August 19th: Pebble Beach
It is the premier concours d’elegance of all time.
It is one of the few places in which the truly fabulously rich can joust with one another in a fashion which actually benefits all of us. (OK, there is the New York Stock Exchange; but, really, it’s not the place for the fabulously, fabulously rich it once was. It’s just where investment bankers try to raise enough money to buy Chrysler. I mean, really, who cares? Anyway, there isn’t a car in this competition that costs less than a NYSE seat.)
We are talking about perfecting the perfect.
A world in which excellence is merely a starting point.
And in which there is only one object: winning Best of Show.
To do that, price cannot be an object. And it isn’t.
The Pebble Beach Concours will be held on August 19th, at the Pebble Beach golf course, near Carmel, California.
August 19th happens to be my birthday, and one of these years someone is going to take me to that concours to celebrate.
But not this year. This year, I, like you, will only admire from afar.
But that’s not too bad, because this is worth watching. From any distance.
The week-end’s events start on the 15th, and the tour is on the 16th.
The Tour is when the cars actually drive on the road. Given the worth of the cars, it ought to be the “yellow brick road,” but it’s actually open roads in California.
But it is the 19th that is the day to be there.
Nonetheless, should you be able to arrange being in the neighborhood for the Tour – go. All of the cars to be judged for Best of Show on the 19th will actually be on the road. No trailer queens. They’re being driven.
It’s not a requirement. You don’t have to do the Tour to be in the competition for Best of Show.
But it is the tie breaker. If it is a tie with a car that didn’t do the Tour and you did, you win. And the competition is so close that no one is willing to omit the Tour. To lose Best of Show because you didn’t drive your car on the Tour is to be disgraced beyond measure. (Besides, the judges figure that if you weren’t willing to do the Tour, there’s something wrong inside the car, so your chances at Best of Show evaporate, anyway.)
Then, there is the 19th.
Most of the year, the Pebble Beach golf course is merely the finest golf course in the world. It’s not just that it overlooks the Pacific Ocean from almost every green. It’s not just that every square inch of it is made as perfect as possible by the greens keepers, nor even that it is designed as one of the most perfectly challenging golf courses in America. It’s also that it is the most exclusive golf course in America, but for Augusta. Maybe.
And one day of the year, they put cars on it.
And let you in for the price of a ticket, albeit an incredibly expensive ticket.
$175.00 per person. (You can save $25 if you buy in advance.)
And that is the best deal that has ever been offered the true automotive aficionado. (We’d say fan, but it’s not classy enough for the event. Oh, bring a lot more if you want to have a snack during the event. When admission costs $175, just guess what concessions cost.)
But there is no other automotive event in the world that can compare. Only the Goodwood Festival in England is on the same level, and that one’s going to cost you Trans-Atlantic passage. (One omission: in conjunction with Pebble Beach there is a multi-day opportunity for classic race cars to compete at the Monterey race track. In fact, the concours actually was a product that grew from the races. So, there’s something to do between the Tour and the Show.)
So, why is it worth its price?
A decade ago, the organizers invited – and were accepted – by the only six Bugatti Type 41 Royales in existence. Such is the prestige of the event that every one of the cars (can you call them mere “cars”?) came from America and Europe to be displayed together on the green overlooking the Pacific. If you weren’t there, you missed the chance. It will never again happen.
Another Example: Jay Leno introducing the Duesenberg J that he spent a decade weaning away from the Mars family (as in candy), a car that people had doubted still existed and that he introduced at Pebble Beach because no other venue would do. He won Best in Class for his Duesenberg phaeton another year, but not for that one. Perhaps one of the finest Duesenbergs in existence was overshadowed by its competition. (Of course, it was a closed car, and that may have hurt.)
But that doesn’t begin to cover it.
What wins Best of Show at Pebble Beach achieves the automotive equivalent of immortality.
And it is the Garden of Eden for people who love cars.