The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Blog

The Magic of Cars at the Concours

December 23, 2020

In trying times, it can be easy to forget the magic of cars — the way they draw us to them and to each other, the way they inspire us, even transmitting their energy to us.

A good while back, nearly a year now in fact, I was in a hotel elevator when a man turned and asked to speak with me about the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. He seemed nervous and that set me slightly on edge, but conversations in elevators are often oddly strained, so we found a quiet alcove and he proceeded to tell me a bit about his life. 

His wife had died, and nothing made sense for a very long time. He was going through the motions, simply doing things out of habit, and that included attending our Concours. And it was there that the world clicked into focus again for him. 

At the Concours he realized that some things in this world — cars! — still gave him pleasure, and many people in this world shared his passion for them. And he realized he could continue on by focusing on those things and spending time with those people.

My own life revolves around the concours; I even met my husband Martin through this event. Yet I am continually surprised by the deep impact it has on so many others—reaching well beyond our participants and people in attendance to the wider community of enthusiasts.

We recently invited you to add your concours stories to the history of this event and share with others here in the Insider, and a great many of you responded — so many that we’ll be sharing your offerings over several forthcoming issues. 

In this issue, we’ve decided to focus first on concours stories tied to family. 

When I think about families at the concours, my mind turns first to images of Arturo and Deborah Keller crossing our ramp in cars packed to the brim (or top or tailfin) with children and grandchildren. Others too — the Atwells, the Passeys, the Hills and Hagemans to name a few — have done all they can to pass a love of cars down through the generations. And I’ve been here long enough to see many of those kids grow into true car enthusiasts. Tom Price recently shared an image of him and his wife Gwen crossing the ramp with their two young sons on their laps — and those sons, now fully grown, were standing next to me as we talked.  

Cars, and a passion for them, can be among the ties that bind us together. They embody our history, connecting us in the present and over time. Even the memory of a much-loved concours car can become a matter of family lore and legend. Time and again my staff responds to emails and calls from families trying to track down information and images of cars that were once, in some way, “a member of the family.”

As you read through this issue of the Insider, I hope you discover anew some of the magic in cars. I also hope you will make plans to join us for our 70th Concours celebration on August 15, 2021.


Sandra Button


P.S. At the start of this month, on Giving Tuesday, we announced the establishment of the John Lamm Scholarships, which you can read about in this issue. In this time of charitable giving, we hope you consider making a donation to support these scholarships or any of our concours charities. They are in great need this year.

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