Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours Drifts Away For 2010

July 2, 2010

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.


On the Green at Pebble: Lexus LF-A Supercar

August 16, 2008

The beautiful Lexus LF-A

The beautiful Lexus LF-A

Lexus LF-A

Lexus LF-A

Lexus LF-A Interior

Lexus LF-A Interior


A 5-liter V10 that sounds like an F1 engine, beautiful lines and Lexus build quality. Anyone in the market for a usable supercar needs to seriously consider a Lexus when it debuts. Just one thing: forget the white interior.


Rolls-Royce Pininfarina Hyperion Unveiled at Pebble Beach

August 16, 2008

Pininfarina Rolls-Royce Hyperion

Pininfarina Rolls-Royce Hyperion

Your day to oil the Hyperion's wood is wednesday

Your day to oil the Hyperion's wood is wednesday

Last night the Four Wheel Drift team was invited to witness the unveiling hosted by Goodings at Pebble Beach of the latest bespoke car from Pininfarina, the Hyperion.  Based on a Rolls-Royce, it is an enormous two-seat convertible. 

Body lines definitely find some common inspiration with those found on Pininfarina-designed 612 and 599 Ferraris. Interesting touches include two opening teak doors directly in front of the windscreen (for cargo storage.) 

Without seeing it in person, it is hard to grasp the scale of the vehicle.  It’s has a 128-inch wheelbase and is about six inches longer overall than a BMW 750Li.  The driver appears to be sitting where rear-seats would be in a normal car, delivering the classic long-hood, short-rear proportions of Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s.

Reception of the car was quite positive, indicating Pininfarina’s team, led by Special Project Director Paolo Garella, did a superlative job.

I stood with BMW design boss Chris Bangle when the sheet was pulled. I asked the good-humored guru of style if it “passed the Bangle test”.

With a big smile, Chris replied “it’s good…for Pininfarina”, then proceeded to point out the best viewing angle (front 3/4) and nice touches on the car.