Monterey Car Week 2021

by Rob Alen

Monterey Car Week returned to the Peninsula after the health-imposed hiatus in 2020. It was familiar, but different. There was a welcoming feeling of returning.

Concours-on-the-Avenue, on Carmel's Ocean Avenue, started the week with a practiced drill of directing cars into position and navigating cars around outdoor restaurant tables occupying former street parking spaces. It all added a festive atmosphere, living-the-good-life charm to be among the cars and having the waiter pull a chilled Chablis from the ice bucket and refill your glass. This would be the only major event in Carmel; the Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance's traditional lunch time stop on Thursday was deleted.

Wallace Wyss photo

Monterey Car Week is an important cash machine for the local area. In the past, $53 million came into the Peninsula (2014 Economic Impact Report). In 2020, Pacific Grove and Monterey saw a substantial shortfall in occupancy taxes. For Pebble Beach Company this affair is a profit center. In past years, attendance was touted at 15,000, at $400 to $500 a ticket that's about $6-7 million just from general admission. Not sure about attendance this year, there were still a lot of people.

Wallace Wyss photo

Wallace Wyss photo

Despite Pebble Beach's aristocratic airs, they do attract fine automobiles. The Gardenia White 1964 Ferrari 365 P Tre-Posti was the poster car and would have won the People's Choice award if there was one; the famous three-seat, center-steering wheel car (twenty-six years prior to the McLaren F1). One was made for Luigi Chinetti and one (metallic grey) for Gianni Agnelli, FIAT's prince in the 60s, he could take Sophie Loren and Gina Lollobrigida to lunch without offending either one of them. The 1964 ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport) sports coupe, a similar profile as the Tre-posti, is very special. Shown was the same car as on Road & Track's September 1964 cover, and it was first delivered to Bill Mitchell, Vice President of GM Design. Only a handful were made under the direction of ex-Ferrari executive expatriates. Pebble Beach favorite son, Phil Hill, drove an ATS Grand Prix car toward the end of his career. For some time, missing is a British-themed event like Concorso Italiano, Legends of the Autobahn, Porsche's Werks Reunion, and the Ferrari Barnyard Shopping Center concours.

Wallace Wyss photo

Of conspicuous absence this year was Jaguar, who are celebrating their 70th anniversary of their first Le Mans win (1951, they've won it seven times), the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type (1961), arguably the most beautiful sports car ever, and the 50th anniversary of their V-12 (1971), which powered a Le Mans win in 1988. Neither Pebble Beach or The Quail, Motorsports Gathering picked up on the promotional opportunity. Friday's The Quail, Motorsports Gathering has bamboozled manufacturers to show their cars there; with the idea a fool paying $995. a ticket will be in the market for their cars.

Wallace Wyss photo

A visit to RM Sotheby's auction signaled there are two groups of people in Monterey: billionaire insiders and outsiders who pay money to see their cars. Many of the bids started with numbers normal folk would never imagine.

The best of the week, is going to Laguna Seca for the Motorsports Reunion. This is returning to Lourdes for car enthusiasts. Seeing, hearing, watching historic race cars in their natural habitat.

Rob Alen photos

The smart money arrives early, leaves early. By Thursday, its back on the G7 to the ranch in Montana, leaving instructions to your representative at the auctions, and on Sunday watch the live stream of Pebble Beach ceremonies.

When it's over, turn it off.

- Rob Alen  motor>spirit

Wallace Wyss photo

motor>spirit - Rob Alen