COVID-19 claims the towering concours at Pebble Beach

Putting on a truly international automotive salon like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is an enormous undertaking. The cars, and attendees, come from all over the world, as the fleet of private jets at local airports will attest. Despite the high prices – a general admission ticket runs $400 – so many people cram the 18th green to see the cars that you can’t even spot the turf under your feet. Not only that, but the concours also anchors the mind-boggling galaxy of happenings that’s become known as Car Week on the Monterey Peninsula of California, which includes the Monterey Historics, Quail Lodge, the Concorso Italiano and several major, megabuck car auctions. It’s paradise. Only this year, it’s all going by the boards because of an invisible killer.

I’d like to direct you to some coverage from my friends at Hemmings Motor News that explains everything that’s happened in the past hours. Daniel Strohl’s roundup, let with this Matt Litwin photo of last year’s concours, is led by the decision that the 70th edition of Pebble Beach, set for August 16th, has been canceled. The announcement followed California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declaration that no timetable exists for restarting normal activities in the state, which were upended by some of the most stringent social-distancing guidelines in the United States. As a result, there was simply no way to pull Pebble Beach together. “Some of our overseas entrants were nearing the point of putting their cars on boats and planes, and their own travel arrangements have long been made,” concours chairwoman Sandra Button said. “The same is true for many of our international cadre of judges.” Immediately thereafter, the Quail and Concorso Italiano announced their own cancellations, as did Gooding and Co., the official auction of the concours, and the tongue-in-cheek Concours d’Lemons. This is only the second time that Pebble Beach has ever been canceled; imclement weather forced organizers to pull the plug in 1960. There is some good news here, however: Entrants invited to present cars this year at Pebble Beach are now automatically entered for next year, which will include the same featured classes: Past Pebble Beach winners, Pininfarina-bodied cars, Talbot-Lago Grand Sports, Miller racing cars, Iso cars, early electrics, the cars of La Carrera Panamericana and the immortal, all-conquering Porsche 917. All tickets purchased in advance will also be good for admission in 2021.

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