Had an early start today to catch one of the highlights of Monterey week today: the Hagerty Dawn Patrol. It's the must ‘tick off’ experience to add to the list of back-to back shows, amazing exotica and heady auction action in glorious Monterey week.
Classic insurance giant (well they are over here in the US) Hagerty sponsors the daybreak gathering for those that can be arsed to get out of bed early and catch the concours entrants as they thread their six, seven (and even eight) figure exotica through the gates and on to the magnificent 18th fairway outside The Lodge at Pebble Beach.
Turn up and you’re rewarded with a large cup of coffee and a doughnut – and a 2011 Hagerty Dawn Patrol-liveried baseball cap for the first 150 to arrive; snaring one of these is almost a right of passage for Monterey week attendees with the sight of people wearing caps almost as much a part of the collector car scene as displaying a trophy wife and sporting a set of piano keyboard teeth...
The dawn patrol kicks off at 5:30, an hour before the first car appears but, man, people are keen: the caps are gone in the first 20 minutes, by when the lawns in front of the Lodge (where the awards are made) are decked out with enough picnic blankets and chairs to rival even the most densely towel-strewn Majorca pool deck at the height of summer.
Clearly everyone wants to be close to the action when the coveted Best of Show and the string of class awards that precede it are handed out this afternoon.
No doubt there’s a celebrity spotting incentive behind the land grabs, too: former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger(aka the Governator) is a Pebble regular, as is TV talk show host Jay Leno, who compares for the event. And Clint Eastwood has a place in the neighbourhood, too, I'm told.
The early start is certainly worth it: seeing and hearing the cars come on to the green is quite mesmerising. First up was note Italian car collector, Corrado Lopresto’s gorgeous coach-built Lancia Aurelia B52.
Not far behind is the first of the Ferrari 250 GTOs for this year's 50th anniversary celebratory class.
Moments later it's followed by the mighy Blitzen Benz as the exhaust note from it's enormous four pot engine vibrates the earth enough to eilcit a round applause. It's part of event sponsor Mercedes-Benz 125th anniversary display.
The Veteran Benz is followed by one of Stuttgart's most sacred gems: Stirling Moss' 1955 Mille Miglia-winning 300SLR which the driver showboats impressively over a stretch of tarmac, to the sheer delight of the by now 500-plus crowd of onlookers soaking up the scene in anticipation for yet another fabulous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
C&SC will be bringing you all the news from Pebble later today.
Some photos of this morning’s highlights follow. Double click on the lead image to launch a slideshow of all the photographs.