The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the highlight of a long weekend of events designed to celebrate the art of the automobile. It's also an opportunity for the wealthiest and most particular car enthusiasts in the world to show off their opulence. Being neither wealthy or even that particular, we did our hilarious best to fit in.
It's one of those rare situations where a man with a leather-wrapped, chrome studded peg leg can pass by two gentlemen in seersucker suits complaining that "he won't take $12 million for it, no matter how many times I ask" with the "it" surely being some sort of pre-war machine with headlights as big as tea trays and more rich wood than a walk-in humidor.
This isn't to say it's bad. The Concours is a gem and, for all its one-percenter obnoxiousness, it should fight against any moves from the major manufacturers to sanitize the proceedings or make it more egalitarian. You can't have five coach-worked Duesenbergs displayed in a Stucky's parking lot. It just doesn't work.
And, technically, what the Jalopnik crew did wasn't a "crash" of the Concours because all of us had media passes that allowed us to cruise past the guards and many of the people who paid $500 a ticket.
Yet no matter how many Bentleys we sat in, we were probably more appropriately suited for the LeMons car show down Highway 1. There wasn't a Volkswagen in sight on the divot-marked Pebble Beach green unless, of course, you count the many 911s.
Our first great challenge was parking. Your social status is as much dictated by where you put your car as what your car is. If you park on the green, you're at the sapphire-tipped top. If you park near The Lodge at Pebble Beach, you're somewhere in the middle. If you park where Travis parked (basically Santa Cruz), you're below the wine cellar.
Or you can do like Jason Torchinsky and park a goddamn minivan right on the Par 3 golf course. How? After being bounced around by security for what felt like an hour in a never ending haze of conflicting instructions, one hapless person kicked us out the wrong way down a one-way street. A confused guard then frantically signaled for us to turn around, which we did by driving down a dirt-lined worker's road.
Well, except for the turning around part. Instead I told Jason to keep going and, alas, we found ourselves near the SRT display. What was parked there? Another Chrysler minivan with identical Michigan "M" plates. Who, we thought, would tow a Chrysler van parked next to another Chrysler van behind a Chrysler display?
No one, thankfully. Had we been in a 458 Italia they'd have noticed.
Tip #1: Be inconspicuous when you're doing something wrong.
There are two ways to dress for Pebble: Pretend you're obscenely wealthy, or pretend you're so Magnus Walker-cool you can look like you just Single White Female'd Rob Zombie and it's no big deal.
Former Jalopnik contributor and permanent worldly gentleman Davey G. Johnson is the best example of the former, seen here posing with Vanity Fair's Brett Berk. So much swag.
I went halfway in the other direction, wearing a TransWorld Skateboarding hat and bright orange glasses over a Ben Sherman jacket with Onitsuka Tiger slip-on Mexico 66s. For shits and giggles I wore my hat sideways at the Bentley room near the lawn.
This led to my favorite exchange of the day. Le Mans winner Derek Bell grabbing my shoulders outside the bathroom and politely saying "Here, let me fix that for you son" before proceeding to straighten it out. What a guy.
He's said he'd seen people wear hats like that "in the movies," but somehow knew I was not in movies.
Tip #2: Be conspicuous when it suits you.
There are people at Pebble who absolutely know what they're talking about. They can tell you why Vanvooren was the superior Hispano-Suiza coachmaker. Your best bet is to listen to these people explain the history and learn from their experience.
However, if none of those people around, your best bet is to just make everything up with increasing levels of ridiculousness as the showgoers are split fairly equally between studied car fans and people who just want an excuse to wear golf pants on a Sunday morning.
A group of friends we made on the grounds were the best at that.
For instance, a Le Mans Ferrari racer on display wasn't driven by Jackie Ickx but by Jackeé Ickx, the first woman to win a major endurance race. And those stacks that look like highball glasses are actually highball glasses, because Ferrari mechanics had to replace them at the last minute with what they can find at the bar. The shifter? Made of the same material as a Tootsie Roll for better grippage.
Tip #3: Fake it with authority.
Even an event with a $500 ticket price needs to have even more exclusive offerings to separate the Forbes 100 from the merely wealthy. Rolls-Royce, Bentley, private jet companies, and Rolex all had big outlays along the lawn where they offered up booze and food to those who would return the favor by casually spending millions on their products.
Your best bet, as always, is to just walk past the guards like you belong and hopefully no one notices you bought your outfit at Goodwill. This worked at first at the Bentley party for me but, after returning for my negroni I was stopped at the door by a slightly peeved woman waving a list that I was not on and, correctly, pointing out a wristband that I was not wearing.
I started to name-drop people I know whom I was sure wouldn't sell me out (right, Erin?) before I realized I'd just be better off hopping the short brick wall separating me from my drink.
Our good friend Blake Z. Rong, who broke our fucking Porsche, tried the same trick by name-dropping a photographer.
It didn't work and it essentially meant Blake was going to have to watch the rest of the cars from the manicured lawn (or Aston or Rolls or McLaren) like normal people.
Tip #4: Name drop the people who plan the party, not the people working it.
Of course, the best way to "crash" Pebble is to become a "journalist." They'll give you cars you can't afford to own, which you can drive to event you couldn't afford tickets to, so you can gawk at cars you couldn't afford to touch.
Photo Credits: Davey G. Johnson, Kasey Kagawa, AP