Doug and Genie Freedman, organizers of the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours, just announced the event has been cancelled for 2010. The couple cited a lack of sponsorship dollars, making it financially impossible to continue.
And this is a shame, because the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours was actually one of my favorite events during the Pebble Beach week. It was elegant, yet as snooty as southern potluck BBQ. The free-to-the-public two-day event at the beginning of the week showcased cars that were just as interesting and rare as those of the high ticket price events held later in the week. Plus the setting in downtown Carmel offered great eating and interesting shopping opportunities. Quite honestly, it was everything good and right about the car hobby…
Which, of course, didn’t make it immune from everything that has been wrong about this same hobby: the cold business side. From day one, Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours was in the crosshairs of the Pebble Beach Concours organizing company. One of the world’s most respected judges, who has decades of experience scoring cars on the fairway at Pebble Beach, told me that he had been issued an ultimatum by Pebble Beach Concours Chair Sandra Kasky Button: judge at Carmel and never judge at Pebble again.
Many in the classic car community scratched their heads over Pebble Beach’s perceived paranoia. After all, Carmel was a newcomer. It also was a free show that invited cars that would never be potential invitees to Pebble. It wasn’t competition in the collector car show sense. Why such a crazy reaction that simply brought additional people and money to the area?
Some of us hit the nail on the head when we proposed that it was all about advertising dollars. Sandra Kasky Button isn’t a monster or greedy — she’s an extremely smart and savvy businessperson, and a nice one, at that. Sandra knew that a recession would seriously shrink advertising dollars, and with the constant growth of shows and auctions during the weekend, Pebble couldn’t afford to sit on its hands. All the same, we hoped the Pebble people wouldn’t have been so proactive at trying to damage the event’s future. There were symbiotic benefits to be nurtured, had there been some attempt to cultivate such relationships.
Those of us who have attended Carmel-by-the-Sea to witness the great cars and people all hope the Freedmans can rustle-up more sponsorships for 2011 and organize the event’s triumphant return. While other’s advertising revenues might suffer just a bit, the world is no doubt a better place with the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours in it.