All posts by Mitchell Weitzman

The Quail, A Gathering of Extravagance. And then Some

Pictures by Mitchell Weitzman and Daniel Blodgett

Last year I was lucky enough to attend the Quail, A Motorsports Gathering at the lavish Quail Lodge fairways in Carmel Valley. It was my first time back at The Quail Lodge for over fifteen years when they last hosted il Concorso Italiano, now at the Bayonet. I’ve always wanted to go back since I first heard they formed their own signature event, but the honest truth is Monterey Car Week is so packed with things to do, it’s tough to fit everything in. Not last year. Last year, I finally made the efforts to attend the Quail and ohh my was it the biggest mistake in Car Week history.

Now when I saw mistake, I don’t mean the event. The mistake was me not attending The Quail for the prior fifteen years, and that’s because it was incredible. Stupendous, in fact. How have I been missing this for the past decade and a half? I thought to myself. No, not again. I must go every year now. And so it has cemented itself as tradition in my own personal Monterey Car Week lore. With that in mind, yes the 2018 edition was one I couldn’t miss.

What makes the Quail special? Everything. No, honestly, and literally. The cars are amazing, but they’re only part of the show. The food is delectable. And there’s a lot of it. A pass into the Quail nets an all-you-can-eat buffet with an outstanding variety that’s influenced from each corner of the world. Let’s see, I at different times of the day indulged in salmon, chicken, oysters, caviar, salads, cake, and Thai food (still not cultured enough to tell you the name of what it was). And it was all mouth-wateringly good. Don’t forget the drinks. From Bulliet Rye Manhattans and Whisky Sours my friends enjoyed to Margaritas and to wine (not your bottom shelf Andre, either), it was all there.

I’ve never been somewhere that makes me feel like an A-Lister until coming here. Speaking of A-Listers, I was looking over a selection of Rufs when I noticed the man in front of me peering into the side window looked slightly familiar. Then I heard him speak and immediately recognized the Aussie accent from down under. It was none other than known car guy Eric Bana (if his lap on Top Gear was dry and not a monsoon, he likely would have set the fastest time years ago). In amazement I told him how upset I get when he dies by Brad Pitt’s sword every time I watch Troy. His replay was, “Well unfortunately, we couldn’t change history.” Great guy. His film Love The Beast, about his love for cars and racing, is a must see. 

Nick Mason was also present, with his son-in-law and racing driver Marino Franchitti. And yes, Dario was there as well making the rounds. Nick Mason, for those that ask, “Nick Who?” was the drummer and founding member of Pink Floyd. His collection of cars includes just about everything, with his Ferrari 250 GTO being his most publicized and valuable ride. Though, to my surprise, I asked him what his most enjoyable car to drive is, and his answer was not the GTO, but his vintage, pre-war Aston Martin Ulster.

Also, had the pleasure to bump into Doug Demuro, who aggressively dresses exactly like he does in his videos even at super fancy car events. Respect. My friends and I chatted with him and his friend for probably a solid ten minutes. A wonderful, and I repeat, wonderful guy to talk to. He knows his cars as good as anyone I’ve ever met and truly loves the excitement and emotion that cars can bring in the driving experience. Hopefully I run into him again next year. Top bloke that Doug Demuro. 

So now to the cars. Every modern hypercar was in attendance, meaning a Zonda, a baker’s dozen of Huayras, Bugatti Chiron and the new Divo, Koenigsegg Agera, 918, McLaren’s Senna and P1 LM, Singer 911 DLS, and lots bearing the prancing horse. The all-new Z4 was on display as well, in M40i guise. The parking lot is a wonder as well, with, I kid you not, a car show of its own. Attendees leave a filled out slip on their dash in the parking areas, and judges select a best-of the parking lot. A 300SL Gullwing was the winner.

Add all these components together and this becomes something surreal. It feels like a dream, like it can’t be real. Maybe it’s a David Lynch-like dreamscape, but it’s real and genuinely authentic. Most importantly, two years in, I enjoyed it just the same if not more this time around. The novelty of it all has not worn off one bit.  And I really could go for some oysters right now. 

The Quail has become a crown jewel of Monterey Car Week, possibly even upstaging the finale that is Pebble Beach Concours. It’s a gigantic party centered around cars that I didn’t want to end. And I could look at the cars and people endlessly, but unfortunately we had to be ushered out at some point when the show was deemed finito.

I can only hope I’ll be back on the Quail’s fairways next year once again. In just two years, Quail has officially become a pastime and staple event; a highlight of my annual calendar. It’s that good. If you have the means, go. You won’t be disappointed. Only eleven months to go…

BMW and Racing Heaven at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Words by Mitchell Weitzman

“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And for many, this is the week they wait for all year long. Another August, another
Monterey Car Week, and another Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca. This has been said by many before, but there is little else like historic racing, where you can see your hero cars you grew up watching, and some that you never thought you’d have the chance to see (for us younger folks), race. This is no simple cruise either, with many owners of these vintage beauties thrashing them the way they were meant to.

Photos by Mitchell Weitzman, Daniel Blodgett, and Cory Brundage

Garage queen is not an applicable word to the racing of such historic machines. BMW’s heritage is partly built around its racing heritage. Being ‘the Ultimate Driving Machine’ requires a certain degree of pedigree. From the display of racing BMWs in the paddock and on the circuit, it’s easy to see that the pedigree – the authenticity – is intact.

A blitz of howling 3.0CSL Batmobiles made up the majority of the BMW field in the highly competitive  GT category, supplemented by M1 ProCars, E21s, and a couple E30 M3s. Seeing them tangle with Porsches, and the many Datsun/Nissans (the featured marque this year) was a true spectacle. They sound rather nice as well. Diving in on the inside under braking into the corkscrew, the action was sublime.

Every year the BMW CCA sets up camp along the straight between turns 4 and 5. A large car corral is assembled as well, being able to spot the many interesting and rare BMWs on the hills of Laguna. Even a Z1 was present (the disappearing doors were closed/up, unfortunately). Inside the CCA tent were several more beautiful and classic examples, as well as dining for members and an optimal spot to watch the racing.

The elevation changes make Laguna Seca particularly fun to watch, with all sorts of hills, dips, and off and on-camber corners. The Corkscrew remains one of the most challenging turns on the planet, with its incredible drop and then down the chute into fast turns 8 and 9.

My favorite moment of the weekend? Seeing Double F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen rip around the circuit in the 1995 Le Mans-winning McLaren F1 GTR. This is no exaggeration when I say that this is the best sounding car I’ve ever heard – it’s aural intoxication. I got right up to the inside fence at the turn 1 crest while he blasted down the front straight. He literally kicked rubber slags into my face. It was awesome.

But the sound of that mystical BMW V12 is on another planet. It can be heard from the Andretti Hairpin while screeching up the Rahal Straight towards the corkscrew. The rifle-crack downshifts, too, send chills down the spine. Onboard video can be seen here from the weekend. Please, turn the volume UP.

Entry into the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion includes full access to the paddock, where every competing car can be seen up close. Most all the drivers, owners, and mechanics are invitingly friendly, too. And while most other events during Monterey Car Week cost hundreds of dollars, the Reunion is only pocket change for a full weekend pass. The variety is immense as well, from 1930s Grand Prix cars, vintage Formula 1 cars, and to Group C prototypes.

Go once, and it won’t be your last.

Ever see Rush? This is the exact real-life car that Niki Lauda drove in the 1976 finale in Japan, where he pulled into the pits and retired from the race because of dangerous, soaking conditions.

 

Afterburners on

 

 

Monterey Car Week, Only a Month Away!

A Preview to Monterey Car Week

Words by Mitchell Weitzman

It’s that time again. Next month (can you believe we’re in July already?), the Monterey Peninsula will once again play host to one of the largest car gatherings in the world. It’s time for Monterey Car Week. For those that have not been that are even remotely interested in cars, it  really is something beyond your wildest imagination. Every street corner hosts a legion of all your favorites exotics from the world over, be it Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche, or our beloved BMWs, they’re all there. Then there are the shows.

So I’ve spliced together some articles from last year’s events as a preview for what is to come August 22-26 in CARmel.

Pebble Beach

Even in its 68th year, the annual Concours D’elegance, hosted at the spectacular Lodge at Pebble Beach across the 18th fairway, does not need a prescription to keep going strong. Just when you think the show could be dying out with the changing times, it keeps growing and growing. At the 2017 edition, the crowd was one of the all-time largest in the storied history of this event. This trend looks certain to continue into 2018.

Niki Lauda Ferrari’s. Photo by Daniel Blodgett

What is Pebble Beach Concours? It’s become one of the most renowned classic car shows in not just the United States, but in the entire world. It is a celebration of the automobile, not a eulogy to the past or excessive nostalgia. The prestige carried here is truly world-class. One will struggle to find a better, more exotic, and diverse selection of classics anywhere in the world. And then there’s the atmosphere. Ambience is an understatement. Everywhere in sight are automotive celebrities with their entourage in tow. Nearly all attendee’s are dressed to impress. It’s a bit like the Kentucky Derby. There’s a sense of specialness from just being in the vicinity, a priceless accord of extravagance. Most importantly, you are part of it all.

Every year at Pebble Beach Concours a brand is featured. 2017 celebrated none other than the Prancing Horse from Maranello: Ferrari. Hard to believe, but Ferrari has been a carmaker for 70 years already. Ferrari brought a mammoth display of 70 cars to commemorate plus those that were in the show itself. When Ferrari brings 70 cars of the richest heritage halfway around the world, that’s when you know that this is a serious car event.

Pebble Beach congregation. Photo by Daniel Blodgett

2018 will celebrate French manufacturer Citroen. While not sold in America for nearly half a century, their classic DS was a benchmark for luxury and comfort in the 1950s with a hydro-pneumatic suspension system. Classic Citroen’s remain an increasingly elegant proposition, showcasing the absolute best in not only French engineering and design, but in the world.

The Concept car lawn in front the Lodge each year brings the best in future automobiles, from the next great BMW’s, to the latest from Aston Martin. The Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance is an experience not to be missed.  Concours represents an escape to a day that you never want to end. The 2018 edition takes place Sunday, August 26th, 2018.

The Quail

The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering has been an event during Monterey Car Week since 2003, hosted at the eponymous Quail Lodge and Golf Course. 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. The Quail is not just about the cars, but everything. It’s a royal tournament and everyone wants to be there. For car people, this is Cinderella’s royal ball.

Bottom’s up! Photo by Mitchell Weitzman

Let’s see, who was there representing the automobile aristocracy: Sir Jackie Stewart, Jay Leno, Horacio Pagani, Christian von Koenigsegg, John Hennessey, Bruno SENNA, Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti, Marino Franchitti, and Magnus Walker. Michael Strahan was walking about as well as boxer Amir Khan and likely many others who were more incognito. 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 whatever variety of food you desire and as much as you want. Food from the Far East, to Italian treats, to the seafood, including caviar and oysters.

3.0CSL. Proper stuff. Photo by Mitchell Weitzman

Oh, and there’s also drinks, the booze: Wine, champagne, cocktails, you name it. And they weren’t mixing with the bottom-shelf specials from Bevmo either. Though it is wise to control one’s self in such an environment, but seeing champagne flutes in ever other person’s hand is enticing.

Huayra. Photo by Mitchell Weitzman

This is what makes the Quail so special: even if you’re a Nobody there, it makes you feel special.

Concorso Italiano

Lamborghini Centenario. Photo by Daniel Blodgett

Oh, so you like Italian cars? Then this is your place. Get prepared for a sea of rosso. Ferrari there, Ferrari over there, Ferrari right in front of me. Ferrar everywhere. This is heaven for fans of La Scuderia. A barrage of Lamborghini’s and Alfa Romeo’s join too, but the almost crimson tide can’t be beat. The car corral plays host to many interesting machines, too. Last year there was an absolutely astonishing M1 parked on display as well as a Z8 and several newer M4’s.

Magnum PI must be here somewhere. Photo by Daniel Blodgett

Monterey Historic Races

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.

It looks good. Sounds even better. Photo by Mitchell Weitzman

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.

Circa $50,000,000 being thrashed on track. Photo by Daniel Blodgett

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.

Mazda 767b. THAT sound. Photo by Mitchell Weitzman

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?

Is this 2017, or 1975? Photo by Daniel Blodgett

Other Sights

Singer 911. Photo by Mitchell Weitzman

The greatest part about Monterey Car Week though is, even if the prices for tickets seem to high, one can still go and have a great time. Why is that? People from all over flock to Monterey and Carmel for this one week. Each street and parking lot becomes a car show of its own, as every Lamborghini and Ferrari passes by. It is an atmosphere and ambience like little else this side of Monaco. If you like cars any small decent amount, trust me, you’ll be in heaven.

Favorite restaurants include: Baja Cantina for the supreme car and racing themed venue, Vesuvio in Carmel, and the Forge in the Forest. The Spanish Bay Inn, also down the historic 17 Mile Drive, is a great place to spot hypercars as well as Cannery Row. If it’s your first time at Monterey Car Week, it won’t be your last.