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Glitzy Star-Studded Vintage Race Events Bring Record Crowds to Monterey

19 August 1997

The cars might have been the stars at the three day orgy of vintage/classic car madness in Monterey, California, but some real "stars" added to the upscale atmosphere. Participating in the Monterey Historic races or acting as judges at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance were Carroll Shelby, Bob Bondurant, Brian Redman, Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Chrysler's Tom Gale and Bob Lutz, Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Alex Trotman, Ford boss, Ralph Lauren, Dick Guldstrand, plus a who's-who of automotive aristocracy and upper management.

After the Monterey classic-vintage car feast, where you can see (RUNNING) everything from an 1884 DeDion Bouton et Trapardoux Dos a Dos three wheel steam car to a 1990 Williams F-1 single seater, you sort of say to yourself, "there can't be more than this." But there is more, because after the Concours, where best in show went to a 1936 Talbot-Lago T150C Figoni et Falaschi coupe, you head over to Christies fantastic display of million-dollar classic cars, and then take in the similarly important Blackhawk car collection from Danville, CA.

The whole weekend end of car stuff starts on friday with the Concours Italiano at the Quail Lodge in Carmel where over 200 Italian works of automotive art are displayed on the golf course lawn. Music, vendors, judging, cocktails schmoozing, and gleaming chrome from four dozen Ferraris of every flavor imaginable are the order of the day, as you eyeball Fiats, Lambos, Maseratis, Alfas, and a bunch of sleek cars put together by Italian designers/coach builders: Carrozeria, Touring, Turin, Scagiliati, Farina and others.

Then you leave the Councours Italiano and spend about 90 minutes to 2 hours attempting to get back to Monterey, a 10 minute drive when there is no car show traffic. It gets worse every year. Bad, bad, bad traffic conditions. Bad to a point that a lot of people will pass up the Quail Lodger caper next year, unless they hear that the traffic problem has been solved.

Friday night Mercedes-Benz has some sort of VIP function, but the "car" place to be is the Rick Cole auction at the DoubleTree Hotel, where Elvis' BMW 507 went out the door for $275,000.

Saturday is the day for the Historic races, with an entry list of 350 fantastic race cars. You could see Phil Hill win his heat driving a 1953 Ferrari 375LM 12 cylinder racer over a C-Jaguar. Stirling Moss hit another Mustang in a Shelby Mustang he was driving, and Parnelli Jones took a first in the Trans Am race. The crowd count ($30.00 a ticket) was up 30% over 1996 and about 45,000 people were on hand. We'll have race results later on.

Saturday night saw a VIP throng attend the Aston Martin BBQ at Stonepine estate in Carmel. A truly elegant affair that features 50 Astons on the lawn, including the new DB7 and the $200,000 Volante.

On Sunday there were more races at Laguna Seca and the BIGGIE affair, of course, was the 45th annual Concours d'Elegance on the lawn at the Lodge (golf costs $250.00 a round) in Pebble Beach.

Chrysler was one of the many companies with hospitality suites, and they took over the ritzy Club X1X for their VIPs and media types.

About 25,000 car enthusiasts watched as 180 great classics were judged. We'll have the results on another page. The concours featured Aston Martins, 35 steam cars, micro cars, and a dozen fine American hot rods. It was a car-full weekend.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel