bravenrace MegaDork
2/9/15 10:41 a.m.

I'd appreciate ANY suggestions/recommendations from anyone with knowledge of this event. I will need to include some non-automotive things to keep the wife happy as well!

Woody MegaDork
2/9/15 10:51 a.m.

You can easily drive up to San Francisco and back the same day.

BoxheadTim UltimaDork
2/9/15 11:37 a.m.

One of my favourite trips from that area is to drive down Hwy 1 to Big Sur for a burger. There's a pretty good burger joint at the south end of Big Sur and it's a spectacular drive.

Oh, and book accommodation ASAP unless you want to camp.

Gary HalfDork
2/9/15 11:43 a.m.

My wife and I went in '99, but didn't do the full Monterey week. We flew into San Francisco on Wednesday, and spent a couple days in the city doing the tourist thing. Alcatraz was interesting, dinner at the Top of the Mark (Mark Hopkins Hotel) was pretty nice, rode in a cable car, drove across the Golden Gate, etc. We drove down to Monterey on Friday afternoon. We had a room on the peninsula but because we hadn't made reservations until the previous February, all the good rooms in town were already booked. We had to settle for a "less than luxurious" hotel. (It was a dump). So if you haven't booked a room yet and want something nice, it's better to find a place further away. We went to Laguna Seca on Saturday and Pebble Beach on Sunday, then drove down to LA for a few days. Hearst Castle is a couple hours south of Monterey near Cambria, and is well worth the ride down. It's spectacular. We cut inland through Paso Robles wine country on our way over to the 5 Freeway (J. Lohr winery). We also found the spot where James Dean had his crash on Highway 41 in Cholame.

bravenrace MegaDork
2/9/15 1:25 p.m.

You're right about that. Virtually everything on the peninsula is already booked.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/9/15 1:47 p.m.

Find lodging now if possible. Also, keep in mind that Salinas isn't a very nice place, and about 30-45 minutes away from Monterey- I'd avoid staying there if possible.

Camping space at Laguna Seca is probably still available, and they have decent facilities. (bathrooms / showers /etc)

Traffic will be a mess, so plan heading to your destinations well before you actually want to be there.

Non-car stuff is easy, as Carmel, and Monterey are fun towns with plenty of shopping / sightseeing. There are seals on the wharf in Monterey, and the aquarium is supposed to be nice.

To have fun without spending a million dollars check out the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel to begin the week. Once the concours dies down, come to the Classic Motorsports Monterey kickoff party at the Chateau Julien on Carmel Valley Rd. It will be a blast! Both events are free of charge.

The Legends of the Autobahn show is also free to attend, and worth seeing if you like German machinery. (they will charge you $20 to the "free" thing is kinda B.S.)

The Concours D'LeMons takes place on Saturday IIRC, and is always a good time.

Heading to the track on Friday is a good idea, as the cars will be running, but the crowds are less intense than they are on Saturday. Concorso Italiano also happens on Sat. if you are into the Latin beauties. It's a good place to see 500 Ferraris in one field.

At night, downtown Monterey is a hub of activity, with auctions going off, and the streets filled with people partying, and walking around. The town is a car show unto itself--- with so many awesome machines lining the roads. Do yourself a favor, and park a few blocks away and walk downtown. You could drive around all night downtown and not find a spot.

If you are looking for a fun - non pretentious place for a meal / beer, the Baja Cantina is Laguna Seca's unofficial watering hole. (Carmel Valley Rd.) Good Mexican food, cold beer, in a awesome place lined with racing memorabilia. (there is even an Offy on display) Thursday they host a giant car show---- so it will be a zoo and tables hard to find. You can take Laurels Grade Rd. over the mountain from Laguna Seca to the Cantina and avoid traffic. It's a fantastic road as well. (as long as you don't mind heights)

If you head to the Pebble Beach Concours on Sunday (and you should) get there early. 7-8am. Once the crowds arrive it's difficult to take decent pictures. If you are feeling especially energetic, get there before dawn, and watch the cars roll onto the lawn---it's pretty cool, and Hagerty will give you a hat for being part of the "Dawn Patrol".

If you get a chance, head South on PCH leaving Monterey. You'll drive through Big Sur and see some of the most amazing views the world has to offer. Keep an eye out in the ocean, as the whales migrate this time of year, and seeing them isn't uncommon. (they occasionally breach too--- which is mind blowing!) Once you are 45 minutes out of Monterey or so, on the right hand side of PCH (headed South) is the River Grille. Stop here and eat / drink. There is a huge deck out back with a babbling stream. They have lawnchairs set up that you can place in the water and let it tickle your toes as you relax and let the day pass by. It's a fantastic place--- good eats too!

Woody MegaDork
2/9/15 1:48 p.m.

I believe that the best places begin to sell out on the last day of the previous year's event.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/9/15 2:04 p.m.

You may want to look farther up North for lodging. Even if you have to drive an hour or's worth it!

Woody MegaDork
2/9/15 2:16 p.m.

In reply to Joe Gearin:

Agreed. The drive down from the north doesn't exactly suck.

nderwater PowerDork
2/10/15 9:36 a.m.

Awesome synopsis - thanks Joe.

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
2/10/15 11:46 a.m.

Bring money. Lots and lots of money.

wspohn HalfDork
2/10/15 1:30 p.m.

Starting in the early 1980s I competed in the event (I was the first MGA that Steve Earle allowed to run). I worked graveyard shift then jumped into the tow car and drove a solid 22 hours straight to get to Laguna and then into the race car - it was nice to be young enough to do that!

It was a great spectator event back then with various car clubs parked all over the hills, but it may be fairly different today as I haven't been down in years. If you go, it would be worth paying for a pit pass to get up close with all of the cars you've only heard of before but never seen. I recall a pre-war Auto Union F-1 car blackening my pant legs when it fired up and I was standing too close!

Enjoy and report back here!

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/10/15 1:54 p.m.

^^^ these days you don't have to worry about a pit-pass. The standard ticket gives you full access to the paddock, and yes-- there are some amazing machines that attend.

For instance-- a few years ago I spotted a pre-war Alfa sitting all by itself in the paddock. With so many original Cobras, D-Types and Ferraris around it's hard to stand out! I approached the Alfa, read it's placard, and felt my knees go weak. This was the exact car that Tazio Nuvolari won the 1935 German Grand Prix in! I had my hands on the steering wheel of the car that kicked Hitler in the balls. Amazing.

Monterey is like that.

rambler68 New Reader
2/10/15 8:01 p.m.

Excellent overview, Joe.

I would also add that if you do go touring Highway 1, do so early in the week as it can get crowded, slow and annoying late in the week. Also, 17 Mile Drive is cool to cruise; again, best done early in the week. Be prepared for wide temperature variations; mornings can start in the 40s, cool, damp and foggy, then kick up to nearly 90 if you move inland to Laguna Seca. And if you and/or your wife love seafood, there are plenty of great options. I used a Moon Travel Guide borrowed from my local library to help with some of the planning.

When I went in 2013, SWMBO found a package deal that included round-trip airfare from Madison to San Francisco (connecting through O'Hare), a full-size rental car (which became a premium as they were out when I arrived) and lodging at a modest hotel in Gilroy (not much better than Salinas, but I survived; about an hour's drive - which didn't suck no matter which way I went to and from there), all for under a thousand bucks. Arrived Monday night, flew back Sunday night.

BTW, deep gratitude to Joe and others for the advice you gave me when I asked this same question two years ago.

Bravenrace, I hope your experience will be as awesome as mine was; I still smile thinking about it and want to go back if I ever get the opportunity.

jr02518 Reader
2/10/15 8:46 p.m.

Having grown up on the peninsula I would recommend bring an array of clothes for every thing from overcast and damp for the coast, then light weight but long sleeve for Laguna. The difference of three miles inland will make a difference that will have you sun burnt and frozen. As for your car, bring something with an automatic and have a designated photographer. No one will be as careful as you in traffic.

Last year BMWCCA had an event starting on Monday after the event. Our drive going North on Highway One was like a rolling car show. We could hear the Cobra coming way before we could see him.

bravenrace MegaDork
2/11/15 8:49 a.m.

Thanks to all for the great comments and suggestions! My wife and I are going to discuss this tonight and make a decision if this is the year to do it or not. I'd like to, because they are featuring the Shelby GT-350, but if it doesn't make sense we'll put it off for another year.
In the meantime, any additional suggestions are welcome!

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