The Pebble Beach Experience: A First-Timer's Look at the World's Most Extravagant Celebration of Cars

Pebble Beach weekend is one of the best car events in the world, but what's it like for a newbie?

By Jacob Brown | Photos By Jacob Brown | September 17, 2013
It's hard to explain what Pebble Beach Concours weekend is like. It really is. The best I can do in one sentence is that it's Disneyland, a KISS concert, pretending you're James Bond, haute couture, art, a festival, and an auto show all in one. Except it's so much more. And to call it an auto show is like selling Timexes next to Rolexes at a department store because they both tell time. So rather than try to use a bunch of allusions, analogies, and metaphors to give you the impression of what it's really like to go, I'll just tell the story from the perspective of a guy who had only dreamt of going for years until the opportunity came up this year. I'll tell you about it from the perspective of someone who had planned on finding a nice place to lay out a sleeping bag next to my suit because lodging comes at a premium when the crowd you're catering to can whip out a Centurion card for a hotel room.
Fortunately, things worked out a little better than I had planned, including gaining access to some Infiniti executives whom I needed to interview, and the automaker was gracious enough to provide me with room and board. I arrived on a Thursday afternoon, still not yet aware of the magnitude of Pebble weekend. The headline event is the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Sunday, but there's so much motion and commotion that happens in the meantime. When I got to my hotel, there was a hostess who walked me to my room, giving me a quarter-mile guided tour. And over the ensuing days, I learned that not only do maids at such places make your bed for you in the morning, but they also still offer turndown service, where they'll turn your sheets down for you in the evening. Classy and comically unnecessary as that may be, I feel like a yokel for mentioning it, but the details reveal the differences. After getting to my room, I left it just as quickly; there was a 1930 Alfa Romeo that was actually raced by Enzo Ferrari--yes, that Enzo Ferrari--parked outside the hotel as if it were nothing special. Why would it be? What’s a million-dollar car when other cars will sell for $25 million during the same weekend? What's a $25 million car when you're surrounded by a consortium of people whose wealth makes up more than the GDP of many countries? Pebble weekend is absurdity realized and dreams fulfilled.
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