The Quail Life—Up Close at the 2011 Motorsports Gathering
The Quail Life—Up Close at the 2011 Motorsports Gathering
Story by William Edgar Photography by William Edgar and Noted
Arriving somewhat after the mid-August Rolex Circle of Champions Best of Show winner rolled onto, and off of, the awards ramp at The Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel, California—this article comes as an “up-close” companion to Sports Car Digest’s more timely, though slimmer, initially posted report. In the days since that event I’ve had time to gather my wits, transcribe notes and interviews, and scroll through hundreds of digital images in order to compose this piece on what being at “The Quail” brought to attendees—without, say, paying the $400 per adult ticket price (children 12 and under, $75) that sold out months ago to a fixed capacity of 3,000 enthusiasts. So, here goes in offering what this title suggests, a personal visit to the 2011 Motorsports Gathering Garden Party that it truly was!
To be perfectly honest, of the many non-racing entertainments offered each August during Monterey Car Week—some call it Monterey Madness, others Holy Week—this one, “The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering”, is the day-long treat in my opinion that tops them all. No offense to the other exalted venues—Ocean Avenue, Concorso, Pebble Beach, the auctions, the list goes on—it’s just that at The Quail you can find a true diversity of cars, sip delectable chilled champagne, and enjoy dining and conversation with the best of motorsport friends.
“I’m not here for the sun,” said Marcel Massini, the go-to Ferrari historian from Switzerland where they’d already had snow. “I’m here for the cars,” he told me, “and of course for the Ferraris! I like the 400 Superamericas, the 410s. The whole Superamerica idea is absolutely spectacular. I’ve never seen so many Superamericas in one place. Every style is here, every color, and obviously the Superamericas and the Americas do belong to America.”
Massini was soaking up the flawless Ferraris Jack Thomas brought from Missouri for this year’s Quail. “The ‘400’ Superamericas,” Massini went on, “came out at the end of 1961 and were produced up until 1963, and there are long wheelbases and short wheelbases—the short wheelbases being a little more desirable. One car, the dark red one over there, used to belong to Nelson Rockefeller and has a great history.” We stopped at a deep green and maroon accented 375 Ferrari America that looked like none of the others. Said my Swiss comrade, “This is the ex-Gianni Agnelli, ex-owner of Fiat, car. It has a little unusual grill that may not be super pretty, but it’s special. You should have a look at the dashboard. The dashboard alone is a piece of art. Perhaps not an elegant car, it’s different, and that is what it’s all about. Obviously Mr. Agnelli wanted to have something special.”
Wayne Obry, who’d been chatting with 1963 Superamerica owner Peter McCoy, a home builder specializing in mansions, stepped over at say hello. Along with partners and technicians at Motion Products in Neenah, Wisconsin, Obry had restored more than a few of the top Ferrari gathered here, including Thomas’ ex-Agnelli 375 built for the Fiat boss in 1955. Meanwhile, following Massini’s prompt, I’d been studying the 375’s dash and thinking it must be wood, though struggling to imagine Enzo Ferrari ever making a car with a wooden dashboard. Obry, an established deity in his rarified niche of Ferrari resto, smiled. “That’s faux wood,” he said. “Actually it’s an aluminum dash that’s hand painted with a brush, not a silk screen, not a sprayer. It’s hand brushed to look like mahogany, and then it has a clear finish over the top of it.” Fooled me.
Massini was checking out another of Thomas’ to-die-for Ferraris, a supremely rare 342 America Cabriolet, one of the only two 342 Pininfarina Cabs built and, in 1953, made even more special in its distinction of being the first grand touring Ferrari ever to carry the 4.5-liter, 300 hp Lampredi engine, 100 more horses than Ferrari’s 4.1-liter Americas. I was absorbed in Ferrarilandia and totally loving it.
Barely ten in the morning and with six more event hours to go, The Quail’s 163 cars and 12 motorcycles had already revved up my heartbeat—in the good way. I asked Massini how he felt about The Quail, how all of this compared to, say, Pebble Beach’s Concours d’Elegance that was to follow the day after the next. “I believe The Quail has more charm,” he said. “It’s more about the cars, more about passion. Here you can really meet all the true car lovers, and their combined knowledge is absolutely amazing. I like the concept. You pay four hundred bucks for a ticket—you can eat, you can meet great friends here, you can see fantastic cars, you can just have a great day. Pebble Beach on the other hand has turned into a really, really big affair, and it has its own charm as well. All of these events in ‘Monterey Madness Week’ have their own attractiveness. Even the Concours in Carmel on Tuesday was interesting. For me it didn’t have that many Ferraris, but it was OK. The world does not only consist of Ferraris—there is other stuff, too.” Such as Jaguars, The Quail’s featured marque this year.
Back in 1950, my father had one of the first XK-120 Jaguars from those early freighter shipments to America. Sleek with its long tapered hood and trailing fenders, faster than any car I’d ever know, he scared the livin’ hell out of me in it. Soon to become Le Mans winners, British racing Jags were absolutely captivating, as the make evolved through its rounded C-Type, tail-finned D-Type and curvaceous “E-Ticket” E-Type with its stunning 1961 debut in Geneva, honored now at The Quail as the model’s 50thAnniversary. Enzo Ferrari himself admired the then-new E-Jag for its beauty. Customers everywhere adored it for its speed and elegance, and for its price—in dollars about a quarter that of the first Ferrari GTO a year later.
Road & Track magazine, in its September 1961 issue, reviewed the entire Jaguar XK Series to write, “If a new car ever created greater excitement around our office than the new Jaguar XKE, we can’t remember it.” That was half a century ago when car guru Dean Batchelor was editor for publishers John and Elaine Bond. Hearst Magazines’ current R&T Editor-In-Chief, Matt DeLorenzo, was here at The Quail 2011 to present the Road & Track Editor’s Choice Award to—a Jaguar XK-120. No ordinary 120, I asked DeLorenzo about it.
“We gave our award for the car we would most like to drive to Mark Miller’s 1950 XK-120, the one that Phil Hill actually raced at Pebble Beach. It’s a real testament to The Quail if they are able to attract that quality of cars,” DeLorenzo said. The Quail this year was paying special tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Phil Hill’s Formula One World Drivers’ Championship, the first American to do so when he clinched the F1 title in September 1961 at Monza.
On another grassy end of this sprawling field of dreams, Road & Track’s Design Director, Richard Baron, was fairly blown away. “Seeing the Bugatti Veyrons there together is like, whoa!” Baron said. “Here’s one, here’s two, no, there’s three, four!—there’s nine! It’s just phenomenal.” Said DeLorenzo, “The Quail is terrific!” Added Baron, “It pulls together competition cars and street cars. It’s not too crowded, you can actually see the cars and stand around and take pictures all day long. It’s low key, you get to see a lot of friends out there. Gordon McCall just puts together great collections of cars.”
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Co-founder of this annual event along with The Honorable Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The HongKong & Shanghai Hotels who also owns The Quail show, is local car and motorcycle aficionado Gordon McCall, the cool, hands-on fire-putter-outer who glues it all together while aided by the diligence of Courtney Porras Ferrante, Laurie Courtwright and Nicole Carlson. “The Quail,” McCall told me, getting right to the crux of it, “is one of those occasions where you can finish a conversation that you start. And I love that about it! I cherish having the time to catch up with people.”
People continually ask McCall: “How does it happen that there’s a little bit of everything here?” A devotee of scope, McCall said, “That’s the unique element of our show—it’s a lot of phone calls that I make during the year! I love diversity, to view things through everyone’s eyes. This is what The Quail show is all about. Where else are you going to see the ‘Baja Boot’ at a Concours!? Yet when you look at that car here, and talk to its owner, Jim Glickenhaus, you learn about Steve McQueen. Arguably,” McCall continued, “McQueen spent more time in that thing, the Baja Boot, than he did in anything else.” So, the formula is to mix it up and have something for everyone? “It’s not patting ourselves on the back,” McCall answered. “It’s being open-minded and not restrictive, and really offering diversity.” Easy to see what McCall meant.
It was time for the formal opening of the show, as The Quail event’s patriarch, Sir Michael Kadoorie, was handed the mike by returning Master of Ceremonies Richard Charlesworth from Cheshire, England. “Welcome everybody!” called the cheery luxury hotelier based in Hong Kong. “I see looking at the lawn, not only are you here with all your passion, but you are here in what seems to be a larger group at this time of the day than I have ever seen before. So you have got some wonderful cars around you. I welcome you! It’s a garden party! Enjoy yourselves and drink plenty of champagne!”
Approaching noon, it was all about Louis Roederer Champagne, mariachi music, and cars, cars, cars—but also about center stage and the seated dialogue there between motorsport legend Derek Bell and international author-photographer Winston Goodfellow. Bell, 69, looking every bit the quintessential racing driver, quipped about winning his first race in a Lotus 7, then moving into Formula 2 and Formula 1, going to Monza to test for Ferrari. Said Bell to Goodfellow and all by loud-speaker, “I think Mr. Ferrari had a soft spot for British drivers, to be honest, so I got the drive. I had the Dino Formula 2 car and after I had done quite well he put me into my first Formula 1 race. I had to test drive in the pouring rain, and had my first Formula 1 drive in the Gold Cup at Olton Park. Jacky Ickx sprained his ankle in the Canadian Grand Prix, and they put me into his car, a new one, and I drove that in the United States Grand Prix, which was my first ever race in this country.”
Parked in front of the stage were two display cars, a Ferrari California Spyder and Porsche 935, both red. They were placed there in tribute to Bell, who drove this Porsche with Bob Akin at Road Atlanta and Daytona. And the Cal Spyder? Said McCall, “I was intrigued to learn from Derek that it was a California Spyder that lit his fuse in terms of having an interest in cars, so that was the reason we had Larry Carter’s California Spyder and the 935 representing a big chunk of Derek’s career.”
Bell, who loves to share stories and his car knowledge, talked on in answering Gooddfellow’s learned questions. About Le Mans, the dapper Brit recalled, “Le Mans to me is the greatest race in the world. I drove the Porsche 917, an incredible car. You do 246 miles an hour down the Mulsanne Straight! Being there the first year, I was so stupid I had no idea that it was dangerous.” Bell went on to overall wins in the 24 hour French classic five times.
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Moving right along, it was sunshine and lunch at separate stations of The Quail Epicurean Delights, Executive Chef Julio Ramirez’ culinary renditions ranging from Spanish, to French, Italian, Mediterranean and Carmel Valley Farmers’ Market cuisine, with drinks and gelato everywhere, all part of the 4-Franklins gate charge. And while I gabbed, my wife Sharon was off taking pictures of fashion and families, the moveable feast of people-watching that’s so indisputably Quail.
On my own walkabout, the purplest-of-purple Rolls Royce halted me in my tacks. “My color,” its owner, Michael Fux (pronounced Fewkes), announced. “The only one in the world. Fux Purple,” he told me. So massive and prominent was this bespoke Phantom Drophead Coupé that for an extensive moment I was speechless.
“Rolls Royce did an incredible job,” I heard from Fux, who has other special order Rolls’ in vibrant yellow and red. “The interior in this one is all white leather with purple stitching, and white veneer enamel,” he was saying. “I like to make sure that every car is unique and beautiful because eventually they are going to a museum to benefit some of my favorite charities.” He named them: Children’s Cancer Caring Center, Operation Smile, and others. “The Quail is a great place for people who love cars,” Fux said. “You get to see things that you don’t get to see anywhere else.”
Soon after, while a dining-area tenor was giving Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” aria every bit of breath he had, I ran into Alain de Cadenet—Alfa Romeo devotee, period and vintage racing driver, charismatic TV host and friend. I engaged the always well turned-out Alain in a lively stop-and-chat.
Worldly car guy that he is, I asked de Cadenet what he thought of the show. “The Quail, I have to say,” said Alain, “is probably the event that you don’t want to miss on the Peninsula. The Quail is definitely the place to be. There’s enough people here to make it obviously busy, but not so many people that you can’t move about, and every year they come up with great themes. Apart from the food and the drink, which is excellent, I think the setting is quite brilliant. When the sun comes out, which it does, it’s not too hot, not too cold. It’s just right, a bit like Goldilock’s porridge.”
So I then asked him where The Quail stands in this planet’s list of elite car gatherings. “Because it has racing,” said de Cadenet, “the Goodwood Revival has to be my favorite, but I would put this second to Goodwood.” When we talked about Goodwood—the intrepid Goodwood Revival is coming up in mid-September—de Cadenet said he’ll be driving a Ferrari GTO and Lancia D-50 Grand Prix car there.” How cool is that!
I moved on through the field, catching cars I’d missed in my first rounds, seeing more people I knew. Denise McCluggage was there, bringing her marvelous photographs in from homeland Santa Fe. Her shots of Phil Hill, from back in the day when she and Hill were racing, are outstanding. Other people were spotted as they milled among The Quail’s cars and motorcycles, vendor and sponsor booths—Jay Leno, Sir Stirling Moss and Lady Susie, Gordon Murray, Paul d’Orleans, David Sydorick, ultra-car guy Bruce Meyer, Vintage Motorsport magazine editor Randy Riggs, Bimmer magazine editor Jackie Jouret—and Dennis Glavis, the fervent Morgan dealer who’s made 21 trips to the factory, here with the new Morgan Aero Super Sports, one of about 100 produced. So many enthusiasts totally into “the hobby”, as this posh collector car life is again and again called.
“I love car people,” Gordon McCall said to me at one point. “I don’t want to term it a ‘hobby’ because I think that word gets over-used. It’s so much more than a hobby,” he said. “‘Passion’ has been over-used, too. It’s almost a—‘necessity!’ I don’t think any of us can help what we do.” We laughed about this, and I suggested calling it a constantly needed ‘fix’. We laughed even more at this declaration of truth. “We just can’t help ourselves!” said McCall, who besides running The Quail show puts on the week’s Motorworks Revival “Jet Party” at the Monterey Airport. The guy’s name should be McCar.
After checking out various period Porsches, Siatas, the Riverside International Raceway cars, pre-and-post war sports and racing cars, the Great Ferraris and more, the whole show formatted around entrants’ cars grouped by theme or type, I found myself back at the Ferrari Americas & Superamerica encampment speaking again with Wayne Obry, restorer of so many significant Ferraris that earn Concours awards on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Wayne,” I asked, “in a nutshell what goes into the restoration of these Ferraris, these multi-million dollar cars?” Obry smiled, drew a deep breath, and said, “Restoration, in my view, is a terminology that is the most misused in the automotive field. Everybody’s definition of a restoration will vary, either from their experience or their ideology, or something. In my view and in our company view being ‘in the business’ so to speak, the only true definition of a restoration is, in an automobile, for example—you take a car apart to the last screw, the last washer, the last wire, the last thing you can take off the car without using a torch or a chisel. Then you throw all the parts in a pile. Then you take each individual piece and part and you renew it, you rebuild it, you re-tune it, you build everything back together and put it back on the car. When the pile is gone the restoration is done. That is a restoration. And anybody in the business will also know that comparing Ferraris to other marques, and we also do other marques, the Jaguar pile is usually twice as big as the Ferrari pile.”
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Fast approaching The Awards, there was just enough clock time to make another circuit of the field’s perimeter and take in the gleaming new road examples from Bentley, Jaguar, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Maserati, Aston Martin, Cadillac, and Land Rover, then beat it back to a place beside the awards ramp to get clean shots of The Quail 2011’s class winners—decided not by the typical 100-point system but here by the class entrants themselves based on the criteria stated in The Quail’s dazzling 185-page event program/magazine. That criteria states: “Design features, the correctness of body shapes, finishes, upholstery and historical significance are all considered. Our wish is that our entries be regularly driven, and we expect all mechanical systems to be functional. We would like future generations to enjoy the cars as we have, and feel obligated to encourage their preservation as manufactured.”
Richard Charlesworth as Emcee, the ramp ceremony opened with its first award presented by FIVA [Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens founded in 1966 and based in Brussels, Belgium—“An international body to promote and guide the interests of the historic vehicle movement throughout the world.”] The winner was this 1957 Ferrari 410 Superamerica Series II, the trophy handed over by Paul Fleming of FIVA (right, in above photos) and Michael Collins of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. It’s an original car that owner Chris LePorte has nurtured for 40 years.
(Gordon McCall later told me, “I like the idea of collaborating with a legitimate group such as FIVA to recognize original cars. There are so many craftsmen involved in bringing cars up to the 100-point standard, but quiet frankly there’s nothing neater than the look and smell and feel of an all-original car, or motorcycle for that matter.”)
Next up was the Road & Track Editors’ Choice Award for the car they would like to drive away, in this case based on a jury of Editor-In-Chief Matt DeLorenzo, Design Director Richard Baron and Editor-at-Large John Lamm. The Quail program reads, “Their choice is purely subjective, not based on historical facts, performance or aesthetics, but their collective personal opinions of their favorite car.” The recipient was … the 1950 Jaguar XK-120 Alloy Body once owned and raced by Phil Hill, now owned by Mark Miller. There were people here who actually saw Phil win driving this Lightweight Jaguar at the Inaugural Pebble Beach Road Races on November 5, 1950, over a course of pavement and dirt winding through the pine forest. Black was the car then, and here now; it bore Hill’s race number 2 just as 61 years ago after he brought it over from England as “personal luggage” aboard the RMS Queen Mary.
Beginning the winner-only first-in-classes, the Riverside International Raceway Award came next, the trophy going to the 1966 IndyCar All American Racers Gurney Eagle entered by Doug Magnon’s Riverside Raceway Automotive Museum. In its ninth year, The Quail has continued to award its “Quail Trophy” to these extraordinary cars, the sterling silver artwork crafted to represent speed and motion through the symbolic “Q” shape piece designed by Pat Areias and brought to life by local sculptor Billy Hinds. The two on-ramp presenters were Caryn Lavin and Todd Tice of The Club in Carmel.
“What a good-looking car this is!” said Charlesworth on-mike, announcing The 50th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type Award being presented to Ron Laurie’s 1961 E-Type OTC Roadster. This example was the first E-Type in California, delivered to British Motor Cars, Ltd, in San Francisco back in August of ’61.
Winner of The Great Ferraris Award was the 1956 Ferrari 250 Tour de France owned by Jon Masterson. (If by now you’ve missed reading serial numbers, they have been unobserved here on purpose—we all know how to find them elsewhere.) This striking TdF was originally owned by Tony Parravano in the mid-‘50s, and has been run in the Mille Miglia Storica by its current owner.
Said Charlesworth about this sports racing Ferrari, “A great win, a great car, especially for a great man.” Paying homage to the 50th Anniversary of Phil Hill’s Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship, this special tribute award was given to the 1959 250 Ferrari Testa Rossa Fantuzzi Spyder owned and driven here by Bruce McCaw, with Phil’s widow, Alma Hill, riding passenger. In 1959, Phil Hill won Riverside’s U.S. Grand Prix for Sports Cars and the Nassau Ferrari race driving this same TR59 entered back then by Eleanor von Neumann. Later restored by Pete Lovely and Butch Dennison, it was purchased by McCaw in the late 1990s.
Moving onto The Quail’s Pre-War Sports & Racing category—“A group representing exceptional performance and racing cars built before World War II”—the crowning pick was this graceful 1938 Talbot Lago T150C Teardrop Coupé owned by William E. (Chip) Connor at the RHD wheel and accompanied by his wife, Jacque. One of only 14 such examples were produced, and this is the first car to ever have won Best of Show at both the Louis Vuitton Classic in Paris and Pebble Beach here on the Monterey Peninsula.
Next, for milestone sporting cars that were designed to place the driving above creature comforts, the Post-War Sports Car class winner was this silver and green 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster owned by Bill & Linda Feldhorn; a car that underwent complete body-off restoration by Rudi Koniazel in February 2011.
The Quail’s Post-War Racing Cars class winning trophy was awarded this oft-seen on track and grass 1952 Glöckler-Porsche Weidenhausen Roadster owned by Herb & Rose Marie Wysard. “What a good-looking Porsche this is!” enthused the Emcee, “and from the Goodwood stickers on the side we know this car is still being campaigned, and that’s good to see. Don’t lock them away! Use them!” Driven in period at the Nurburgring, the car was later brought by Max Hoffman to America where it continued to be raced during the mid-‘50s, and far beyond.
The Quail event’s co-founder, Gordon McCall (foreground), known by all as an avid bike guy—both motor and pedal power—could not resist coming on stage to present the Sports & Racing Motorcycles win for this 1972 Italian MV Agusta 750 Sport 4C75 owned by the Gary Kohs. A motorcycle of great significance, this is one of only 215 built between 1969 and 1980.
The Quail’s Super Cars class award summoned this Darth Vader-like 2011 Pagani Zonda R exotic to the ramp where Richard Charlesworth announced, “The owner is not here, but that is Mr. Pagani himself who is taking the award.” Debuted at Geneva in 2007, the Modena-built Zonda R (named after the Andes-borne Zonda Winds that sweep high above Juan Manuel Fangio’s native Argentina) is powered by a 740 bhp Mercedes-Benz AMG M120 12-cylinder 6-liter engine.
The auspicious recipient of The Spirit of The Quail Award is chosen by The Quail Motorsports Council for the car that best represents “the true spirit of motoring for the automotive enthusiast.” The choice is subjective, but includes design, driving experience, performance for its era, engineering innovation, and timelessness. And the winner! … this silky 1952 Siata 208 CS V8 owned by David Smith. Raced in the 1953 Mille Miglia, the car was soon after reconfigured to its present spyder form. Smith bought this exquisite example in 2006.
While a delay for the next award was sorted by Gordon McCall and staff, bringing on the mariachis was a sure-fire crowd pleaser. The interim awards ramp performance by the local Dany Cobo Mariachi Ensemble prompted Charlesworth to declare it “Winner of the Best Mariachi Band of the Day”, bringing resounding approval by all.
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And so next came the Ferrari America & Superamerica Award presented to the 1964 Ferrari 400 Superamerica owned and regularly driven in various car events by Don & Carol Murray. This is one of 36 built and was originally owned by Nelson Rockefeller, who had it repainted silver, though the car now splendidly wears its original color.
For the day’s premier Rolex Best of Show, chosen by the entrants as the automobile that distinguishes itself in both design and presentation, Sir Michael Kadoorie delivered the award to the 1955 Ferrari 375 America owned and driven onto the ramp by Jack E. Thomas, recipient of Louis Roederer Champagne and the award’s Rolex watch presented by Stewart Wicht, President and CEO of Rolex Watch USA. Quoting The Quail program: “This is a very special one-off Ferrari built especially for Fiat Chairman, Gianni Agnelli. It was a collaborative effort between Ferrari and Pininfarina for one of Europe’s most wealthy and influential industrialists. This car is also important to the history of Ferrari because it was the first custom coachwork Ferrari owned by Agnelli, the man who guaranteed the survival of Ferrari by Fiat’s infusion of cash into the company in 1969.” This unique 375 America Berlinetta was restored from its near-original condition about ten years ago by Wayne Obry and Motion Products.
Speaking with the Best of Show’s winner immediately after he drove his ex-Agnelli Ferrari off the ramp, Jack Thomas said, “I’m deeply honored and most appreciative of this award. It was a tremendous field out here today and the entire Motion Products team did a wonderful job restoring this car. I’ve shown it in a number of occasions but Ferraris are meant to be driven, so this will be driven a lot in the upcoming years.”
So it went. And all this is only what happened on The Quail’s show field that glorious Friday, without even getting into the concurrent Bonhams & Butterfields two-day auction of classic cars and motorcycles that took place on these grounds. But that’s another story entirely, and for another writer.
When I asked Gordon McCall what’s up for next year at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, he was happy to preview the event that will return for its Tenth Anniversary on Friday, August 17, 2012.
Said McCall, “To pay homage to the support we have had over the years, we’re going to round up as many of the Best of Show and Class Winners from the past at The Quail. We’re also going to do a pre-war Alfa Romeo grouping—we all love those prewar Alfas! And Winston Goodfellow will bring in a feature on Iso Automobili’s 50th Anniversary. Plus I have been talking to the FIVA group about a preservation category. The collaboration between The Quail and FIVA entities will produce some really fun cars.”
McCall talked more about this year’s tribute to Phil Hill and what it meant to him personally as well as to the event itself in making that happen. “I waited deep into the year on this,” McCall told me, “and was strictly doing that out of my respect for Pebble Beach, because I figured they would have to be doing something on Phil, and that was my assumption. And lo and behold, there was nothing planned for Phil’s anniversary. Finally I picked up the phone and called Phil’s son Derek. I knew I could get the Jaguar, the XK-120, and the TR59 Ferrari, and we did. I spoke with Alma today, and she said, ‘Having these two lovely cars here, and all of Phil’s friends coming up and chatting with us, I’m kind of glad it wasn’t ten or fifteen cars, because then it becomes about the cars. This has been a wonderful day to recognize Phil.’” McCall added, “Seeing Alma Hill on the ramp with Bruce McCaw in the TR59, just for that moment, I thought that was very special. That was incredibly emotional on my end. I’d know Phil since I was fifteen. The guy taught me how to drive a straight-cut gear box in a Packard 840 Club Sedan—I’ll never forget that day.”
I recalled Phil Hill being at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in 2008, and McCall picked it up from there with, “That was Phil’s last event, and he loved that show. He loved the low-key of it, which makes me really proud. To hear that come back from a guy like Phil, who was himself so low-key, humble and modest, that meant the world to me.”
I personally knew Phil Hill for many years. He drove twice for my father’s team in 1957, man-handling our beastly Ferrari 410 Sport in the rain at Santa Barbara and running that red-lined 4.9 for certified fastest-of-the-meet (165 mph) through the straightaway speed trap during Hawaiian races at Dillingham Field on Oahu. And there were so many other times, and places, and memories. Above is my photograph of Phil, Alma and Derek at that final event that Phil attended, ill with Parkinson’s but still eager to be in the moment with motorsport enthusiast on that day at The Quail that Gordon McCall mentioned. It was August 15, 2008. Philip Toll Hill, Jr., aged 81, died thirteen days later.
If I listen carefully enough to past racing days stored in my cranial hard drive, I can still hear the wail of the TR59 on that day 52 years ago when Phil Hill drove it to win at Riverside International Raceway. There remains nothing else like it, or like him.
In a final note from The Quail’s Signature Events Manager Courtney Porras Ferrante, after her and her colleagues’ efforts in helping make the 2011 event the achievement that it was, Ferrante writes: “This year more than ever, the creativity and passion of our sponsors and entrants encompassed the spirit of The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. Inspired by the success of this year’s event, The Quail team is thrilled to begin preparations for the Tenth Anniversary.”
The Quail Life—Up Close at 2011’s Motorsports Gathering (click image for larger picture and description)