Pebble Beach Golf Links is the epicentre of Monterey Car Week, but there’s plenty to see far away from the 18th green
Greg Macleman finds fascination away from the bright lights of Pebble Beach
Every August, tens of thousands flock to the Monterey Peninsula from all corners of the world to take part in the annual celebration of the automobile that is Monterey Car Week. Built around the Pebble Beach Concours d’elegance, which first appeared in 1950, the week has grown to encompass more than a dozen events, with each day giving a new opportunity to indulge in a passion for cars.
Glamour is in no short supply, from the immaculately presented multi-million-pound machines and manicured greens of the headline event to the exclusive The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, held at Sir Michael Kadoorie’s stunning Quail Lodge golf resort. Don’t worry if you don’t have hundreds of dollars for a ticket, though, because Carmel-by-the-sea’s Concours on the Avenue and the Pebble Beach Tour d’elegance provide a chance to get up close with the best cars the world has to offer for free.
The headline shows are a sea of Rolexwrapped wrists and brightly coloured trousers, but not all of the events are as highbrow, with a number of gatherings having sprung up over recent years to celebrate more down-to-earth classics. Kicking off the week is The Little Car Show (left), held in Pacific Grove and host to 100 sub-1601cc classics, ranging from Isetta bubble cars through to Japanese ‘Kei’ cars; this year’s show even included a trio of rare Cincinnati-built Crosleys. Even more bizarre machines turn out for the Hagerty-backed Concours d’lemons, which fêtes the mundane, eccentric and downright clapped-out in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, where judges are bribed with cheap liquor and dollar bills pinned to windscreens. US television star Wayne Carini is a show regular, arriving this year in a Siata Spring.
Motorsport plays a massive role, too, with competition classes at both The Quail and Pebble Beach, so it’s fitting that Car Week is also home to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which draws some of the world’s finest historic racers to dice for position at Laguna Seca, with its famous Corkscrew.
C&SC was at all of these and more, and here are a few of the characters we met along the way.