Chrome, steel, and classic wheels: The Concours d’Elegance 2011

In Monterey, August may well be “Automobile Month.” Thousands of car collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the coast on the third Sunday of the month for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, an extravagant automotive event held on the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. With approximately 200 classic cars and motorcycles of all shapes, colors, makes, and models covering the lush fairgrounds, the Concours has been called the Super Bowl of car shows. The New York Times even hailed it as the Olympics of the automotive universe.

It all starts up in Washington today with the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic, which begins near Seattle and traces the coast along its way south to the next event, the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance on August 18. This tour traditionally follows parts of the famed 17-Mile Drive, passing through Carmel-by-the-Sea, where bystanders encounter a striking view from Ocean Avenue.

Begun in 1950, the Concours d’Elegance has grown from a small social event to a full-scale weekend of chrome competition, ceremonies, and champagne. Last year was a milestone for the Concours, which has raised more than $14 million dollars for charity in its 60-year history. The event draws numerous celebrities, including talk show host Jay Leno, who raised over $50,000 last year with an offer to give anyone who donated to the event a tour of his garage and tickets to The Tonight Show.

Other don’t-miss events in August include the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on Ocean Avenue on August 16, and a memorable weekend of rare four-wheeled gems at RM Auctions, the world’s largest auction house for vintage and collector cars. For the adrenaline junkie and to experience the excitement and energy of Monterey racing history, check out the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

And Pacific Grove has its own community auto events. August 17 is “The Little Car Show,” the second annual event to benefit the Pacific Grove Library and Youth Center. You can even stop by to meet writer Tad Burness and car collector Jack Passey and get signed copies of their books. We also have our own Concours, the 17th Annual Pacific Grove Concours Auto Rally on August 19.

Wherever you are in Monterey, you’re sure to do at least one double-take on the highway this month. So keep your eyes open—you may find yourself part of a caravan on your way to Pebble Beach.

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