Monterey Car Week

Monterey Car Week

WORDS & PHOTOS: ANDREW MANESS

I don’t remember how old I was when I went to my first car show; probably two or three given that I vividly remember standing in front of muscle cars, their chrome faces level with my own. I remember the smell of sausages and burgers on the midway grill wafting through the thick Vermont summer air, mixed with the ripe smell of manure from the farm down the road. Most of all I remember my father putting me on his shoulders so I could get a better view of row after row of cars, a whole field of them.

From the moment I became aware of what an automobile was, and what it could do, I wanted to be in the driver’s seat. I was not content admiring their beauty, or reciting their specifications to anyone who would listen, I wanted to drive the damn things. Not just just muscle cars either, no, I wanted seat time in everything on the field. Pre-war sedans, hot-rodded pickups, Model-Ts, clapped out vans, tractors, I wanted to drive them all.


Nearly 30 years later I’ve somehow found myself in a position to do exactly that. Automotive companies regularly drop off new vehicles at my residence for me to enjoy at my leisure, and in return all I have to do is write about them. Through this line of work I’ve met a wide range of people who own classic cars that for reasons beyond my comprehension are interested in having me drive them. More than a few times I’ve gone an entire month without driving my own car, the only constants being my sunglasses, driving gloves, and iPhone charger as I jump from one vehicle to the next.

You might think that after a few years of this I’d become at least a little jaded, and you’d be right. This past summer I found myself becoming disenchanted with it all, in need of something to restore my passion not just for cars, but for the enthusiast community as well. So I decided this was the year I’d attend Monterey Car Week, something long overdue.


My colleagues could hardly believe that in nearly a decade of residing in California I’d never made it to the legendary gathering that started in 1950 with the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance and Pebble Beach Road Race. In hindsight, I suppose their surprise was justified, because I enjoyed the hell out running around Carmel, Monterey and Pebble Beach for five days. However, like most of the things I’ve done in life, I figure it was simply a matter of the timing being right, and have absolutely no regrets about not going years prior. One thing is certain, I’ll be back next year, because I’m well aware that I only scratched the surface of what this week long celebration of automotive culture has to offer.


Apart from official events like The Quail, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, there are a myriad of smaller gatherings and exhibitions to check out. Then there are the auctions, the parties, and the impromptu cruises around town. You cannot do it all, things must be skipped; but as I discovered, that’s ok because there’s really no wrong way to Monterey Car Week. You take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, and if you’re fortunate, you’ll end up doing something you never thought you would, like walking alongside Sir Jackie Stewart as he shares his thoughts on the field of entries at The Quail, or standing in pit lane at Laguna Seca as Trans-Am cars roll out onto the track.

Perhaps you’ll even know someone so overcome with emotion that they decide to pull the trigger on a classic car and drive it back to Los Angeles. If that is the case, be sure to stick with them the whole way, just in case they run out of gas or lose the use of their headlights on the freeway an hour from home. Hypothetically speaking of course.