Every August, the small seaside town of Monterey, California, briefly becomes the center of the automotive world. With the historic races, now officially known as the “Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion”, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the legendary Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and a multitude of auctions selling collector cars of all kinds, there’s something for everyone. It feels like every corner you turn on the Monterey peninsula reveals another “once in a lifetime” sighting of a car you never expected to see outside a museum.
The Rolex Reunion has a featured marque every year, and this time it was the Shelby Cobra. 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of Caroll Shelby’s iconic car, and in the aftermath of his sad passing, this year’s events in Monterey became a celebration of the great racer and builder’s life, as well as of his cars. At Laguna Seca, 45 original competition Cobras took to the track in their own dedicated class, including one of the six original Daytona Coupes, several others appeared in other classes, and hundreds of Cobras were on show in the pits, paddock, and camping areas. Quite a few significant Cobras were on show across town at Pebble Beach, as well.
Classes at Laguna Seca represented almost every period of auto racing before the current generation. From the dawn of motorsports in the early 1900s, to the peak of performance at Le Mans and in IMSA in the 1980s and 1990s, and with everything from Mille Miglia-style GTs to historic NASCAR stock cars, just about every form and era of road racing was on track.
On Sunday, the Pebble Beach country club, a few minutes away from Laguna Seca, hosted their famous Concours d’Elegance. This is one of the most prominent events in the classic car concours world, and the event was filled with owners, fans, manufacturers, and celebrities. In addition to the Pebble Beach show proper, several manufacturers of high-end cars showed off their newest concepts, and some had stands displaying their current models.
Auctions are also a major part of the Monterey scene. Gooding, RM, and Mecum are just some of the events held during the week. Gooding’s auctions, held at Pebble Beach on Saturday and Sunday, set a new record for total sales at an event auction.