LIFE’S A (PEB­BLE) BEACH

Wheels lens­man Alas­tair Brook draws a bead on noth­ing but the finest metal at Mon­terey Car Week in the USA

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ALAS­TAIR BROOK

BE­ING A STAFF pho­tog­ra­pher for these pages, I’m ex­tremely for­tu­nate with the amount of con­trol I have over things. A car is brought to me, a lo­ca­tion is agreed on, time is given to get a range of shots, the jour­nal­ist hops through cer­tain hoops and, hope­fully, ev­ery­one is pleased about the out­come. It’s all too easy to set­tle into a bit of a rhythm, so what bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to step out­side this care­fully cu­rated com­fort zone than Mon­terey Car Week?

Mon­terey county plays host to sev­eral car-themed events; from the motorsport­s reunion at La­guna Seca, to the head­line-grab­bing auc­tions. Var­i­ous car ral­lies thread through the Pa­cific Coast High­way’s Big Sur and around the quiet town of Carmel-by-the-sea. Su­per­car heavy­weights such as Pa­gani, Koenigsegg and Mclaren take up res­i­dence in var­i­ous lodges and re­sorts around the re­gion, host­ing deep-pock­eted clients. Launch events and ritzy par­ties such as the Quail motorsport­s gath­er­ing and the Mccall’s Mo­tor­works Re­vival are thrown through­out the area, all lead­ing up to the pres­ti­gious con­cours d’el­e­gance staged at the Peb­ble Beach golf course come week’s end.

Car Week is and al­ways has been a meet­ing of money; old money, new money, buy­ers, bro­kers, sellers, own­ers and en­thu­si­asts. The big­gest col­lec­tors flexed their Ben­jamins, ar­riv­ing by pri­vate jet, while their mul­ti­ple su­per­cars were de­liv­ered by trans­porter to be parked out­side their cho­sen re­sort ac­com­mo­da­tion.

It’s ini­tially dis­ori­en­tat­ing. Carmel-by-the-sea, more fa­mous to most as the sleepy town that voted in Clint East­wood as mayor, is turned into a mov­ing mo­tor­show. A Lam­borgh­ini Miura trun­dles past a street­parked Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron. Look­ing up, I catch a glance of a Mercedes 300SL Gull­wing mak­ing its way down to the coast. Turn­ing the other way, a Lexus LFA and a Mclaren Senna are eye­balling each other across a four-way junc­tion. An Audi Sport Quat­tro lurks on a side street op­po­site a Fer­rari 250 GTB Lusso while a Gulf-liv­er­ied Ford GT rolls to a halt out­side a cof­fee shop. My kerb­side deli lunch is spent in the com­pany of W Motors’ new Fenyr abom­i­na­tion, and an orig­i­nal Ruf CTR Yel­low­bird. But as much as I’m dis­tracted by the metal on dis­play, I’m just as in­trigued by the le­gions of car spot­ters.

Whether it be for Youtube or Instagram, car spot­ters hunt down and doc­u­ment rare and ex­pen­sive cars seen ‘out in the wild’ or cooped up in deal­er­ships and pri­vate col­lec­tions. There’s a cer­tain sa­fari el­e­ment to how they find and shoot their sub­jects. Once they latch on to some­thing, a few min­utes are given to look­ing and shoot­ing be­fore

they’re on to the next. If it’s fol­low­ers you’re af­ter, it can be quite a lu­cra­tive way of com­bin­ing a pas­sion for cars and cre­ative me­dia. Some of the big­gest play­ers’ au­di­ences stretch into the hun­dreds of thou­sands, even mil­lions. Pretty good go­ing when they have next to no con­trol over their sub­ject or en­vi­ron­ment.

“I started tak­ing photos of cars be­cause I liked them. That’s about it,” ex­plains English­man Alex Pen­fold, who has 450,000 fol­low­ers on Instagram at the time of writ­ing. “I started shoot­ing while go­ing to the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed with my dad. The photos were bad but I liked the cars, and then I re­alised I could try and make the photos nicer. Around 75 per­cent of my work these days is paid con­tent or to build more fol­low­ers, but I’ll also just post things that I per­son­ally like. But I’m not here for work, I’m here for a jolly with mates.”

Spot­ters are among the best peo­ple to fol­low at an event like Car Week. Short of be­ing privy to the whats, whens and wheres in an of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity, hang­ing around some­one with fin­gers in pots and ears to the ground means a lot less chance of miss­ing some­thing. That is, un­less they want you to miss it. Ex­clu­siv­ity is big in car spot­ting, and throw­ing peo­ple off the scent is fair game in or­der to score a clean pic of an elu­sive red Pa­gani Zonda Cinque road­ster that no-one else has.

But the game ex­tends be­yond that. Once you hap­pen across a car, the fun be­gins. What’s the best an­gle? How do we deal with the light? How many peo­ple are go­ing to walk in front of my shot? Which way is the car go­ing to be trav­el­ling? How long can I stand in the mid­dle of the road for? No mat­ter the fac­tors, the fi­nal ob­jec­tive seems al­ways the same: get a clean shot of the car with as few peo­ple in it as pos­si­ble. Or, if im­me­di­acy’s not an is­sue, come back later, re-cre­ate the shot with a now de­serted back­ground and montage the car and the scenery to­gether.

I spend the week pick­ing up tricks of the trade and be­gin to en­joy the hunt. To­wards the end of the week, we re­ceive a tip-off that a one-of-three Fer­rari F50 GT is be­ing un­loaded off a truck some­where within Peb­ble Beach. Af­ter a quick dart across town and some choice short­cut­ting, even­tu­ally we find it, along with a size­able crowd. So much for get­ting a unique an­gle. Time to aban­don the spot­ting cir­cus and drink in some cars in­stead. The Fer­rari dis­play piques my in­ter­est. Soon enough I find my­self stand­ing next to a 1963 Fer­rari 250 GTO, pre­sented com­pletely de­void of any bar­ri­ers pro­tect­ing it from foot traf­fic. This Tour de France-win­ning ex­am­ple sold last year for a re­ported US$70 mil­lion (A$100 mil­lion), and word is that it’s cur­rently val­ued at some US$80-90 mil­lion.

Not only is this car worth more than an en­tire street in the nicest part of town, it has made as much money in the last 12 months as an eth­i­cally way­ward mer­chant banker. And right next to it is another, al­most iden­ti­cal one. These two are just some of Maranello’s finest sit­ting on the first fair­way of the Peb­ble Beach course as part of the 90 years of Scud­e­ria Fer­rari cel­e­bra­tion. Ca­su­ally dot­ted around the fair­ways and greens are a cou­ple of 250 Tes­tarossas, a one-of-five 288 GTO Evoluzione and a se­lec­tion of Schu­macher’s For­mula 1 steeds.

As a bucket list event, Mon­terey Car Week doesn’t dis­ap­point. Even the C-list park­ing lots at many of the events are packed with the sort of ex­ot­ica that would be show­stop­pers in Aus­tralia. It may be oc­ca­sion­ally over­whelm­ing but, once in a while at least, there’s some­thing to be said for step­ping out­side your com­fort zone.

Spot­ters are among the best peo­ple to fol­low at an event like Car Week

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