Pebble Beach 2011 Motor Junkies

24 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Pebble Beach 2011 Motor Junkies
Aermacchi 175 Chimera

Pebble Beach 2011

The decision three years ago to include motorcycles at the world’s finest concours d’elegance at Pebble Beach was initially awkward, secondarily a bit cheeky, and this year, finally, a natural fit. Two-wheelers were moved off the ‘rough’ and onto the proper grass, and though it was a hell of a walk to the end of the fairway, the placement of the bikes wasn’t an afterthought or a sidebar.

They weren’t even the furthest vehicles out, that honor going to a row of fantastic Edwardian Rolls Royces. Psychologically, being able to walk from on end of the fairway to another, and find motorcycles displayed actually amongst the cars, and not off to the side and up a slight grade, fully integrated the show.

The moto-flavor for 2011 was ‘Italian’, with two categories, road and track…sometimes a difficult distinction for such a competition-mad country. As befits Pebble, the racers included several ‘can I touch it’ ultra-historic machines, spine-tingling presences with ghosts in the machinery.

I’d never seen the Mike Hailwood ‘comeback’ ’78 Ducati Isle of Man Production TT winner, I’d only seen a thousand photographs, and read the inspiring accounts of Mike’s amazing return to road racing after a period of retirement. Hailwood is no longer with us, but the man who fettled the bike for him – Steve Wynn – was minding the machine, just as 33 years ago.

A champion who’s still with us, John Surtees, was on hand with two of his World Championship winning racers; the 1956 MV Agusta 500cc on which he won the title that year, and the 1964 Ferrari 158 Formula 1 on which he won the World Driver’s Championship, and Ferrari their Constructor’s Championship. The little Ferrari still bears a few distinctive modifications in the tiny cockpit to accomodate the driver; finding the seat area tight for even his diminutive body, Surtees took a hammer to the aluminum chassis bulwarks on either side of the seat, for a bit more room while shifting and accelerating.

Both the MV and Ferrari live in the Barber Museum in Alabama, and Mr. Barber and staff were very low-key with the throngs of admirers crowding both vehicles. A testament to Barber’s actual use of the MV Agusta; no rollers were used to start the bike, only a pull on the rear wheel was required to fire it up.

Aermacchi 175 Chimera

For a highly-tuned racing motorcycle, this speaks volumes about the care taken in its preparation.

The two fire-engine red racers sat as kin by the shore, a nod to the great racing driver, the only man to win a World Championship on both two and four wheels. It was also, we must note, an excuse for a breakout; the MV was not in the motorcycle ghetto at all, but mingled comfortably in all its prestige among the cars. Nice.

After seeing so many Concours around the world, so many megabuck cars, I’d grown a sense of ennui about seeing yet more rows of cosseted and coveted metal. The estimated aggregate value of the cars on Pebble’s grass was nearly $4 BILLION dollars this year (certainly bolstered by a long row of Ferrari GTOs)…and walking onto the golf course at 8am after several short nights and early mornings, parking hassles, and heavy traffic even at 6:30am, I could be forgiven a touch of grouchy indifference.

But that wasn’t my experience at all; I was shocked to feel excitement for so many spectacular vehicles assembled in one place. Regardless of issues of class and exclusivity, ‘don’t you know who I am’ers demanding entry, over-restored ladies (and a few gents) – the whole mess of Filthy Richness hovering over the party like heady perfume – Pebble Beach attracts a cars (and maybe bikes) you’ll see nowhere else. Or at least, not in one place, on one day.

Aermacchi 175 Chimera
Aermacchi 175 Chimera
Aermacchi 175 Chimera


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