Travelling the Main Street of America
Laguna Seca is a superb circuit in the European tradition. There was an open-wheeler racing school in full swing when I was there and I was able to see how brilliantly the spectator is catered for in the track's design. Sitting in the bowl of a picturesque valley, there are several spots from which you can see the majority of the circuit. We've been offered privileged car parking and other "perks" and the circuit organisers seem enthusiastic about the concept of our event. More details of the race programme and our particular arrangements will be published as soon as they're finalised.
The Pebble Beach Concours organisers proved harder to pin down in October. We know we can get tickets and we know the different levels of tickets available, but beyond that we're still in negotiations. It appears that their office was not geared up to handle the '99 event as early as October '98, because nobody appeared to know much about it and there was no-one available for a face-to-face meeting. In fact, I got several vital clues about it from the helpful people at Laguna Seca. Again, more details will follow as soon as possible.
Monterey itself is a brilliant spot to be based for a few days, car events or no car events. The fisherman's harbour and old pier are not only as pretty as a picture, but they contain some of the best seafood restaurants on the west coast. Then there's Cannery Row, immortalised by John Steinbeck and by the film based on his novel. The Mexican customs building is a remarkable reminder of the colonial period, and if you're a true shopper the centre of town will be your mecca.
Salinas itself has the National Steinbeck Centre which is an absolute must for all of us who have been following in the tyretracks of the Joads, the family of Okies who trekked to California along Route 66 in The Grapes of Wrath. Even if you don't think of yourself as a "museum person", you will get an enormous amount from a visit to this superb facility. Much that you have seen on the Mother Road will be more fully explored and explained. The campervan in which John Steinbeck himself travelled 66 is a particularly poignant exhibit, but there's so much that will enrich your Route 66 experience that you need to devote a couple of hours to it.
When you think back to those first hesitant miles out of Chicago, they will seem to have come from another life. Your time on Route 66 will have been much more than a holiday. It's a journey, an odyssey through the music, the literature and the history of the age of the automobile. It will take you a lifetime to digest such a kaleidoscope of thoughts, feelings and experiences. Through the friends you have made on the Mother Road you will have gained new insights into the forces that have shaped our society in the century that's about to end.
If you're looking to stay on for extra time in the USA, we'll be glad to help if we can, but by the time you get to Monterey you'll be an expert on travelling, eating and sleeping American style.
There was a time a few years ago when my advice would have been to go across urgently and drive old 66 before the remaining original sections were torn up and the land sold off. Now that the torch of preservation has been taken up by a whole range of heritage enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, the cry has to be to get out there before too much of it becomes sanitised and "Disneyfied". It's also important to meet the characters like Angel Delgadillo and Lucille Hamons while they're still in harness. And as we have said since first launched "66 in 99", this is the last and only chance you will ever have to drive the Main Street of America in the century that made it a legend.