Let me preface this article by saying I'm not a millionaire (actually, I'm pretty broke), barely know a thing about vintage cars, and daily drive a Scion FR-S that's nicknamed "Ratchet Bunny." So what's a guy like me doing at the most expensive automotive festival in the world? The answer is simple; I love cars, all cars, whether old or new, Japanese or Euro, form or function, budget or no budget. When I was asked to check out Monterey/Pebble Beach Car Week, I'll admit I was very intimidated at first. I imagined nothing but fancy suits and rich folk eating caviar next to their Bugattis. But when I finally touched down in Monterey, my inner car nerd came out; I realized Car Week was so much more. I was in the presence of the finest automobiles in the world, and quite honestly, Pebble Beach Car Week was one of the coolest events I've attended as an enthusiast. Here are six reasons why.
Reason No. 1 - The Road to Monterey
Monterey is located off the central coast of California. It's a little more than an hour drive from San Jose and a five-hour haul from Los Angeles. During Car Week, there are several caravans that leave for Monterey, but I decided to roll up with Targa Trophy. If you've followed any of the Targa rallies, you'll notice the car owners that participate aren't all about ballin' supercars. They are real enthusiasts who enjoy personalizing their own vehicles; some even go balls-out, like the Boden Autohaus BMW M4 that I followed. I was in good company heading to Monterey, and if you're coming from LA, make sure you take Highway 1 through Big Sur for some of the most breathtaking ocean cliff views and fun twisty roads the state of California has to offer.
Reason No. 2 - Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance
Bucket List item complete! Pebble Beach has always been one of those "must go before I die" events for me. I don't know a lot about classics, but what I do know is that Concours D'Elegance brings out the best of the best. There's no other concours comes close. At Pebble, you have a chance to appreciate the finest restorations in the world. These cars are ridiculously perfect and period correct, right down to the nuts and bolts. If anything, it's a great place to gather ideas (I loved seeing the old-school liveries and paint colors), as well as study how these car builders don't cut corners or skimp on any microscopic detail. As a bonus, OEMs are also out in full force flaunting their latest concept cars.
Reason No. 3 - Monterey & Carmel
Walk to Starbucks, drive down Cannery Row, or simply take a stroll to the hotel valet parking lot - during Car Week, you're going to see thousands of cool cars everywhere you look. You think it's noisy the night before an Import Alliance car meet? The cities of Monterey and Carmel are flooded with fine automobiles, from the latest Ferrari 488 to vintage Porsche racecars that aren't afraid to let their engines roar. My favorite hot spot was Casa Ferrari Carmel, where a Shell gas station was transformed into a hub for Ferrari owners and enthusiasts. Located right off Highway 1, you couldn't miss it.
Reason No. 4 - The Quail
With tickets going for $700 a person, The Quail is one of the highest barriers of entry to attend - that's like enough tacos to feed me for the entire year! Luckily I was able to convince organizers to hook me up with a media badge and I got to experience what all the hype was about. The Quail was simply badass with an amazing diversity of cars. How many Lamborghini Miuras, BMW Z8s and Pagani Huayras all in one place? Too damn many to count! It's also put on by The Peninsula Hotel, which brought out chefs from all around the world. Did we mention the free champagne and anything else you can eat or drink, too? Okay, back to reality. The Quail was an event catered for people above my income bracket, but it was definitely a unique experience I will never forget and something I recommend everyone check out at least once in their life - even more so than Pebble Beach.
Reason No. 5 - Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
If there was ever a reason to visit Monterey Car Week, this is it! Four days of racing at world famous Laguna Seca, over 500 historic cars, tens of thousands of car-crazy people, all of it freakin' awesome! I attended Saturday's race, which was perhaps one of the biggest days of the weekend, as several historic BMW Motorsport vehicles were running to celebrate BMW's 100th anniversary. There were also plenty of other rad machinery in attendance comprised of 15 different race classes from Trans-Am, Can-Am, IMSA, and even Formula One. And perhaps nothing got my heart pumpin' more than Mazda's four-rotor concert!
Reason No. 6 - Everything Else
I was in Monterey for three days and it felt like I only scratched the surface. There were many other events I missed - some Porsche-focused, like the Werks Reunion, many Italian-heavy, like Concorso Italiano, and there was even a Concours d'LeMons that showcased the "most awful" cars in the world! There were also some things that had me wondering how the hell I got in there, i.e. having BMW host me in their villa, being chauffeured in a Rolls-Royce Ghost, and open bar receptions with friends, like the Pagani x Gumball 3000 party. The list of things to do and possibilities of Monterey Car Week go on and on, which are more than enough reasons you shouldn't miss out next year!