John McGuiness T shirt Means Free Entry to Quail Concours

I see the Quail has just won Best Concours, and this reminded me of an amusing incident from this year’s Pebble Beach week. The Quail is known as the most exclusive event of Pebble week – for that read most expensive tickets – and for a show which compares with Pebble itself for sheer quality of cars exhibited. I’ve never been in an official capacity, but usually make a point of strolling down the service roads around the show ever since the time I helped an old guy and his wife push an Indianapolis-winning roadster into the back of his race hauler. Another year it was Martini Lancias being loaded into the hauler. An LC2 Group C car, a Beta Monte Carlo, a Delta S4, and an Integrale. Nobody else pushing or shoving to get a view, and a chance to hear them run. Another year I sat in an NSX before the official launch, and had 15 minutes chatting with the press officer.

To be clear, my approach is not to crash a show I don’t have tickets for, but rather to see the cars leaving, and then to walk across the show field while it is being packed up. By that time, most of the cars are gone, or under covers, but the ones that remain still constitute an amazing show well worth my time.

This year l visited the Bonham’s preview, and then strolled through the golf course towards the Quail. However, either I arrived early, or the show ran later, and I encountered an obstacle in the form of Security. As I was stating my case to get by, and being denied, a guy who had been at the show, and was clearly waiting for his uber, asked “Oh hey, is that a Isle of Man TT shirt ? I said it was. He said he had visited. He was Texan, stetson and bootlace tie, younger than me, but a head taller and far broader. He was amazed by the TT, the riders, and loved the culture, in that he didn’t mind having a beer or five while waiting for the next race. He offered me his pass. I put it on. Security, bemused by the sudden, immediate rapport, let me by, and I strolled on, loving the irony that by being too lazy to change into the nice collared shirt I had hanging in the car I had won entry to the show.

Infact, I was so preoccupied with enjoying this win that I didn’t immediately perceive the show was still taking place, and I was the only one in the Cali dude’s uniform of t-shirt, jeans, flip flops. At a car show on my own, I look below waist height, at the cars, not at the people. I remember filming the Cheetah, and being taken with the Diablo SV right outside the main show field, and taking a photo for a certain six-year-old boy. Inside, a lovely Ford Escort circled me; I stared first at the car, then at the driver, eventually realizing it was Ant Anstead. He stared back at me, in my oil-stained jeans and John McGuiness shirt.

The aforementioned Diablo SV

Indeed, so innappropriate was my dress that noted carguy youtuber schmee150 stopped looking at Lamborghinis long enough to check out the EMC sponsored Honda screen printed in vivid, if slightly distended, detail across my carefully cultivated beer belly.

John McGuiness

More distracting for me was that over by the bikes – they had some TT winners up on plinths, perfect to look at properly without having to squat – a small flock of quite well lubricated and attractive women struck up with me, about who I was, what I did, and how authentic I looked, hunched over the AJS Porcupine as I had been. It is not often I feel like Brad Pitt, but when I do, I like to savour it.

As I was leaving, strolling across the golf course / car park, I realized that Jenson Button was in the small group off to my left. He too noted Morecambe’s finest on my chest, but broke eye contact as soon as it was made, heading away from the odd scruffy bloke and towards his burgundy Bentayga.

Pebble-winning Horch, and some Lamborghinis recorded for the six year old

Perhaps the greatest irony is that the shirt was originally signed by the Great Man himself. While he was recovering from that bad fall he had a few years ago, I began to follow his wife on Twitter, and she offered a limited run of signed shirts through Twitter a couple of Christmas’ ago. In the pic, he was there, modeling it next to the Christmas tree in their front room. However, the signature, which was in a silver-grey marker, wore off when the shirt was washed. In other words, I never should have worn the shirt, yet had I not accidentally destroyed the signature I wouldn’t have been wearing it for the drive down to Monterey, and would never have had the reflected glow of McGuiness’ cool to get me into a $1000 car show free.