RODEO DRIVE CONCOURS D’ ELEGANCE…A FATHER’S DAY TRADITION

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

For the last 3 years I would wake up the Monday after Father’s Day only to realize I’ve missed yet another year of the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance.  I was on my way to repeating this tragic mistake yet again until a good friend happened to be at the show and text me a picture of a car he liked.  I immediately dropped what I was doing, put my helmet on, and rode my motorcycle to Beverly Hills.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

This exclusive display of luxury automobiles has become a Father’s Day tradition in Beverly Hills and is set against the backdrop of world class Rodeo Drive boutiques.  The show celebrates the unique relationship between the automotive, fashion and entertainment industries.  It’s free, open to the public and has been named one of the “300 Unmissable Events & Festivals Around the World” by top travel publisher Frommer’s.

Upon arriving on the scene I was overwhelmed with the sea of people, cars and motorcycles sprawled across 3 precious blocks of Rodeo Drive.  It was a hot summer day with not a cloud in the sky and absolutely perfect weather for the task at hand.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

Families from all over Southern California and beyond strolled around the street armed with children and poodles by their side to grab a glimpse of the rarest and most unique road-going vehicles in world.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

It was sensory overload for me so I gathered my thoughts, took a deep breath and proceeded to enter the show with my camera, locked and loaded.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

This year’s theme was “The British Are Coming” with Aston Martin being the shows’ featured marquee. The rightfully titled show boasted a strong influence of British made cars and bikes to wow the audience.  Beginning with a double-decker London bus, which people could board, the thoughtfully planned-out show took you through many eras of the automobile.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

Cars spanning from the early 1900’s all the way to today’s current supercars included Aston Martins, Austin’s, Auburns, Lagos’, Ferraris’, Cobras’ Lamorghinis’, Minis’ and a Bugatti to name but a few.  These cars were proudly displayed by their owners, many adorned with ribbons awarded to them by the show judges earlier that day.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

I have been to many cars shows throughout my life, some good and some not so good, but I must say the organizers of this event get an A+ in my book.  They did an excellent job gathering a wide array of vehicles from American Muscle to Custom Hot Rods to European Elegance and beyond.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

More importantly the organizers managed to display the cars in a way that created a great flow for the masses of people to view while maintaining a good vibe that made everyone feel they were truly part of something very special.  This was a remarkable car spectacle and I left there feeling quite content and eager to see what great cars next year’s show will bring.

Rodeo Drive Concours d' Elegance

Rodeo Drive Concours d’ Elegance

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LA AUTO SHOW 2011…A MATTER OF SURVIVAL!

It was my own fault for waiting until the busiest day to go to the 2011 LA Auto Show.  I kept trying to make it sooner if only my schedule had allowed.  When I woke up on this rainy Sunday morning I had no excuse, this was the perfect weather to be indoors gawking at cars.  I had made my decision, today was the day! Umbrella, check! Camera, check! Cash, coffee, check check!

2011 LA Auto Show

2011 LA Auto Show

Upon arriving at the LA Convention Center I could already tell by the herds of people scrambling to run inside that chaos was about to ensue.  Buying my $12 ticket at the automated machine was the easy part, getting past the gates was a different story.  It felt like a scene from “Saving Private Ryan”; everything was in slow motion as fear and terror lie in their tear-soaked eyes.  Once I made it through the carnage of crying babies, lost children, confused parents and the occasional hit in the ankles by those rental strollers, things started to clear up like a fading storm.  I managed to block out most of the noise and after entering, I saw a sign in the distance that read “Tuners and Aftermarket”; yes, my specialty!  Many of the cars were repeats from this past SEMA show however I did see some interesting customs like a gorgeous Bugatti Veyron, a matte red Ferrari F430, and a pretty cool Lotus Evora to name a few.

Bugatti Veyron

Bugatti Veyron

Back upstairs to the main hall, better dodge that stroller headed directly for me, close call!  While all the major car companies had representation at the show only a few actually impressed me with some innovative and creative models.

Cadillac Ceil Concept

Cadillac Ceil Concept

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac was among the few that really made a splash with their lineup of cutting edge design and the debut of their new electric ELR model.  There was a lot of excitement at Cadillac’s  booth as they had on display the Ceil Concept among all the other current models including the record breaking CTS-V’s.

BMW displayed their much advertised iSeries electric car, which is slated for production in 2015, and their much awaited new M5 model.

BMW iSeries

BMW iSeries

Hyundai has made great strides in breaking free of the “inexpensive” label and into more of a “luxury” or “high-end” label.  They’re doing a great job with their new line up; the Equus, Genesis, Sonata Hybrid, Elantra to name a few.

Mini’s booth was bustling with people as they reveled at all the options and aftermarket parts that bestow the new cars.  Many people waited in lines to try on the new Countryman Model for size.  The new Mini Cooper Coupe S looked great and received a lot of attention as well.

Fiat’s Abarth model, a “high performance” version of their popular 500 model, seemed to be well received judging from the lines of people waiting to sit inside.

Fiat Abarth

Fiat Abarth

Audi finally showed off their much anticipated S6 and S7 models due to be out this March.  Audi also had on display the e-tron Spyder concept and A3 model; their new electric car technology.

Audi e tron Spyder

Audi e tron Spyder

KIA GT Concept

KIA GT Concept

KIA’s booth was riffled with excitement as they had a very impressive concept car they called the “KIA GT”.  I was barely able to snap off a few pics due to the crowds of people attempting to do the same.

It was very exciting to see many of the car companies’ step up to the plate with their innovative designs and technology.  It feels like we are entering a new era in the automotive world.   The combination of a lagging economy coupled with the high demand for new technology is forcing car companies to push the envelope in all areas.  Much like my experience attending the Auto Show, it’s a matter of survival for these car companies, and staying on the cutting edge is a matter of life or death.  The 2011 LA Auto Show left me wounded, frightened, exhausted and excited to see what next year will bring!

SEMA SHOW 2011…AUTOMOTIVE DEBAUCHERY!

It’s been a couple years since I’ve been to the SEMA show in Las Vegas.  I was one of those diehards that would attend every year and take part in this amazing spectacle of unnecessary add-ons to cars, trucks and pretty much anything with wheels.

Ferrari 458 Italai w/ Custom Carbon-Fiber Skin

Ferrari 458 Italia w/ Custom Carbon-Fiber Skin

Year after year companies and individuals would try to one-up each other and debut their fabulous creations at this show.  It’s the only place on earth I can accurately describe as automotive debauchery.

Nissan 350Z w/ an Extreme Body Kit

Nissan 350Z w/ an Extreme Body Kit

As you walk through the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center you’re overwhelmed by the thousands of blinking lights and sounds coming from the booths and individuals displaying this years hottest new aftermarket products.

Custom Widebody Camaro w/ Hide-Away Front Grille

Custom Widebody Camaro w/ Hide-Away Front Grille

As you near the doors to exit on either side of the buildings, you’re greeted by the sounds of screeching tires from the drifting performances put on by the Ford Cobras or the Corvette ZR1’s.  Eager fans waited in long lines to take a 2 minute “death ride” with a professional driver as they drifted through a course at high speeds in either a Ford Cobra, GT500 or Corvette ZR1.  They obviously kept these two courses far away from each other as to not cause any fights between the diehard Ford and Chevy enthusiast.

Super Performance Cobra Launching Into the Drift Course

Super Performance Cobra Launching Into the Drift Course

There was a massive turn out of customized cars displayed outside of the buildings which I felt had the some of the best looking and most creative cars at the show.  There were also the usual suspects in attendance such as Chip Foose (Foose Design), West Coast Customs, Platinum Motors, Giovanni Wheels, and Ford to just name a few.

Fisker Kama

Fisker Karma

It was nice to attend the SEMA show and get back to my roots once again. Over the past couple years the aftermarket industry has taken some big hits due to the economy however it seems as though it’s making a good comeback.

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FERRARI MUSEUM IN MARANELLO…A GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN!

As I mentioned in my previous post I finally achieved one of my life long goals and made a pilgrimage to the Ferrari Factory and while there I had a chance to visit the Ferrari Museum (videos at the end).

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Upon entering the museum I walked through the impressive gift shop, which has anything and everything you can possibly place a Ferrari shield on.  Walking through the shop I was greeted by the friendly Ferrari staff in spotless and perfect Ferrari uniforms.  I was given the option of purchasing a general admission ticket for 13 Euros or a touring ticket in which you actually board a bus and drive through the Ferrari Factory among other stops.  Being that it was a Sunday and the factory was closed I chose to save my money for more Ferrari gifts on the way out.

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

I really didn’t expect to see so many rare and amazing Ferrari’s as I did.  Among all the Formula 1 and Le Mans cars basking in all their glory, as fans snap off picture after picture, sat a few cars you rarely ever see.   I spotted a Super America version of the 599 Fiorano (protoypte?), and the 599XX Speciale both of which looked absolutely stunning just to name a few.

Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari SA Aperta aka 599 Super America in Maranello, Italy

Ferrari 599XX Speciale

Ferrari 599XX Speciale in Maranello Italy

Another really cool display was Enzo Ferrari’s actual office recreated in the museum complete with his desk, chair, coffee mug, hat, pictures on the walls etc… Once I reached the 2ndfloor I was immediately greeted by a beautiful red Enzo (F60) sitting in front of a Factory facade mock up and she looked right at home.

Ferrari Enzo (F60) in Ferrari Museum, Maranello Italy

Ferrari Enzo (F60) in Ferrari Museum, Maranello Italy

As I walked past the Enzo I stepped into a dark magical room that had ambient music playing while 8 F1 cars sit perched in front of flat screen TV’s displaying Ferrari’s winning race history (video below).  Trophies were displayed behind a glass wall while people starred in utter amazement at the heavenly room.  It was really something to have visited the museum and it turned out to be much more than I expected.  If you are ever anywhere near Modena I highly recommend you spend a couple hours of your time and head over to the Ferrari campus, you won’t regret it.

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MY PILGRIMAGE TO FERRARI….NOW MY LIFE IS COMPLETE!

Ferrari Factory in Maranello Italy

Ferrari Factory in Maranello Italy

Ferrari Enzo resting in the Ferrari Museum in Maranello Italy
Ferrari Enzo resting in the Ferrari Museum in Maranello Italy

In every car guys life there is a least one ultimate goal, a lifelong dream, a pilgrimage if you will.  No I’m not talking about a religious act or even a family tradition, I am talking about the few things you put on your bucket list before dying.  For some it’s going to the Indy 500 or to drive a race car, for others it’s simply to meet someone like Carroll Shelby.  For me it was visiting the Ferrari Factory!

Ferrari Formula 1 Cars at The Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Ferrari Formula 1 Cars at The Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Ever since I was lucky enough to have gotten a job at International Auto restoring vintage Ferrari’s as a teenager, I have had the urge to make a pilgrimage to the Ferrari Factory.  I would hear stories about how the wealthy doctors I worked for would get flown to the factory by Ferrari to view their new models.  It sounded so cool I immediately made visiting the factory one of my top goals.  Fast forward 20 years later and I finally did it!

Standing in front of Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Standing in front of Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Let me first say it wasn’t the easiest to find.  We flew into Milan and made our way towards Modena after staying a few nights in Venice.  I went cheap and declined Hertz’s $300 up-charge for GPS and decided to use a map purely out of spite (not the best idea).  After driving aimlessly for 4+ hours I knew I was getting close as signs for Maranello began to appear.  Soon thereafter I glanced to my right and behind the trees and bushes on the side of the road looked like what appeared to be a race track.  I thought to myself could it be? Yes it was! The Ferrari test track.  As I continued down the road another few minutes, and as the trees cleared away, there it was, just like I imagined, Ferrari heaven!

Formula 1 Cars in Ferrari Museum

Formula 1 Cars in Ferrari Museum

I turned off the main street and pulled in to a large parking lot which was surrounded by the Ferrari Museum, multiple Ferrari stores, cafes and most importantly Ferrari rentals.  I was immediately overwhelmed and couldn’t speak as everything became silent; my wife was snapping her fingers in front of my face to see if I was still conscious.  A nice Italian boy walked up to me and asked if I wanted to rent a Ferrari and I just starred at him.  Ferrari’s were driving past me from the left and from the right. It was so much sensory overload , I really almost shut down.  Finally my wife grabbed me with both arms and pulled me towards the museum as I was unable to make any decisions.

Ferrari Engines Inside Ferrari Museum at Maranello

Ferrari Engines Inside Ferrari Museum at Maranello

We paid the 13 Euro entry fee and walked around in awe at the display of race cars, models, trophy’s etc…  I took a ton of pictures and will have a post specifically on the museum soon after this post.  Upon leaving the museum I ran into that kid that asked me if I wanted to rent a Ferrari earlier that day.  Without hesitation I said yes.  Fifteen minutes and 85 Euro later I was in a Ferrari California Spider with Francesco and my wife flying down the back roads of Maranello; more on this to come as well.

Ferrari California Spider Test Drive in Maranello

Ferrari California Spider Test Drive in Maranello

I had 2 more stops before leaving this magical place; the actual factory and the test track.  While both of these are off limits to common folk, you could still drive to it, pay homage and snap off a few pictures, both of which I did.

Pista di Fiorano aka Ferrari Test Track

Pista di Fiorano aka Ferrari Test Track

More to come on actually going through the Ferrari Museum and my test drive of the Ferrari California.

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THINGS GET HEATED UP AT THE TARGA TROPHY RALLY IN HOLLYWOOD, CA

With all the automotive events going on lately it’s getting difficult to keep track, however I was lucky enough to catch up with what is quickly becoming a premier automotive lifestyle event, the Targa Trophy Rally.

The rally began at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, which took over the entire parking lot leaving the valet and hotel guests dumbfounded.  A massive DJ tent claimed its territory directly behind the valet stand and proceeded to play loud dance music all day long.  One of the main sponsors of the rally, Luxury4play.com, brought their Bugatti Veyron and Maybach out to play with the other impressive arsenal of exotic sports cars participating in the rally.

As the 100 or so teams reported to the check-in, the drivers and their navigators placed stickers on their cars and chatted with other teams.  Entries included Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Porsches, Audi’s Viper’s, and BMW’s to name a few.

Many participants sported their finest costumes which included a Mouse helmet girl, Spiderman, Ironman, and a guy wearing daisy-dukes with a wig (really wish I didn’t see that).  As noon approached all teams were summoned to the DJ tent for a quick “drivers meeting”, in which event founder Jason Overell, forewarned the driver’s of the treacherous course and driving conditions that lay before them.

                     

At high noon the rally began and cars lined up to clock-in and receive the coveted top secret course information.  The instructions revealed the check points, and what to do while there.  A strategic point system took both driver and navigator through a 3 ½ hour course and required proof of check-in by obtaining a receipt or picture.  The adrenaline pumping rally took supreme driving machines through some of LA’s most beautiful canyons and back roads with sharp switch-backs and deadly drop-offs.  Temperatures soared to above 110 degrees which caused some tempers to flare and mechanical break downs along the way.

The rally concluded back at the Roosevelt Hotel where Targa Trophy revealed the winner of the event.  In true road rally fashion, the partying continued throughout the night at Hemingway’s and later at the Roxbury, both in Hollywood.

This was a great event but don’t kick yourself if you missed out on all the action.  I was told by Targa Trophy they are planning a 3 day event sometime in November so stay tuned for more information.  Rubber & Fumes will be there covering all the motoring goodness.

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BLOWN AWAY BY AYRTON SENNA DOCUMENTARY TITLED ” SENNA”

This past Sunday I had the distinct pleasure of viewing one of the best documentary’s I have seen in a while.  The film was simply titled “Senna” which documented the life of Formula 1racing phenom Ayrton Senna.  I don’t think there is anyone in the car world that hasn’t heard the name Senna, but for those who haven’t, it really didn’t matter.  I actually brought my wife, who doesn’t know much about racing, and she walked out of theater in tears adoring Ayrton like the rest of us.  Don’t get me wrong, it certainly didn’t hurt to watch footage from the onboard camera as Ayrton flies through the streets of Monaco on the big screen either.

Although there was some amazing footage of Formula 1 racing and excellent documentation of the Senna/Prost wars, the film was so much more inspiring than that.  Ayrton was such a sincerely loving individual in which the film did an amazing job of showing.  I really felt as if I knew Ayrton as a friend after leaving the theater.  To many, Ayrton was a modern day hero, an underdog that everyone rooted for, because he fought every day for God and his country against impenetrable odds.  He did so because he couldn’t stop as he was quoted saying in the film.  He was a true and whole person  and an amazing competitor in every sense of the word.  He is very much missed.

The Director of the film, Asif Kapadia, was brilliant enough to get what the goal of the film was about and worked diligently with Ayrton’s family and film team to produce this wonderful tribute of a great man.  Asif was kind enough to hang around after the film for some Q & A which I was able to record and put at end of this post.  I was also fortunate to snag a picture with Asif.  If you haven’t done so already, please show your support, go out and see Senna or buy the DVD you will be very happy you did.

Watch Asif talk about making the film after the debut: