The Quail at Monterey Car Week: why this signature event marks the good life

Monterey Car Week probably goes off every year without a hitch, and so it seemed to this year. The week-long celebration of automotive history culminates with a few smaller events considered to be particularly special for several reasons. While the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the world’s most exclusive classic car show, surprisingly it is not the most expensive to attend. That distinction belongs to The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering.

The Quail is the most expensive event to attend during Monterey Car Week. It takes place at The Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, California. And, when I say takes place at the club, that’s not to say inside the club building, but in a unique and natural setting – on the golf course itself.

Attending the Quail doesn’t come all that easy

A ticket to The Quail is hard to come by. You must have either luck on your side or be extremely rich (as a sponsor) to get in. But once in, you’ll get to mingle with an A-list gathering of people and cars. It’s the kind of thing that people mark their calendars for years in advance and with alacrity. The event has become so popular that an online lottery system for tickets was established for attendees.

The Quail not only celebrates the automobile, it’s THE place to see and be seen during Monterey Car Week. Be awarded a ticket to The Quail meant you had to shell out about $1,000 USD (this year’s price) for the opportunity to traipse in and around some of the most amazing and famous cars on the planet – and rub elbows with the super-rich and well-heeled (and knickered) folks.

What a ticket to The Quail gets you

While $1,000 USD might be peanuts for the wealthy, the price is still more than justified for the less affluent among us. If you want to go, you go, and people don’t bat an eye at the expense, which includes parking, collectibles, mouth-watering gourmet foods from around the world, and bottomless glasses of Champaign (although both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available). For car manufacturers, aficionados, and socialites, it is simply the most happening place to be during Monterey Car Week.

The spokesman for The Quail explains that part of the allure lies in the fact that the happening “is not only known for its vehicles, but also for the luxury lifestyle and fine culinary components.”

A very civilized car show

After receiving the most fashionable satin wrist sachet on the planet – with an elegant Q embroidered in gold thread – the electronic chip inside makes it easy for the attendants to scan as you pass through the entryway.

Once on the inside of the perimeter, you don’t have to wait for action to happen, as proud owners drive by in their precious antique heirlooms from bygone eras. Old Bentleys lined the fairway to the center stage, a 1943 Porsche 911 built for East Africa Safari Classic Rally is cleverly placed in a sand trap; it’s an occasion to see vehicles by Lotus, Lexus, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Audi, Jaguar, and many others. There are even famous cars on exhibition, like the one and only Love Bug – Herbie.

The place for high-fashion, fun fashion, and creative fashion

So, what were people wearing at the event? Pretty much everything that was high-fashion, fun fashion, and creative: some wore exceptionally colorful and creative clothes, some articles had a more humorous theme, other designs were rather risqué (like the low cut, black cat suit, one piece I saw), flowery sun-dresses perfect for the Monterey Peninsula country side. There were even people wearing white gloves – which when combined with jewelry and with a glass of Champaign in hand – you could fool yourself that it was a scene from the Titanic. Many men with linen pant-suits and jackets, dressed up with nice leather shoes, or canvas loafers without socks. And for the women, walking on soft ground didn’t stop them from going with high heels.

Some outfits were very entertaining, worn by those combining an undying love for a particular car brand into their dress for the day. Like a Ferrari fan with a white jean jacket with emblazoned Ferrari logo and hot red shoes to match.

Cloudless blue skies and sunny weather necessitated the need for hats and sunglasses – two very important and must have items on a sunny day at The Quail. Hats were a big fashion accessory, with the straw hat being the most prevalent in style. Of course, fashionable eyeglasses were ubiquitous and helped keep damaging UV rays at bay. Acura even handed out sun umbrellas for people to carry for shade (that looked like larger versions of the little ones found in cocktail glasses).

Food from extraordinary driving roads around the world

The Quail is also a celebration of food. The food is based on classic driving routes from around the world. For example, one gourmet food tent was the RUTA 40 in South America. Ruta 40, locally known in Argentina as La Cuarenta, reaches elevations up to 5,061 meters above sea level – the highest point on a national road anywhere on the planet. The tent offered various Argentinian food classics and local wines.

Another food tent was the Hana Highway in Hawaii – a legendary coastal drive that’s considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in existence. Information about each driving route is displayed on a giant postcard that guests could sign if they had made the trip. Small bands played wonderful music from each location much to the enjoyment of guests. I certainly had my fill of ahi tuna poke bowls and baked pork Manapua buns here.

All in all, The Quail is a delightful and pleasant afternoon and highly recommended to attend.