I have often found professionals with professional camera gear and professional skills professional deliver professional images and reporting.
So I waited quite some time after the car week at Monterey, hoping that other journalists would relieve me of this sacred duty.
As it turns out, I may have witnessed something that many people may not have. It also gives me a chance to tell this story...
Disclaimer: This is going to be a long post, but it might be worth your while. I have a metaphorical buttload of pictures in addition to these. More to come (relatively) soon.
The first time I found out about the Ferrari 250 GTO was around 9 or 10 years ago, when I was a teenager.
I was wandering through YouTube and I came across a video posted by someone who had owned one for a while. I reached out to him and found out that he had sold his car to Ralph Lauren back in the day, so he could import Maseratis to America and sell them.
I was hooked the first time I saw it. To me, it is the most beautiful car ever made.
Due to a happy confluence of events, I could take some time off my trip to the States during car week at Monterey. I jumped at the opportunity, made plans to visit (eventually) and made it my mission to find one.
Sadly, I would have to leave from Oakland on 20th afternoon - the day of the Pebble beach Concours d’Elegance. Yes, $395 is steep. But it was even more irrational to buy a ticket to an event I could only attend for 30 minutes or less.
Nevertheless, I made sure I was going to have as much car-related fun as possible, while covering all the bases to see the 250 GTO in person.
I started the trip in the Bay area and drove down to LA along the PCH.
After arriving in LA, I chose to take the Porsche driving experience (Mid vs Rear).
I can’t use enough superlatives to describe how wonderful the experience were. So I won’t.
I also stopped by The Petersen Museum, which has some of the most amazing cars in the world.
.....which includes a sizeable Ferrari collection.
After I picked my jaw off the floor, I talked to the staff...
Me: So, what goes on the empty spot behind the 250 TR?
Staff: That’s where we used to have the 250 GTO.
Me: Is it being reconditioned or in the vault?
Staff: No, we are sending that and another Ferrari to Monterey for the Pebble beach Concours.
The Porsche Experience Center and the Petersen were one of the first times I’d been in the presence of great automotive history and art. Among other things, I saw the Jaguar XKSS. The one that Steve McQueen owned. The car whose model I had in my living room!
So yes. I know its hard to complain after having seen some of the most spectacular cars in the world....but I managed.
No 250 GTO. Yet.
(While writing this, I saw some pictures of this exhibit at the Petersen which lead me to believe they might have the 250 LM, not the 250 GTO. If you’ve seen this complete exhibit, please feel free to chime in on what they actually have.)
I then drove up to Monterey, ready to visit any golf course that would allow me in.
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I attended Werks Reunion, Legends of the Autobahn and Exotics on Cannery Row. Then I had a choice between attending the Barnyard Ferrari event and Concorso Italiano.
Seeing that the Barnyard event was in a shopping complex with a $50 ticket, as opposed to the $175 ticket for Concorso with all italian exotics - I placed my bet on Concorso.
Before this event, I didn’t know it was possible to have so many amazing things in one place. Who allowed this?! How?!
Cars I’d never thought I’d see in person were there. In multiples! Even many Ferrari 250 models. But not the 250 GTO.
I headed to Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca after this event.
Did I see a lot of cars on the track? Yes. Did I take many pictures of those cars on the track? Not as many.
I did spend quite some time in the paddocks though.
You must be tired of hearing me complain about not seeing that one car, right after telling you how amazing everything was. Imagine how tired I was of not seeing that car after
making enjoying every effort to see it.
I put my hopes to see a 250 GTO on the Dawn Patrol at 6am in Pebble Beach.
Chances were slim. But at this point, even if I’d never see a 250 GTO in my life, I’d die a happy man. The Universe doesn’t owe me anything.
I headed back to the parking lot. My phone told me where I parked, but I had no idea how to get there. On reaching my car, I did some celebratory donuts to conclude the day - followed by celebratory beer.
You’d think Pebble beach is an organized event. To personify the event while it starts, its a nervous bumbling swarm of bees.
I need to get out of Monterey by 8am to get to SFO by 10-10:30 am, to get to OAK at 12pm for my 1:15 pm flight.
As I make my way to Pebble beach at 5:45am, the picturesque roads are barely visible.
Some entrances to the private property (they remind you of this fact often) require you to show a pass to the Concours. Others don’t.
Because of these other entrances, I drove in to the cocoon of the wealthy at 6:15am as they brace for “all those car people”. I still couldn’t find parking without a pass near the event. But I’m definitely in the right place.
Dawn Patrol is at 6am.
Is it happening at 6am? I don’t know.
Where is it happening? I don’t know.
*Man yelling at me from the background - Its along the 17 mile road!*
Thanks, Captain Obvious. Now, tell me where to park the car in this mess of detours and fog and where I can walk to witness this “patrol”.
Miraculously, I found a free parking lot and a bus to take me to the event - as if I had a ticket? Hah!
By the time I find parking, it’s around 7:20am. I chalk this up to my poor sense of direction and the organizers’ poor sense of pointing me in the right direction.
I figured the “patrol” is over, so I make my way to the actual event.
I came all the way here, so I might as well try to see what’s going on. I passed a few interesting manufacturer booths on the way to the entrance.
When I finally arrived at the gates of the event, I found an interesting building next to it. People with Pebble beach tickets weren’t allowed to enter.
It wasn’t hard to miss.
I talked to someone along the fence and learned that Ferrari had reserved this building and the first tee off for Ferrari owners only.
This someone took interest in my Concorso pictures as he wasn’t there. And like me, he was unable to see the 250 GTO in the events he had attended as well. But he was sure that they were displayed in the Barnyard event.
They?! On display? In the event I didn’t attend?
Seeing the pattern of events on this trip, of course that happened!
Despite having no credentials proudly hanging on the neck, he seemed to be “in” the Ferrari event. Or at least, he was confident about being “in”.
We decided we must see the 250 GTO, so he talked to the Ferrari people inside the building. While he does that, I was busy looking at this line up.
Turns out Ferrari was celebrating 70 years, with 70 exclusive cars on display in the golf course behind this building.
It’s 8 am. Time to leave. I’m pushing it.
We walk to the entrace for the Pebble beach event. We’re walking, he’s talking. He insists we don’t want to go to Pebble beach, just the Ferrari event behind the building.
We keep walking and we’re in!
This is when I tell you I did not see a Ferrari 250 GTO.
I saw two! Along with a spectacular collection of 70 Italian vintage mechanical artworks.
It’s 8:45 am. I gotta go!
No matter how inviting the lounge inside the men’s room at Pebble beach is.
As it turns out, this was faux leather. Plebs.
This weakened my resolve to stay longer.
I reach my car and leave Pebble beach at 9. I’m late!
But as you can see, I can’t quite pull myself away from the cars.
My pulse is racing and so is my Mustang.
Its 9:20 am and I’m making some progress.
Progress because I’m doing 80 in what turned out to be 65. I see flashing lights.
I pull over and hand my Indian license and rental car paper work to the officer.
I try to stay calm and explain my flight situation....and the officer lets me off with a warning! (Maybe the officer couldn’t put in a weird ass Indian license number into his system? Maybe he was having an amazing day too?)
I reach to SFO - its 10:45am already.
Drop off the Mustang and grab a cab to OAK.
I reached OAK at 11:45am.
I successfully dropped off bag, cleared security and catch my flight and make it back in one piece.
Seeing that I missed this same flight the last time I visited California, I am relieved.
I had now seen two cars in the flesh, whose models sat in my living room.
(As it turns out - the actual #24 250 GTO whose model I have, was also at Pebble beach. It was just inside the main event and not among the special 70. Maybe Ferrari thought 2 GTOs among the special 70 was enough.)
After this experience, I feel like I have to go to Pebble beach next year or some time in the future. This time, maybe in a more formally invited fashion.