Within the first few scenes that is the 2015 Caffeine & Carburetors 4-part season, it was very apparent that somewhere along the way this production has transformed more into a Concours Parade than a traditional C&C. Not that there's anything wrong with that, because I assure you there isn't. But I don't even acknowledge the former 'C' by enjoying a first-rate cup of Joe from Zumbach's Gourment Coffee. It's still a long way from becoming the lawn at Pebble Beach, but it certainly was a Who's Who of the automotive realm. More on that later.
Our tale doesn't begin at the bell though. No, no. It starts much earlier. You see, this is my fifth attendance and for once I can say that I arrived 'on time.' Of course, by that I mean that I arrived before the majority of the cars and was able to post up in a position that was favorable for photographs. I cruised up the Merritt behind a buddy in his pristine '79 Trans Am and his pal in a recently purchased BMW 2002 Turbo. Needless to say the view was good the entire ride.
When I arrived, the clock showed just after 7 a.m. and already there were cars beginning to line Pine Street. Next time, the alarm gets set fifteen minutes earlier. From the moment I began shooting to the last image I caught, it was a constant stream of excitement and cars. As I go through the pictures I took, I find myself going "oh yeah, I forgot about that one" on more than one occasion. The sheer volume was so high that I admittedly forgot there was a Pagani until I got a post-show visual reminder. Wild.
I tend to overuse the word 'overwhelming,' but again I find it the appropriate choice for such a situation. I found myself cemented in place on Pine as the cars rolled by, doing my best to capture the essence of each automobile in the preferable morning sunlight. After looking at others' pictures, I realized that I need to be more mobile next time, although it should be noted that it's near impossible to cover all of the action. There are too many entrances, exits and the like to take in the event in its entirety. So of course, there were plenty of cars that I missed, including an R33 Skyline.
I remember that feeling of amazement the first time I attended a Caffeine & Carburetors. This was early on in my car show career and seeing something like a Lamborghini Miura (SV Jota, chassis 4892, to be exact) gave me such a feeling of 'wow - this gathering is next level' that I fear can't quite be replicated to this day. But I have to be careful with my words here. I'm not saying that I've become sterile to seeing special cars in person. It's just that there were so many hyper/super/ exotic cars there that my brain started misfiring and couldn't process exactly what was happening. In hindsight, it was pretty incredible.
This time around I was fortunate enough to introduce myself to two of the three main names behind Caffeine & Carburetors, Peter Bush and Todd Brown. As expected, they were both gentlemen of the highest caliber, Peter a wealth of automotive information that could keep any gearhead's attention for hours just listening to him rattle off facts, and Todd a powerhouse of charisma. I look forward to future interactions with them.
Another fella I had the pleasure of running into was a stand-up guy by the name of Jordan. Jordan and I shared mutual 'likes' on our respective Facebook pages and it was great to finally be able to meet him in person. He's another photographer whose work I respect tremendously. You should do yourself a favor and get to know Jordan and his talents HERE.
Back to the cars. I'll just name drop a few key players and let the pictures in the gallery do their introductions (if they need them). LaFerrari. McLaren P1. McLaren 675 LT. Porsche 918 Spyder. Porsche Carrera GT. Lexus LFA. Pagani Huayra. Lamborghini Miura. Spyker. Singer. And that's not the half of it. If I were to recognize all the great cars, this paragraph would run far longer than the AP Style Book would recommend. If you're looking to check a few things off of your proverbial automotive bucket list, Caffeine & Carbs can assist.
Ok so let's address the whole departure from a traditional Cars & Coffee and what that means to me. First off, I'm not sure if I could ever classify Caffeine & Carbs as that. Sure, it has the catchy double C name that incorporates some kind of morning drink and a car part, but was it ever just a small group of car enthusiasts that met on a Sunday morning to sip java and talk about their passion? This is an actual question, not a rhetorical one. That may have been the origins, but I can assure you that if you poll the majority of people in attendance, no more than half would be able to ID a good portion of the cars.
And this is where a great event like this presents its flaws to me.
For all the mind-blowing cars in attendance, the dilution of the crowd's enthusiasm towards them takes away from what makes a C&C so special in the first place. When I start feeling that I'm no longer in an intimate setting of like-minded people and more in an atmosphere that resembles the Javits Center on opening day, where I'm fighting the crowd to get the one shot of the car that no one in close proximity cares about, that's when I start to wonder. What are all these people doing here?
And then it hits me.
Just because they're not car people, or they don't care for the Alfa Romeo Junior that just drove by, doesn't mean that they need to be barred from it. They're there for the social aspect as much as I'm there for the pictures. And if dealing with these types means that more of their husbands/wives/friends will bring out their prized cars that I would not normally see, then so be it. As long as they smile in my pictures.
And sponsors! I can agree that there are no free lunches in this world. With all this prepping, planning, and paying that comes as no cost to the attendee, some considerations need to be made to help foot the bill. I didn't take note of the actual sponsors, but I will mention that there were a few booths set up to peddle their wares, whether it was insurance or something else that requires consumers. That, in my opinion, is another departure from a traditional C&C. But hey, if that's what needs to be done to keep this ship afloat, c'est la vie.
Something else to note is the interest that manufacturers are taking in these localized events. Mercedes-Benz USA brought along an AMG GT, the first time the car made a public appearance outside of an autoshow hall. This isn't the first time that they debuted something publicly here, and it reminds me of the bigger breweries buying up the craft houses in order to get in on the action. On the flip side, it's great to see support from a corporate entity. That usually leads to cool things being brought to smaller venues, like McLaren sending a 675 LT courtesy of Miller Motorcars.
I could sit here all day flapping my fingers and groveling on about the 'good old days' and how things were much better before the general public caught wind of this event. But what would be the purpose? For something that was established long before I ever started going, how could I have a legitimate leg to climb up on that soap box? I don't and I won't. I want to make it clear that I enjoy this event more and more each time I attend. And I can't wait for Waveny Park. The backdrop that will provide for the cars will be something not to miss.
So does all of this mean that my definition for C&C needs to change? Perhaps. Or perhaps it's time to pull a seed from this fruit and plant a new meet in some other garden. But even if that happens, I will never neglect this C&C. Even if I unintentionally don't patronize the coffee shop.
I could go on, but I'm sure you'd rather just look at the PICTURES. And check back, because this is only a select gallery. I still have hundreds more to sort through.