While Monterey Car Week has grown to include well over a dozen different events, including several auctions, four stand out as the absolute must dos if you want to see the most significant classics possible, as well as the hot new metal being brought out by various automakers. Chief among them, of course, being the grand-daddy of them all, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Spectator cost: $30 and up
If you can’t make it out to see the Pre-Reunion, then it’s worth attending the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion for at least one day during Car Week. Thursday and Sunday are our favorite days to attend, with smaller crowds than Friday and Saturday and fewer overlapping events. While you’re there, be sure to hike up to the top of the Corkscrew, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s signature left-right turn that drops several stories in the process. It’s a great vantage point for watching priceless vintage race cars scrap with each other on the track. This year’s event commemorates 60 years of Formula Junior race cars, 60 years of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and 70 years of Ferrari. Tickets are just $30 for Thursday but are at least double that on Friday and through the weekend.
What to wear: Casual layers are an excellent idea. It’s typically cool and overcast at the track in the morning, warm and sunny in the afternoon. T-shirts and shorts are perfectly acceptable.
Thursday, August 17
Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance
Spectator cost: Free
Monterey veterans love to harp on about Dawn Patrol, which takes place in the wee hours before Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and allows you to see the cars drive up to the concours lawn. But we enjoy the Tour d’Elegance just as much. Even better, it doesn’t require getting up at 4 a.m. A drive featuring many of the cars that will participate in Sunday’s main event, the tour sets off from the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center at 9 a.m. Plan to arrive closer to 7 a.m. to spend more time around the vehicles and watch them line up for the start. Free donuts and coffee are usually on offer from Hagerty. Have other morning plans? By noon, the cars arrive on Ocean Avenue in Carmel, where they’ll be displayed until they set off for the return trip at 2 p.m. Again, viewing is free.
Friday, August 18
The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering
Spectator cost: $650 and up
One of the week’s premier events, The Quail typically sells out well before the display cars hit the grass. Organized by the same group that puts on McCall’s Motorworks Revival, a limited number of tickets are issued by a lottery system and cost $650 this year. That’s all-inclusive, which means you can help yourself to complimentary food and beverage from several different stations, all while taking in some of the finest cars on the peninsula.
Hot tip: Every year, Craigslist Monterey lights up with ticket holders whose plans have changed. The closer it gets to the event, the lower the prices go. Keep an eye out, and you could score a deal.
Sunday, August 20
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Spectator cost: $325 and up
Monterey Car Week’s signature event, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is arguably the world’s most renowned concours, with multimillion-dollar cars, breathtaking ocean views from the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, and some of the best people-watching this side of Rodeo Drive. Tickets aren’t cheap, and this event gets very crowded by midmorning, so we recommend arriving as early as possible. Cars start rolling onto the grass around 4 a.m. during Dawn Patrol. Featured classes this year include American Dream Cars of the 1960s and Ferrari One-Off Speciales. Tickets start at $325 per person but increase to $375 after August 1. If you haven’t been at least once, this is an event worth saving for.
What to wear: Salmon-colored slacks, a loud sport coat, and deck shoes if you want to play rich. A navy-blue blazer, jeans, and sneakers if you are rich.