Pebble Beach Weekend, Part II

August 19, 2005
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It's not easy trying to relax on the Monterey Peninsula this weekend, certainly not if you're into classic cars.

Yesterday, I blogged about my incredible drive in a Ferrari F430 over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Later in the day, I swapped into a 612 Scaglietti for the final leg down to Steinbeck Country. The author would probably have a hard time recognizing Cannery Row these days. Gone are the old fisheries, largely replaced by hotels, tourist traps like the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and one of the world's best aquariums. This weekend, the streets are filled with precious metal, Ferraris, Duesenbergs, even a gray McLaren F1 that shot by me in a blur. There are some great classic car shows all over the world. Detroit has its Meadowbrook Concours; Florida's Amelia Island Concours is a must-see. But nothing matches the gatherings that fill the long weekend here.

Sensory overload. That's the only way to describe it. There's the three-day historic races up at Laguna Seca, the Concorso Italiano, where 100s of Ferraris, Alfas and Maseratis are gathered this afternoon. The Quail Lodge, which long hosted the Concorso, now has its own, unique event. It's an unhurried and quite civilized affair, tickets limited in number to just 3000, and the price of admission gets you all you can eat -- including some wonderful Hog Island Oysters -- even a complimentary foot or back massage. And after wandering the spacious grounds, I could've used one. Of course, the cars are always the stars, with some incredible sheet metal eye candy on display, including a rare C2 Jaguar race car, seen here, once owned by the legendary Argentinian Jaun Manuel Fangio. My real favorite, though, is this pre-War Peugeot 402 sports car, so soft and sensuous it could threaten my marriage.

There are countless small gatherings here, and some important news events. Aston Martin pulled the curtain off the new V-8 Vantage last night, for example. But even if you don't have a press pass or expensive ticket, car fanatics can get their fix simply sitting on the side of the road. As I type, I'm listening to what I suspect is a recent vintage Ferrari tearing down nearby Carmel Valley Road. Be still my piston-powered heart.

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Tomorrow will be track day for me, though it's a little sad that another great driver, Phil Hill, is no longer participating in the Historics. He was a dominant force at Laguna Seca as recently as two years ago, but the first-ever American F1 champion has been quite ill lately and won't be able to attack the track's tricky corkscrew anymore. There will be other greats on hand, however, but more on that later.

And of course, will have complete coverage of the weekend's real capper, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the real reason we're all here. Will Leno field a champion this year? Or Seinfeld or Ralph Lauren? Or maybe someone with a little less celebrity name value but the millions of dollars it typically takes to capture the most prized classic car trophy in the world. Stay tuned!

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