It’s become a Pebble Beach tradition. It started with a handful of photographers and reporters but now attracts a few hundred people to rise long before the sun. One young couple left their hotel in San Francisco at 2:30 a.m. just to take part.
From wherever they come, they make their way to the Monterey Peninsula, go through the 17 Mile Drive guard house and follow the narrow, winding road through the dark to The Lodge, where they walk through the darkness toward the fairway of the famed golfing links and stand behind ropes that define a lane just wide enough for a single car.
And they stand there in the near darkness. And they wait.
One huge portable light on a tall pole shines brightly enough that people can see their way to the stand serving coffee and donuts. They also can see well enough to find the folks from Hagerty, the classic car insurance company, who distribute “Dawn Patrol” baseball-style caps to the crowd.
Little by little, the coffee is drunk, the donuts are eaten and the sky starts to lighten. Eventually, someone official goes to the driver of the first car in line and gives approval for the car to be started and to make its way to its assigned parking place on the 18th fairway. There, the cars are grouped by classes as they await the judges and the thousands of people who will be coming later — well into the light of day — for the 65th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Photos by Larry Edsall