The Quail Life—Up Close at the 2011 Motorsports Gathering Page Five
And so next came the Ferrari America & Superamerica Award presented to the 1964 Ferrari 400 Superamerica owned and regularly driven in various car events by Don & Carol Murray. This is one of 36 built and was originally owned by Nelson Rockefeller, who had it repainted silver, though the car now splendidly wears its original color.
For the day’s premier Rolex Best of Show, chosen by the entrants as the automobile that distinguishes itself in both design and presentation, Sir Michael Kadoorie delivered the award to the 1955 Ferrari 375 America owned and driven onto the ramp by Jack E. Thomas, recipient of Louis Roederer Champagne and the award’s Rolex watch presented by Stewart Wicht, President and CEO of Rolex Watch USA. Quoting The Quail program: “This is a very special one-off Ferrari built especially for Fiat Chairman, Gianni Agnelli. It was a collaborative effort between Ferrari and Pininfarina for one of Europe’s most wealthy and influential industrialists. This car is also important to the history of Ferrari because it was the first custom coachwork Ferrari owned by Agnelli, the man who guaranteed the survival of Ferrari by Fiat’s infusion of cash into the company in 1969.” This unique 375 America Berlinetta was restored from its near-original condition about ten years ago by Wayne Obry and Motion Products.
Speaking with the Best of Show’s winner immediately after he drove his ex-Agnelli Ferrari off the ramp, Jack Thomas said, “I’m deeply honored and most appreciative of this award. It was a tremendous field out here today and the entire Motion Products team did a wonderful job restoring this car. I’ve shown it in a number of occasions but Ferraris are meant to be driven, so this will be driven a lot in the upcoming years.”
So it went. And all this is only what happened on The Quail’s show field that glorious Friday, without even getting into the concurrent Bonhams & Butterfields two-day auction of classic cars and motorcycles that took place on these grounds. But that’s another story entirely, and for another writer.
When I asked Gordon McCall what’s up for next year at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, he was happy to preview the event that will return for its Tenth Anniversary on Friday, August 17, 2012.
Said McCall, “To pay homage to the support we have had over the years, we’re going to round up as many of the Best of Show and Class Winners from the past at The Quail. We’re also going to do a pre-war Alfa Romeo grouping—we all love those prewar Alfas! And Winston Goodfellow will bring in a feature on Iso Automobili’s 50th Anniversary. Plus I have been talking to the FIVA group about a preservation category. The collaboration between The Quail and FIVA entities will produce some really fun cars.”
McCall talked more about this year’s tribute to Phil Hill and what it meant to him personally as well as to the event itself in making that happen. “I waited deep into the year on this,” McCall told me, “and was strictly doing that out of my respect for Pebble Beach, because I figured they would have to be doing something on Phil, and that was my assumption. And lo and behold, there was nothing planned for Phil’s anniversary. Finally I picked up the phone and called Phil’s son Derek. I knew I could get the Jaguar, the XK-120, and the TR59 Ferrari, and we did. I spoke with Alma today, and she said, ‘Having these two lovely cars here, and all of Phil’s friends coming up and chatting with us, I’m kind of glad it wasn’t ten or fifteen cars, because then it becomes about the cars. This has been a wonderful day to recognize Phil.’” McCall added, “Seeing Alma Hill on the ramp with Bruce McCaw in the TR59, just for that moment, I thought that was very special. That was incredibly emotional on my end. I’d know Phil since I was fifteen. The guy taught me how to drive a straight-cut gear box in a Packard 840 Club Sedan—I’ll never forget that day.”
I recalled Phil Hill being at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in 2008, and McCall picked it up from there with, “That was Phil’s last event, and he loved that show. He loved the low-key of it, which makes me really proud. To hear that come back from a guy like Phil, who was himself so low-key, humble and modest, that meant the world to me.”
I personally knew Phil Hill for many years. He drove twice for my father’s team in 1957, man-handling our beastly Ferrari 410 Sport in the rain at Santa Barbara and running that red-lined 4.9 for certified fastest-of-the-meet (165 mph) through the straightaway speed trap during Hawaiian races at Dillingham Field on Oahu. And there were so many other times, and places, and memories. Above is my photograph of Phil, Alma and Derek at that final event that Phil attended, ill with Parkinson’s but still eager to be in the moment with motorsport enthusiast on that day at The Quail that Gordon McCall mentioned. It was August 15, 2008. Philip Toll Hill, Jr., aged 81, died thirteen days later.
If I listen carefully enough to past racing days stored in my cranial hard drive, I can still hear the wail of the TR59 on that day 52 years ago when Phil Hill drove it to win at Riverside International Raceway. There remains nothing else like it, or like him.
In a final note from The Quail’s Signature Events Manager Courtney Porras Ferrante, after her and her colleagues’ efforts in helping make the 2011 event the achievement that it was, Ferrante writes: “This year more than ever, the creativity and passion of our sponsors and entrants encompassed the spirit of The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. Inspired by the success of this year’s event, The Quail team is thrilled to begin preparations for the Tenth Anniversary.”
The Quail Life—Up Close at 2011’s Motorsports Gathering (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: William Edgar, EdgarMotorsport.com]