Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance – Ya Gotta Drive ‘Em!
The Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance was founded in 1998 by Craig Davis as a way to promote the fact the Concours cars were more than just “Trailer Queens.” Eighty-eight miles long, the Tour starts at the Pebble Beach Equestrian center, travels over 17 Mile Drive, and down historic Highway One to Big Sur where they turn around and come back. In 2013 a side trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was added so that the cars could make a trip around the famed circuit. Traditionally, the tour stops in Carmel by the Sea where they line the main boulevard with concours cars while participants enjoy a lunch in one of the many fine cafes.
This year was the best yet. It’s O’Dark thirty as you walk on to the equestrian field at Pebble Beach, only the horses we came to see are of a different breed. There are rows and rows of trailers, but they’re filled with some of the world’s most expensive, and rarest of rare automobiles. While you stroll through the field you notice cars like Delahaye, Packard, Stutz, etc.. An air of excitement fills the field as owners, mechanics, and families gather around, anxiously waiting to hear the motors come to life.
An added bonus for joining the tour comes on Sunday during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance judging. If two cars in the same class are tied for first place, then the car that participated in the tour, gets the trophy!
Before we knew it, we had already spent too much time among the long rows of trailers checking out cars and talking with their owners. Half the cars are already out on the starting line and the crowd around them is getting, well, very crowded! The excitement builds as the cars line up and it gets closer and closer to the green flag. Traditionally Mercedes Benz leads the cars. This year saw famous race car driver Jochen Mass behind the wheel of the very first AMG race car, a 1971 Mercedes Benz 300 SEL 6.8 affectionately known as the “Red Pig”. Two large packs of million dollar cars follow behind him.
To get the shots we needed – we had to dash down the coast before the start of the tour to our favorite spot on the Bixby Bridge just before Big Sur. The crowd is already getting thick there, but only a handful of people are brave enough to walk onto one of the four bridge columns. There’s a small area where we can stand and shoot the classic cars as they speed by on the tour.
In this batch of Tour pictures, you will see the 2017 Best in Show winner (above) – Bruce McCaw’s 1929 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer. An immaculate restoration by Steve Babinsky of Lebanon, New Jersey, it was delivered brand new in 1929 to Captain Miller, on behalf of Earl Howe, who was founder of the British Racing Driver’s Club. McCaw has owned it for several years now.
The Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance is an “up close” experience that all car guys and gals should experience once in their lifetime. Nowhere else in the world combines these priceless automobiles together with world class scenery.