Skip to content

Skipping Stones at Pebble Beach

We all worship in our own way but this time we left the church of Pebble Beach early.

Arguably, the biggest worldwide event in automotive prowess is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. My first event was almost twenty years ago in 1988 when my father and I attended as guests of Automobile Magazine. Automobile had gotten their start only four years earlier at which time I coveted every edition including the April 1986 first edition in the commemorative promo folder, all still in safe keeping. Listening to David E. Davis Jr. and the editorial staff give commentary and ceremonial toasts over dinner, you quickly realize the shear greatest of everything you are experiencing. This was the cream of the crop in automotive, what little boys and old men dream about. It was so incredible, that this year we left early and complained it wasn’t enough.
Blitzen Benz engine

I was invited by colleague and Car and Driver writer, Aaron Robinson. We worked together at Automobile many moons ago and now both live in Southern California. Aaron’s wife, who is up for like the coolest wife of the year award, decided not to go this year. My name quickly shot to the bottom of the list right before showtime after all other invitees confirmed other plans. Offended I was picked last? Hardly, this wasn’t kick ball. My main man just offered me a chance to hob knob on Monterey Peninsula with the legends of the game. This was better than Intellivision boxes wrapped tight under the Christmas tree. Final clearances from my wife, winner of coolest wife of the year, and I was off for a midnight run to 17 Mile Drive. I’m a huge proponent of “getting there” is half the fun. I took the E34 M5 Dinan. Nothing too eventful on the way up, it was dark, I was tired.
Early morning from our room in 2005 on what normally is a very cool, damp and overcast day. This year it was sunny.
Friday morning we woke up early with the Lamborghini club to attend the first event, Concorso Italiano. It’s located on Bayonet Black Horse Golf Course at Monterey on the outside edge of a typically cloud soaked peninsula with sweeping ocean views. Aaron had joined the Lamborghini club after giving his wallet, back and neck to the restoration of an Espada. The group is down to earth car lovers who got us into the show less the $100 entrance fee. Thank you.

Aaron Robinson’s 1969 Lamborghini Espada Series I

The Concorso itself is a strange mix of Ferrari red, rare classics and strip tease hookers spread eagle on the latest Murciealagos. I steered cleared of any Lamborghini post 2005 for fear of picking up a cold sore. After several hours of moseying, some wine and cheese on the Lamborghini green surrounded by devoted 350 and 400 GTs owners, we caught up with other friends and slowly made our way out. The highlight of the show was what the other person was passionate about making for inquisitive review of the rarest cars in the world.
John, a friend who we met at the show, made this car the highlight of the show for all of us.

That night we did an hour stint at the RM auctions. We had dressed up for an earlier dinner and continued over in our suit jackets less ties. Catch me if you can, we walked right past security without the $40 wrist bands and made our way into the “roped” off area for bidders. Sidelined to the sites and smells of cold, choked classics starting up for fifteen minutes of fame, a lonely person could feel wanted from all the eye contact begotten from the auctioneer floor runners. I’d mortgage the house just to bid but my wife’s not that cool. After a check of the program, borrowed from the person in front of us, we listened to tireless shameless calls for higher bids from a man who uses his tongue prettier than Hedley Lamar.
Saturday morning we attended the Infiniti EX35 press preview on the award runway at the Pebble Beach 18th fairway. It was a prestigious setting, no doubt, with a clean and simple presentation. The PR agency girl rotated form core posters while scripted Japanese executives and American counterparts took turns differentiating their product. I’ve always been impressed with Infiniti since driving the first Q45 through ownership of a ’05 G35 6MT. If this is what they do with FM, I can’t wait for XM.

Infiniti FX35 press event on the award runway.

One of the highlights, if you can really pick just one from the three days we landed and the three days we stayed, is the Monterey Historic Races. Pit row is the Beverly Hills of racing with each rolling collection making the savviest of connoisseurs question how much there is to know. These cars may chatter, scream or smoke on their way to the track but at full speed they are grace. If there is one criticism to be made, it’s that a modern sport track robs the early classics of relative motion. They look, well, slow. What I would give to be protected by a hay bail along side a dirt road. To look into the eyes of men who muscle Bugattis and Alfas through corners held in their seat by sheer will. But alas, it’s not to be here. We take one last stroll around the campus to see an incredible 15% of the world’s Toyota 2000GTs and a pass at a Madza Cosmo driven by Aaron himself, then are off to find dinner. Tomorrow will be an early morning for the big show.

Perhaps the single largest gathering of Toyota 2000GTs in decades.

Waking up on the last day is bitter sweet. You know you are in for the treat of the weekend but also, it’s time to go home. The earlier you arrive at Pebble, the better. Parking is easier, the crowds are smaller and the sun, yes the sun came out this year, is not at the height of hotness. We arrived at 7AM. A couple years ago, we stayed on the 18th fairway at Pebble and were able to watch the cars drive in before dawn, full of morning dew. At 7AM, only a handful of cars are still making their way to their perches which is still a glorious site. After one hot lap of the fairway, a few photos and the how-do-you-dos to people we knew, we were off to find breakfast. Soon after that we left. Not because we were in a hurry or needed to get home to the wives, well maybe a little of the latter. But mainly because we were done. We’d seen it before and we’d see it again. It’s like anybody who leaves the game during the 8th inning or the 4th quarter, you never feel like you are missing anything, until you miss something. But at Concours, the cars don’t hit last minute home runs or the three point shots to win the game, they sit on the grass. So, if you can stand on no-ceremony, my advice to you is to come early, leave snappy.