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Ultimate irony: Monterey Car Week is all about cars, but there’s no place to park one


Editor’s note: Follow all of the action and updates on our special Monterey Car Week page.

Monterey Car Week 2018 is over and we’ve made our way back home, where I’m pondering what seems to be the ultimate irony: Monterey Car Week is all about cars, but there’s no place to park one.

At least not close to where you want or need to be, although you might luck out at some venues if you arrive hours early. Which you may as well do because if you don’t, you’ll spend those hours driving up and down narrow lanes hoping to find a space just large enough to squeeze in your vehicle. 

And often, even if you find a spot, you’ll likely need to walk quite a distance, something the motorcar was created to help avoid. 

Tour group from the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento receives prime parking spots at Classic Motorsports car show in Pacific Grove

One benefit of arriving early, at least if you’re attending an event in Carmel-by-the-Sea or in Pacific Grove, is that each has some wonderful restaurants serving amazing breakfasts and stunning lunchtime menus. Both also have quaint shopping districts with interesting architecture and stores with delightful merchandise. 

Another reason to head out early for every event is that you’re likely to be locked up in the major traffic backups that clog the peninsula’s road during a week when its population seems to triple, and with all those visitors trying to get to the same places at the same time. 

Part of the problem, of course, is that the Monterey Peninsula is, indeed, a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean. That leaves just one direction, a geographic bottleneck, through which all traffic attempts to flow. 

After attending for a couple of years, you might discover some shortcuts, and once you do, you’ll refuse to share them with even your closest friends for fear that they, too, will become clogged with traffic.

I have a couple and I’d likely give up the digits on my credit card before the directions for my shortcuts.

Tickets to some events are very expensive, but a place to park is even more precious.

I think I’ve discovered the solution the Monterey Car Week parking problem! Keep reading to learn the secret

It didn’t used to be this way. I remember going to Car Week a couple of decades ago and having no problems finding parking places. In fact, at Pebble Beach, there was one parking lot reserved for members of the media just steps from the front door of The Lodge. 

Lately, however, there has been no special parking for working media folks — unless they arrive in television station trucks (guess we know where we-who-type-words rate these days).

Even events that provide that shuttle service from remote lots have become overcrowded. For one mid-week event, we were informed that if you weren’t in the remote lot by 4 p.m., more than an hour ahead of when the event started, you were out of luck on parking. So you might want to try arriving via Uber or some other ride-sharing service.

As I said, it didn’t used to be this way. But maybe I’m just waxing nostalgic for the days when it was Monterey Car Weekend, not Week, with the Monterey Historics, vintage races at Laguna Seca (before the track sold sponsorship and changed its name) and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Oh, and I guess there was a relatively new event that joined the schedule, something called the Concorso Italiano, which just celebrated its 33rd anniversary.

And there were one or maybe two auctions back then as well. Now there are six auctions (and a seventh rumored to be coming in 2019), plus some sort of car show — or two or three or four — seemingly every day from Tuesday through Saturday. 

Since 1997, there also has been the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, which takes the concours cars on a drive around the Monterey Peninsula and down to Big Sur and back. Funny thing about this event, you can park pretty much anywhere you want alongside the route and watch as many of the world’s best motorcars cruise past. 

Unlike other Monterey Car Week events, the Tour comes to you instead of the other way around.

And there’s another irony: There’s plenty of parking for the one free event held over the course of 60 miles.

Hey, I think I just came up with the solution to the Monterey parking problem: Enter you own car in every show possible and you’ll be given a great parking place. Of course, that would mean having a car invited to Pebble Beach, that also qualifies for Concorso and The Quail and the shows in Carmel and in Pacific Grove and one for the Autobahn or Porsche events and another for the new British car show joining the calendar in 2019 and another for the vintage races. 

But that would mean arriving with a trailer-load of cars, and that’s fine, except now there’s another problem: Where do I park my trailer?


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.


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