just one of them. To draw people from a distance, a car show must offer more than 150 seldom seen vehicles on a famous golf course. Monterey Week is probably the best example of stand-alone events combining with local communities, government, and business groups to present visitors with choices. They have realized that to entice people to travel to their area and spend money, they must first present a variety of attractive options.

Two quite different events that have grown in stature are the Santa Fe Concorso and The Boston Cup.

In the case of the Santa Fe Concorso, they have a small population base from which to draw spectators, no major metropolis within convenient driving distance and an equally small car population to supply materials. Yet they continue to grow by focusing on what they do have, a small but beautiful city with a strong arts scene, great weather, interesting roads nearby, serious local racing figures in the Unsers and Denise McCluggage and just as importantly, a hospitality industry is focused on insuring that people come back. Unlike Monterey and Amelia, rates are not inflated because the car guys are coming to town and the base rates are remarkably low. This and a growing program that features a great drive, a museum tour with for real Indy greats, a movie night featuring Bullitt at a refurbished historic cinema and, finally, an interesting concorso that will keep people coming back again and again.

The Boston Cup people have taken a different approach. In the middle of a busy metropolis sits the historic Boston Common. It is huge and because it is a public space, the public have free access. The Boston Cup Sunday event is a celebration of an eclectic mix of cars from the early days of the 20th century and the latest electric cars from major manufacturers. Cars are drawn from local collectors with national stature, race teams – vintage and modern, and coaxed out of garages from throughout New England. Informal gathering for a Cars and Coffee and Arrive and Drive meetings take place on the common on Saturday and a cocktail party for participants is held at the Ritz on Saturday night. The organizers have succeeded in convincing a City Hall with a historically anti-car bias that cars on green spaces are good for both the merchants and the public. The location is very visible from the surrounding streets and pedestrian traffic on the Common is very high. For these reasons, major manufacturers want to be involved and this year BMW is doing a ride and drive program on the day prior to the main event. The judging for the Boston Cup is done by both the public and the participants. The whole atmosphere is relaxed.

These two car events will survive and are models for others to emulate. In the 21st Century, cars may continue to be the feature draw at car shows, but a combination of auctions, movies, tours, vintage racing, knowledgeable judges, and major manufacturers and local merchants and government support will be crucial to survival. Not a short list but this is a tough neighborhood with growing expectations.

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 29, 2014 Comments (0)

 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2014

The process of recovering from the events at Monterey Week has less to do with sleep than sorting out everything that happened there and how to tell the story to you, our loyal readers.

 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2014

This week we will share the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance images in the Blind Pig Gallery on our website. I remember standing somewhere in the middle of the field, looking around at all the exceptional cars, the exceptional setting and saying to myself, for a car guy, this is the best place to be in the whole world today. Thank you Pebble Beach people.

Lime Rock Park Historic Festival poster

The Lime Rock Historic Festival will be the best place to be this weekend and we will be there beginning today. 

Vintage race cars will be on track today and tomorrow, Sunday will feature a huge concours and Monday it is back to racing. Tough to beat.

Please note that several notable cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection will be on display all weekend. For a sneak peek at what you'll see, here's a gallery featuring Tony Singer's photographs of the Ralph Lauren car collection in the exhibition “L’Art de L’Automobile”.

See you there.


Spa, VIR, and Sonoma are road courses and they benefit the sport hugely. Both the drivers and the spectators see racing as it was meant to be. No temporary pit, potholed streets, or concrete walls the whole way round. This past weekend may have been the most entertaining motorsports viewing of the year. So let’s get to it.

F1: Rosberg Turns Whine into Wine

Nico Rosberg

The soap opera goes on. Even after the summer break and the advancements made by Ferrari and Red Bull, Mercedes continues to be the class of the field. On a long track like Spa, they are as much as a second to two seconds better and in F1 that is huge. The drama of the show, decidedly different from the driving of the show continues to be the conflict between the drivers on the leading team. Meanwhile the driving spotlight falls on Red Bull’s Ricciardo, who is both good and lucky, and Williams’ Bottas, who is due a top step on the podium soon. He consistently does well while avoiding conflict. McLaren’s Magnussen’s fight with the far more experienced Alonso, Button, and Vettel on older tires was really entertaining.

Jackie Stewart

The Brits believe they invented F1. Since the F1 industry is based in Britain and Brits have held the major positions at most teams at some point, it is not difficult to understand from whence they come. All European countries support their F1 drivers and in England Button and Hamilton are national heroes. Since North Americans have not had F1 winners since the Villeneuves, our coverage has, of necessity, always had a British filter. Whether it is David Hobbs or before him Sir Jackie Stewart, we have always accepted their analysis of how the cow ate the cabbage. I enjoy reading Denise McCluggage’s view of F1. Unfettered by having to defend or promote an American hero, it seems to me that she writes about pure racing. Read her recent piece on Vettel’s whining. But getting back to the Brits. In Hamilton they have their classic tragically flawed hero. Possibly, and I stress “possibly”, the most naturally gifted driver on the grid, he understands the car and the racing but he is woefully pitiful in what we have previously referred to here as racecraft. His dilemma is that in partnering with Rosberg, who probably, and I stress “probably” is not as naturally gifted, is a master of racecraft. While unquestionably affected by being booed for his second place finish, he immediately explained that only a few of Lewis’s British fans were responsible, thereby marginalizing Hamilton’s constituency to a few rabid Brits, which can only have infuriated them more. Then, while Hamilton woefully pleads that he was in front and he had the line, Rosberg, when questioned, politely explains that he hasn’t yet seen the video and that it would be unfair to comment until he has. From what we could see on the US broadcast, Hamilton unquestionably had the line and didn’t leave room. Rosberg could have backed out earlier and was wrong to expect that Hamilton would leave him room. But he was too stubborn to avoid a collision and so they did. It cost Rosberg a pit stop for a new nose, and possibly the win and it cost Hamilton the race points he would have received for winning or finishing second. It is not hard to believe that had Hamilton’s tire not been cut he would have won the race and had absolutely no sympathy for Rosberg’s plight.

Mercedes was the big loser and management are understandably annoyed. This was an embarrassment to them, and they made both their employees aware of their displeasure. But the gamesmanship between Hamilton and Rosberg continued to fascinate. While Lewis dejectedly lamented his loss to the media, Rosberg, recognizing that the British press would never love him as they do their beloved Lewis, accepted that he could have backed off. His acceptance was brilliant and I wouldn’t find it hard to believe that once he got away from the embarrassing trophy presentation a little birdie whispered in his ear that this could work for him. In one fell swoop he mollified his team management, further incensed a constituency that Rosberg has little chance of winning over and sent a message to Hamilton not to do that again unless he wanted the same result. It was clever of Rosberg to accept some responsibility, even if he didn’t feel it or wasn’t in the slightest bit responsible. He won the points, which was his goal and handed Hamilton a lesson in the mind game known as racecraft.

The Rosberg-Hamilton situation is in many ways reminiscent of the Prost-Senna battles of their day. It is little remembered that while Senna enjoyed the adulation of the masses, he won but three world Championships to Prost’s four. Only two other drivers have won more. And in the end, to Prost, to Senna and to history, nothing mattered more.


Roger Penske

On a far friendlier and less Machiavellian note, the battle for the IndyCar Championship between the Penske drivers continued at the Northern California Sonoma road course. The long (2.4 mile) track, seemingly unaffected by the previous night’s earthquake hosted the second to last race of the season and the quick but erratic points leader and pole sitter Will Power blew the lead and a good points to finish tenth. He picked up 24 points to teammate Castroneves’ 12 giving him a 51 point lead going in to the final double-points paying race this weekend at Fontana California. A win at Fontana is worth 104 points; Power won it last October.

The winner of the Sonoma race was Scott Dixon who has emerged from the shadow of former team leader Dario Franchitti to finally be recognized for the excellent and clever driver he is. A third Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya also showed he will be a force to be reckoned with next year. The fiery Montoya has calmed somewhat since his first IndyCar go-around but he is still very feisty and he will definitely be a noisy challenger next year. He lead Sunday’s race at one point and finished fifth overall. This weekend’s race at the dreaded Fontana oval will be very exciting.

It was stated several times over the weekend that IndyCar has never been more competitive. This is difficult to prove but there is little doubt that this new product has the cars, the drivers, and the sponsorship base. It requires a larger enthusiast base and better quality venues. Once the latter has been addressed, the former will come.

Tudor United Sports Car Racing

The verdant VIR race track has only pavement in common with Sonoma. But that is the most important similarity. Virginia International Raceway is 3.3 miles long and hosted the 2 hours and 45 minutes that constituted last Sunday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix feature race for sports cars. Once again, kudos to the people who are adjusting the rules that allow their two series to come together and be competitive. 

Giancarlo Fisichella

The Risi 458 Ferrari driven by F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer beat back a Porsche, two BMWs, and a Viper to win a thrilling wire to wire all sports car race. The final ten minutes of this race were epic and the drivers fought bumper to bumper to produce a fantastically entertaining race.

Corvette continues to lead the series but Viper are giving them a great run and were exceptionally fast at VIR. The next race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on September 19-20 (circle the date) will be equally interesting as this 3.4 mile track also favors big fast cars.

The final race in the series will be the Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance race at Road Atlanta on October 3 & 4. Hopefully our hero Tommy Kendall will be co-driving this race in a Viper.

I must confess that the multiple classes in the United Sports Car series still confuse me and that at some tracks the combining of the prototype and sports cars just makes for cluttered racing. I have determined that I like both kinds of racing, simply not together.

 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2014

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on August 22, 2014 Comments (2)

In the opinion of some, there may be a better concours than Pebble Beach, and there may be a better racetrack for vintage racing than Laguna Seca. There may be a better celebration of Italian cars than Concorso Italiano and there may even be a better street show and setting than Ocean Drive in Carmel, but all believe there is nowhere else in the car world where they all come together as well as at Monterey Week.

This week we have a wonderful American car story by Denise McCluggage, who judged at Pebble Beach last weekend, and an image (below) from Michael Furman of a 1922 Bugatti T23 Brescia 1361.

Image from Michael Furman of a 1922 Bugatti T23 Brescia 1361

We hope Porsche fans took advantage of the individually signed Porsche poster we offered in last week’s MMR Newsletter. There are very few left and the offer goes out next week to the 12,000 subscribers of Sports Car Market.


F1 returns this weekend for the Spa-Belgium GP, one of the best on the F1 Calendar. While little testing is done during this period, look for the teams to be much closer in speed at Spa.

The Milwaukee Mile:

Will Power for Team Penske

Before sports car road racing came to places like Pebble Beach and Watkins Glen, there was already a rich history of oval track racing on wooden boards and dirt flat tracks. Founded in 1903, the famous mile was paved in 1954. Front engine roadsters with skinny tires put on a far different show than the modern Indy cars with high down force and fat tires. There really was only one line around here and Will Power took pole and that line to lead most of the race. That single lane limited the passing opportunities and, though a good race, it was not judged to be an exciting one. On camera, the grandstand appeared sparsely populated but organizers announced that attendance was 30K, 2K more than last year.

IndyCar has two races with 200 points left to hand out to the winners; Will Power of Team Penske has a 39 point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves. Stay tuned to your sets for the next two weeks as the battle continues. (Check our MMR Calendar for details.)


Monterey: Lamborghini wins!

This has been a huge year for Lamborghini in America. Continuing their tradition of unpronounceable model names the Huracan (hoor-a-can) made its North American debut at Amelia and was an instant hit. Two months later Bonhams sold a vintage Countach (Kun ta) for over a million dollars at Greenwich. Gooding sold one for almost $2M and a 400GT for almost $900K. Plus another Lamborghini 400GT won best of Show at the Concorso Italiano. Word on the street is that a Huracan sold today will be delivered in 12 months. Lamborghini is doing well.

Over the next few weeks we will share stories and images of our Monterey adventure.

Pebble Beach

Ferrari wins!

John Shirley’s 1954 Scaglietti bodied 375 Ferrari Coupe won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and became the first post war car to win Pebble Beach since 1968.

Maserati was the featured marque but John Shirley’s 1954 Scaglietti bodied 375 Ferrari Coupe won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and became the first post war car to win Pebble Beach since 1968. It was commissioned by Italian film director Roberto Rossellini and was Scaglietti’s first for Ferrari. The car is a fitting winner as no other car on the field matched it for the combination of style and story. At the time Roberto Rossellini owned it, he was married and involved in a notorious affair with actress Ingrid Bergman. Legend has it that the two were driving along the Italian coast and stopped the car to walk on the beach. Upon their return they found a lovely fresh fish, wrapped in newspaper, had been left on the passenger seat with a note thanking them for leaving such beautiful car for them to view.

Twenty Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa’s made for a rather spectacular presentation. All but one had been restored.

Concorso Italiano

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess.

Amidst a sea of red 308-355-360-430-458 and other Ferraris, some rarer pearls do appear. This is a joyous show populated mostly by Ferrari Club of America member cars. The invited designer was Zagato and they displayed a gaggle of Zagato designed cars. The most sought after car of the weekend was the new Alfa 4C. While, like many others, we applaud, nay celebrate, Alfa’s return, we cannot say that we are impressed much by the Lotus derived styling. Here is an image of a Zagato TZ3 Stradale Alfa that really did impress.


Also an Intermeccanica Italia with a 351 Ford engine that reminds us all of the glorious ISO-Bizzarini, Apollo, deTomaso era of Italian chassis-American engine cars are also appreciating.

Intermeccanica Italia

The winning car, deservedly, in the heart of Ferrari country, was a lovely Lamborghini 400GT.

Lamborghini 400GT

See you next week.

Peter Bourassa

Sandy on Assignment: On the Road to Monterey

Posted on September 16, 2013 Comments (0)

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Three times is a charm and that’s how I felt returning from my third year at Monterey and Pebble Beach. Never claiming to be an expert, but having hit most of the major events and attractions over the past three years, I am both thrilled and eager to share what I know. Like all of my motorsports adventures, the key is to plan ahead, especially if you want to kick Pebble off your bucket list.

Always a winner, this 1912 Packard 307 Passenger Touring still enjoyed by Phil Hill’s family, is a wonderful tribute to a great legend.

Always a winner, this 1912 Packard 307 Passenger Touring still enjoyed by Phil Hill’s family, is a wonderful tribute to a great legend.

What excites me most in sharing is the breadth of activities and experiences one really can comfortably pack into a week. That’s the key, a full week - Monday to Monday.

Some may remember how my motorsports adventures started… a query into Peter on how to approach, or should I say attack, Pebble Beach, a sort of Olympics with classic cars and the Grammy for automobiles. After four hours of discussion, clutching a year old copy of Sports Car Market’s, Insider’s Guide to Monterey, I walked away with two pieces of advice, one you already have - go Monday to Monday. The second was to discover what it is about motorsports that interests you… then build your week around those activities.

Yes, the color is original on this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe caught rolling off the transporter.

Yes, the color is original on this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe caught rolling off the transporter.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I love it all! This year, I grabbed for the gusto, taking time to mingle with people and hear their stories. I also crave the intellectual side, so seeking out the premier automotive museums on the west coast and taking in a SCM seminar satisfies my appetite. My love for sports car racing definitely shines through in my adventures, so meeting the racers and following them on the track at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a must. Living the week vicariously is exhilarating… especially during the auctions! And then there are the concours cars; so spectacular each receives a personal invitation to Pebble Beach. Over the course of the week, watching them evolve from their vulnerable position early Thursday, to full maturity on the concours field Sunday morning, is magical… for me.

So, let’s get started. This year I flew into LAX and departed out of San Francisco. Call it luck, but I was able to rent a car through Enterprise with no drop off fees. What tickled me most was being asked, “What are you driving?” “The least expensive, fuel economy, compact car available”, was my response. My first year at Pebble, I rented a fancy convertible for the same cost as my lodging for the week... forget that! All you need are wheels, especially those that can squeeze into tight parking spaces.

The real Jay Leno in his garage!

The real Jay Leno in his garage!

My personal 2013 motorsports plan includes museums, so the Petersen, Nethercutt and Mullin Automotive Museums, in the Los Angles area, were a must. All three are doable, using Monday as your travel day. I cheated, flying in Sunday evening so I could visit family. Around 10am Monday morning, the phone rang and the caller said, “This is Jay Leno, is Sandy there?” Yes, I admit it… it just slipped out. “Is this the real Jay Leno?” I asked. Within 45 minutes I was one-on-one with Mr. Leno, walking through his collection and restoration shop. It’s still a blur. I was in seventh heaven and forever grateful to Keith Carlson who recently sold Jay his Bristol 403 and orchestrated my meeting.

Tuesday I enjoyed the Petersen and Nethercutt Museums. Just up from Beverly Hills, where I was staying, is the multi-story, soon to receive a face-lift, Petersen Museum with streetscapes taking you back in time. Open, at no charge to the public, the Nethercutt Museum is just north in the San Fernando Valley, showcasing more than 100 vehicles. Like the Mullins collection, there are several cars that won top awards at Pebble Beach. Wednesday, prior to Monterey week, the Mullins graciously opens its doors to guests. I was extremely grateful, as the collection was superb and one I would have missed otherwise. Where to stay in order to take in these treasures? The Crescent Hotel with only 35 rooms is quite a find, nestled a couple of blocks up from Rodeo drive.

Only two or three of these French roadsters left in the world – the1930 Gar Type B5 from the Mullins collection.

Only two or three of these French roadsters left in the world – the1930 Gar Type B5 from the Mullins collection.

I went on-line to reserve my entrance to the Mullins Collection, as reserved times are both required and limited. Located in Oxnard, less than an hour north of Los Angeles, you’re ready to jump back on 101 after your visit and head north to Monterey or Carmel, both about a 5-hour drive if you switch over to scenic Route 1 at San Luis Obispo. If you like to drive, and why wouldn’t a car person, you’re in for a treat!

What you miss, by visiting the museums, is Tuesday in Carmel for the Concours-on-the-Avenue, a casual jaunt through town, viewing over 175 multi-marque cars lining the streets. Then again, you just saw three magnificent collections! Also, be willing to cut short shopping and browsing at Automobilia Monterey, held only Tuesday and Wednesday, in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Seaside. Keep in mind a much smaller version of Automobilia takes place just inside the main pedestrian entrance to the Pebble Beach Concours called Pebble Beach RetroAuto, the rest of the week.

Speaking of shopping… buy all the Pebble Beach Concours clothing you want the first few days you arrive… or it will likely be sold out on Sunday. Shopping is definitely something to entice the non-motorsports enthusiast to attend! Between Beverly Hills, Carmel and the Concours art galleries and boutiques, everyone’s happy.

I haven’t mentioned where to stay in the greater Monterey area. Anyone already on the list probably won’t! Again, start looking now. If you get in a bind, email and I’ll put you in touch with our 17-room boutique hotel to check for an opening. The advice I received my first year was to stay in a place you enjoy… for me, it was Carmel. This year I joined friends, staying in Monterey, and it worked out beautifully. Getting to the track, auctions, and Pacific Grove was a breeze. If deciding to attend at the last minute, just knowing that 60 days out most B&Bs require confirmation and full payment may help you snatch up someone’s cancellation.

Owners are only too happy to chat with the Hagerty Youth Judges… and anyone else who’s interested, at Pacific Grove.

Owners are only too happy to chat with the Hagerty Youth Judges… and anyone else who’s interested, at Pacific Grove.

I mentioned friends. No surprise that everything in life is more fun when enjoyed with friends, and that is especially true for Monterey week. We are fortunate to have Keith Carlson, a Monterey week aficionado, in our Jag Club. Peter and I took Keith’s advice, discovering the Thursday street show put on by the Rotary Club of Pacific Grove. Don’t be surprised if you see some of the same cars Sunday on the lawn at Pebble Beach! Pacific Grove is one of those places the crowds haven’t fully discovered… yet. We met up with Denise McCluggage for dinner at Aliotti’s and Favaloro’s - two fabulous Italian restaurants on the main street, Lighthouse Avenue.

Up and ready to go.

Up and ready to go.

I hope you’ve found some of the information helpful so far… now for the good stuff! I’m an early bird and for Thursday, you should be as well! Beginning between 5:30-6:00 am, with the fog and the mist, I get to watch the heavy doors of the transporters open and the magic of Pebble Beach commence, as the cars are lowered from their beds and roll down the ramps to make their first debut of the week - the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. I just love this adventure. Often, it’s not until the cars are off the transports that the owners appear, some seeing their cars for the first time after restoration! It’s a time when the cars are rather naïve, polished but not primped for Sunday’s big day. The same goes for owners. Some are a bit nervous and unassuming, especially if this is their first invitation to Pebble.

Bought new by the current owner’s grandfather, the 1921 Duesenberg A Bender Coup (chassis 601) is a car of many firsts.

Bought new by the current owner’s grandfather, the 1921 Duesenberg A Bender Coup (chassis 601) is a car of many firsts.

What are the chances of watching the very first Duesenberg ever built, roll out of a small single trailer tucked at the end of the transporter row… next to the porta potties, no less? With no crowds, close to 100 cars leave their transporter guardians and prepare to line up for the Tour… a find, as far as I’m concerned. The cars line up around 7am, leaving in waves with the first section departing at 8am from the equestrian center area across from the Gooding Auction tent. Gradually the spectators fill in around the cars, but nothing like the mobs you’ll experience once the cars roll into Carmel at noon following the Tour.

Onward… leaving at 8am, the Tour ends at noon in Carmel.

Onward… leaving at 8am, the Tour ends at noon in Carmel.

Between watching the cars wake up and a late lunch in Carmel once most of the crowds subside, you have some time for auction previewing. A reservation at Casanova, Keith’s favorite and now mine, on 5th Avenue between Mission and San Carlos, is a terrific choice. You’ll still have time to swing through more auction previews afterwards before heading out Carmel Valley Road for a down home evening at the Baja Cantina Grill and Filling Station. We had a blast at the Baja Cantina during their weekly Thursday car night! An eclectic mix of cars and people was enough to keep us and several hundred others entertained for hours. We got there later than I would recommend… I think 6:30pm would be better, next time.

I love this car! Estimated to go between $125-150,00, the 1972 Porsche 911 “STR II” design by Magnus Walker went for a surprising $302,500 at Gooding.

I love this car! Estimated to go between $125-150,00, the 1972 Porsche 911 “STR II” design by Magnus Walker went for a surprising $302,500 at Gooding.

This year, I focused on the RM, Gooding, and Russo and Steele auctions. Previewing sometimes has a nominal fee while attending the auction is a bit more. I consider auctions a not to be missed attraction. RM with auctioneer Max Girardo is a must for at least Saturday night and Gooding is a nice way to wrap up the week on Sunday evening after the Concours. Besides gaining an appreciation of market values, there are historical moments. Being in the audience when the hammer went down for the highly desirable 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider auctioned off by the Smith family, in honor of their father, was amazing. All funds from this $27,500,000 sale, and supposedly second highest car ever sold at auction, will go to charity.

I’ve attended two sought after, what I would call lifestyle, events in the past and decided to pass this year, unless someone had kindly offered me a ticket. My first year, I was advised to get into the lottery for a coveted Quail ticket. Three years ago, that ticket was $400. I saved the receipt. This year, I’m told it’s more. Another event I sought out that first year was the McCaw Motorworks Revival. At the time, the ticket was about half that of the Quail for this hanger party - now it’s up to $325. If you are going with a group of friends, where the price of admission doesn’t matter, both are rather interesting events… the people are just as famous as the cars!

So this is how it all starts… the car guy of tomorrow, at the Legends of the Autobahn.

So this is how it all starts… the car guy of tomorrow, at the Legends of the Autobahn.

A first for me this year was the Friday Legends of the Autobahn not far off Route 1 on Carmel Valley Road at Rancho Canada. We went early, around 9:30am, thinking we would stay for about an hour. Six hours later, seriously, we headed out. This free, yes free, event was more of a car show, not a concours-styled event. You saw a little bit of everything German, several historically significant cars, race cars, and a lot of fantastic people. I’m not suggesting spending this much time, but it’s a great change of pace and a stop I would highly recommend.

Last year I waltzed among the red cars at the Concorso Italiano on Friday. If you don’t have the luxury of seeing 800-1,000 Ferraris and other Italian cars back home, this is another one of those events to catch, at least once. For 2014, Concorso will move to Saturday, so it won’t conflict with the Quail, also on Friday. The show moves to Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside. I personally wouldn’t sacrifice a day at the track for a lifestyle event. Heck, racing is the best lifestyle event I know!

What I would recommend is splitting Friday between the track and the Autobahn event. Taking in the track Friday, would be a good opportunity to get a lay of the land, so to speak. Walking up and down the paddock, you meet the owners who are most likely the racers of these pretty cool vintage cars. Me being me, I asked someone looking official in a golf cart if there was a tour of the paddock area. I thought that would be a great idea. He agreed, yet said there wasn’t such a thing. No problem, he invited me to jump on board and off we went for a personal tour!

These must be the car girls of tomorrow!

These must be the car girls of tomorrow!

Yes, I was really there…perched up in the Starter’s Box!

Yes, I was really there…perched up in the Starter’s Box!

I picked up some tips to share. Start your explorations of the paddock on the periphery and work inwards. Be patient, stay on course, and go up and down the aisles. I jumped around, which meant I missed a lot. Hike up the hill to the corkscrew for a panoramic view of the track. Bring chairs in a bag, if you want to watch for awhile. It’s breathtaking! Visit the car corrals and witness the featured marque for as far as you can see. Most important, watch the races! No kidding! You would be surprised how many people are distracted by the eating and shopping.

This year I high-tailed it to the track Saturday morning, which meant I missed the SCM (Sports Car Marketing) seminar held up at the Gooding Tent. I found the seminars (by paid reservation) very informative the two years prior and was a little sad to miss it this year. Had I split up my track days, it would have been worth arriving a little late on Saturday. The only drawback to arriving after 10am at the track is parking… and that’s a big drawback.

George Wingard, collector of prewar racing cars, heading out to the awards stand on Sunday!

George Wingard, collector of prewar racing cars, heading out to the awards stand on Sunday!

Finally, it’s Sunday and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Be prepared, you’ll be joined by a throng of spectators, also working Pebble off their bucket list. What I strongly recommend, and something I need to do myself, is come up with your own tour of the Concours cars on the field. Everyone gets a handy pocket guide listing all the cars by class location. I arrived late on the field, around 8:30am, once parked and settled. The field was already pretty crowded, to my surprise, even though the general public isn’t allowed in until 10am. The Hagerty Dawn Patrol is early, sometime before 5am, yet a great opportunity for spectators to watch the fog and the cars roll out before the crowds roll in… if you don’t mind getting up around 4:00am!

Watching the judging is a show in itself…and yes, all the lights and signals must work.

Watching the judging is a show in itself…and yes, all the lights and signals must work.

Years past, I’ve been pretty much finished looking at the cars by 10am. This year, I wanted to watch another layer of the show… the judging. It’s fascinating to watch the judges move seamlessly around the cars looking at their particular specialty to judge.

Enjoying the moment.

Enjoying the moment.

This year, I also stayed on the field until the end, walking around just soaking in the cars and their proud owners as they drove by. I’m thinking next year I may even bring a couple of chairs and a picnic to enjoy more of the atmosphere of the day. My suggestion is to enjoy the moment. Yes, it’s all about the cars at Pebble, but as you can see, it’s also about taking away great memories from the week.

And if this isn’t enough car excitement, the Blackhawk Museum graciously hosts Monday after Pebble to attendees wanting to make the short detour on the way to the San Francisco airport. Admission is waved and refreshments are served, but the real prize… another exquisite automobile collection. Just when I thought the week couldn’t get any better… it got better, at Blackhawk.

Sandy on Assignment: My Best in Show

Posted on August 29, 2012 Comments (0)

With official media credentials in hand, I was back in Carmel for what can only be described as non-stop magical adventures.

Monterey 2012 Rolls Royce Line-up

For those who remember, I started last year’s Monterey week, in the dark, tip toeing among the transporters, to watch the Concours cars unload and line up for the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. This year I slept in.  Arriving around 8am, the cars were about to start. The Tour is the kick-off event for owners and a chance for them to pick up brownie points by finishing, should there be a tie during Sunday’s Concours judging. With over half of the 184 registered participants in pre-war vehicles, completing the 70 mile drive is quite an accomplishment. The finishers then roll onto Ocean Avenue in Carmel for an owner’s luncheon and cars & coffee style street show.

I ran into Ruben Verdes of The Rolls Royce Owners Club, and, gracious as always, he invited me to look at a special car he knew well.  Listed as the 1930’s Rolls Royce Phantom I Springfield Brewster Tourer, I learned that its chassis number actually identified it as a 1929 production year car. But the complex build order, specifying the way the car was to be finished, meant it wasn’t delivered until almost a year later, in 1930.   It was cool to stand before an American Rolls-Royce, built in Springfield, MA. Similar in design, but not identical to the British-made Phantoms, there were only 30 examples made of these Ascot Tourers, sometimes also called Phaetons. This was one of the Brewster Company’s most elegant and rare coachwork designs.

I leaned forward to take a peek inside and asked Bob Matteucci, the owner, if he would kindly share a little bit of information about his beautiful car. He replied, “please join us for the Tour”. Speechless, I looked to Ruben for guidance. In a whisper he said, “you were invited”. There was a short discussion about who would sit where. With three pedals on the floor, two center sticks, an ignition advance on the steering wheel and a governor to control the throttle, there was no doubt I would be up front so as to allow a wide driving field for our driver, Richard Gorman, the car’s restorer and owner of Vantage Motorworks.

Monterey 2012 Heading out on the tour

We were off in a flash, heading under the Rolex arch.  Bringing up the rear, sandwiched between the motorcycle police escort on our tail and the safety car in front, we held our own, sputtering up the hills on the 17-mile drive. We passed the first tow truck casualty.   The sputtering increased, then a few stalls. I learned later, water in the gas tank was the culprit. We made it to Route 1 where Bob and Richard made a judgment call to turn around.  It was downhill in race car mode back to the start.  Tires squealing, Richard’s hands and feet were taking control. We didn’t need to drive the tour, this was far more exciting!

Monterey 2012 Smiling in the Rolls on tour

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of admiring the Phantom as it drove smoothly up the lawn at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, earning third place in this most prestigious event.  It’s all a magical memory for me.

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast