Travel: A Quick History of Cars in Pebble Beach

A Quick History of Cars in Pebble Beach

By Michael Banovsky
August 7, 2015

Now into its 65th year, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is now a not-to-be-missed event for car collectors and enthusiasts alike in order to attract people to a very specific destination. Back in 1950, however, the event wasn’t quite enough of a draw by itself.

In 1950, enthusiasts wanted to entertain spectators with a weekend filled with events, and planned both a Pebble Beach road race and a Concours d’Elegance for the first year. The race attracted the crowds, and the concours kept them entertained in between heats.

Both events ran together until 1956, after a driver’s death prompted the road racing community to gather $1.5 million in donations and construct the Laguna Seca circuit in time for the 1957 event, where the racing events have been held since.

You may not know that the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in keeping with tradition, initially allowed new cars to compete in concours judging, which led to the first winner in 1950 being a brand-new American aluminum-bodied sports car called the Edwards R-26 Special Sport Roadster. Its creator, Sterling Edwards, was one of the few men who had a hand in organizing the first event.

As road racing was still an up-and-coming sport in America in the early ’50s, organizers needed both vehicles and a venue. The vehicles were easy to find, but a venue would only reveal itself after Del Monte was enticed to use some of the roads it owned near what we now called the Lodge at Pebble Beach, an exclusive hotel built in 1919. It was hoped that the concours and “Del Monte Trophy” racing events would attract well-to-do clientele to the region—and it worked.

Continue through to the Petrolicious Guide To Monterey Car Week Presented by Michelin for the full story.

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