Another year, another Monterey Car Week. Like a good Scotch, it never gets old. Besides the usual car shows that engulf the Monterey Peninsula, there is one jewel that seems to grow in popularity each year: The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. What is it? Historic racing at its very finest. All the famous racing cars you read about or see pictures and videos of head to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to prove they’re not just museum pieces. Sure, some do cruise in their prized collectibles, but some truly are there to race.
BMW is built upon its storied racing heritage, so of course a legion of Bavarian bombers take to the Corkscrew. We’re talking 2002’s, CSLs, and M1 Procars. These are simply the best of the best. Seeing them in person, to be brutally frank, is SO much better than a YouTube video. Compressed audio and even HD can’t come close to capturing the magic of one of these beasts. Here in person, the sound alone of the screaming ‘sixes raises hairs all over.
Competing with the BMW’s on track are period-correct models from Porsche, Ferrari, and even Chevrolet. And this is only one small group out of the dozen that runs over the weekend; That’s how much the Monterey Motorsports Reunion has to offer. The classes are diverse enough that, when coupled with short 30 minutes races, boredom is literally impossible.
The BMW CCA has a large presence as well, with a lavish camp overlooking turns 4 and 5. The car corral is equally impressive, with examples of the most desirable BMWs on display. Truly a show on its own.
Almost as good as the racing itself is the paddock. Here, no special passes are needed to wander through the garages and racing cars while they’re being prepped. It’s a brilliant chance to see all the legendary cars up close. Owners and drivers are of the utmost friendly nature too. Vendors are out in full-force too with racing memorabilia and apparel. I even bumped into sportscar superstar Marino Franchitti and his wife Holly, a racer of vintage cars herself, at the Nicolas Hunziker tent.
The facilities at Laguna Seca are world-class, being very clean and the access to almost any part of the circuit is tremendous. With it came perfect weather too, settling at about 70 degrees on a sunny, August day. Further highlights included seeing Mika Hakkinen race Emerson Fittipaldi’s McLaren M23 for demonstration laps and Mazda’s shrieking 767B.
The best part, though, is the price. While events like the Concours D’elegance, Italiano, and Quail run hundreds of dollars, the Historic’s are only double-digits. How’s that for bang for your buck? And this is more exciting. The racing resumes next year August 23-26.
As you might have seen in a previous post, I recently attended the Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, part of the legendary Monterey Car Week. There was everything a car guy could hope for: cars of all vintage, food, music, booze, beautiful people, and celebrities. It was Christmas morning and I felt like I was 8 again.
But I want to talk more about a very special car present at the Quail: the new 8-Series concept. We’ve all seen the press release photos. You know, the ones with perfect lighting and shadows. However, the real test is to see how it is in real life. I thought the concept, personally, looked great. In short, the new 8er makes the outgoing 6-series look pedestrian and mercilessly mundane. What was a thoroughly handsome car has now become slightly boring.
So, what has changed about the look? The new 8 is a much more aggressive car. The stance appears far more purposeful, and while the 6 was just round, the 8 manages to be both round and sharp together. Lovely creases form the tapered front and rear sections with a more swooping shape to the side. The proportions and roofline are spot-on. There are slits and slats abundant all around, up front, in the rear, and even the sides. I particularly like the slim, slit-like tail lights. In contrast to the current crop of BMW tail lights which feature a large housing around LED lights, this is just the LED strip itself. I bet the view following the 8 will be mega.
While I really do like the car and see it as an improvement over the 6, I do have a few things I don’t like. Mainly, the grille. Talking to Jonny Lieberman from Motor Trend, he said it best, describing it as, “Bitey.” It does give the impression it’s trying to swallow you, and not in a good way. Just something about it is off, the styling of the trademark kidney grilles are too pronounced and exaggerated.
Also, all those cool vents, when peering inside I couldn’t help but notice the cheap looking plastic grilles inside. They were just dull black plastic. C’mon, BMW. Some carbon or gloss black grilles would be much better, and for how much the 8 will cost, it should be better.
Overall though, it is a good looking car. This is a concept, remember, so it could change slightly before the production model is ready. I’m also quite keen to see the inevitable M8 as well.
Okay, so maybe not complete royalty. That one Duke nobody has ever heard of, but still retains the title. Gerion Lannister, for example. Bet you didn’t realize there even was a Gerion Lannister in Game of Thrones lore. Anyways, that’s what this monumental event felt like: being Royalty among the Royal.
The Quail has been an event during Monterey Car Week since 2003, hosted at the eponymous Quail Lodge and Golf Course. I had never been, and what a mistake this had proved. This might lack the established pedigree and formality of the Pebble Beach Concours, but it makes up for it in so many ways and, in my humble opinion, even surpasses Pebble. Put it this way: I didn’t want to leave. Checking my step-counter app and I had walked over 5 miles, just circling the show and every car over and over, such as the ambience of the event. The Quail is not just about the cars, but everything. It’s a royal tournament and everyone wants to be there.
Let’s see, who did I meet. Sir Jackie Stewart, Jay Leno, Horacio Pagani, Christian von Koenigsegg, John Hennessey, Bruno SENNA, Gil de Ferran, Marino Franchitti, and Magnus Walker. I also saw Michael Strahan walking about as well as Amir Khan and Roger Penske. I’m sure I saw many other famous peoples and hadn’t even realized who they were or just perhaps missed them. I mean, where else would you expect to see and bump into such automotive and racing elite? Maybe Monte Carlo.
Inside the Quail on the beautiful, lush fairway, you’ll find several (I think I counted five?) large tents sporadically about. Your entry includes what really is an all-you-can-eat buffet, of whatever variety of food you desire. I chose to go to the Hong Kong tent to try the exotic delicacies of the far East. I’m not sure what I ate exactly, but it was delicious. Next, I headed over to another and enjoyed lamb meatballs, also exceptional, as well as some seafood. Yep, that’s right, jump in line and grab however many oysters and caviar you’d like. I had never had either before. Caviar, eh, it’s okay; a most interesting fish byproduct. The Oysters were wonderful though, asking myself, “Why haven’t I had these sooner in my life?”
Oh, and there’s also drinks: Wine, champagne, cocktails, you name it. Lots of alcohol. Though it is wise to control one’s self in such an environment. I had some kind of fruity, colorful concoction. I don’t even know what was in it. Not exactly masculine, but damn was it good.
This is what makes the Quail so special: even if you’re a nobody there, just another Joe, like myself, there for the sights and cars, it makes youfeelspecial. Here I was, on a green surrounded by tens of millions of dollars of cars, talking to a Senna. As it turns out, Bruno is a most humble and charming man, clearly a racer out to make a story for himself and not to live in his uncle’s shadow. Racing at Le Mans this year for Rebellion, his car was 1st or 2nd for most of the race before mechanical calamities struck. Bruno was consistently the fastest driver in his squad and the whole LMP2 class. We must’ve chatted for 10 minutes when, oh who’s that? Is that sports car superstar Marino Franchitti dropping in and joining the conversation? And oh snap! Here comes Indy 500 winner and legend Gil de Ferran joining the fray.
Talking to these elite drivers, having them around you and hearing their stories and talking about their same passion for cars that we share is just mega. You become part of this celestial circle. These were guys you could easily have a beer with and not worry about a lack of good banter. I’m disappointed I had not recommended it!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: The cars. Now, I know this is Bimmerforums, but we are all car people; We just like cool, interesting cars. So let hit this right off the bat: Koenigsegg. Holy heck are they cool. After all the times seeing them in the magazines and on YouTube, here I was finally next to not one, but maybe 7 of them? They’re simply monumental to behold in person. Founder Christian von Koenigsegg is a car guy through and through too, being the utmost friendly and relatable man. Another beer-worthy gentleman indeed.
The barrage of Paganis present were dreamlike as well. I have seen them before but they never fail to dazzle with the level of detail that Horacio incorporates into his rolling dreams.
Ferrari’s, Bugatti’s, Porsche’s, McLaren’s…the list of desirable cars on display was not lacking in the slightest.
Were there BMW’s? Heck yes! Well, I mean, not many- pretty sure I could count them all on my hand, but there was one that was very, very important on the pedestal: the new 8-Series. I’ll say it, the car looks good. The creases and flowing sheet-metal envelope a thoroughly handsome car. I love the rear the most, it’s slim lights that flick up on the ends flank the tapering, chiseled arse and large air ducts. It’s almost odd, as the whole car is both round and sharp. It engages the eye tremendously with a common design language used throughout. Nothing looks out of place. maybe except the cheap black plastic used for all air ducts, but that’s it. If BMW keeps it as close to the concept as possible, this is a huge win for BMW in putting some dramatic tension into the lineup.
So there you have it. If you have the means (let’s just say it’s not cheap), I highly recommend it. Even if not, it’s so worth going still. The experience is what you would consider a good dream, but it’s real life before your eyes. The Quail has become one of the staple events of the Monterey Car Week, and with that, it has become one of the best shows in North America. The combination is unbeatable in what makes it a truly memorable event. The cars, the people, the food, the drinks. It has everything. King for a day, as Green Day said.
A video highlight reel will land soon, but for now, please enjoy the attached photos of motoring paradise.