Story by Katianna Hasbrouck with Maralyn D. Hill, Photographs by Katianna Hasbrouck and B. Wiley
The 64th annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was held the third weekend in August. This is no ordinary weekend. From the time you hop on California’s Highway 101 headed towards Monterey, the excitement is tangible. There is something different in the air. An Aston Martin careens by, then another and another, followed by a McLaren! Chasing each other with fluid grace, taking corners with the smoothest of ease, these vehicles in their wakes generate great fun for followers. Taking Route 68 into town can take the momentum away, as one comes to a screeching halt with all the traffic coming from the races at Laguna Seca, so better to opt for Route 218. The experience of entering Carmel-by-the-Sea is surreal. The main street with its majestic trees and quaint shops is flanked on either side by colorful Ferraris and Lamborghinis all the way down the hill to the water’s edge. Thunderous engines announcing themselves become the sweet soundtrack for the weekend.
The Bed and Breakfast experience in Carmel is a must. Enjoying a cup of ‘Carmel Defogger’ coffee with Danish pastries by a crackling fire in the grey mist, reading the morning’s news of auctions gone wild, is the perfect start to the day. A wonderful way to work off breakfast is strolling along the tree-lined ocean walk to the beach. It’s a nature lover’s treat, watching dolphins and sea otters play, whether you prefer a fast paced jog on hard packed sand or meditating on sand dunes. The sun comes out late and reveals a bright blue sky shaking off the misty morning.
Walking up the street into town can leave one breathless, especially seeing 3 Hennessey Venom GTs in black, grey and white casually parked–the fastest cars in the world catching their breath. After stepping into the Thomas Kinkade garden and gallery, the revelation emerges that Carmel, is in fact, a Thomas Kinkade kind of world.
Fashion paired well with fashionable cars this weekend. Red pants were popular at the Concourso Italiano this year, while green pants were trending at the Concours d’Elegance.
Baseball caps and straw hats were smart accessories on the men, as the sun is very strong when it finally comes out. Dresses were popular on the ladies. When the fog rolls in with the crisp breeze, it’s best to be prepared with a warm sweater or wrap. And there is plenty of shopping in Carmel, in case you need an excuse to find something new. A special treat for the men is stumbling into the Club Shop and having famous designer Robert Graham himself personally select and button up a shirt for you and sign it.
Food at the events, like the Quail, is wonderful if you are lucky enough to get tickets. The perfect location for twilight cocktails is the lounge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Set in a misty forest, the expansive windows overlook the bay. In Carmel, an outdoor table in the garden setting at the PortaBella is a delightful front row seat for exotic cars passing by. Warming up with delicious crab bisque pairs well with the intoxicating rumble.
The Concourso Italiano is held in a luxurious setting of rolling greens overlooking Monterey Bay. Held on Saturday for the first time, the 2014 attendance was at its peak. Viewing stands are a welcome seating area for the fashion show and car competitions.
There are so many beautiful cars here it is hard to pick a favorite; it must be difficult on the judges. I favored the black 1961 Ghia L6.4 with white and black trimmed interior evoking the Rat Pack.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an amazing experience. Watching prewar cars racing gives you a greater appreciation for these cars. It is amazing to see what they can still do on the say.
There is an incredible display of racecars there too; the 1969 Porsche 917K was iconic. Next stop, the Serata Italiana, is the biggest gathering of Lamborghini owners in North America, with over 440 guests. The parking lot alone is an incredible showcase of these gorgeous cars. The unique silver blue original Lamborghini color with cream interior Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster was particularly stunning. It is evident at the fundraiser dinner that this generous Lamborghini family appreciates philanthropy as well as fine Italian cars.
The 17 Mile Drive around the Monterey Peninsula is not to be missed. An enchanting, winding forest road weaves past golf courses sprinkled with deer. Wind swept cypress trees and views of the Bay are ethereal.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach is a wonderful place to stop and enjoy a picturesque lunch on the large deck overlooking the bay and golf course where the Concours d’Elegance is held.
Sunday is the Concours d’Elegance, “La Grande Dame” of car events. Parking is at a premium, so it is best to arrive early or take a taxi. The entrance proudly displayed a pristine collection of new Bugattis cordoned off in their own courtyard. Which color to choose?
The concept lawn was a creative expression of all that is possible. The Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo and the Supra were sleek. The world’s most beautiful collector cars and motorcycles were showcased; Talbots, Delahayes, Ruxtons, Tatras, Phantoms and Ghosts, cars prewar and post. The competition included his and hers Duesenbergs.
Doesn’t every couple need a set? Some cars needed a push up the hill to receive their trophy. One of my favorites was the Most Elegant Open Car winner, a beautiful 1933 Auburn 12-165 Salon Speedster. A festive atmosphere of flowing dresses and champagne was accentuated by Jay Leno’s MC humor. Can you believe he has 769 cars and 117 motorcycles? In a surprise win, Jon Shirley, the former president of Microsoft, took home Best of Show for his 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Coupe. Designed by Sergio Scaglietti for Roberto Rossellini, it was the first Ferrari to be honored with Best of Show and the first postwar car to win in nearly fifty years.
The weekend is not complete without stopping by Doris Day’s Cypress Inn. The staff is welcoming, and the guests are like family, returning year after year, sharing stories of auctions, races and events. Live music in the living room and Doris Day tunes and posters create a cozy retro ambiance.
Reserving accommodations in town for Car Weekend a year, or two in advance is recommended. Monday, the exotic cars have left; the town grows quiet. With eager anticipation, the magic of Concours weekend 2015 awaits.
It was a pleasure to have Katianna Hasbrouck be a guest contributor and author for 90% of this event. We hope she becomes a regular. ~MDH