What used to be the big car weekend in Monterey has grown dramatically.


If you’re into cars and make the annual August pilgrimage to the Monterey Peninsula, you may recall when there were two main events; the Monterey Historic Car Races at Laguna-Seca Raceway and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Then classic car auctions became part of the scenery. Apparently those robust gatherings were not enough for the faithful.

 

Then a couple of decades ago, Concorso Italiano filled the greens at Quail Lodge with what appeared to be more prancing horse and raging bull sports cars, along with Fiats and Lancias, than might be gathered together in all of Europe. Over time, the event moved from Quail to Seaside’s Blackhawk Golf Course before it settled this year at the Monterey Airport. Although some fans muttered about airport tarmac replacing soft grass, the affair drew a large crowd both Thursday and Friday and the winning car was a lovely 1967 Lamborghini 400 GT entered by Tijuana’s Jorge Bujazan.

 

While Concorso is in full swing at the airport, its original home has assembled its own collection of cars, simply titled The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. This Friday assemblage of fine cars in Carmel Valley takes a luxury approach, with sponsors from Rolex to Rolls Royce and includes a Bonhams and Butterfields auction.

 

Even with three large concours events over a long weekend, there appeared to be room for yet another gathering of classics and special interest cars. Enter Concours on the Avenue, a two-day assembly of rare cars on Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Ocean Avenue. The new event, in its second year, opened Monday, August 11 with a display of Porsche and Ferrari through 1973. The next day, 1946 through 1971 classics and muscle cars wowed the spectators.

 

Meanwhile, vintage racecars roared around Mazda’s Laguna Seca Raceway. This year Alfa Romeo was the honored marque and Mario Andretti the honored guest. Racing legend Phil Hill was also honored this year, shortly before he succumbed to his battle with Parkinson’s disease.

 

Pebble Beach is still the weekend’s marquee attraction, this year saluting Lancia, Lamborghini, and GM’s 100-year anniversary. GM brought its Motorama collection to celebrate the event and remind people of its rich history and contributions to the industry.

 

In a tribute to automotive overkill, a special display of cars with mammoth engines graced the lawn near the beach. Our favorite was Jay Leno’s 1953 Chrysler Tank Car, powered by a 1,600-horsepower Patton military engine. Leno calls it his hybrid; “It starts off running on gas, then you get on the freeway and it runs on even more gas”.

 

A lovely 1938 Alfa Romeo won Pebble Beach’s Best of Show and in keeping with the week’s Italian theme, the auction house Gooding and Company sold a Bugatti Grand Sport for a record $3.19 million and donated $900,000 of the proceeds to local charities.   BRIAN DOUGLAS