Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Missed Monterey Car Week 2021? Here’s a Recap of the World’s Premiere Motor Fest

Missed Monterey Car Week 2021? Here’s a Recap of the World’s Premiere Motor Fest

If the veracity of the adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was ever in question, all doubt was removed over the course of roughly 10 days this month—at least when it comes to motoring enthusiasts. After the automotive world’s hallmark confluence in Northern California was garaged last year due to the pandemic, the industry’s glitterati, esteemed collectors and admirers of every age seemed determined that the 2021 edition of Monterey Car Week would not only see the light of day, but shine as bright as ever.

Alone as far as prominence on the global stage when it comes to a celebration of automobiles, the series of exhibitions, historics racing, concours and auctions started as a single-day car show scheduled to complement the Pebble Beach Road Race in 1950. Although the latter went idle after 1956, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance continued strong and began inspiring related events which, like celestial bodies to the sun, were drawn into orbit around the greater luminary, Pebble.

A crowd gathers to catch a glimpse of the awards ceremony at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

The Role of Rolex
As storied as Monterey Car Week itself, so too is one of its primary supporters, Rolex. The watchmaker long synonymous with success is the namesake sponsor of the historics races and tour, as well as the official timepiece of both the Quail and Pebble concours. Reflecting on his own time at Pebble, Rolex Testimonee and hall-of-fame racer Sir Jackie Stewart told Robb Report just prior to the event, “It’s one of the greatest collections of cars . . . and Rolex has been a very large part of that for a very long time.”

One of the ubiquitous Rolex timepieces at the Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

Start Your Engines
This year’s “week” actually ran from August 5 through 15, starting with a party the evening before the Concours Pasadera on August 6. Located on the grounds of Club Pasadera, a private golf and residential community, the show commemorated the 50th anniversary of Porsche’s victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 hours of Daytona in 1971, a feat the marque repeated at both contests the following year as well. On the four-wheel front, a 1959 Ferrari 250 TR59 took Best of Show, while a 1939 Rudge Special 500 earned the top honor for motorcycles.
The myriad subsequent attractions during the preliminary days included a select display of vintage race cars and a meet-and-greet with drivers prior to their competing at WeatheTech Raceway Laguna Seca; the Concours on the Avenue, a presentation of classics and supercars along Carmel’s Ocean Avenue on August 10; and McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center, where the viewing of exotic flying machines and automobiles paired elegantly with regional wines.

A 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder winds along the coast during the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance by Rolex
For most attendees, Monterey Car Week didn’t really get in gear until the final four days, starting with the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance by Rolex on Thursday, August 12. The tony rally featured approximately 150 of the same vehicles that would end up on Pebble’s concours lawn on Sunday. The 70-mile course, which begins and ends at Pebble Beach, includes famed 17-mile Drive and the stunning vistas along Highway 1 to Big Sur. Interestingly, a classic that completes the route and then ends up in a draw at the concours will be given the win because of its tour participation.

A convoy of classics on the 2021 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering
One exhibition fast becoming a favorite is the Quail, A Motorsports Gathering hosted by the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel Valley on Friday, August 13—a most auspicious day for top-tier automakers and coachbuilders showcasing their latest masterworks. The massive OEM representation is a major differentiator between the Quail and Pebble, with the former attracting a heavy field of prospective, qualified buyers. It’s why Automobili Lamborghini chose the venue to debut its $2.64 million Countach LPI 800-4, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Countach; Rimac Automobili brought its 1,914 hp all-electric projectile, the Nevera; and SSC North America shared its SSC Tuatara, the very one that set a production-car speed record of 282.9 mph (averaged after two runs) back on January 17.

The Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 (right), unveiled at the Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

“It’s a proud moment for us to be able to have it [the SSC Tuatara] here, open everything up and let everybody see the attention to detail,” mentioned Jarod Shelby, founder of SSC North America. When asked about the Quail’s Motorsports Gathering in particular, he noted being “blown away by the level of vehicles and the level of buyers that are here, it’s been really impressive.”
Rumored to have had access substantially reduced compared to the 2019 offering, the contest and exhibition fostered even more of the casual ambiance and sense of community that it has become known for. But while attendees were relaxed, the competition between the assemblage of more than 200 collector cars was intense, ending with a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster being crowned Best of Show.

The 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that won 2021 Best of Show at the Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

Concorso Italiano
Bookended by the Quail and Pebble shows, Concorso Italiano is where those who gravitate to the machines of il bel paese migrated to on Saturday, August 14. On the fairways of Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Course, in neighboring Seaside, over 560 examples of mobile Italian artistry vied for attention.
Director Tom McDowell describes this particular concours as “the celebration and enjoyment of all things Italian, starting with automotive excellence.” McDowell seemed genuinely surprised by this year’s response, stating, “I was getting bombarded with appreciation for bringing back Concorso this year.  Normally I don’t get these comments from people. It felt kind of good.”

Bobbie and George Andreini earn Best of Show at the 2021 Concorso Italiano for their 1965 Maserati Mistral Spider. 

Photo: Courtesy of Concorso Italiano.

Aside from Italy’s Motor Valley mainstays like Ferrari and Maserati, such marques as Bizzarrini, Iso Grifo and De Tomaso were also well represented. But it was the town of Modena that garnered bragging rights at the finale as judges selected George and Bobbie Andreini’s 1965 Maserati Mistral Spider for the day’s ultimate honor.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Although rare and rich with provenance, many of the collector-cars at Monterey Car Week are far more than museum pieces and proved it across four days of hard racing at the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion, held August 12 through 15, at WetherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The field comprised 12 groups based on age and classification, varying from race cars from the 1920’s to historic Formula 1 examples to endurance machines from this millennium. Testing their mettle was the 2.2-mile track’s 11 turns, including the infamous set known as the Corkscrew.

A 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 dances on the Corkscrew at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. 

Photo by Stephan Cooper, courtesy of Rolex.

Thursday and Friday were spent qualifying for the weekend’s final showdowns, where victors included famed racer and restorer Bruce Canepa, finishing first in the 1981-1991 IMSA GTP/GTO group piloting a 1989 Porsche 962C 3200; Charles Nearburg, who took the checkered flag in the 1966-1985 Masters Historic Formula 1 group behind the wheel of a 1981 Williams FW07C 2992; and Paddins Dowling, who steered a 1934 ERA R2A 1488 to glory in the 1920-1951 Racing Cars group.

Another day at the races, all part of the 2021 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. 

Photo by Stephan Cooper, courtesy of Rolex.

Special this year was a tribute to the Sports Car Club of America’s (SSCA) Trans-Am Series, specifically the 55th anniversary of Ford winning the inaugural 1966 season’s championship. Ken Adams paid his own tribute by besting rest of the pack in the 1966-1985 Trans-Am group with a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 4949.
Big on the Block
All the action wasn’t limited to the circuit, though, as serious collectors found the head-to-head competition at numerous car auctions equally compelling. Among the cadre of auction houses that set up temporary shop were the power trio of RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Gooding & Company.
It became clear fairly quickly that people were back and ready to spend. Spread over three evenings, the RM Sotheby’s auction fetched a total of $148.5 million. That figure includes the sale of a 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato for $9.25 million and a 1962 Ferrari 268 SP by Fantuzzi for more than $7.7 million.
“We achieved a sale total that ranks in the top three best Monterey auctions of all time, says Gord Duff, global head of auctions for RM Sotheby’s. “This week has demonstrated that the market is as strong today as it has ever been, with collector-grade cars finding willing new buyers from all over the globe.”

The 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 S-Type Supercharged Sports Tourer that crossed the block for over $5.39 million through Bonhams. 

Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

Bonhams saw close to $37 million in sales, highlighted by a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 S-Type Supercharged Sports Tourer cross the block for over $5.39 million. But the lot that grabbed the headlines was offered through Gooding & Company, a 1995 McLaren F1 that went under the hammer for $20.46 million. That result is not only the top price ever received for a McLaren F1 at auction, but made it the most expensive car to cross the block in 2021.

This 1995 McLaren F1 that went under the hammer for $20.46 million at Gooding & Company’s Monterey auction. 

Photo by Jensen Sutta, courtesy of Gooding & Company.

But that wasn’t the automobile that really caught the attention of David Brynan, Gooding & Company senior specialist. “The F40 that we sold from the Donald Weber Collection stood out to me, as it shows the power of provenance,” says Brynan. “A one owner, low mileage US F40 brought a tremendous premium over two similar cars offered during the weekend. The result is also nearly double what good US cars were bringing at Pebble Beach in 2019.” In all, Gooding ended up amassing $107.04 million from sales while in Monterey.

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
The impetus and raison d’être for Monterey Car Week, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held its 70th running on Sunday, August 15, as the grand finale to the multi-day motor fest. The rarified assortment of 230 show cars, the finest in the world, took their positions on the 17th and 18th fairways of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, separated into 27 classes. Just by being on the lawn, every example received a boost in provenance and, therefore, value. And to complement the stunning metal on display, most attendees and, in some cases their pets, dressed in their Sunday best . . . and then some.

The fabled 1936 Bugatti Type 57Sc Atlantic receives special commendation at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

To add to the celebratory ambiance were a few new and noteworthy collections, including 38 past Best of Show winners, an exclusive category for the Porsche 917 and another honoring the 50th anniversary of the Lamborghini Countach. The latter two were won by a 1969 Porsche 917K Coupe, belonging to Chris MacAllister of Indiana, and a 1981 Lamborghini Countach LP400S Series III Bertone Berlinetta, owned by Robert Bishop of Florida, respectively.

A collection of Porsche 917s at the 2021 edition of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

Yet of all the marques, Mercedes-Benz ended up the big winner as its 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier—the only one in the world—carried off Best of Show; a bit of déjà vu considering another 1938 Mercedes 540K variant earned the same title at the Quail two days prior.

The 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier was named Best of Show at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. 

Photo by Tom O’Neal, courtesy of Rolex.

As with the Quail, the latest examples from automakers are also showcased, albeit to a far lesser degree; relegated to the Concept Lawn and a few surrounding pavilions. Such was the case with Aston Martin and its Valkyrie Spider, Ford’s presentation of its GT Heritage Edition and Bugatti with its track-only Bolide. As for how Pebble still fits in the Monterey Car Week hierarchy, Bugatti’s COO of the Americas, Cedric Davey, was unequivocal, calling it “very important for us. . .  this was the main one.”

Learn more about Robb Report’s 2022 Car of the Year at the event taking place in Napa Valley here and in Boca Raton here.

PHP Code Snippets Powered By :