The Petersen Automotive Museum didn’t want to see the global enthusiasm for Monterey Car Week go away this year like so many other car shows and Concours’ so it’s bottling the essence of the week into 5 days of amazing automotive content. This includes live vehicle debuts, online auctions, exclusive interviews, car shows, and even a celebrity judged Concours!
While the coronavirus pandemic has left many a void in the 2020 collector car calendar, perhaps the largest among them comes in the wake of the cancellation of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Yet, as nature abhors a void, so apparently does the collector car community, and the folks at the Petersen Automotive Museum have put together a slate of virtual events to connect with people who would otherwise spend mid-August in Monterey.
“Typically, the museum has a large presence at Pebble Beach,” said Michael Bodell, the Petersen’s chief operating officer. “Pebble drives the global motor world to mobilize, and so much comes out of that week. We didn’t want to see that enthusiasm go away, so we figured let’s bottle that up and turn it into something that’s accessible to everyone?”
The Petersen Car Week, as the museum is calling it, will include an entire week’s worth of events similar to those of the Monterey car week, among them a virtual car tour, a live auction, vehicle unveilings, a marque-specific show dedicated to Porsche, a hypercar show, a concept car show-within-a-show, and a show focused on vintage racing.
The week will conclude with a concours d’elegance scheduled for August 16, the same day that the now-canceled Pebble Beach concours would have taken place. Featured classes for the concours will spotlight American Classic Open & Closed, European Classic Open & Closed, Post-war Preservation, Ferrari Grand Touring, Post-war Sports, Movies and TV, Off-Road, Hot Rod and Shooting Brake.
Most of the events – except for the live auctions and the live Forza-based virtual vintage racing – will rely on videos submitted to the Petersen; all of the videos will then broadcast via the Petersen’s YouTube channel. Bodell and Terry Karges, the executive director of the Petersen, said they expect to field more than 1,000 submissions for the entire week, including 200 for the concours alone. “At about three minutes per entry, that’ll easily take all day,” Bodell said.
According to Bodell, the Petersen Car Week “is in no way meant to replace” Monterey car week, and he said there are no current plans to make the Petersen Car Week a permanent fixture. However, the Petersen Car Week did come about in part because of the museum’s existing relationships with organizers of the various Monterey car week events, and the museum will continue to explore similar virtual car shows.
After organizers of the Pebble Beach concours decided to cancel the event for just the second time in its history on April 22, organizers of a number of other Monterey car week events – including The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering; Concorso Italiano; the McCall’s Motorworks Revival; Concours d’LeMons; and the RM Sotheby’s, Gooding, and Bonhams auctions that take place that week – either canceled or altered their event plans in short order. As of this writing, a few Monterey car week events are still scheduled to take place this year, among them the Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca, Carmel-by-the-sea’s Concours on the Avenue, and Mecum’s Monterey sale.
“A lot of the show organizers did reach out to us,” Bodell said. And not just those at Monterey. “With all the big car shows getting postponed, we’ve had conversations with other event organizers to discuss how they can still have an event. There’s been a lot of enthusiasm around that.”
The museum’s timing was fortunate too. According to Karges, Bodell was already planning out the museum’s digital strategy over the last year and the Petersen’s board of directors had voted to expand the institution’s digital efforts a few weeks before the museum had to shut its doors on March 15.
“So when things started to happen, our team was ready,” Karges said. “And the car world has participated with open arms.”
The online events that Bodell has already organized – including its Global Cars and Coffee events, online tours of its vault, and educational programs targeted at children aged 12 and younger – have helped shape Bodell’s plans for the Petersen Car Week, particularly in the formatting and guidelines for submissions from the public.
“The Cars and Coffee had submissions from all over the world – Japan, Germany, Costa Rica, a lot of places where people aren’t able to show off their cars – and in the comments, they told us to please don’t stop doing these sorts of events,” Bodell said. According to the Petersen’s estimates, 50 percent of the attendees of the prior online events have come from outside of the United
The Petersen itself will participate on a limited basis with some of its vehicles, in particular the ones that have been donated to it since the museum has had to close its physical space. According to Karges, the museum has received, among other donations, a Bonneville streamliner, a twin flathead drag-racing rail, a Lola T70, Jack Brabham’s first race car, and a number of motorcycles from On Any Sunday, some of which may appear in the Petersen Car Week programming.
The biggest benefit to hosting a virtual car week, Bodell and Karges said, is seeing the direct engagement with a wide variety of car enthusiasts either via comments or other means of audience participation.
“We’re the Switzerland of the car world, so this gives us the opportunity to host and create something for anybody who likes going to any range of shows, from The Quail to LeMons,” Karges said. “It’s a natural fit.” The museum is currently accepting applications for the Petersen Car Week events – which take place August 1 through 15 – via its website.
Report by petersen.org