Drive Tastefully: Paramount Ranch Was a Rolling Concours
Photography by Afshin Behnia, Kika Vigo-Behnia, and Luke Wooden
When Petrolicious was launched, our founder Afshin Behnia was compelled by a simple motivation; he wanted to see the static automotive concours events brought to life. He wanted to experience the sounds and sights of glorious motion because, at its heart, Petrolicious is a celebration of driving.
This weekend was the second off-line driving event for Petrolicious and it was a resounding success. Drive Tastefully: Paramount Ranch brought together an eclectic crowd of Petrolisti and their cars for a spirited drive, and leisurely lunch, through Southern California’s mountains and valleys.
The participants and cars ranged from around the globe: a rare Morgan 3 Wheeler, a Mini Cooper driven down from Sacramento, a colorful party van from the 1970s, a plethora of rare Alfas, Ferraris, and one very special Porsche 906, a ‘one of fifty’ car that was clearly the belle of the ball. The diversity represented by the vehicles pulling into the Malibu parking lot truly captured Petrolicious’s spirit.
I also noted attendees’ friendly attitude, even at a time of day when most people shy from personal contact. Everywhere friends and strangers gathered in small clumps to discuss their cars, the drive, and what brought them together. The bonhomie was apparent and to my mind, quite special.
After a light repast of coffee and pastries it was time for Afshin to announce that it was “time to start our engines!” The assembled masses decamped en masse, rally maps in hand, to begin the journey. The roar of seventy-odd, mostly carbureted, vehicles suddenly shattered the morning air, although the early consensus was that the tiny Abarth Zagato of Carl Gustav Mangusson had the loudest bark in a crowded field of competitors.
One by one we headed out and into the hills of Malibu—a train of eager participants. Blessed with light traffic we seemed, for a moment in time, alone on the road in the company of likeminded strangers and even more fantastic cars.
Multiple Generations of Porsche at Paramount Ranch
Going topless at Paramount Ranch
Alfa Romeo 105s on one of the Paramount circuit’s old curves
As we wound our way into the mountains, some sped ahead while others cruised more leisurely, myself included. The curvy roads quickly took us deep into a pastoral landscape, the mist and fog revealing a fantastical environment that caused my own young passenger to exclaim, “that looks like middle earth!” and he was right.
My experience was more visceral as I was surrounded by unique cars all along the route, which provided a deep-seated jolt; like being a child again and feeling the rush of seeing a favorite car on the road in front of you…only now it was five dozen of them! It’s one thing to see so many vintage automobiles sitting in a parking lot, but an entirely different experience to be side-by-side with a Porsche 906’s wail! It was truly an awesome sight to see cars, meant to be driven hard, piloted with brio and purpose.
At one point I was behind an almost identical pair of silver Ferrari 308s, a sight that is at once incongruous, amazing, and very 1980s! I later found myself followed by an immaculate black Dino 246 and thought, “where else could this happen, but on a rally like this?” I was also delighted to see so many participants choosing to “leapfrog”, meaning they chose to stop and wait until a different group of participants arrived and joined them on the road. This allowed us, over the 160 miles, to experience being grouped with different cars, speeds, and driving styles…and made for a less competitive atmosphere; a truly “gentleman’s” rally.
The first major stop was Ojai and the residents of this sleepy little resort town didn’t know what hit them when eighty or so raucous cars descended on a single gas station! It was a madhouse of the absolutely best kind. Datsun Roadsters crowding Lamborghini Espadas and hey, is that Jack Nicholson’s Mercedes 600? Why yes, yes it is!
Gassed up, we headed down to the coast along the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The two lanes of Route 101 and later, the Pacific Coast Highway, allowed the cars to stretch their legs and participants to absorb the scenery, although at one point being behind half-a-dozen Italian exotics had me feeling like I was in Rome circa 1971, pre-emissions standards.
Were there hiccups? Well, an immaculate VW GTI lost its hood. The hood tumbled, flipping off on the highway like a deadly metal potato chip. But luckily, no one was injured. Another Porsche lost its transmission early in the day, but the vast majority of the guests arrived at Paramount Ranch with both cars and spirits intact.
Paramount Ranch, a Southern California old-west landmark with a hidden past as a real racetrack was a welcome respite after the long, spirited drive. The miles we traveled were substantial, as were participants’ hunger pangs! The group was quickly satiated by some of the best BBQ this writer has had the pleasure of consuming, and I eat a lot of it!
After filling up on BBQ and taking another tour of the cars we reluctantly packed it in. Drive Tastefully: Paramount Ranch was something special. No one in attendance will soon forget it and for me it was a vivid reminder why I joined this amazing team in the first place, a tactile experience of collective automotive passion…a rolling concours.
Legends of the ’80s