Pebble Beach weekend is such a glut of extravagance that by the end of the Concours you're ready for an escape. So I decided to head away from Pebble Beach and into Monterey for dinner. To get there from my hotel, I did the unthinkable and called a cab. You don't see many taxis at Pebble Beach, because everyone's either driving their own Veyron, hired a chauffeur for the Rolls or piled into a shuttle provided by a manufacturer. And when I say "shuttle," I mean, "Giant luxury vehicle built by that company." So when I called Monterey Yellow Cab, even they were confused. "How many in the party, and where do they want to go?" asked the dispatcher. I explained that I was the party and I was actually calling for myself. Yeah, that's how street I am. Not only do I take a cab, but I don't even set it up through the concierge.
Shortly thereafter, I stepped out of the Inn at Spanish Bay to find a Crown Vic awaiting. Nearby, chatting with the valets, I saw a guy wearing a leather vest, tie-dye tee-shirt, studded fingerless driving gloves and a jaunty Yellow Cab cap. Oh boy. Rickey introduced himself and we piled into the cab to head to Monterey.
It would probably be an understatement to say that Rickey's persona matched his appearance. This is an eccentric dude. For starters, the headliner of the car is covered in Band-Aids, upon which passengers have written their names and hometowns. Riding atop the fare meter is a stuffed bat named Vito Corleone. Next to the bat is a miniature rubber duckie that looks like a vampire: Count Duckula. The cab's horn is one of those old "oooga-oooga" deals, and he uses it to punctuate his own statements (Example: "I've seen dragons!" Ooooga!).
Rickey's also a car guy. He's got Flowmasters on the Crown Vic and demonstrated them by dropping the column shifter into second gear. "If you could somehow turn the car on its end and pour Coca-Cola into the muffler, it would eat the lining and make it louder without punching any holes in it," he said. There's a pause for a moment, probably because we're both imagining a Crown Vic, hoisted by a crane, with someone pouring Coke in the exhaust. Then he says, "It's a 4.6, so that's almost a 289." I never really thought about it that way, but talking about the Ford 4.6 in terms of cubic inches does somehow make it seem cooler.
Rickey tells me to call him if I need a ride back, but when I call his cell phone a few hours later, I get his voicemail. It begins, "Steady as she goes. You've reached The Captain..."
Pebble Beach is a vortex of pretension, and Rickey was the antidote. One of the biggest challenges of the weekend is simply getting around, since the various events are scattered all over the peninsula. Infiniti was shuttling people around in QX56s, Caddy had Escalades and I caught one ride in the back of a Bentley Mulsanne. But next year, I think I have a different solution. Next year, I'm showing up at the Quail and Laguna Seca and the Concours with my personal driver. And his dashboard mascot, Count Duckula.