It’s always been theoretically possible to attend both the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance — though both take place on the third weekend of August, the former is on a Saturday and the latter is on Sunday. Fly out of Detroit after the cruise ends Saturday night, pick up an extra three hours traveling to Monterey courtesy of the time zone change, catch a little sleep and be on the field in time for Dawn Patrol.
Again, it’s possible. But if you do that, you’re going to miss all of the events of Monterey Car Week that lead up to Sunday’s big show. And if your mind is on an impending flight, are you really going to enjoy the cruise?
Now, for one year only, you’ll be able to do both comfortably. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is happening a week later than usual, on Aug. 26, to accommodate a golf tournament. Because the concours is the cornerstone of Monterey Car Week, everything else (The Quail, the Monterey Motorsports Reunion and so on) are shifting by a week as well. Woodward bows to no golf tournament, largely because it isn’t held on a golf course; it’s slated for Aug. 18, though you can bet Woodward will be packed with cool cars in the days leading up to the official cruise. In fact, on any given night during summer, it already is.
You might not think this is that big of a deal; the two events tend to attract two totally different crowds. Potential crossover is minimal. So why does this matter?
In part, it’s because it’s something that just doesn’t happen, ever. We celebrate rare astronomical alignments; heck some folks look to them for guidance. This rare disalignment is of far more interest to the average car guy. If you’ve got a relatively open calendar the second half of August, and you’re up for a road trip, you could conceivably head out the day after the cruise, spend the week cruising west and end up in Monterey with plenty of time to see the all of the automotive sights there.
If you can afford the time and money it will take to hit them both, this is your chance. (For my part, I was hoping to drive from Woodward to Monterey in my '51 Packard, until a serious mechanical problem sidelined that plan … I'll be making my way west after the cruise by other means.)
Besides, if there isn’t much crossover between the two events, maybe there should be. Beyond the sort of vehicles represented, and the sort of clothing people wear (hint: There are many fewer air-cooled Porsches and pairs of pastel pants on Woodward than there are in Carmel-by-the-Sea), the two events represent two radically different ways to go about celebrating the car.
In true California fashion, Monterey Car Week is a carefully curated lineup of Happenings and Gatherings and Be-Ins; even the informal street shows and cars and coffees have been more or less formalized at this point. The Dream Cruise, by contrast, is still essentially a self-organizing mustering of gearheads. Despite some corporate sponsor presence, and a few club pop-ups along the avenue, it’s largely a grassroots rolling show open to all. There's no entry form, no judges and no official awards.
Yet both remain hugely popular. Woodward is a parking lot on cruise day; the Monterey Peninsula is almost as bad during Car Week because of all the shows. People can’t get enough of this stuff, which is great news for all of us.
Maybe it's easy for Monterey Car Week partisans to look down upon Midwestern cruise-in aficionados, and for Woodward-goers to mock snooty Pebble Beach Patrons, but — and it's easy to say, but it’s true — anybody who carves out the time to go to either event has a lot in common. Chiefly, a shared love of cars and car culture. You really should see each event at least once in your life; this year presents an unprecedented opportunity to experience them both. Two weekends in August, and a mere 2,500 miles, is all that separates them. Get packing!