One Week in Monterey

Seeing it all at Monterey Car Week 2022

While we didn’t exactly think it possible, Monterey Car Week’s level of importance to the auto industry may just be growing more than ever before. Notable events such as the Pebble Beach Concours, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, The Quail and Legends of the Autobahn are likely already familiar bucket list entries for those in the Audi automotive hobby and yet somehow its stature continues to elevate. We dropped into Monterey in August to immerse and the experience is one we firmly believe every Audi enthusiast should plan to replicate at their earliest possible convenience. Should you make the commitment, here’s what we’d suggest you do.

Before Leaving, Figure Out Lodging

We can’t emphasize this enough. Staying in or near Monterey during Car Week isn’t inexpensive. Book early and be creative. The best advice we ever received in regards to lodging was to organize a group of friends to share in both the experience and the price, then book a rental house on VRBO, Airbnb or the like. Having a base of operations to which you can return and swap stories over beer and barbecue is about as good as it gets. Spreading the cost over a group also makes this option surprisingly affordable.

Day 1: Tuesday of Car Week

Unless you’re from California already, the easiest way to Monterey in our book is to fly into San Francisco (SFO) and pick up a rental. The Bay area is rich in car rental options and the chances of grabbing an Audi are very good. Silvercar by Audi has a fleet of them at Audi Burlingame, located close to the airport. Apps like Turo may net you a four-ringer even more obscure or exotic. Check your options; don’t settle for a boring transportation appliance.

The drive to Monterey is shorter if you stick to the navigation. If you land earlier, it’s more relaxing to head over to the Pacific Coast Highway and travel down along the coast. Whatever the case, plan on hitting Automobilia at the Embassy Suites in Seaside on your day of arrival. You’re more likely to find cool stuff ahead of the crowd, while you can grab the gratuitous burger and fries at the In-n-Out around the corner.

Check into the house and decompress. If you haven’t had your full fix of the Pacific Coast Highway yet, cruise south to Big Sur for dinner. The views along the way are stunning, and they get even better with drinks and fine food at Nepenthe on the cliffs.

Day 2: Wednesday of Car Week

Activities begin in earnest on Wednesday. You can start with early viewing of lots for the best auctions – RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Gooding & Company and more. By afternoon, plan on arriving at Pacific Grove’s main street where the Little Car Show is; a quirky and eclectic mix that often includes four ring lineage models like DKW 3=6 or NSU TT. Grab lunch at a restaurant in the area.

By evening it’s time for Motorlux by Hagerty at the Monterey Jet Port. Upon arrival, take your time to ogle the incredible cars in the parking lot alone. You never know what you’ll find; our own group spied an RS2 Avant and 2.5 TFSI-powered Donkervoort that’s newly available in the USA.

Now part of the growing Hagerty Empire, this is also home to Broad Arrow auction, which means even more incredible cars to peruse. Interspersed in the mix are airplanes plus delectable food and cocktail stations. If you’re able to land tickets to this sought-after event, plan on spending the whole evening here as the party goes into the night.

Day 3: Thursday of Car Week

As an Audi fan, Legends of the Autobahn West needs to be on the short list… especially this year. Audi Tradition supported Legends with a display of three incredible cars from their collection including a 1984 quattro A2 Group B rally car, 1988 200 Trans-Am and 1989 90 IMSA-GTO.

As concours go, Legends is a laid-back affair put on by Audi Club North America, BMWCCA and Mercedes-Benz Club of America. It’s approachable and easy to participate; a great way to show off your car – owned or rented. We may have entered our Silvercar A5 Sportback rental in the show. Shhh.

Auction previews are still going on later into the afternoon, so wrapping up your day by checking out more multi-million-dollar cars is a great way to fill the remaining afternoon until dinner hour. End the day strolling places like Carmel-by-the-Sea, ogling street-parked exotics or dining at a local café.

Day 4: Friday of Car Week

Now into the busiest parts of Car Week, the crowds will be getting thicker. If you were able to manage tickets to The Quail, get there early. This uber exclusive gathering of manufacturers, celebrities and the very, very rich is something to behold. The nature of the crowd means any manufacturer with an eye towards the luxury market brings their A-game. In fact, The Quail has quickly become one of the most prestigious places to debut new models and concept cars. Audi is a regular here and this year showed off its three sphere concepts.

If you weren’t able to score a ticket to The Quail, head on over to Pebble Beach to check out their RetroAuto vendor village, then wander down to their forum discussions. Had you done so this year, you might have caught Tom Kristensen in a panel about Le Mans, another on Women in Motorsports, or a taping of the Spike’s Cars & Coffee podcast.

After Pebble, head over to Porsche Club of America’s Werks Reunion. While it’s not Audi-focused, the Porsche-centric Werks event is another great club-run concours around a brand that is a well-respected corporate cousin. And if you get extra lucky, you might enjoy some further RS2 sightings.

When you’re done at Werks or The Quail, head on over to nearby Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca to catch some of the historics and drop in that evening for RADwood in the Paddock. This was the first year for RADwood to spread ‘80s/’90s automotive love in Monterey and we doubt it’ll be the last.

By dinner, consider Monterey’s Cannery Row. The restaurants may be teeming with tourists but the cars cruising the block will be worth it. Strolling to the waterfront will give you an excuse to swing by RM Sotheby’s preview at the Monterey Convention Center one last time.

Day 5: Saturday of Car Week

Start the day early at Concours d’Lemons. Organized by the 24 Hours of Lemons series and supported by Monterey, this unconventional take on the concours idea celebrates irreverence and tomfoolery. The taco truck was pretty spectacular too.

After that, it’s time to spend most of the day at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca. Here you can mill about in the paddock surrounded by incredible vintage racing machinery or stroll vendor row. Manufacturers like Audi are in the main garages by the front straight and that’s where we caught Ken Block’s S1 Hoonitron alongside Walter Röhrl’s 1987 Pike’s Peak S1 E2. Strolling another direction, we ran across a photo shoot of Audi R8 LMP1s along with Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen. While spectacular, it’s just another moment at the Rolex Reunion, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled.

Just in case you haven’t seen enough or didn’t get all your steps in while ogling in the paddock or hiking up to the Laguna’s famous corkscrew, head on down to Seaside and finish the day at Exotics on Broadway. It’ll be more packed than most of Car Week, and you’ll find yourself navigating the carparazzi photographers as you check out hypercars and supercars. R8s are a common encounter in this sort of mix.

By day’s end, you’ll be exhausted. You’ve been at it for days and Saturday was likely the most intense. Decompress with friends back at the house. A homemade meal with your housemates or invited automotive amigos is the perfect endcap to such a clearly indulgent week. The cars are great and all, but the camaraderie enjoyed reflecting on this week of shared experience is Monterey Car Week at its finest.

Day 6: Sunday of Car Week

The Pebble Beach Concours is the icon and for good reason. If you’re serious, be there at 5AM for Dawn Patrol to watch the concours competitors roll onto the fairway and through the mist of the morning marine layer. If you sleep through that, don your most country club flair attire and prepare to park out along 17-mile drive and shuttle into the area. Strolling past the Pebble Beach Pro Shop, the putting green now serves as a concept lawn. Here again, Audi had their grandsphere alongside many, many other concepts, exotics or best-of-the-best restomods.

Further inside the concours, it’s hard to know where to focus your attention. These are some of the most beautiful cars in the world. Intermixed among them are recognizable celebrities, while simple people watching is also highly entertaining. Strolling the rows of cars should be done at your leisure as there is just so much to see amidst such an incredible backdrop. The serious Pebble Beachers will have grabbed spots early to watch the awards ceremony. If that’s your thing then be aggressive and bring a bottle of wine. If not, then drop out early and check out the likes of the Bugatti display as you make your way out. Concours awards are cool and all but those more into racing will want to get back over to Weathertech Raceway for the reverse Corkscrew hill climb.

Day 7: Monday of Car Week

If you’ve rented a house, you likely have one last night. Decompress and if you’ve booked a late flight out of San Francisco, make your way leisurely back up Pacific Coast Highway so that you can enjoy the view and ponder on your plans for next year.

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