Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 20
Monterey Run: Part Two
BY JOHN READY
Ed. note: When we last left our errant knights of the road, they had found their way to Monterey, and managed to attend the McCall party and drive some great demo cars. Rejoin them now as they go to a Thursday-morning event, the Rolex Tour d’Elegance.
Rolex Tour d’Elegance
Rolex sponsors the Tour d’Elegance, which starts next to the Pebble Beach Polo Grounds. If you are competing in the Concourse d’Elegance on Sunday and end up in a tie for a trophy, extra points are earned by completing this tour, and that would be your tie breaker.
I noticed the No. 30 1962 Ferrari GTO in the pole position for the start of the tour. We will see a lot more of that make and model car later this week. All of them are here.
Pam and Sam (Pamela and Samantha) were my new pit crew for the day. Unlike Roger, they showed up very early for the start of the tour, full of energy. They are heckofalot better looking and in a much better mood.
I happened to be standing next to that No. 30 GTO when Alain de Cadenet moved in front of it, with microphone in hand; he started a live commentary of the tour that was broadcasting on ESPN. Alan was a successful racecar driver in the early ’70s and sometimes drove these Ferrari GTOs, which for racing were considered old by then.
We were allowed to walk among all of the cars on the starting grid. We were enjoying all of the joy, excitement, and anticipation that comes before a memorable drive.
There were 250 GTOs, V-12 Packards, Delahayes, Dusenbergs, V-16 Cadillacs, Jags, Pierce-Arrows, 300 SLs, Minerva, Stutz, and a one-off Rialton-Rippon, all driving down that Pacific Coast Highway to a turn around at Ripplewood Resort at Big Sur. There were 160 cars, three full sections of these wonderful vintage machines that headed out into the coastal fog that morning.
Cadillac reveals new Ciel
Cadillac revealed for the first time its new Ciel at a dinner gathering Thursday night at the Tahoma Golf Resort in the hills overlooking the Carmel Valley. This car is a large, spacious four-door, four-passenger convertible. It’s kind of a better-shaped and slimmed-down ’72 Eldorado on steroids, with a current Caddy grille and electrically operated doors. The passengers have suicide doors that must have motion sensors and some interlocks with the front doors—or your passengers could provide some exciting freeway moments. The vertical tail lights, with embedded exhaust ports and raised headrests, looked great. This car had beautifully sculpted, shaped rear-view mirrors and a slim windshield frame with wing windows that were elegant. The seats had a new and distinctive shape. The dash and instrumentation was laid out in a futuristic style. Even the flush-with-the-body door handles were unique. Every detail of this car was beautifully executed.
Infinity had a reception to introduce its four-door concept car, again with suicide doors that open widely for the passengers. Sure looked inviting, and it may have easy entry and exit. Infinity also had the current F1 points leader Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 car on display.
Finding Judy (or lost again in the enchanted Del Monte Forest)
There is a major difference in driving directions given from people on the peninsula. If they tell you something like, “Turn on Elk Run Road—you can’t miss it!” they don’t mean that the turn is obvious. They really mean that if you miss it, you are instantly doomed, like Charlie on the MTA, to drive forever in the enchanted Del Monte Forest. You have immediately entered another dimension, where all sense of direction is lost because of all the foliage. You should not enter this area with less than three-quarters of a tank. You might not see the sun for days because of the dense marine layer. You will not be able to see Polaris at night.
The first thing you notice is that the scenery starts to repeat itself every 15 to 20 minutes. You see knowledgeable locals driving Range Rovers, SUVs, or the equivalent, smiling as they go by, knowing you are lost—and even knowing you know you are lost. You find that you’re frantically using reverse a lot. You know you’re running late. You declare to yourself that you haven’t had time to put all of the things in your life in order. You notice an abandoned golf cart from last year’s U.S. Open. You’re using words you never heard in the Bible.
Many of the homes look unoccupied, or are going through major renovation. Many of the locals leave town for this week. You see tons of signs pointing to Jaguar parties, and you’re driving a Corvette. You promise to lead a better life if you ever do get out of here. You see signs for Spanish Bay, and you remember Judy admonishing, “If you get to Spanish Bay, you have gone way too far.” Lordee, what new peril could that bring? She may have thought I was coming in from Pacific Grove like everybody else does all the time.
Just then, I crested a hill—ahhh, I could see the Pacific Ocean. Her house might only be 17 miles from here. I still have enough fuel. Of course, if you have GPS, this is never a problem. I was late, but Judy is a wonderful friend of my sister’s, and she seemed to quietly understand my frantic arm-waving-in-every-direction explanation. (Note: Don’t ever take Sundowner Ridge Drive; it is not a shortcut.)
We went over to the Mercedes Pavilion while it was still uncrowded that morning. They had brought the Blitzen Benz, a 1939 W-154, a 56 300 SL Gullwing, a new SLS AMG Convertible, the No. 722 300 SLR, and lots more.
The W-154 ruled Gran Prix racing in the late ’30s by winning six European Championships of the nine it entered. It’s a 485 horsepower, supercharged V-12, a stunning example of the craftsmanship of that pre-war era. This car had turbine-wheel blades radiating from the rear brake drums—very jet engine like, and this is from 1939. Each component of this racing car was like polished jewelry. Only two examples of this car survived the war.
Mercedes Benz had a new concept crossover that looked really great, but seemed more like the next BMW X3. Even the rear view mirror had an exotic shape.
Concourso Italiano (or Ferraris more frequent than Fords)
This mainly all-Italian event is held at the Laguna Seca Golf Ranch and keeps getting bigger and better every year. I was braced for at least one hour of stop-and-go traffic on Highway 68 to get into this event. I am pleased to say I was wrong. I did not come to a stop until we were parked.
Picture a par five fairway with Ferraris parked four deep, perpendicularly, for its entire length, with vendor tents on each side. It’s a virtual red sea of Ferraris for as far as you can plainly see. Got it?
The next fairway over was entirely devoted to Lamborghinis.
There was an orange Lamborghini Muira, a favorite of mine, that was a breakthrough car for its time in 1967. This car had a transverse-mounted three-liter V-12 engine in the rear, which made this car’s proportions look just right. It was very much ahead of its time.
Concourso Itlaliano now has a huge non-Italian display area covering an additional three fairways. Bob Jacobs was showing his Mercedes McLaren SLR at the Quail with Roger that day.
From prior years’ experience, I had anticipated traffic jam problems on Highway 68 while leaving this event. Wrong again—they have fixed everything. The CHP was out there in force and expediting us along. It’s the first time I was ever asked to accelerate through a big glaring RED light by three uniformed officers. I was in second, doing about 20, when an M/C helmeted, slim, 6-foot-4 CHiP, standing on the centerline stripe, aggressively signaled me to hit it now and get thru that red light! Echoes can still be picked up in that canyon, as we came out of third doing 80. This never happened before. Wildly amazing, let’s do that again sometime soon.
R&M Auction at the Portola
We got a preview look at some of the cars that were up for auction this weekend. R&M fills the three-level lobby with world-class cars in the Portola Hotel in downtown Monterey.
The ’30s-era Packards still are stunning displays of chrome and shaped sheet metal.
My (in my dreams) red Ferrari Daytona was up for sale again.
Bugatti Veyrons were there in full force at Pebble Beach. It’s rare to see even one Veyron, but at Pebble Beach there was an entire parking area filled with them. I counted 14 of them across the street from the tennis club. Just the thing for cruise night, don’t you think? The Veyrons’ interiors are really something to behold. If you ever get a chance, you should take a look inside one of these beauties.
Saturday 10:30 a.m. interview with Sir Stirling Moss and John Surtees OBE
It never ceases to amaze me how the Pebble Beach Concour is always doing things to top itself. These racing luminaries were at the media center for photos and an hour-long exclusive interview. Both Sir Stirling Moss’ and John Surtees’ dads were involved in racing.
John Surtees is the only man to hold both World Champion Motorcycle Rider and World Champion Car Driver titles. He won seven world championships on motorcycles and was the world champion F1 car driver in 1964. He had a deep understanding and an affinity for this sensitive, high-performance machinery.
“He considered motorcycles to be safer than cars, because when an accident was imminent, he would just get off the bike,” Surtees said.
Moss said this about Surtees’ driving style: ”He was continuously bouncing all over the track, but somehow he always managed to be in the right place at the right time.”
Surtees drove for Ferrari during some extremely frantic and hectic times. He was called to Enzo Ferrari’s bedside, before he passed, and in apology Enzo told John “to try to remember the good things, not the mistakes.”
A lot has been written about Sir Stirling Moss’ 1000 Mille Miglia race that took place in 1955. It was a 990-mile open-road course from Brescia to Rome and back. Moss had made three earlier attempts at this race for Jaguar and had failed miserably.
This year, the Pebble Beach Concour has brought together the three major elements that were a success in that race: Sir Stirling Moss, his navigator Denis Jenkinson, and the Mercedes Benz 300 SLR race No. 722. This might be the first time all three have been together since the race in 1955.
The big red 722 was the car’s starting time for the race.
Stirling Moss’ fellow team drivers were Juan Manuel Fangio, the reigning World Champion at the time; Karl Kling; and Hans Herrmann. The latter were works drivers for Mercedes Benz. They had practiced three months for this race and used up three of the cars in the process.
Though Stirling was the last Mercedes to start, he was ahead of all of his teammates at the turning point in Rome, and was still ahead of all of the Ferraris that had a tradition of winning that race.
Sir Stirling was asked, “Did you completely detail the entire 1000 Mille Miglia?” He responded, “We did not detail it like a regular rally; we did go through and find the areas where we could go faster than it looked, and the places where we needed to go slower than it looked.
“As an example, where the roads were straight in the towns, we went through at 170 miles an hour,” he added.
They were so confident in the durability and dependability of that car, they never checked the oil or even lifted the hood for the entire race. They averaged more than 120 mph for the last 80 miles, and 140 mph for the last 40 miles.
They took 10 hours and seven minutes to cover the 990 miles for an average speed of 97.95 miles per hour.
This has been considered to be one of the greatest drives of all time.
Visit santamariasun.com next week for part three, the finale of John’s misadventures. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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