18 August 2012

Monterey 2012: A day of contrasts in Monterey

Today was a day of contrasts on the Monterey Peninsula. In the morning, there was The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, one of the clubbiest and most exclusive classic car events in the U.S. Tickets cost $450 a pop and they sell out within minutes. After that, there is only the “secondary market” of eBay where they can go for two to three times face value.

And while the ticket doesn’t include an appearance by U2 or the Stones, it did at least for me include a cheery “good morning” from Le Mans legend Derek Bell. Just about as good. In addition to the usual top shelf food and beverage, organizer Gordon McCall prides himself on ensuring that the event has a particularly eclectic and thoughtful collection of cars. That’s no hypebole. This year, one of the featured marques was ISO, a small Italian company that expired without much fanfare almost 40 years ago. But during a lifespan of just over 10 years, ISO built some very beautiful, potent and memorable cars, most of which were powered by reliable small-block Chevy engines.

A precision skydiving team put on a dramatic aerial display that up until the last second I thought would result in an ex-airborne Ranger crashing through the open bonnet of an Alfa Romeo 8C.

At a far more earthbound level was the Pacific Grove Rally, which starts out as a fun and laid-back car show on Lighthouse Avenue, the main street of the coastal town of Pacific Grove. The rally (more like a parade, really) goes along picturesque 17-Mile Drive, through Pebble Beach and Carmel before ending up back in Pacific Grove. The California Highway Patrol did an admirable job of controlling the route and the crowds that lined the route particularly in Carmel were impressive. Participating cars ranged from Shelby Mustangs and Dodge Vipers to a rare Citröen DS21 convertible.

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