While the Pebble Beach Concours is certainly considered the ‘Main Event’ of the week, one could consider The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering to be the ‘VIP Room’. It’s limited ticket sales of 3000, famous wines, outstanding cuisine and overall relaxed atmosphere gives every spectator that feeling that they’re being pampered. The entries feel extra special as well, as they become the judges. Unlike most other concours events, at the Quail the entries judge their own classes and choose an overall Best In Show.
In only its 6th year, The Quail has quickly reached the upper levels on the international concours scene. While the event is still young the featured classes are always sure to be full of history. With over 130 entries, special Classes this year included The 12 Hours of Sebring, Gurney Eagle Race Cars, the 30th Anniversary of Porsche’s first supercar, the 959, and Lamborghini’s highlighting the career of storied test driver Valentino Balboni.
America’s greatest endurance race, the 12 Hours of Sebring began as a short 6 hour event held at a WWII training base, Hendricks Field, near Sebring, Florida on New Years’ Eve, 1950. Throughout its life, Sebring has evolved into the world class endurance race that it is today. The class entries displayed included a 1950 Aston Martin DB2 that competed in the inaugural race as well as one of the five Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupes ever built.
Dan Gurney is the first and to date, only American to win a Grand Prix in a Formula 1 racecar of his own construction. With assistance from Carroll Shelby and financial backing from Goodyear, Gurney began building Indy and Formula 1 cars in the mid-1960’s. With countless victories in Formula One, Formula A, IMSA, and especially Indy, by 1973 Eagles were the cars to beat. The Gurney Eagle Class displayed examples from all of those race series, including the dominating 1992 Toyota MKIII GTP that won 21 of 27 races it entered in IMSA competition.
In 1981, with the consent of newly-appointed Porsche president Peter Schutz, development engineers began working on what would become Porsche’s first, and arguably finest supercar; the 959. The 959 maintained the familiar 911 look but improved the aerodynamics and reduced the weight with aluminum and Kevlar components. The drivetrain was also unique for a Porsche of its day, with an advanced version of four-wheel drive. With a price tag of $355,000 and a projected production cost of $550,000 to build, the numbers didn’t jive and had executives struggling to find an excuse to keep production to 200; a required minimum for FIA homologation . Over 400 deposits taken from U.S. buyers were returned after Porsche decided not to build the 959 with a catalytic converter, therefore deeming them unsuitable to pass strict U.S. EPA emission standards. Seeing a curvaceous 959 in person is a rare occurrence, so the sight of a dozen examples at The Quail, including a Paris-Dakar Rally version is a real treat.
Honored with possibly the world’s best job, Valentino Balboni is a soft-spoken Italian with some humble beginnings. Being hired by Lamborghini in 1968 as an apprentice at the age of 19 would be any young man’s dream. Being promoted to ‘test driver’ only 5 years later is insurmountable. More than 30 years later, Balboni is still test driving and helping to develop the Lamborghinis of today. To commemorate his contributions to Lamborghini, The Quail assembled a class of 12 ‘raging bulls’ including the dramatic LM002 MPV and several Miuras.
While additional classes contained memorable Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, and Talbot Lagos among others, the entries themselves knew their motorsports history when choosing the Best In Show. Within the Post-War Racing Class stood a rather ordinary-looking black Cobra. Upon closer inspection , one would come to see that this was the original Cobra; the 1962 Ford Cobra 289, Chassis # CSX2001. Owned by Bruce Meyer, this memorable piece of Ford and subsequently Shelby history was awarded top honors.
The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie is quick to note that his staff at The Quail Lodge attempt to outdo themselves every year. They undoubtedly gave plenty reason for every attendee to want to purchase their 2009 ticket immediately. If that would not be enough, the spectacular 120-shot slideshow
of this year's show should get your right in the mood for 2009.