As one of the most anticipated gatherings of car enthusiasts in the world, this year’s Monterey Car Week did not disappoint, bringing the coastal county’s favorite ritual back to California. Amid attending The Quail Rally, Motorlux, The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering and accompanying exhibitions, I had the chance to spend time with Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman and majority shareholder of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, which owns and operates The Peninsula Hotels as well as Quail Lodge and Golf Club. which hosts a few of the week’s most sought-after events. Having brought the Quail Gathering to life along with Gordon McCall, Mr. Kadoorie provided rare insight into the longstanding ideas behind the Quail events, which are steeped in auto-world prestige. Both Mr. Kadoorie and Mr. McCall managed to take time to chat and look back on the history of the Quail Rally and Gathering despite the whirlwind nature of the week, giving me an authentic glimpse into what motivated them to take on the challenge.
Considering The Peninsula Hotels’s century-long history as a globally renowned hospitality and luxury brand, it’s no surprise that Mr. Kadoorie channeled his expertise into an event that draws the world’s top classic cars-and their doting owners. My itinerary reflected The Peninsula Hotels’ emphasis on truly experiencing a destination, and I arrived in Monterey knowing I wouldn’t miss a thing. On Sunday, August 14th, the first day of my stay, I attended the Best of the Best Awards gala dinner at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club, with the concluding ceremony and winning car reveal. The winning 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione stole the show, ringing in the eve of Monterey Car Week.
After breakfast at the Quail Meadows the following morning, I embarked on the rally to a private exhibition tour at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, that featured a number of designer Guo Pei’s breathtaking, iconic haute couture pieces.
After the tour and lunch at the museum, I got ready for the Quail Rally Reception at the Keller Estate Winery, located just northwest of Sonoma Raceway. Belonging to legendary car collector Arturo Keller, the Winery also hosted an exclusive viewing of his private vehicle collection, which was stunning in both magnitude and selection. The care put into maintaining each vehicle was extraordinarily clear, and viewing the collection was like peeking into an artist’s portfolio. The reception itself celebrated the annual Quail Rally, a three-day driving journey that began in Carmel, California and made its way through Sonoma and Napa Valley’s wine country.
This year’s rally was the first that ventured through Sonoma, giving the entire event fresh perspective. Over the course of the rally, participants showcased their new and vintage sports vehicles accompanied by Peninsula Hotel representatives, who brought their signature hospitality on the road.
“The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering and The Quail Rally have been integral parts of Monterey Car Week for almost two decades” said Gareth Roberts, Group Director, Brand and Operations Support for The Peninsula Hotels. “Both of these highly anticipated events bring people together from around the world, all of whom share a deep passion for exquisite motorcars. But while the cars are the centerpiece, it is the people that truly make these the world-class events that they are. Being able to spend time with friends, family and loved ones, all within the setting of California’s beautiful natural surroundings and the showcase of incredible motorcars, and highlighted by an incredible culinary experience offered by The Peninsula—this is what makes these gatherings so special.”
Throughout the following day, I enjoyed a visit to Chappellet Winery followed by a scenic drive to Sonoma Raceway where we had the opportunity to experience the racetrack ourselves in parade laps. I drove around the legendary Sonoma Raceway, feeling out a Bentley Flying Spur that was selected for my drive for the rally. Later that afternoon, a cocktail hour reflected the week’s festivities with a tasting from Wolves Whiskey and Laurent-Perrier, followed by a visit to Oakville’s Promontory Winery for the rally’s second reception and dinner. Authentic and incredibly maintained, both the wineries were staffed by down to earth, knowledgeable experts who took the time to introduce their venues- and their wines.
By the morning of August 17th, the week was in full swing, with plenty of milestones matched and more to come down the road. The highlight of the day was Motorlux, an evening bash featuring stunning new and vintage vehicles and aircrafts along with gourmet dining, specialty drinks and opportunities to mingle with the automotive and jet world elite. Artisan dishes incorporated local ingredients, and menus featured everything from 24 local wine varieties to innovations from Michelin-starred chefs.
Newly hosted by McKeel Hagerty, this year’s event replaced McCall’s Motorworks Revival, building on the beloved annual event and taking it to new heights. Held at the Monterey Jet Center, the celebration saw over 3,000 guests, upholding the three-decade tradition kick-started by Gordon McCall.
The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering is looked forward to throughout Monterey Car Week, taking place right before the weekend. The Gathering is organized around a series of themes and includes a number of traditional classes for vehicles to compete in. At first glance, the Gathering resembles a prestigious garden party thanks to the Quail Lodge & Club’s green lawns and idyllic setting. Rare automobiles were on display across the grounds, and sponsored test rides were offered in certain luxury vehicles.
This year’s themes included All Things MINI Cooper, 70 Years of Jaguar winning at Le Mans and the 50th Anniversary of BMW’s M Division. Participating vehicles fell into categories ranging from Supercars to Custom Coachwork and Pre-War Sports. The day also played host to a “Fireside Chat” acknowledging women’s roles in motorsports throughout history, part of the events’ efforts to bring stories out of the niche world of professional motorsports and into the public sphere. As the moderator of “Breaking Barriers: Women in Motorsports”, I was able to chat with three influential female drivers- Samantha Tan, Renee Brinkerhoff and Lyn St. James.
The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering wouldn’t be one of the best-known events in automotive history without a reigning champion, and this year has been no different. A sleek 1956 Jaguar D-Type took home the gold, winning the events’ overall ”Best in Show” award and securing a coveted spot in the Rolex Circle of Champions. The victory fit in perfectly with this year’s focus on Jaguar’s historic presence at Le Mans.