Meeting Heroes & Making Friends
June 22, 2021
Pictured above: Sandra Button gladly awarded the 2013 Chairman’s Trophy to Ann Bothwell’s 1908 Benz.
Hope and Anticipation: These two things guided me through the turmoil and uncertainty of the past fifteen months.
Determination deserves a mention too.
Many of you have played a role in buoying my hopes and dreams and affirming our plans to move forward with the 70th Concours. And as that celebration draws near—at last—I want to say thank you. I can’t begin to express what your ongoing support has meant to this event and to me personally.
Even in more ordinary times, organizing the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance requires a good dose of tenacity. Many special classes and exhibits are often years in the making. Getting one special car to our show field can sometimes take years too. . . .
I don’t recall what class we were planning when I first asked Ann Bothwell if she might be willing to share her 1908 Benz Prinz Heinrich Race Car with the enthusiasts at Pebble Beach, but her answer was a fast and firm “No.” And she repeated that “No” on my second and third — and fourth and fifth — inquiries.
“You can keep asking, but I will continue to say ‘No,’” Ann told me. And I told her, “You can continue to say no, but I will keep asking.”
I’m not certain why I got so attached to that Benz, but I did; it was near the top of my secret wish list of cars and exhibits that I want to see on the eighteenth fairway. A photo of it even served as my computer screensaver for a time!
Years of emails and phone calls, personal letters and visits ensued. Our exchanges were polite at first and then increasingly friendly. At a certain point, amidst one conversation, I told Ann how much I admired her grit and determination in keeping the Bothwell Collection together for decades after her husband Lindley died; I recognized that was no easy task. That seemed to spark something; I felt an openness I hadn’t felt previously.
I think we eventually bonded over a shared recognition of the strength in each other — a trait some might call “borderline stubbornness” or “shear doggedness.”
When Ann’s Benz finally did pull onto our show field in 2013, I was elated. I felt that, together, we had triumphed. The car went on to win its class, and I presented it with the Chairman’s Trophy. And when you look at the photos from that day, you will see pure joy.
One photo of the Benz on our Awards Ramp hangs on my wall to this day.
Our coming 70th celebration has faced more than its share of difficulties and delays, and on many days, I have looked to that photo for inspiration. I have also reflected on other displays that took great effort. Government rules and regulations were major impediments when we first decided to invite Cars of the Maharajas to Pebble Beach, so we started on paperwork years in advance. Getting the Star of India was particularly difficult — and sweet. I am also reminded of the many obstacles faced by Lorin Tryon and Jules “J.” Heumann as they sought to mount their magnificent display of Bugatti Royales. Sometimes the greatest successes come from the greatest struggles.
I’ve also found both solace and inspiration in the many Concours memories that you have shared over this past year, memories of the great cars and great people who have made their way to Pebble Beach in the past and will soon again.
I cannot imagine all that I will be feeling when I see cars pull onto our show field once again this August. I think I may be reeling more than a bit, just trying to take it all in. Seeing the beauty, feeling the engines rumble, experiencing all of the emotions of that moment.
I hope you are there to stand by me, taking it all in.