Check the latest from our man on the Peninsula — Phil Skinner. Here’s a look at Friday and Saturday activities…
Monterey-Pebble Beach Friday=Auction Madness
Places to go, things to do, and beautiful cars of the highest caliber are everywhere on the Monterey Peninsula and Friday is when everything starts happening. For those lucky 3,000 souls, it was the Festival of Speed at the Quail Lodge that was a hot attraction where all segments of motorsports were celebrated.
Down the road at the Laguna Seca Golf Course it was Concorso Italiano, where a red car usually equaled a Ferrari, and other colors were reserved for Maserati, Lamborghini, with a rainbow of Fiat 500’s presented to honor the named sponsor of this year’s event.
But the hottest news were the auctions with four different venues firing up to sell cars. In the morning Dana Mecum took off at the Hyatt with 210 vehicles on tap and a strong 60% sell-through rating bringing in around $7.5 million in sales, which complimented the $3.1 million raised on Thursday.
Bonham’s kicked off their sale at the Quail and it was reported to be a standing room only event with strong interest in the motorcycles and automobiles including a Tatraplan sedan selling for a healthy $200,000.
In the evening Russo & Steele got under way with their second day of sales and the place was packed. With seating for just 150 bidders, space in the main event tent was tight but the action hot. Our favorite car at this sale had to be a 1963 Ford Country Squire bucket-seat edition, which traded hands for $36,000, but much stronger sales were seen throughout the night.
The biggest news of the night was the RM Sale where million-dollar Ferrari offers were common, but when a 1966 Ford GT-40 came to the podium, $10 million was raised in a most exciting round of bidding.
Overall we saw about $35 million raised on the first night at RM, which is on the way to making this their best ever. Now comes the weekend!
Sights to See Saturday
You had to get up really early to beat the traffic heading to the Mazda Laguna Seca racetrack this Saturday morning as the strongest crowds seen in over a decade jammed the parking lots and access roads wanting to take part in the celebration for the 50th Anniversary of the Shelby and AC Cobras.
Walking around the pits we found ourselves in the middle of the Snake Pit, where more competition models with more automotive racing history than any other American automobile, were being readied for their time on the track. Over 40 of these fire-breathing serpents with wheels took the track and the road they created could be heard throughout the peninsula.
Everywhere you looked you could see some of the most historic racing vehicles in the world ready to strut their stuff. Names like Fangio, Nuvolari and Dreyfus intermingled with names like Waltrip, Baker, Foyt and of course the king of NASCAR, Richard Petty.
Off we went to the city of Seaside where the Hagerty Insurance Tour de Lemons was getting ready to set sail. About 75 cars of varying degrees of decay were lined up for a tour that would take them to some of the most hallowed sights on 17-Mile Drive including near the truck corral where many of the vehicles that will be shown on Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance were being readied and given their final detailing. It was really hard to pick a favorite out of this collection but we finally decided on a 1966 Renault Caravelle because of an inspiring English teacher’s love of the same model car when this writer was a kid.
Meanwhile over at the Mecum Auction, things got under way early but the real thrill came when lot S123 rolled onto the block. This was the hallowed Porsche 917 “L&M” race car piloted to numerous victories driven by the great George Folmer and racing legend Mark Donohue. The crowd was on their feet and started to cheer on the bidders with each jump of $100,000 after the first million was bid. In just a matter of less than five minutes auctioneer Mark Delzell called this car sold at $5.5 million.
Just a few lots earlier baseball great and avid car-collector Reggie Jackson sold his 1963 Corvette coupe for $102,500, while Wayne Carini, host of “Chasing Classic Cars” sold his 1908 Simplex for a healthy $1.9 million bid.
Tonight, RM Auctions will present some of the most important racing Ferrari and Aston-Martin competition cars ever seen on the auction block, Gooding & Co., kicks off their two-night sale at Pebble Beach and Russo & Steele will complete their three day run on the waterfront. Then come Sunday, it will be the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the most spectacular presentation of the finest automobiles anywhere in the world.