Car Week 2018: This is how you do it
Its that time of year again. The smell of awesome is in the air as we reach early August putting us weeks away from the premier automotive gathering in North America as the Monterey Peninsula becomes ground zero for historic racing, modern super car displays and car auctions around every corner. Its our favorite time of year, and also the location of where we hatched our plan for total media domination.
As we do every year, we like to lay out all of your Car Week options. If you live within driving distance of the Monterey Peninsula, you can actually "do" Car Week on the cheap. For a full and detailed guide to all events click here.
Before We Begin
Do yourself a favor right now. Set up a news alert with search terms like "Car Week" and "Monterey Car Week" in order to get frequent updates on traffic, routes, news, late breaking events, and automaker and venue announcements. If you're going to Car Week this will help you prioritize your plans. If you can't make it, it will help keep you current on the week's happenings. Among other things, we know that Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini and BMW will be unveiling some long kept secret projects and debuting new cars at various venues throughout the week.
If you live further than driving distance from the Monterey Peninsula and you haven't booked a room by now (or unless you have a really good lucky rabbit's foot and/or few thousand extra bucks in your accommodations account) you might a bit too late to the show. Most mainstream lodging was booked long ago. Even if you started your search early enough we've found that some offerings from Airbnb and the like may require multi-day or week long minimum bookings. If you live close enough to drive and/or you planned ahead and got a room, you're going to be just fine. Worst case scenario you get a room in Salinas and trek in to Monterey.
If this is going to be your first foray into Car Week, don't push yourself. You really don't have to attend an auction or concours to have a great time. As we've noticed over the last few years, many of the focal points of Car Week seem to migrate from location to location, presenting fanboys and fangirls with sometimes multiple opportunities to see just about everything they want without buying a ticket to anything. As with anything else these days, tracking things on social media can put you where you want to be, when you need to be there #crackerjacktiming.
As is apparent on social media for the Wednesday - Friday before the main weekend, you can pay a visit to any of the various resorts and golf courses in the area and see lots and lots of candy on display in lobbies, on golf links and in parking lots. We'll leave it to you to identify these venues, but for some guidance, please see our previous post with the week's calendar of events. If the traffic congestion in the area is prohibitive, the hands down best place to spend your time is on Ocean Avenue in Carmel. This is the true epicenter of all things Car Week. Many of the local restaurants and hotels host events for the week making valet stands virtual slide shows of the most exotic and expensive cars in the world. This area is also one of the main chokepoints for participant and spectator traffic for the famed Pebble Beach Concours. If you walk off of the main drag, you can find some reasonably priced food options (among some pretty expensive options). We've had some of our best experiences over the years sitting at Devendorf Park (on Ocean, between Mission and Junipero) sipping caffinated beverages and eating oversize gourmet cookies. Keep in mind that for most of the big ticket events the cars have to travel there and most of them find their way on Ocean blvd at some point in the weekend.
If you want to attend any of the Car Week events, but you're not sure how to prioritize, let us help you. In a word, GO TO THE TRACK known as WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway. Many might disagree with this suggestion, and might tell you that one of the other concours or auctions is a better value for money, but they can get their own blog and lie to you! The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is, as far as we're concerned, the successor to the event (the Pebble Beach Road Races 1950-1956) that was the genesis of what we now call Car Week. The Reunion gives you all of the "stuff" of all of the other Car Week events. It is a race as the name implies, but it is also a museum, a concours, a showcase, a place to see and be seen and the parking lots are....well better than a lot of events. It's less expensive than most of the other events, and it's so large that you'd be hard pressed to take it all in in a single day. It is the only event we will always attend, and we've been attending for decades. It's living automotive history, but no trailer queens or hermetically sealed cars here. The cars at the Rolex Reunion are expected to get out on track in a weekend that features multiple classes of the finest racing machines that have ever attacked an apex.
As far as personalities go, in the years past, TLP has spotted the likes of Carroll Shelby (RIP), Sirs Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart, Jim Hall, Emerson Fittipaldi...and you are almost guaranteed to see Jay Leno walking around the paddock.
If you want to start laying out some serious coin, you're ready for the concours circuit. We have nothing against these events. They are fantastic and world class. For us though, they have historically been, shall we say, "financially prohibitive." If you have the means, you should absolutely see them. If not, save your pennies and treat yourself. Admission prices for these events are all over the board. The crown jewel of the concours events, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance will cost you $325 in advance and $375 after August 1st. The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering (general admission is sold out) will set you back $950! Luckily, you can still get "Charitable Patron" tickets for $2,500 and "Helicopter" tickets for $4,000. Concorso Italiano is $180.00 per person, with a really nice looking VIP package available for $495.
You can do Car Week on the cheap or you can drop Jay Z sized bankrolls. The choice is yours, but don't let these extremes be your only options. In between are a plenty of opportunities to satisfy your needs.
If you need guidance on keeping things affordable check out our post on our approach to doing Car Week on the cheap!