Monterey Car Week: August 8 - August 15, 2021
There are precious few small towns left in the United States, let alone in the bustling metropolis of California. Yet, there, smack in the middle between San Francisco and Los Angeles, lay the sleepy communities that dot a piece of mother earth known as the Monterey Peninsula. Here, every August, in between the blasts of summer sunshine, and cold, biting fog is one of the greatest spectacles in all of automotive culture.
Yes, friend and gearheads, this is Monterey Car Week! We had a chance to experience some of the festivities first hand and we can’t wait to tell you all about them.
Lay Of The Land
Monterey Car Week encompasses a series of events that run the gamut from a static car show to automotive auctions and racing events. The Monterey Peninsula is comprised of 4 main cities & WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which is just a few miles inland from Monterey itself. Events are scattered throughout the region over the course of the week, often leaving gearheads wondering which way to go next! Beyond the obvious automotive nirvana, the region is also home to some of the most legendary scenic roads in the Country, along with great food, beer/wine, and a world-class aquarium to boot!
Most hotels in the area are small, locally-owned inns, Bed & Breakfasts, and motels but there are a few options that are, let’s just say, a bit more on the luxurious side of things. If the name Pebble Beach doesn’t ring a bell for its world-famous Concours D’ Elegance car show, it should ring a bell for the famous 17 - mile drive and world-class golf course.
Forget being just a fan of fine automobiles and throwback racing; if you’re a fan of beautiful destinations that will take your breath away, this is the spot. It makes all the car-focused activities just that much better.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the week, and events that you must absolutely attend if you’re planning on coming to this slice of California gold next August.
Monterey Historics Reunion and Pre-Reunion
This event is bookended by a racing series that takes place at yet another jewel of the region - Laguna Seca. Located a few miles from the coast, and having hosted some of the most legendary motorsports events ever, we could spend an entire piece talking about this incredible track. Needless to say, it forms a backbone of the entire week’s events.
The Monterey Historics Pre-Reunion and Monterey Historics Reunion take place on the weekend before the rest of the festivities around the peninsula. Sponsored by Rolex, the Reunion puts a focus on getting historic racing vehicles of all kinds back out on the track where they belong. There are no formal prizes here (except for bragging rights) and the entire event is typically broadcast on YouTube and SPEED with professional commentators.
Race cars are broken up into different classes that include everything from pre-war European race cars like Bugattis to American Trans-Am classics. By far, the most entertaining and sought-after event to watch is the pre-1975 Trans-Am cars that belt their V-8 soundtracks and slide around the track like the monsters they are. This year, the class was especially entertaining because of a beautiful orange Boss 302 Mustang driven by none other than Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford Motor Company!
From the stands at the trackside, all the way to the people watching at home, the unbridled passion that fills the air at this event is palpable. These are cars in their element, lovingly taken care of and honed for a specific purpose, and pushed to the absolute limit of their capability. The noises, the smells, and the energy are simply incredible.
Classic Motorsports Monterey Kickoff and Carshow
On Tuesday, August 11th, the festivities really kick off around the Peninsula. One of the hallmarks of the early week events is the Classic Motorsports Monterey Kickoff and Carshow. Taking place in the sleepy town of Pacific Grove (seriously, this place feels like you’re transported right back to the 1950s), the Monterey Kickoff allows vehicles of all kinds the opportunity to park along the city's Downtown streets and show off their rides.
The sheer variety of vehicle types on display was staggering but there seemed to be a specific emphasis on American iron, and British Roadsters. It must be noted, however, that organizers of these events are not particular with the cars and they encourage everything weird/wonderful that owners care to trot out. Much like the Reunion, these are unbridled car maniacs who absolutely have gasoline flowing through their veins.
Pebble Beach Concours D’ Elegance
We would be remiss if we didn’t spend some time on what is possibly the finest car show in the world: The Pebble Beach Concours D’ Elegance. Honestly, this is less of a car show and more of a rolling museum that happens to also be a world-class show for the world’s finest vehicles. This event takes place on the 18th fairway, mere feet from the raging Pacific ocean, on one of the most scenic stretches of unspoiled coastline ever. Yes, that sounds as special as it is and trust us, you feel it as soon as you enter the grounds.
A variety of outrageous vehicles (that are preposterously valuable) all vie for position to eventually become the best in show within their categories, and for the show overall. If you have even a shred of automotive passion in your body, this event will simply blow you away. These are vehicles that not only have no right to be on the road but should be in a museum being wiped down with a diaper every single day! What makes this event so unique is that these vehicles gain extra points at the final judging if their vehicles are able to make a three-hour drive from Pebble Beach down to Big Sur and back.
As you can imagine, for vehicles that could be 100 years old, this is one heck of a feat! This “Tour D’ Elegance” is also one of the flat-out coolest things during car week. Where else can you see millions and millions of dollars worth of vehicles rattle by?
Beyond the insane older cars on display, manufacturers host hospitality suites on the hotel grounds that show off all manner of future and concept cars in a display known as the “Circle Of Trust”. If that all sounds a bit surreal and absurd, well, that’s because it is! No matter which way you turn, there is yet another vehicle screaming out for your attention. This is posh on another level, and it’s something you need to experience at least once in your life!
If You Love Cars, You Owe Yourself A Favor
Whether you’re in Kalamazoo, Miami, or Los Angeles: if you love cars, and car culture, then you owe yourself a visit to the incredible spectacle of Monterey Car Week. From positively eye-wateringly expensive cars that sometimes top over 100 years old, to salty old racers who are beating the hell out of Trans-Am cars on one of the legendary tracks in the country, there is something for everyone. It’s one of the most unique events in the world, and it absolutely showcases our unique American ideal. We value quality, commitment and attack our hobbies with an unhinged passion that can’t help but sweep you into the fray.
Seriously though, the best car event in the nation, surrounded by some of the most beautiful backdrops in the world? Incredible food, and drinks?
Yeah, this really is heaven for auto enthusiasts everywhere.