Do you remember anticipating birthdays as a child? That anticipation often began about an hour after you wiped the last bit of cake from your mouth on the previous birthday. Christmas? Well, aside from big-box retailers deciding that we should start anticipating it in August, it often starts for most of us by Thanksgiving. First day of school? Don’t tell the cool kids, but I sort of looked forward to it, mostly to see my friends.
Monterey Car Week seems to create a similar sense of anticipation. We know that Monterey County anticipates the week every year; more than 85,000 visitors are predicted to come to the peninsula for Car Week this year. To put that in perspective, the town of Monterey’s population is approximately 30,000.
While Monterey Car Week now boasts more than 25 different events, most BMW CCA members focus firmly on Legends of the Autobahn and Festorics. This year our concours is being held on Thursday at the Pacific Grove Golf Links, with BMW CCA Festorics at Laguna Seca Friday and Saturday.
BMW CCA executive director Frank Patek has been seeing both events evolve over the years. “Legends of the Autobahn is certainly one of the premier national events we host,” he says. “Each year it brings together upwards of 4,000 attendees, sometimes with more than 400 cars on the lawn. Legends West has become such a fixture of Monterey Car Week that we decided to create a similar experience on the East Coast as part of the Hilton Head Island Concours [the first weekend of November]. An additional bonus surrounding Legends West is the following two days of fun at Festorics, held during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. It was created around the races during Car Week, giving CCA members a fun spot to relax and enjoy hospitality and a great view of the race approaching Turn Five.”
I’ve been attending Monterey for ten years, and I always find something fun at Legends and Festorics. Sometimes it’s special cars at Legends, or the vintage cars racing around the track at Laguna Seca. Sometimes it’s BMW execs and drivers stopping by the Festorics hospitality tent during the races. At both events, it’s always great fun seeing old friends—and making new friends, too.
Jason Grace, having moved to the Bay Area from Southern California since his last Legends, is ready for it this year again. “I can’t wait to see what Legends brings in 2022!” he says. “Thinking back on my experience in 2019, from the early-morning roll-in to the still-new Tuner Class section to the awards ceremony at the end of the event, it was a day I’ll never forget.”
But it’s more than just the awards. “There’s something special about having such a wide variety of enthusiasts’ German cars all organized and categorized correctly on a beautiful golf course,” Grace continues, “meeting the people behind the builds, talking about shared passions, and drooling over cars you only see in magazines. That’s what draws me back to Car Week and Legends every year. So many friendships are rekindled on an annual basis, getting to see the latest from some of the most talented people in the industry, and nonstop car talk for an entire week. It’s as though I’m living my dreams in reality.”
Grace’s commute to Legends isn’t what it used to be, and it certainly isn’t what Chris Kohler’s is, either. “I’m excited again to attend this year and am looking forward to seeing more great cars and catching up with people I don’t get to see often,” says, Kohler, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. “I’ve been coming since 2013, usually driving 750 miles each way. This year, I’ll be in my Euro E28 M5.”
Another Bay Area local, Ali Javidan, will be juggling another Monterey Car Week highlight: His S14-swapped 2002 will be at the Quail this year, too, but he still looks forward to Legends and Festorics. “Festorics at Laguna Seca during car week is a staple,” he says. “I have been going to Car Week since 1997, and every year I make it to the BMW CCA corral at Laguna Seca. It feels like family there. Everyone is amazing, and the cars are awesome. And best of all, it’s basically the best spot on the track to watch some action! I was so lucky to be included with my BMW 2002, since the caliber of cars is always spectacular at both Legends and Festorics.”
Sven Schindler is one of the many BMW CCA member volunteers who make Festorics happen each year. “Team National, volunteers, and the Festorics crew are all amped up to bring a cool weekend racing vibe to attendees again,” he says.
I can already smell the hot tires—the essence of the track—the nitro, all mixed with tri-tip sandwich smells from the food stalls in the paddock. Good times! This event is always a crowd-pleaser, unpretentious and casual. The Festorics corral and hospitality experience include an informal car display, up-close-and-personal trackside views of the historic racing action, and snacks and libations on both Friday and Saturday.
“Attendees will be treated to a full field of historic BMW entries on the race track,” adds Schindler. “And there’s always a chance that Bill Auberlen or the other drivers might pay a visit to the corral again after they pilot the historical BMWs around the track.” (No pressure, Bill!)
While Schindler, Grace, and Javidan might be close by, Andrew and Cindy Wilson often get the award for furthest traveled, flying in from Maine and shipping their 1968 1600 Cabriolet, too! “We are back!” Andrew says. “Last time was 2019 with Athena, and this time we have shipped Veronika for Legends and the BMW CCA tent at Festorics at Laguna Seca. We can’t wait to be reunited with all our West Coast friends at both events and the entire fun week!”
Each year, surprises abound at both events. Often, some of those surprises seem to arrive with Rey Rivera. “Each year as August nears, we start anticipating Monterey Car Week, led off by Legends of the Autobahn,” Rivera says. “The six-hour drive up the coast is an annual ritual, usually with a handful of friends in their classic BMWs. I’m definitely a BMW fan now, but Legends presents fantastic cars from Audi and Mercedes, too. It’s always a treat to see a great variety of cars, including examples we otherwise probably wouldn’t see.”
One bonus to which Grace and Rivera allude is that at Legends, you can also see cars from Audi, Mercedes, and other German or Autobahn cruisers (or burners!). And of course at Festorics, you get to see hours and hours of historic racing as cars of past eras zip by just yards away from your hopefully plugged ears.
Big thank-yous are in order for the BMW CCA staff and volunteers, too; the events certainly would not go on or go on as well if it weren’t for their hard work.
If you have any favorites you have seen or heard about or are planning on attending this year, comment below and let us know!—Kyle van Hoften