Distilling a Moment in Time
July 14, 2020
As I sit down to write this letter, we have 400 (long!) days until the next Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance — which to me is far too many! But it does give me time to think about how the day of the Concours unfolds and the moments I miss the most.
Often I have shared the joy I feel when I greet each entrant pulling onto our competition field, but I’ve been more quiet about the excitement that comes when we name our Best of Show winner. This is a very public moment, of course. But it is also an intensely private moment — one that I am deeply honored to share with the winning owner.
For the owner, this moment distills all that has gone before it. It tallies the time and effort spent caring for a great car, weighing the angst and satisfaction to be found in overcoming obstacles to preserve or restore it, as well as the pleasure of driving it and sharing it with others.
This is also, admittedly, an intensely complicated moment from a back-of-stage perspective. After Derek Hill, our Master of Ceremonies, reads aloud the names of our final Best of Show Nominees, there is a small pause before the winner is announced — and in that pause, a myriad of things must happen. We confirm that the nominees have their engines running. We cue the band, the fireworks and the confetti cannons. And Pebble Beach CEO Bill Perocchi begins his walk forward with the Best of Show trophy. . . .
I’ve witnessed 34 Best of Show moments to date — almost half of our 69 — and I cannot even begin to predict how the winning owner will react.
I can still see Ralph Lauren leaping from his Mercedes-Benz without bothering to open the door, and Harry Yeaggy hoisting the trophy for his Duesenberg high overhead.
“Hat or no hat?” one winner urgently asked, uncertain as to protocol. “But I didn’t change my shoes!” another declared. (While that might sound vain, I suspect the act was more of a talisman — a bit like carrying an umbrella to ensure the sun.) And as Jon and Mary Shirley emerged from their Alfa 8C to face the cheering crowd, Mary looked at me imploringly and held out her tiny puppy: “Would you be willing to hold Alfa for me?” Of course!
Although it usually takes place quietly, quite often there is a figurative passing of the crown. Prior winners emerge to offer their congratulations and perhaps a bit of advice. Bob Lee caught up to Harry Yeaggy at the postshow party and said, “Harry, feel free to call me in a few weeks, when things calm down a bit, and I’ll tell you what just happened to you.”
The Best of Show moment can be overwhelming — even for accomplished professionals and titans of industry. “I can’t begin to tell you what this means to me, I can’t begin to express my gratitude now, but I promise to do so tomorrow,” said Dr. Peter Williamson. And he was true to his word, sending both a lovely note and a very generous check for our charities.
At this point, we have a long year to wait before we name our next Best of Show winner, but our 70th concours competition field is set, and it includes over half of our prior Best of Show cars. How wonderful it will be to name our next winner with all of them looking on!
In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that Lexus, a partner to both the Concours and Pebble Beach Company, is stepping forward to help our charities this year by offering a car — a 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible — for our annual charity drawing. Details will be coming to you soon via newsletter, and I hope you will consider participating in this fundraising effort, joining with us to help people in need even though we cannot gather together for the Concours.
I also hope that you will keep in touch, reaching out to me and others to share your love of cars.
Read on in our July INSIDER for inspiring stories around what it takes to win at Pebble Beach, and the incredible moment when the winner crosses the ramp.