The idea was to descend on Carmel Valley Village for a morning and to display in excess of 300 German cars – besides Porsches – at the community park and throughout some of the village streets. This would be a huge boon for the local businesses, and I just want to touch on that side of Car Week for a brief moment.
Look at the numbers prepared in 2014, which I would assume were already fairly conservative estimates for seven years ago (and during a recession). These car-centric events have only grown in popularity since then, and the figures in this report suggest that more than $50,000,000 would be spent in the area as a direct result of Car Week events. On top of this, that’s approximately $4.8 million in taxes generated to benefit California and the local counties. Naturally, the full $50M+ is reaching the entire community and small business owners via the extra hours, overtime, deliveries and what have you associated with the extra traffic, staffing, and revenue for local businesses.
Legends of the Autobahn was looking to relocate from their usual golf course at the Pasadera country club and spread some of that love up the valley away from the coast. It’s a fantastic drive to get there, too, and this just seemed like such a win-win for everyone. But some disagreed.
You know the story… Person moves into a house located approximately four-feet from a racetrack, then complains about noise from said racetrack.
It’s a story we’ve all heard before, one we’ve covered before on Speedhunters, and one that will surely merit coverage again when another storied facility can no longer allow cars to go ‘round because some people signed up to be the racetrack’s neighbors and then decided they changed their minds.
What happened to Legends of the Autobahn immediately before 2021’s Monterey Car Week is a different brand of this.
Don’t get me wrong; I deeply appreciate the Monterey area and its residents for everything they do to support and promote the tradition of Car Week and ensure that it continues for more generations to enjoy. Yet at the same time, there are those who choose instead to oppose the joy that such events bring tens (now hundreds?) of thousands of people who travel from all around the state, country, and globe to be there. Not to mention, again, the millions of dollars these car people spend at and around these events, which most directly benefits the people living in these communities.
This time it was residents in Carmel Valley who acted via the Carmel Valley Association to launch (in a statement issued by a Legends’ organizer stated that the CVA) “a campaign to stop Legends from ‘destroying’ the rural character of the valley.”
Now I’ve spent enough time on the outskirts of town to appreciate – if not fully understand – the advantages of a country lifestyle. Things move at a different pace; you wave to your neighbors, you bring cookies when someone new moves in. You drive slow, you shoot guns, you run chainsaws, the almond shakers clatter around and make a ridiculous racket as they harvest nuts, you bounce off the rev limiter on your two-stroke… Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound entirely peaceful. That’s because while much of the time it is, a lot of the time it isn’t. And that’s the point.
There aren’t regulations around sound or the time you can do certain work like there is in a city. The police aren’t uptight about lowered cars or a hot cam in your straight-piped V8, and you have certain freedoms that you just don’t get to enjoy the same way in an urban area. So what better kind of place to have thousands of people with thick wallets and expensive cars visit for a long morning?
The locals just weren’t having it, though, and as Monterey County Now reported, the CVA went so far as to publish information about Legends in its newsletter under the heading “Lock Your Doors!”
This sort of odd fear mongering is not only out of place, but entirely inappropriate. I find it unlikely that anyone taking hours, days, and even weeks in some cases out of their lives to attend events like these has ‘robbery’ on their would-be-nice-if-we-could-fit-it-in list for Monterey. This isn’t to say that the locals had some valid concerns, like where everyone would park, or what might happen in an emergency like a fire on the jammed roadways.
Except – and I’m just playing devil’s advocate here – there’s a proper two-lane highway with large shoulders for emergencies leading in and out of the area. And when the park inevitably overflows, cars will indeed have to use public street parking. Doesn’t seem like the end of the world.
Still, at a local meeting held via Zoom, “Residents wailed that outsiders were going to invade ‘their’ park and ‘their’ village.” As the author in the above article notes, these are in fact public areas. Plus, it’s not like it would be a permanent change to anyone’s lifestyle. This would only be for half a day or so. Further, Legends went out of their way to jump through all of the appropriate hoops with the local authorities well ahead of time.
It’s not like this is a big greedy cash grab from the organizers either; the show is entirely free for spectators.
So it’s just a shame that such a community-driven event that could have benefitted so many was met with such resistance.
But I digress. Legends of the Autobahn managed to find a new space for the event and jump through all the necessary hoops again in under a week. The show was relocated to the Monterey County Fairgrounds, and although it might not have been the ideal venue, they certainly made the best of it.
Hats off to all of the volunteers and members of BMW Club of America, Mercedes-Benz Club of America, and Audi Club North America who got together to pull this off. Twice.
Additional Photos by Sara Ryan
Monterey Car Week 2021 on Speedhunters
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