The Quail Life—Up Close at the 2011 Motorsports Gathering Page Two
Co-founder of this annual event along with The Honorable Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The HongKong & Shanghai Hotels who also owns The Quail show, is local car and motorcycle aficionado Gordon McCall, the cool, hands-on fire-putter-outer who glues it all together while aided by the diligence of Courtney Porras Ferrante, Laurie Courtwright and Nicole Carlson. “The Quail,” McCall told me, getting right to the crux of it, “is one of those occasions where you can finish a conversation that you start. And I love that about it! I cherish having the time to catch up with people.”
People continually ask McCall: “How does it happen that there’s a little bit of everything here?” A devotee of scope, McCall said, “That’s the unique element of our show—it’s a lot of phone calls that I make during the year! I love diversity, to view things through everyone’s eyes. This is what The Quail show is all about. Where else are you going to see the ‘Baja Boot’ at a Concours!? Yet when you look at that car here, and talk to its owner, Jim Glickenhaus, you learn about Steve McQueen. Arguably,” McCall continued, “McQueen spent more time in that thing, the Baja Boot, than he did in anything else.” So, the formula is to mix it up and have something for everyone? “It’s not patting ourselves on the back,” McCall answered. “It’s being open-minded and not restrictive, and really offering diversity.” Easy to see what McCall meant.
It was time for the formal opening of the show, as The Quail event’s patriarch, Sir Michael Kadoorie, was handed the mike by returning Master of Ceremonies Richard Charlesworth from Cheshire, England. “Welcome everybody!” called the cheery luxury hotelier based in Hong Kong. “I see looking at the lawn, not only are you here with all your passion, but you are here in what seems to be a larger group at this time of the day than I have ever seen before. So you have got some wonderful cars around you. I welcome you! It’s a garden party! Enjoy yourselves and drink plenty of champagne!”
Approaching noon, it was all about Louis Roederer Champagne, mariachi music, and cars, cars, cars—but also about center stage and the seated dialogue there between motorsport legend Derek Bell and international author-photographer Winston Goodfellow. Bell, 69, looking every bit the quintessential racing driver, quipped about winning his first race in a Lotus 7, then moving into Formula 2 and Formula 1, going to Monza to test for Ferrari. Said Bell to Goodfellow and all by loud-speaker, “I think Mr. Ferrari had a soft spot for British drivers, to be honest, so I got the drive. I had the Dino Formula 2 car and after I had done quite well he put me into my first Formula 1 race. I had to test drive in the pouring rain, and had my first Formula 1 drive in the Gold Cup at Olton Park. Jacky Ickx sprained his ankle in the Canadian Grand Prix, and they put me into his car, a new one, and I drove that in the United States Grand Prix, which was my first ever race in this country.”
Parked in front of the stage were two display cars, a Ferrari California Spyder and Porsche 935, both red. They were placed there in tribute to Bell, who drove this Porsche with Bob Akin at Road Atlanta and Daytona. And the Cal Spyder? Said McCall, “I was intrigued to learn from Derek that it was a California Spyder that lit his fuse in terms of having an interest in cars, so that was the reason we had Larry Carter’s California Spyder and the 935 representing a big chunk of Derek’s career.”
Bell, who loves to share stories and his car knowledge, talked on in answering Gooddfellow’s learned questions. About Le Mans, the dapper Brit recalled, “Le Mans to me is the greatest race in the world. I drove the Porsche 917, an incredible car. You do 246 miles an hour down the Mulsanne Straight! Being there the first year, I was so stupid I had no idea that it was dangerous.” Bell went on to overall wins in the 24 hour French classic five times.