Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Escape from the Revenge of Return of the Son of Surfing the Asphalt Playground


The last item on our itinerary was the Concours de Elegance at Pebble Beach, California. Our job was to get a usable photo of one particular car that was debuting there, for inclusion in a magazine feature story I’m working on. A tough assignment, but we gave it 100%. As it turned out, we didn’t get the shot, but had lots of fun walking through the surreal crowd that had somehow apparently been astral projected from the 1983 Kentucky Derby. We weren’t in Bonneville anymore (though we smelled like it). Again, my apologies for some funky photos. Remember, I save the good ones for my work.

They came by land, sea and air (my helicopter shot didn't turn out), from points around the globe, to witness the most elite gathering of collector cars ever. Most left with lightened wallets and satisfied smiles. Various auctions during the week averaged nearly two million dollars per car.

This guy had been pacing us since Wyoming. We even stayed at the same fleabag motel in Rock Springs. He looked innocent enough, but we knew it was just part of his ruse. We took him for a CIA agent, or a buyer for a fabulously wealthy Middle Eastern collector (both use the same M.O.)…

We ducked into a nearby car wash to knock off some salt and roadkill. We also cleaned the car while we were there. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Historical photo of the Gosson Bros’ triumphant debut at Pebble Beach. We didn’t ribbon, but took satisfaction in having the only vehicle driven cross country to compete against the world’s finest. Immediately after clicking this shot, security personnel escorted us to a vendor stocking decent tire dressing, where we were released and ordered to use it ASAP.

The people with this snarky Model 40 roadster already had quality tire dressing applied and were allowed to stay.

How our competition arrived. This is Row 1 (of several) at the Transporter Field. Cheaters!

Random shots of inspection, prior to one of many auctions at the event.

The only surviving 1919 Miller TNT. Body is cast aluminum. Harry Miller and Fred Offenhauser built the Leo Goosen-designed 183” DOHC four banger, resulting in 125 HP (they also rebuilt Eddie Rickenbacker’s blown up Peugeot engine in 1914). Testing at the Beverly Hills Speedway board track indicated the engine design couldn't produce enough poop to justify a trip to the Indy 500, which the car had been built for. We still considered it to be badass.

Woodchip walkways were bordered with this trick see-through printed fencing. Cool idea.

Decadence was laying around all over the place. This entitled driver made his own parking spot without incident, while the GBR HHR was repeatedly moved from legit spaces to make way for cars that were apparently more worthy. Okay by us – gave us something to do.

This made us grin…

This made us gasp.

All of the manufacturers had giant displays. Some of the oldtimers, like Cadillac, had fun historical stuff, like these factory prototypes.

With so many thirsty cars gathered, refreshment is a must, and pebble Beach has its own. A bit spendy, but nobody in this crowd complained.

While there was no Hot Rod class present this year, we did find this Lincoln powered Deuce in the art display building.

More Deuce art.

Based on a Bugatti design, these LS powered tributes were available at Show Special pricing. Dirt cheap, compared to anything else on the grounds.

Did I mention my longtime love of Bugattis? Sadly, I’m ignorant of the company’s history, due to a life lived wearing hot rod blinders. But I really dig the styling and engineering. I hereby vow to take a Bugatti crash course ASAP.

Concours Day is what Pebble Beach is known for, so we followed the lemmings to the ocean and dove in. Refreshing, yes. Just the thing to wash the salt and nitro from our eyes.

If you dig Mercers, this was your lucky day. Judging in progress.

 Racers were scattered around like Easter eggs for us to discover...

Drag racers at Pebble Beach?! John Bessey and Donn Vickrey at Competition Classics (in Carlsbad) brought this ’65 Shelby Cobra Dragonsnake and made our day. Shelby made six of these, but only two with the coveted Stage III-D competition engine. It sat in Anahiem for 30+ years before Bessey and Vickrey got their mitts on it. These guys do nice work. They restored a ’57 Ferrari that fetched 12.4 million bucks and the Dragonsnake is also expected to get their palms nice and greasy.

I didn’t even know it going in, but I really get off on vintage motorcycles. Get a load of these guys…

This Maharishi shipped a few of his rides to the show and did well.

Oh yeah. The reason we were there was to shoot Geoff Hacker’s ’47 Kurtis Comet at the debut of the Sport Custom class this year. We can't show you his car here, due to corporate magazine paranoia, but here's Professor Hacker, sharing documentation with show judges after a grueling tow from Florida. He was extra crispy, but didn’t complain once. This weekend was the fruition of a decades-long ordeal to have Pebble Beach recognize Sport Customs and they were very well received at the event. Congrats, Geoff!

Some of the other Sport Customs at the Concours…

And with that, our work at Pebble Beach was done. We were humbled, inspired, honored and baffled, all at once. We shot this image on the way back to our secret media parking spot, then headed north to Oregon.

A short 12 hours later, we pulled into my driveway to enjoy a view of my neighbor’s entry for this year’s Burning Man festival. For the record, he survived with minor brain cell damage and a slowly improving cough, but the boat/car (towing a trailer) is hopelessly clogged with alkaline dust.

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