HomeCar CultureEye Candy: Dawn Patrol at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

Eye Candy: Dawn Patrol at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance


Dawn Patrollers are rewarded by getting to see the first car in line as it rolls onto the fairway at Pebble Beach | Larry Edsall photos

It’s become a Pebble Beach tradition. It started with a handful of photographers and reporters but now attracts a few hundred people to rise long before the sun. One young couple left their hotel in San Francisco at 2:30 a.m. just to take part.

From wherever they come, they make their way to the Monterey Peninsula, go through the 17 Mile Drive guard house and follow the narrow, winding road through the dark to The Lodge, where they walk through the darkness toward the fairway of the famed golfing links and stand behind ropes that define a lane just wide enough for a single car.

And they stand there in the near darkness. And they wait.

One huge portable light on a tall pole shines brightly enough that people can see their way to the stand serving coffee and donuts. They also can see well enough to find the folks from Hagerty, the classic car insurance company, who distribute “Dawn Patrol” baseball-style caps to the crowd.

Little by little, the coffee is drunk, the donuts are eaten and the sky starts to lighten. Eventually, someone official goes to the driver of the first car in line and gives approval for the car to be started and to make its way to its assigned parking place on the 18th fairway. There, the cars are grouped by classes as they await the judges and the thousands of people who will be coming later — well into the light of day — for the 65th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Photos by Larry Edsall


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Amazing! DAWN PATROL was the name given to a huge naval task force of about 70 ships in 1969 when I was in the navy in the Mediterreanian sea with other NATO forces. We were not allowed to say the title when on shore liberty! It caught my eye and triggered some old memories! THANKS!

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