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Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

And Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance
Monday, August 22, 2011

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The cars began rolling onto the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links today at dawn, taking their places for the 61st Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. The Concours D’Elegance is an annual exhibition of some the world’s finest show cars and 2011 was a year of no exception.

The Concours is widely seen as the nexus of the Monterey Classic Car Week, dating back to the 1950s as the event that generated the now weeklong festivities here on the Monterey Peninsula. Once known as the Pebble Beach Road Races, the Concours show began as an addition to local road racing, which then proved to become too dangerous in the late 50s as the cars became ever bigger and faster. This led to the creation of the raceway at Laguna Seca, its shape inspired by the road track originally used for racing, and what is now known as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The Concours show remained at Pebble Beach and continued to grow every year, reaching a key point in 1985 when all six Bugatti Royales were united for the first and only time at Pebble Beach, an amazing feat that set the Concours apart as the top event of its kind.

The fact that the cars brought together at Pebble Beach are “drivers,” and are all still running, also helps set this car show apart from the many others taking place around the globe. The Tour D’Elegance presented by Rolex allows all to experience these mobile works of art in action, also providing extra points for those who participate and are being judged on Concours Sunday.

The Concours judges automobiles and motorcycles for their historical accuracy, technical merit, style and elegance – with the aim to recognize and encourage proper preservation of the world’s great automobiles. As a true international event, one is likely to hear almost every language on earth spoken at the Concours, something to which Dr. Christian J. Jenny from Switzerland can attest with his French, Swiss German and English, all of which come in handy at such an event. Jenny was attending this year’s event with his 1961 Jaguar E-Type 3.8 Liter Fixed Head Coupé, a gorgeous car first revealed to the European press by Jaguar boss Sir William Lyons in 1961 at the Restaurant du Parc des Eaux Vives in Geneva. The car then appeared at the Geneva Auto Salon and is still driven actively by Jenny today. Here for the fourth time, Jenny explained that he first attended in 1998, and returned in 2004 and 2010, always trying to make the most of his time here in Monterey. “I participated in the Tour D’Elegance on Thursday and must say that the landscape here is fantastic. I love Big Sur and the car ran well, so we had an excellent drive. This car is a driver; I drive all my cars, we love to drive it and it is definitely an exciting car to drive.”

“What is very special about Pebble Beach is the way that you are welcomed,” continued Jenny. “I have attended many, many events but the welcome here is something very special. Sandra Button (Chairman of the Concours) is there at 6 o’clock in the morning, ready to shake your hand and say hello, she knows your name and everything. In addition, all that leads up to the Concours, especially the Tour D’Elegance, is always a great pleasure.”

Since its beginnings, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has grown into one of the most competitive collector car shows in the automotive world. The coveted “Best of Show” Award is presented at the end of the day to great fanfare, with all class winners eligible for Concours’ most talked about prize. This year’s “Best of Show” award went to a 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne, owned by Peter and Merle Mullin of Los Angeles. As fireworks lit up the stage and confetti rained down, the grand prize winners drove across the ramp to the flashes of thousands of cameras trying to capture the moment.

In celebrating some of mankind’s greatest inventions, the Pebble Beach Concours also raises money for charity through special exhibitions of art and automobilia along with the famous Pebble Beach auction. Rolex donated two timepieces this year for auction, contributing to the $1,154,778 raised for charity at this year’s event. This year’s auctioned Rolex timepieces were an 18-karat yellow gold men’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, won by Carol Lieberman, and a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady Datejust in steel and white gold, won by Tom Bloomenthall.

As part of the day’s festivities there was also the Concept Car Lawn, featuring models from many of the world’s major manufacturers. The Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 was a definite eye-catcher in bright orange. The car pairs an extremely stiff carbon fiber monocoque chassis, weighing just 506 pounds (230 kg), with a 700hp, 6.5-litre V12 engine. Going from zero-to-62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.9 seconds and known for top speeds of 217 mph (349 km/h), what was especially unique about the Aventador presentation in Pebble Beach was the stripped down version set up just next to it, a unique event in Concept Car Lawn history. “This one really tells the story,” explained Lamborghini representative Jayson Demchak, pointing to the Aventador carbon-fiber monocoque. “You can see how it is all connected and can start to understand how it works together as a system. The stripped down version shows a preferred angle for suspension geometry, giving you a sort of x-ray version of what is really underneath the skin. The purpose is to help people understand the precise technology at work – it is not just a design or a marketing gimmick – this is real engineering and performance, and here you can actually see it.”

All in all the Concours celebrates attention to detail and commitment to excellence, whether one is looking at the vintage beauties on the 18th fairway or the state-of-the-art concept cars on the main entrance putting green. Cars accepted for the Concours cannot be shown at any other public car show, event, display or auction during the week leading up to the event (exceptions are made only for cars participating in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion). Rolex has been the “Official Timekeeper” of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance since 1997, and today the event is a gathering of motor fans, style connoisseurs and VIPs alike, including Pebble Beach regular Jay Leno, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sheryl Crow.

As the Monterey Classic Car Week comes to a close, one is reminded of the true endurance story of the automobile and those who can testify to the automotive world’s rich history. The 2012 edition of the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance will take place on Sunday, 19 August; be sure to save the date.

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