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September 5th, 2007

The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering

Story by Michael T. Lynch

The Fifth Edition of The Quail took place under cloudless skies with three special displays within the larger show. Briggs Cunningham and his cars were honored at the century mark of Brigg’s birth. The entries ranged from the huge Bu-Merc (a Mercedes SSK body on a 1939 Buick Chassis and straight eight Century engine) to a tiny Fiat-Abarth, not to mention several cars bearing the Cunningham name. There was also a class for cars of the Monte Carlo Rally, now celebrating three quarters of a century.

Finally, a history making sixteen of the 40 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Pininfarina Cabriolets produced were in attendance to mark the 50th year of the car’s introduction. These cars were made at a point when Ferrari was just entering series production. Connoisseurs walked round and round the display checking the differing styling cues from car to car. Besides the special displays, there was the usual lineup of pre and post-war classics, most of a sporting nature. As if there weren’t enough cars already, the now traditional Historics to The Quail Run brought a selection of big-bore production cars from 1963-1965 onto the lawn for lunch. Think Cobras, tanker split-window Corvettes and Shelby GT-350s, among others.

The Quail continues to be the lifestyle event of the week. This is partially because of the lack of crowding – the event is limited to 3,000 – and the lack of over commercialization. The guest experience was enhanced by reserved drives drives in Lexus LS 600s, Maserati Quattroportes, a Mercedes CLK 63 and Land Rovers that used their own off-road course.

The primary attraction is the food and adult beverages gathered and prepared under the supervision of Quail Lodge’s Executive Chef, Jeff Rogers. He assembled the best from the Northern California, an area almost as famous in food creation and processing as the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. His creations were served in five outdoor bistros, each of which offered tables with tablecloths, chairs, metal utensils and cloth napkins. Their names told it all; California Farmer’s Market, Cité Bistro, Campagna Bistro, Rustique Bistro and Città Bistro. They offered the food of the region – Earthbound Farms; the largest supplier of organic food in the world is just down the road, as well as country and city cooking of both France and Italy. All food and wine is included in the admission price and just the heirloom tomatoes and the artisan cheeses would have been enough, but there was so much more, including oysters, caviar and strawberries to give you something to wash down with your champagne. I’ll leave main courses to your imagination. When you add embellishments like the martini and margarita bars as well as gelato dispensaries, you begin to think the day is a bargain.

Oh yes, the cars. Fred Simeone’s Cunningham C-4 took best in show. It had won something before, the 1953 Sebring Twelve Hours.

Briggs Cunningham's interest in cars was varied, to say the least, but they almost always raced in America's racing colors of blue and white. Here, in The Quail Cunningham display we see Bruce Meyer's 1960 Corvette. This was one of three entered by Cunningham in that year's Le Mans. One of them finished 8th and won its class. That was the highest placing by a Corvette at Le Mans until 2001. Mark Gessler's Fiat-Abarth 1000 won a World Championship event for under 1000cc cars at Sebring in 1962 when entered by Cunningham. The Cadillac coupe in the background was another Cunningham Le Mans entry in 1950, where it was driven by Sam and Miles Collier. It is owned today by the Collier Collection. Credit: Michael T. Lynch

This 8C2300 Alfa is called the Rimoldi, after the family that owned it from 1937 to 1989. It was entered by Chip Connor in the Monte Carlo Rally class at The Quail, which it won. It is shown here on the 1935 Monte Carlo. Luigi Chinetti and Jean Trevaux were leading when the car crashed on the last stage. The car has never been restored and still retains the unique removable hard top. Credit: W.E. Connor II Collection.

Editor-in-Chief Thos Bryant presents the Road & Track Editor's Choice Award to John Clinard's Ferrari 250GT Series 1 Cabriolet. The award by a jury of R&T journalists is for, "The car they would most like to drive away." Announcer, Richard Charlesworth (hat) and Quail Lodge Director of Special Events, Mathias Doutreleau seem to be scanning the heavens for inspiration. They needn't have looked so far. Great weather, great food and great cars made for another great Quail Motorsports Gathering, right on the ground. Credit Michael T. Lynch.

John Stein brought two of the most collectable Ducatis to The Quail. Number 16 was one of the prototype 750cc racers built specially for the 1972 Imola 200. It was the backup bike for winner Paul Smart. The sparkle paint finish led the one model being nicknamed, the "Silver Shotgun". This was the race that put Ducati on the Superbike map. Previous to the victory they had only been successful in smaller displacement classes. The other Ducati is a 1974 750SS "Green Frame", one of the most sought-after of Ducati street machines. Stein won the Motorcycle Class with the Imola prototype. Credit: Robert C. Peters

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