Isn't it time to give the Monterey weekend an official name? Let's get the folks from Pebble Beach, Concorso Italiano, the auctions and Laguna Seca together and keep them sequestered until the white smoke from the chimney indicates they've chosen something that encompasses the myriad activities that go on. It doesn't have to be complicated; Monterey Historic Festival would be fine. As the sum of the events grows far larger than all the parts, it would be fitting to have a symbolic grouping of the events under a single banner to present to the world.
We've been having our own adventures with vintage racing recently. Our 1968 Alfa Duetto emerged from a year of storage to test the track during the recently completed Zupan's Historic Races in Portland, Oregon, presented by New Tech Electric. Under the stewardship of Jill Campbell and Campbell Productions, the Portland races have grown to stand shoulder to shoulder with the SOVREN-produced Seattle vintage races on the preceding weekend to become a first-rate two-weekend mini-series. Nearly 300 cars were entered in Portland, including Peter Giddings' 1935 Alfa 8C-35 and Craig Jackson's Shelby GT 350.
We unintentionally provided the track announcers with some excitement as, having the master-cylinder fail at a high-rate of speed while entering the sweeping Turn 12 on the track, we motored more-or-less straight on until we nose-planted the Duetto into the tire wall. The damage to the car was slight, but the announcers (whom I joined to provide race-commentary) gleefully referred to "Keith Wallbanger" for the rest of the weekend. And when, after the body damage was hastily repaired, during the qualifying race a line from our oil cooler came loose and a stream of smoke issued from the Duetto, killing every mosquito within miles, my cohorts in the booth had just a single question for me when I returned. "Tell us, in the next race, are you going to smash into a tire wall or try to set yourself on fire again?"
THE INTERNET AND COLLECTOR CARS
What is on fire is the issue of car collecting and the Internet. eBay purchased Kruse International for a reported $150m, and business cards with names like eBay, Sotheby's, Amazon, Microsoft and others are creating a paper-blizzard as they are handed out at auctions and car shows. The Internet understands that selling cars can be big business, and is struggling to understand just how to do it.
Collector cars and the Internet are something that SCM has been wrestling with for some time now, and we are moving forward to launch a new service specifically for collectors. Unfortunately, the sellers on the mega-auction sites most often describe cars in meaningless, vague terms at best and a purposefully misleading manner at worst. Until now, there has been no centrally organized registry, by chassis number, of collectible cars, with descriptions and evaluations.
That will change on Friday, August 27, 1999, when eCarCentral.comTM opens for business.
At launch, the site will have largest, most accurate, real-time, instantly accessible database of collectible cars in the world.
eCarCentral.com will deliver only top-quality, targeted car collecting news, information and resources. With its high-powered collector-car search engine, customizable content delivery for all leading marques and models and more, eCarCentral.com's goal is to help make your collecting better, faster and smarter.
In eCarCentral.com, you will be able to create your own Virtual GarageTM, where you can keep track of marques, models and even specific cars you are interested in.
When fully operational, eCarCentral.com will let you keep track of all your collector-car activities, from registering for vintage races to arranging for transporting your car to consigning to auctions. You'll be emailed when deadlines are approaching for concours entry, and reminded when it is time to renew your collector-car insurance.
eCarCentral.com will be a clearing house and service agency designed to do one thing - help collectors, whether beginning or experienced, get the serious, accurate, timely information they need to help make wise decisions about car collecting, whether buying, selling or just looking. You'll be able to pull up every car we've ever examined, read the full description, and often look at a photo.
And these 20,000 cars are just the beginning. SCM and eCarCentral.com are currently finalizing agreements with a host of auction companies, collector-car insurance groups, appraisers, car clubs, restoration shops and parts suppliers that should eventually bring more than half-a-million chassis numbers into the eCarCentral.com registry.
The registry will be open to all types of cars, from brass to classics to sports cars to hot rods to modern customs. In addition to the listings that we bring to the registry, you will be able to register your own cars. What won't appear on-line is any ownership information. eCarCentral.com is founded on the premise of complete confidentiality. We are only temporary custodians of our cars, and the mission of eCarCentral.com is to organize, identify and describe the cars, not those who happen to be their owners of the moment.
Come along with SCM and eCarCentral.com as we help define car collecting for the 21st Century.
Argentine artist Alfredo de la Maria's "Nebelmeister" illuminates our cover this month. Fittingly, in this year where Audi is honored at the Monterey Historic Races, it depicts Bernd Rosemeyer, the eventual race winner, in an Auto Union Grand Prix Car at the 1936 Eifelrennen Grand Prix held at the Nurburgring. His competition included Rudolf Caracciola in a Mercedes-Benz W25 and Tazio Nuvolari in a 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo.
The title of the painting, which translates from the German as "fog masters," captures a rain-soaked moment in the race. Further, as the title suggests, an additional challenge was added when banks of fog came rolling across the circuit.
Blackhawk Editions plans to offer limited-edition prints of this painting, and the original itself in the near future. Prints and originals by de la Maria and other artists are available as well. Phone (925) 736-3444; fax (925) 736-4375; www.blackhawkart.com