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In Search of the Best: 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

"Great people...and the best cars in the world."

by on Aug.22, 2011

Peter Mullins' Voisin Aerodyn takes Best-in-Show.

Parked on the lawn, the motor of his 1934 Avian Voisin C-25 Aerodyne idling, Peter Mullin had no idea what to expect.  The next couple minutes might bring the biggest surprise of his life or the biggest disappointment.

There was no question he’d delivered a showstopper with the French sedan he’d entered into the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  It took a full three years to restore the Voisin – “And I had already been planning it for seven years,” he recalled.  But there were two other striking examples of pre-war automotive elegance sitting alongside, anyone of which might grab the most coveted trophy in the world of classic cars.

Suddenly, like angels calling, the trumpets began their fanfare, fireworks bursting into the air as Mullin got the signal he was hoping for.  Yet it wasn’t until he had the Aerodyne parked on the center stage that the long-time collector finally allowed the reality to set in. After 30 years of trying, he had just won the Concours’ Best-in-Show.

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“I just can’t believe it,” Mullins repeated, still in shock, confetti now covering the dark grey and black Voisin, which was one of only six C-25s built by French aeronautical pioneer Gabriel Voisin after he decided to switch to automotive manufacturing in the wake of World War I.  “I thought I’d finished third.  This is the most rewarding thing that ever happened to me in the car world,” said Mullin.

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The Montery Motorsports Reunion: Disneyland for Race Fans

Watching racing history come back to life.

by on Aug.22, 2011

A trio of classic race cars come back to life at Laguna Seca during the 2011 Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

It’s hard to escape your past – or so Derek Bell discovered as he wandered through the paddock at the Laguna Seca race track.  Everywhere he turned he discovered another car that he had driven, at one point or another, during his long and illustrious career.  That includes a Ferrari 250 GTO that is getting ready for a race on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m always surprised,” the British legend said, “by how many cars they have here and how many cars I drove,” including the classic ’64 Ferrari 250 GTO he piloted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed five years back.

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Bell isn’t alone.  Indeed, it seems there are surprises for everyone at the annual Monterey Motorsports Reunion.  The three-day event gave the estimated  40,000 fans a chance to see some of the world’s rarest, oddest and most successful race cars – some nearly 100 years old – come back to life on one of the country’s most challenging tracks.

And unlike the typical race event, the Reunion broke down the traditional barriers, letting race fans get up close and personal with the cars and the drivers.  That includes not only weekend racers like Tom Price, a San Francisco collector with a warehouse full of old cars, but some of the best-known names from the motorsports world, including Bell, Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, Carroll Shelby and British racing giant Stirling Moss.

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