Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 19
Monterey Run: Part One
BY JOHN READY
Ed. note: John Ready visits the annual Pebble Beach Concour d’Elegance with his friends Roger, Parvin, Bob, and Slow Dave. He writes about his misadventures for the Sun and will be attending the events again this year in mid-August. In anticipation of his always colorful journey, we’re revisiting his most recent trip, which appeared in our pages in September 2011—but there was more to the story than could fit in print. Here now is his more. (Actually, it’s Part One of his more. Check in over the next couple of weeks for parts two and three.)
This was the 61st year of the Pebble Beach Concour d’Elegance, a premier automotive Super Bowl event. Anybody can apply to show a car here, but each year the applications are screened down to 850 that are accepted. The applications are reviewed and sorted by a selection committee of 12 to 15 automotive experts. Two members of the committee were dispatched to inspect the car in person, wherever it was in the world. It would work in your favor to have already won a major Concour d’ Elegance someplace before you even apply. They choose the best 220 cars that will be on Pebble Beach’s 18th fairway for Concour Sunday. There are also more than two-dozen additional very worthwhile car venues that take place in the surrounding area the same week.
A number of years ago, I happened to meet some friends who drive up from San Diego and stay in Monterey for this week. These events are something that we look forward to all year long.
On March 15, 2011, Roger phoned, “Hey John, are you goin’ to Monterey this August?”
“You bet. Roger that. I am totally stoked and would not miss it for the world. It’s the 125th year of Mercedes-Benz, the 50th year of the Jag XKE, 100th year for Stutz, and 50 years for the Ferrari 250 GTO.”
“They are bringing all of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTOs from all over the world to this event.”
“Originally, there were only 36 1962 GTOs. Today, there are 22 surviving GTOs, and they will all be there. Don’t miss it!”
“Do you know where you are staying?”
“Yeh, I’ve got it made.”
“Bob is going for sure, but I don’t know if Parvin is going. This year he has a new girlfriend that really does not want to go anyplace at all.”
“What happened to the old/new girlfriend from last summer?”
“She is long gone, and never liked cars.”
“I’ve got a question, Roger. How long have you been organizing this Monterey tour?”
“Oh, I guess about 25 years or so now. Why?”
“You should, after all these years, go ahead and name your event.”
“Oh, how about naming it, the Roger Hyde Invitational Carfest, or the Dr. Jacobs and Mr. Hyde Magical Mystery Tour.”
“I don’t care. Name it anything you want.”
On July 16, Roger phoned again: “You know it’s comin’ up pretty soon; you’re still goin’, right?”
“Of course, I am locked and loaded.”
“Bob is hot to drive this new Lamborghini Aventador, so he might be going up earlier than the rest of us. You are still drivin’ up on Thursday to join the tour, right?”
“Yes, like we did last year.”
I left a day earlier than Roger and Parvin, because Bob had gotten an extra invitation to the Gordon McCall’s 20th Motorsports Revival.
It was an easy drive up Highway 1. I made all the lights in SLO town, and was only slowed by one ugly, clumsy 1-800-4RentRV that pulled out in front of traffic at Ragged Point. He only lasted a few turns and then pulled off. I don’t know why more people don’t choose a more spirited car for such a wonderful drive. There were three construction slow-downs, with sand and sharp-edged stones on the road. Other than that, it was clear sailing all the way to Point Lobos.
I met up with Bob Jacobs in town, and we made our way to the Monterey Jet Center for the McCall Party. This is a charity event for the 11-99 Foundation that helps orphaned children of California Highway Patrolman. The members get a license plate frame that identifies them as 11-99 Foundation members. This party is a stand-up, walk-around-and-talk affair with several courses of hors d’ouvres served all evening long.
It is a gala blending of new Gulfstream G-5s, Embraer Phenom 100s, Beechjets, racing motorcycles, and fast, exotic cars. It’s where you go if you want to sign up to drive the latest and currently hottest machines. Bob was here to sign up for the brand-new, this-season Lamborghini Aventador, a 700-horsepower, all-wheel drive, 0-to-62-mph-in-2.9-seconds-with-a-217-mph-top-end, flappy-paddle-shifting, oversexed Italian machine. He found what he was looking for and was trying them on for size. They had two of them there—an orange one and a flat black stealthy one—along with a rolling chassis bare-bones version without the skins, windows, or interior.
Bob was trying the orange Aventador on for size at the party.
Roger checks in: “Hey John, I am 20 miles south of Big Sur. I was driving fast and must have hit something sharp when I went wide in a turn because now my right rear tire is going down.
“Holy cow Roger, do you have a spare?”
“It’s not the right size. I am going to try to inflate with an aerosol can I’ve got.”
“We will come get you if you need us to do that.”
“OK, I’ll call ya if I need ya to do that.”
I wandered over and tried to sign up for the 2011 Bentley Continental GT, a stunning car with a very graceful roofline. They were totally booked, but offered a chance for a drive the next day if there was a cancellation. I was only on standby, but it was well worth a try.
The newest, brightest star that stole the show was the candy apple red/hot pink Pagani Huayra, totally formed and trimmed in carbon fiber. There was a crowd around it all night long. Pagani also brought a Zonda R in black, to the party.
Roger checked in again: “I am coming into Carmel right now, and I am going to try to find a tire shop tonight.”
“Glad you made it, Roger, but it’s well past quitting time. I don’t think you will find anything open at this hour. Your better chance is tomorrow morning.”
“It might go flat overnight, and I’ll need one of you guys to go to an auto parts store and get me a portable compressor.”
Bob chimed in: ”You know you just can’t write stuff like this. Nobody would believe it.”
Bob and I went back to the Monterey Jet center the next day to drive the cars.
Bob had been looking forward to driving the Aventador for several months, and today as the day. He had a 1:30 p.m. appointment, and we arrived with plenty of time to spare.
Roger checked in. Turns out the tire didn’t go flat overnight, and he was off searching for a tire store that would have a Goodyear 295/50x16 in stock.
I got to drive a Red 2011 Lotus, Averos S, supercharged V-6, six speed. This is a smooth-running, easy-to-drive, very nimble machine with plenty of torque, even at idle rpm. I never got above 4 grand in fourth, and there were two more gears to go. A delight to drive, and fun to match the revs to the next gear. Everything is in the right place.
All of the hot-looking cars were out on test drives, and then the Bentley people pointed out a refrigerator-white, four-door Salon car. I had signed up for the new Continental GT, but it was very much in demand and busy all day. That bigger, somewhat bulkier, refrigerator-white four door with such big chrome wheels did not automatically catch my eye. I was introduced to Ryan Flynn, who described the car and would be riding shotgun. It was a 2011 Bentley Flying Spur, powered by a 552 hp W-12 engine with twin turbo chargers and an automatic or semi-automatic six-speed, all-wheel-continuous-drive, mountain-melting, cross-the-continent-with-me machine. This engine is a younger brother to a Bugatti Veyron’s 1001 hp, W-16 with four turbos and intercoolers.
On second glance, I decided to look inside. It was all hand crafted, and had paddle shifters on the wheel. Hmmm … this 5,600-pound cruise ship might be a sleeper.
I asked Bob, “Do you want to ride along?”
“Sure, why not?”
The cushy seat just swallows you up. Some taller guy was in it before me, so I had to ask Ryan where the adjustment knob was located. Gee, a push-button starter just like the one on my ’48 Ford coupe. How about that? OK: brake on and hold, power on, select “D” for drive, and ease away from the parking space. We quietly made it up over a hill and to the stop sign on Highway 68. OK so far. We continued straight south on Olmsted Road, where it goes over a knoll and through some trees to a clearing with a half-mile straight shot, before it turns right and goes uphill into some trees again. We were only doing about 35 and coming down off that little knoll, and I could see a string of 12 to 14 ordinary cars led by a little light-gray hatch-backed people-mover. They were all stopped on the road.
Now, I can understand why ordinary cars can get discouraged from time to time and just come to a grinding halt. The road sometimes gets long, and when you are looking to have to make another climb at the end of a straight stretch. It could all be just too much, so you might have to give up completely. That is what may have happened to this string of ordinary cars. One of them stopped and the rest out of sympathy did not have the energy to keep going on.
I thought: Should we get caught in this snarl of depressed, ordinary-car traffic? We could have become No. 15 in line, but we were in a 2011 Bentley Flying Spur!
I told Ryan, “I am going around.”
He was silent. I nailed it. The W-12 came to life and seamlessly accelerated us from 35 to 110, faster than you can read this sentence. We were gone—and had passed that string of cars like they were standing still. Well, they were standing still.
Bob had been very quiet in the back seat. I don’t think he knew we were going quite that fast. It was time to come off the power and ease on the hooks before heading into the turn and up the hill. I told Ryan, “This is one hellofa road machine.” Ryan Flynn already knew that fact. “I never felt it shift!”
Bentley offers a Flying Spur in a “Speed” version with even more horsepower, and they put the feeling of a solid shift back into the system. I just don’t see why you would want to return to abruptness when you’ve already discovered extreme smooth. There was hardly any sway in this boat when cornering, because Ryan Flynn had dialed in a firmer ride, raising a righteous ride to a new level.
That evening, we drove over to Carmel and had dinner outside on the patio of the Mission Ranch. This is Roger’s favorite restaurant, and outside seems to work best for us because the table spacing is wider and we bother fewer of the other patrons. There is someone in our group who laughs a lot—namely me. Most of our stories involve a lot of arm waving and end up causing a lot of laughter toward the end. The restaurant management might also be happier about us being outside, since there are fewer things to break. The tables and chairs are less expensive, but more sturdy, and it may be easier to throw us out since we are already out. Our conversations generally go somewhat like this:
“Roger, I still don’t understand how you managed to come in 12th in a four-car race from SLO town to San Simeon last year.”
“It’s simple: I was going so fast I could not stop. It’s just like the banks being so big they can’t be allowed to fail. Everybody accepts that nowadays. I would have done a lot better if they did not have all those stop lights.”
“Just think of them as mandatory pit stops or yellow caution laps at Indy.”
“Well, Parvin was following me pretty close. Then you, Mr. Wiseguy, saw the Motel 6 sign and made the first turn off. Then Slow Dave followed you. You go ahead and check in, and so did Slow Dave, then Parvin, who made the second turn off. When I noticed there were no headlights in my rearview mirror, I knew right away something had gone bad wrong. So I came off the power and did a 180. By the time I got back to the motel, seven other slower parties had jumped in line ahead of me to get registered.”
“See, Roger? You are still a trend setter.”
Bob chimed in, ”You can’t just write this or dream all of this stuff up.”
“Roger would you like to go to the 7 a.m. start of the Rolex Tour d’Elegance tomorrow morning?”
“You forgot, I don’t do mornings. Why do they have to start so gosh darn early?”
“That’s because the tour goes all the way to Big Sur and back. They then have a late lunch in Carmel.”
“I’ll see ’em when they get back to Carmel in the afternoon, like we always do.”
“OK, but the start is always very exciting. Bob is going, and I am going to try to bring a friend of mine. They might be giving away his and hers Rolex watches, but you have to be there.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Big deal, I am sleeping in.”
Visit santamariasun.com next week for part two of John’s misadventures. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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