Whether you’re a car buff or not, if you know anything about Monterey Car Week, it’s one of the most sensational week-long showcases of automotive excellence that you could possibly imagine. Set within the beautiful natural surroundings of the renowned Monterey Peninsula in Northern California, Auto Week has become the ultimate play place for the auto industry elite, car collectors, enthusiasts, and luxury lifestyle aficionados.
From prestigious world-renowned auto exhibits to enthralling fireside chats with esteemed leaders to posh parties, it’s become the epicenter of automobiles. Renowned for its fusion of luxury, innovation, and heritage, captivated car enthusiasts from around the globe travel far and wide to join in on the celebrations and festivities that Monterey Car Week offers.
Growing up in Pebble Beach and now residing in Carmel, the undeniable allure of Monterey Car Week has been an integral part of my upbringing, transitioning me from just another luxury car consumer to a storyteller immersed in the captivating world of cars (and, of course, the type of lifestyle they play a role in).
What began as a childhood fascination with automobiles (both for their exquisite beauty and their ability to transport our minds and bodies to other places), I started attending Car Week events as a kid.
At first, it began with accompanying my parents to the esteemed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the 1980’s. As the years continued, the event grew by leaps and bounds, extending far beyond the gates of Pebble Beach, into surrounding towns and cities. In the 1990s, we felt like VIPs at the Lexus Vogue Fashion Show, brunches and cocktail parties hosted by INFINITI, and even exclusive soirees at The Beach & Tennis Club hosted by Jaguar Land Rover. As we moved into the millennium, we saw even more brands and events popping up all over the place.
Now, decades later – it’s an understatement to say that Monterey Car Week has become the “It Place” to be if you’re at all interested in car culture (or just bougie lifestyle events). For the past 10+ years, I’ve been covering Car Week events, while getting the chance to discover the working mechanisms of this industry. To put it simply – it’s the coolest and most glamorous time of year here! Not to mention – auto brands definitely know how to host great parties.
Aside from having a personal connection with Monterey Car Week, I feel like you should the truth. I’m not an expert on torque and tension, I don’t have a background as an automotive journalist, nor do I have knowledge about mechanics. Quite frankly, I barely can remember how to open the hood of my car!
But, all that aside – I have a great affinity for automobiles, especially luxury cars, supercars, and the ultimate dream mobiles – hypercars. From their impressive appearance and amazing technological advancements to their undeniable ability to get us from point A to point B in supreme style and speed, I’m intrigued by both the cars and the people who design, build, and love these life-changing consumer products that play an integral role in all of our lives.
That said – over the next few weeks, I plan to share all of the in-depth interviews, illuminating experiences, and heartwarming moments I’ve had with many of the notable people who are leading and running this global industry, in addition to highlighting car collectors, and other interesting folks I met on this joyride.
Throughout the next couple of weeks, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the key people and brands that are moving the auto industry forward with great gusto. Aside from learning about the global debuts of new cars, how the brands are evolving, and of course – car week celebrations, you’ll also find out how these people stay motivated to succeed, what inspires them on a personal level (whether it be their favorite superhero or even the books they read), in addition to learning more about how they think, and why they’re passionate about getting behind the wheel of their dream jobs.
Let’s just say they all thought I had the most “unique” interview questions ever!
So, if you’re fascinated by any of this, stay tuned, because we’re just getting our engines warmed…
To give you a peek into the whirlwind week I just experienced (while sharing a glimpse into the upcoming rolling series of Monterey Car Week articles I’ll be publishing), here’s a recap of the events, interviews, and celebrations I’ve had the privilege to experience last week.
Monterey Car Week 2023 Recap
To start with, my Monterey Car Week 2023 journey commenced at Motorlux by Hagerty – an annual. sold-out kick-off party at the Monterey Jet Center in Monterey, which set the tone for a week full of fun, flashiness, and sheer jubilation. This glamorous event offered a tantalizing preview of extraordinary spectacles while indulging attendees’ senses with 30 food-tasting stations, top-shelf bars and wine tastings, and an assemblage of rare automobiles, jets, and helicopters.
On Thursday morning, the INFINITI Press Conference and breakfast were hosted at Pebble Beach Resorts, during which INFINITI unveiled its bold and sophisticated QX Monograph Concept Car against the backdrop of the Pacific coastline and world-famous 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links.
To present the eye-catching new concept car, speeches were made by Craig Keeys (Group VP of INFINITI Americas), Alfonso Albaisa (SVP of Global Design for Nissan Motors, pictured below), Kyle Bazemore (Director of Corporate Communications for INFINITI Americas), and Edward Loh (Editor-in-Chief of MotorTrend) to illustrate the significance of this momentous occasion.
The reason why this setting is ideal for this is not only because INFINITI has been a title sponsor of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for many years, but also because much of the design inspiration for this Japanese brand comes from the “power of nature”, as the designers explained to me.
The purpose of this special presentation was to provide a glimpse into the future of automotive design for the brand, by highlighting various new facets including a double-arched grill, a new three-dimensional emblem (based on an updated logo interpretation that gives the sense that its dissolving into the horizon), a unique lighting system, and other eye-catching details.
On Thursday evening, Acura electrified attendees by unveiling the NSX Type S All-Electric SUV at a private event hosted at the picturesque Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Club. This revolutionary vehicle symbolizes Acura’s commitment to blending cutting-edge technology, sleek silhouettes that capture attention, and exhilarating performance. This marks the beginning of production for the SUV that was spotlighted last year (as a concept car), so it’s exciting to see how many of the design elements and features (from the concept car) have actually made it into the real-life version.
After Acura, I took a spin out to the Range Rover House Carmel (which was staged at a private Architectural Digest-featured contemporary estate in Carmel Highlands), for cocktails and conversations. Designed to be an exclusive refuge reserved for invited guests and customers, as an upscale haven set amongst the serene background of the majestic California coastline, the world got its first glimpse of the 2024 Range Rover SV Carmel Edition, which is an extremely limited production SUV, and also the highest-priced automobile that the brand has ever offered (starting at $370,000). Throughout the week, the brand hosted on-site activities for guests to enjoy including live music, refreshments and cocktails, and other relaxing experiences.
The embodiment of luxury, performance, and built-in amenities reflects Land Rover’s dedication to crafting unparalleled automotive masterpieces while catering to the whims of its highly discerning customers. From wellness-enhancing technology (such as vibrational frequencies that sync with music to either energize or calm you while driving) to built-in massagers in the seats (which I’m jokingly calling “Snooze Control”), the showcased SUVs featured the latest in innovative advancements that put the driver in charge of their immersive experience.
On Friday, at the highly esteemed, sold-out event called The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering (which is held annually at Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel), I had the privilege of having in-depth discussions with a number of exemplary leaders within the automotive industry.
In between appreciating the plethora of unique and noteworthy automobiles (including classic cars and ultra-rare supercars and hypercars) and enjoying gourmet dishes that were inspired by global flavors, I conducted back-to-back interviews with top executives at various auto manufacturing brands, in addition to attending a variety of press conferences that highlighted global debuts of never-before-seen automobiles.
During the first-class event, I sat down to speak with Bill Peffer (CEO of Maserati Americas) and Bernard Loire (Chief Commercial Officer of Maserati Global – both pictured above), Emilio Scervo (Chief Technology Officer of Rimac Automobili, which recently gained recognition for its Rimac Nevera, which is ranked as the world’s fastest EV hypercar), and Lukas Czinger and Kevin Czinger (a dynamic father-son team that co-founded Czinger Vehicles, which produces futuristic-looking 3D printed, human-AI-designed hypercars that were inspired by the Blackbird stealth bomber).
I also caught up with my inspiring friend, Ralph Gilles (featured below), who is the illustrious Chief Design Officer for Stellantis (the parent company of many popular brands, including Maserati, Alfa-Romeo, Jeep, Dodge, etc.). We recently had an in-depth discussion about his design process, his journey to becoming an award-winning head designer, his passion for racing cars at the track with his wife Doris, and the unexpected influences in his life that inspire him to be his best self (including superheroes like Superman and Spiderman, whom he admires for their character traits).
Before the event came to an end, I had an opportunity to chat with Kai Lermen, the General Manager of Quail Lodge & Golf Club (who happens to be a “car guy” with an unexpected background as a culinary chef), to discuss his “results-driven” background in hospitality, his unparalleled commitment to exceeding attendee expectations, and his prowess in guiding his team’s ability to host such an exquisite event that caters to 6000 attendees and is now proudly celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
After a long day at The Quail, I freshened up and headed to Pebble Beach.
Hosted by Alfonso Albaisa (SVP of Design for Nissan Motor Corporation and INFINITI), this exclusive celebration brought together industry leaders, auto executives (such as Craig Keeys, Group Vice President for INFINITI Americas), INFINITI Head Designer Taisuke Nakamura, and key players on their marketing team including the Director of Marketing (Shelley Pratt) and Kyle Bazemore (Director of Corporate Communications for INFINITI Americas), as well as invited members of the press (including editors from MotorTrend, Kelley Blue Book, and other trade and lifestyle publications).
Aside from delving deeper into the inspiration and design behind the QX Monograph concept car (which sets the tone for INFINITI’s new design language for future production runs), after sharing so many heartfelt and deeper conversations with everyone, it became clear that the higher purpose of the intimate dinner was to foster genuine relationships. While I walked in as a stranger, I felt like I left with a circle of friends and comrades.
The week didn’t stop there. On Saturday morning, I hopped in the car and headed back to Pebble Beach for another round of interviews and events.
First up was a pitstop at the Lamborghini Lounge, which was held at a private estate in Pebble Beach, located adjacent to the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, with sweeping views of Stillwater Cove. During my visit, I sat down with Mitja Borkert (Head Designer for Lamborghini who’s also a cool “Go-Kart Dad”), to discuss his relentless drive to create stellar-looking, spaceship-inspired supercars (including the new all-electric Lanzador concept car).
Mitja explained “This is the most sophisticated concept car that we have created in the last eight years because it’s full of potential technology and ideas. It is showcasing a new car that has completely new proportions. It follows the design DNA of Lamborghini and is very innovative and contemporary. It addresses so many things – design, technology, aerodynamics, sustainability, etc.” He went on to explain the purpose behind the new silhouette (which has more feminine lines than traditional Lambos), in addition to showing me the incredibly unique new features they are experimenting with, both on the exterior and interior (as evidenced by the photo below).
After my visit with Lamborghini, I headed up the road to visit another renowned auto brand. If there’s a hypercar brand that deserves recognition for its rich heritage, historical significance, and ability to be seen as uber-chic (no matter what era we’re living in), it’s Bugatti Automobiles. Acting as its temporary home away from home (which is based in France) for the week, the glamorous gilded Le Domaine Bugatti (which was staged at The Lodge) played host to the essence of the “Golden Era” hypercar, in addition to providing a tranquil respite for invited guests of the brand.
And, of course, because I’m an Austin Powers: Goldmember fan who has an affinity for all things gold, naturally, the first thing that popped into my mind when seeing this incredible hypercar was “I love gold!”.
During my visit, I enjoyed an illuminating conversation with Jascha Straub (Lead Designer Bugatti Sur Mesure), during which he unveiled the ethos behind this bespoke masterpiece of design and engineering. He not only explained the intricate and time-consuming process behind this one-of-a-kind hypercar (which featured hand-sketched drawings of iconic Bugatti cars spanning over the past century), but he also shared with me the inspiration behind his designs and explained why he decided to pursue his passion for becoming an auto designer (which was his childhood dream).
After visiting with Bugatti, I hopped into my car to head up the hill to a private modern home designed by Conrad Asturi to meet with the Italian supercar brand – Maserati. To think of it, this was the fastest trip from France to Italy I’ve ever taken! Ah, the joys (and convenience) of Car Week…
Based in Pebble Beach, the House of Maserati emerged as a bustling hub of innovation, refined luxury, and convivial Italian hospitality, which served as the perfect place to engage in enlightening conversations with Maserati’s Head Designer Klaus Busse, Fiore Cappelleto (the VP & GM of Automotive & Marine Business at McIntosh Group Inc., which produces the award-winning Sonus Faber sound system for Maserati vehicles), and Rita Case (the President of Rick Case Auto Group, which runs the most successful Maserati auto dealership in the USA), regarding the enthralling new limited-edition MCXtrema Track-Only Supercar and Maserati’s exciting lineup of luxury performance vehicles.
Next up was the Pebble Beach Classic Car Forum, an invigorating platform for automotive enthusiasts to delve deeper into the rich history, stories, and people who are making their mark on the auto world.
In particular, I attended the forum called “How To Build a Supercar in 100 Days”, which was presented by mechanic-turned-entrepreneur, Ant Anstead (Co-Founder of Radford Motors). Ant shared a captivating discourse on not only the impressive and grueling undertakings that were required to build a supercar in record time but more surprisingly, one that actually won the death-defying road race called Pikes Peak.
Later that night I attended The Lamborghini 60th Anniversary Celebration, in honor of the brand’s legacy and essence, echoing the passion, performance, and craftsmanship that defines the bold and dynamic supercar brand.
While enjoying the party, one of the people I had the pleasure of speaking with was Stephan Winkelmann, the CEO of the company, during which we discussed his drive and determination to steer the company to success while growing the brand’s sales worldwide. In addition to chatting with brand executives and car collectors in attendance, one of the supercar fans in attendance was Alex Hirschi (otherwise known as SupercarBlondie), a notable auto fanatic-turned-influencer who shares her passion for the world’s most unique cars with her 14M subscribers.
And, of course, to wrap up a spectacular Monterey Car Week, the grand finale celebration I attended on Sunday was the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. From the riveting Concept Car Lawn to the prestigious Main Concours (which exhibited hundreds of impeccably restored and preserved historic vehicles), I had the privilege of engaging with esteemed car collectors (including Patrick and Misty Peronnet, who were exhibiting their fully restored 1955 Cadillac Eldorado), industry luminaries, and people who’s families have played an integral role in the history of iconic brands (like Maserati’s former owners, the Orsi family from Italy). In addition to chatting with attendees and notable guests, of course, the highlight of the day was admiring the breathtaking beauty of these spectacular automobiles.
Last, but certainly not least, before ending Monterey Car Week, I made a visit to the exclusive, invite-only Casa Ferrari (located at Fairway One at The Lodge in Pebble Beach), to celebrate with other auto enthusiasts while enjoying the beloved Ferrari Procession, a display of stunning Ferrari cars staged on the first fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. More than 60 vehicles were featured with the purpose of highlighting the spirit of racing and the evolution of Ferrari road cars.
With Monterey Car Week 2023 marking the pinnacle of global celebrations of automotive history (and an exciting way to highlight the past, present, and future of the auto industry), I invite you to continue this journey with me over the next few weeks as I share more of the inspiring and empowering stories from car week with you.
Stay connected on MSN or subscribe to Inspirations & Celebrations for access to exclusive insights and in-depth interviews that will transport you to the heart of luxury, innovation, and the captivating world of Monterey Car Week. For a behind-the-scenes view of all of the best Car Week celebrations, watch my recent Monterey Car Week 2023 video on Instagram. And while you’re waiting for me to sift through hours worth of interviews and hundreds of photos, I encourage you to check out previous years’ Monterey Car Week articles on Inspirations & Celebrations.
The road ahead promises to be exhilarating, and I’m thrilled to share this exciting voyage with you…