CGC’s Jim Palam presents highlights from events that fill the most exciting week on the concours and historic racing calendar, MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023.
“Suddenly, as if by magic, the cars appeared!” I have to admit that I was like a kid at a magic show when I took in the sights, sounds, pomp and pizazz of MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023. How the organizers, presenters, participants and attendees managed to all come together to revel, rejoice, race and reward in the relatively limited confines and congested roadways of Monterey and Carmel is at times mystifying. Top photo, Kode61 Birdcage Concept; Left, Dea Wison, President, Ferrari Club of America, Sacramento Chapter.
For those who have attended Car Week you know that you’ll need a bag of tricks and another bag of money to secure accommodations anywhere within 50 miles of Monterey during Car Week. Even though I have more than ten years of practice for this “Room Booking” trick, things did not go as planned when upon my arrival I discovered my motel was well, not the kind of place you’d stay if you care about your health, safety and relationship with the Almighty!
I won’t bore you with the details but the upshot of this discovery forced me to cut my Car Week stay from five days to two. The good news is that those two days included time at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to check out the Heritage Corvettes participating in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the 70th Anniversary of the Corvette – and a gorgeous day at beautiful Pebble Beach to cover the 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. So, clear your mind of all things dull and tedious – because it’s time for a little MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023.Renowned Austrian sports car restoration expert Egon Zweimüller was up before sunrise to drive the loud and fabled ’64 McLaren M1A past the tony Pebble Beach Lodge and onto the show field at the Concours D’Elegance. I chose this grainy photo for this caption because it shows Egon’s high quiff hairdo and sideburns – an homage perhaps to Elvis Presley who drove the M1A in the 1966 motion picture Spinout.” This car was awarded the Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy at Pebble, the award for the most significant car of British origin.What a thrill to rise before sun-up for “Dawn Patrol” and watch historic and fabled cars from bygone eras roll along the entrance road and onto the manicured Pebble Beach show field! This is no illusion I thought as I watched this blue, 2-seater Delahaye 135 CS Competition Spéciale cruise-by. Only 17 examples of this 1930s era racer were ever built. It features a shortened chassis, a powerful in-line 6 cylinder, 170 horsepower motor and race-carved bodywork by Figoni.When you build your own car, you have the freedom to design whatever strikes your fancy, and the freedom to name your creation any name you want. Lou Fageol was a bus and truck builder who built a spectacular, streamlined car dubbed the “Supersonic.” That car debuted in 1949, toured the auto shows and ended up stored on the family’s farm. In 1952 Lou’s son Ray reimagined the car with a new body and wrap-around windshield and named the rebuilt car by combining his name and his wife Pat’s name. Fast-track to August 20, 2023 where the Pataray rolled up onto the awards ramp at Pebble Beach to take the Class V: American Dream Cars of the 1950s 3rd Place award.If you’re a “Boomer” you might remember the post-war decade of the 1950s as a truly magical one. In the design world anything was possible and almost everything took on a streamlined, space-age look. This 1953 Kurtiss Sorrell SR-100 Roadster is a great example of 1950s zeitgeist, with its “Looks Fast Sitting Still” sweeping lines. After grabbing this shot during Dawn Patrol the Sorrell grabbed first place in the Class V: American Dream Cars of the 1950s Class at Pebble.Designing sleek automobiles certainly was not just a 1950s paradigm. The 1921 Rumpler Tropenwagen is considered to be one of the first serially produced aerodynamic cars to be manufactured. Take a look out your window now and there’s a good possibility you’ll spot something sleek, albeit likely chiseled as well. When I first got to Laguna Seca on Saturday, I spotted this streamlined beauty atop a trailer making its way to its exhibition spot in the paddock. Corvette historians will recognize the Bill Mitchell helmed, mid-engine, gull-winged 1976 Aerovette. Targeted for a 1980 production run, the Aerovette’s magic just wasn’t there in the eyes of Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McLellan, who instead gave a green light to a new front-engine C4 Corvette for 1984.Was GM’s Vice-President of Design Bill Mitchell a motorsport magician? A staunch supporter of Zora Arkus-Duntov, he was the guiding force behind head-turning Corvette racecars when GM was not officially racing, including the 1959 Corvette Stingray XP-87. Its chassis was influenced by the Mercedes 300SL. Power was originally from a high-performance 283 V8. The car achieved 155 mph on a test run with Dick Thompson behind the wheel. Check out my short video of the XP-87 and two other Heritage Corvettes as they were staged for an exhibition run at Laguna Seca.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_txd4kuCEgKnown in racing circles as “The Lightweight Corvette”, 125 Grand Sports were originally planned to be built in the early 1960s; only 5 are currently documented. However, there was a 6th! So yes, I was excited and yes, it was magical to discover the fabled 1963 Corvette Grand Sport #003 sitting in the Heritage Corvettes exhibition tent at Laguna Seca. There’s lots of racing lore surrounding these Grand Sports, the most valuable Corvettes in private collections. These vicious Vettes were built to face off in the GT Class against the then dominating Shelby Cobras.There was another magic-maker at GM in the heydays, Zora Arkus-Duntov, who joined Chevrolet Engineering Research and Development in 1953 as an assistant staff engineer. Not only was he an exceptional engineer, Zora was also a racecar driver who applied his track experience and vision to help build the Corvette’s performance legacy. One of the many Corvette racecars that Zora and his team produced was this bad-to-the-headrest-bullet, magnesium shell, fuel-injected Corvette SS, known within GM as the XP-64. With Juan Manuel Fangio behind the wheel during a practice lap at Sebring in 1957, it turned a 3:27.4 lap. Unfortunately, there were suspension and overheating problems by lap 23 and the XP-64 failed to finish the race.While the words “historic” and “vintage” are used in association with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion that fires-up during Monterey Car Week at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, it’s an illusion to think you won’t see historic and significant racecars running at high speeds around the fabled and freshly-repaved 2.238- mile road course. Then again, there are the Ragtime Racers, a dedicated group of vintage race car owners who charge their 100- year-old machines around the 11 turns and through the Corkscrew to thrill the spectators. The bright yellow No. 7 Lexington is a fan favorite.It’s hard to not notice yellow cars, but it’s almost impossible to ignore a rare and fast Porsche 906E Weinsberg Coupe finished in black and yellow, caution stripes – even if its roof is just 38.6 inches from the ground. This year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance featured a carefully curated display of historically significant Porsches from 1948 to 1973 that included sports and competition cars – like this ready-to-race 1967 906E Weinsberg Coupe from the famous Ingram Porsche Collection in Durham, NC. The 906Es were revised for the 1967 racing season with a change to Bosch fuel injection. Total production was 54 cars.OK, I could have selected a red Ferrari for this spot, but you’ve seen plenty of them, right? So, I’m sticking to our yellow car formula one more time to bring you this stunning, 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione which was beckoning on the lawn in front of Casa Ferrari at Pebble Beach. Now there’s a complicated history for this car with multiple owners since 1960, race entries at Le Mans, Goodwood and Montlhéry and a well-documented restoration. It was originally identified as a 1931 GT and later rechristened as a Comp/60, chassis 2021 GT. That’s the easy part of its provenance; it gets way more complicated. So, I’m just going to finish with stating the obvious: it is one of the most beautiful sports cars ever produced!There’s a certain etiquette that one needs to follow when attending a high-end Concours. It’s markedly different from the behavior on display at the Piggly Wiggly Cars & Coffee! One needs to dress well, be mindful of your language and by all means, do not get in front of a judge who is inspecting a show car. In this shot, owners, judges and car caretakers gather for a “Concours Klatsch” alongside the Peter Mullin Museum’s 1939 Delahaye 165 Figoni et Falaschi Cabriolet at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Note that there are no containers of coffee in this klatsch!The 2025 Mustang GTD is a street-legal, track-ready Supercar that was revealed at the Pebble Beach Concours, and it got lots of attention. You’ll need around $300,000 to buy one and for that you’ll get a true Supercar, that will be initially built by Ford and finished and fine-tuned by the racecar magicians at Multimatic in Canada. According to Ford, “Every line drives unrelenting, aerodynamic performance on the streets — and the track — for a corner-obliterating, pulse-raising experience.” It’s powered by a supercharged 800+ horsepower, 5.2L V8 mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. This setup is, according to Ford, “…tuned for monstrous potency on pavement.” Look out…Speaking of Mustangs, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between this beautiful 1956 Ferrari 250 GT’s roof louvers and the mid-1960s Mustang GT Fastback’s louvered roof detail. I was also a bit concerned about identifying this Ferrari based on the show placard that offered only the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT designation. I could not find another 1956 250 GT that has these high, straight and peaked rear fenders – until I found just one 1956 GT that was a prototype for the famous 14-louver 250 GT competition car. If my research is correct, this is the one-off 1956 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Scaglietti Berlinetta. Ferrari experts are encouraged to chime-in.The sweeping Art Deco lines of this striking 1937 Peugeot Darl’Mat Pourtout Roadster owe their sexiness to custom sports cars builder Emile Darl’Mat, coach- builder Marcel Pourtout, designer Georges Paulin and their collaboration with Peugeot. Emile had a very supportive relationship with Peugeot and as such they gave him the resources to develop his own sports car. The Darl’Mat had successful runs at Le Mans in 1937 and 1938. A total of 104 Darl’Mats were built in coupe, convertible, roadster and competition roadster styles. It’s estimated that there are 30 remaining today.Ferrari has built over 220,000 cars since its founding by Enzo Ferrari in 1939. The company built its first car in 1940 but it wasn’t until 1948 that we got the first Ferrari road car – the Ferrari 166 Inter. What’s impressive is not the number of cars but the consistent excellence and excitement built into the brand. The first thing I did when I entered the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was check out the Ferrari Monza SP1, a forerunner in Ferrari’s limited edition “Icona” (Icon) line. An Icona showcases modern aesthetics and technologically advanced components to deliver the highest performance possible. The SP1’s V12 engine produces 785 horsepower. Top speed is 186 mph. Thrills, are no doubt unlimited!When this beautiful deep blue convertible rolled past me during Dawn Patrol at Pebble Beach, I at first thought it was a 1950s vintage Italian car sports car. Well, I was right about the decade but I later learned that this is a 1954 Edwards America Convertible. One of only 5 built, the Edwards America was conceived by West Coast sportsman and industrialist Sterling Edwards who hired legendary fabricator Phil Remington and engineer Norman Timbs to make his American Sports Car dream a reality. The bodies were fiberglass, the Rocket V8 motors and transmissions were from Oldsmobile. The design and coachbuilding were exceptional but production costs were astronomical by mid-century comparisons. Sticker prices ran between $5,000 to $8,000, but unfortunately, few buyers ran to the showroom.As I’ve mentioned in previous CarGuyChronicles reports, one of the reasons I love going to automotive events and carguy gatherings is the opportunity it presents to meet fascinating people. During my shortened, two-day stay to produce MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023, I met dozens of wonderful car owners, celebrities, racers, crew members, journalists and support personnel. One of the nicest guys I met is Meguiar’s car care products company CEO Barry Meguiar. He, his wife Karen and friends were standing next to me at Dawn Patrol. Just about every other car driver that passed by yelled out “Hey Barry!” and he knew them all by their first names. Many will also remember Barry as the always smiling host of the successful TV show Car Crazy.Car Guy Celebrities are hard to pigeonhole. They come from all walks of life; all parts of the world. Some are wealthy, some are struggling – but all share a passion for motor-powered vehicles. I can’t think of a better car guy contrast than the always smiling, always natty Barry Meguiar and one of the other car guy VIPs I met ‘Urban Outlaw’ and Porsche disciple, Magnus Walker. Magnus is hard to miss: his long dreadlocks cascading down from his straw hat, his long legs covered in worn denim. We met under the Heritage Corvettes tent at Laguna Seca and struck-up a friendly conversation. For a great look into Magnus’ life and Porsche collection, check out Tamir Moscovici’s film Urban Outlaw by going to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdvPwr_77A0A quick shuttle ride from the Pebble Beach Lodge and the Concours is Concours Village, which is billed as a premier location for manufacturer displays. It’s also where you go for speaker panels, automobilia treasures, retail concessions, Will Call and the Media Center. It was here, in the Maybach pavilion that I discovered the monster-truck-size PROJECT MONDO G, the ahh, well, uhm, moon vehicle? OK, I’m not sure how to categorize this creation, but it is a show car collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and fashion-forward puffy garment maker Moncler. I think if we’ve learned anything since Carl Benz applied for his motorized vehicle patent back in 1886, it’s that innovation and progress will sometime confound, sometimes amuse – but almost always amaze. You could say it’s something magical!
MOTORSPORT MAGIC: MONTEREY CAR WEEK 2023 Words & Photos © Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/
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