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Every August I make my way west to catch up with friends for a weekend combining work and pleasure- a rejuvenating event known as the Monterey Car Week. For myself and many others, the trip is a much-anticipated, even addicting, annual event.

My Monterey experience began Thursday in Los Angeles for the launch of the Italian Stampede rally to Monterey and concluded with the Pebble Beach Concours on Sunday. As the Italian Stampede’s name implies, this event is quite the spectacle. Seeing the group of beautiful cars together and being part of the event is an experience that is difficult to describe. Now in its sixth year, the Italian Stampede has become a regular part of the Monterey weekend program. With 100 cars in attendance this year, the rally was a blast. Including a variety of Italian cars, from a pair of Lamborghini’s latest Aventador SV’s to the La Ferrari, the group of supercars was an amazing site.

This year’s Italian Stampede, considered one of the best rallies in America, started at the O’Gara Maserati dealer in Westlake, where we encountered perfect weather. After registration, breakfast, mingling with friends, and a pre-drive meeting by the staff, the huge group of exotic autos got into a two-car-wide formation and started the drive.

Onlookers crowded every side street in Westlake as the group left the O’Gara Maserati dealer and proceeded to the freeway for the 300 mile journey. Most of us had never seen so many cellphones out, taking photos, as we passed by the crowd! In addition to the cellphone cameras, TLC AiR was on site at the launch, destination, and many places in between with their latest 4K video camera drone. They captured amazing footage from the event all of which can be viewed on the event website: ItalianStampede.com.

With minimal traffic on this year’s route, the ride up to the halfway point for lunch was smooth (well… for most of us; a couple drivers earned speeding tickets in the first hour). We all arrived safety to fill up the cars, have a quick lunch, and then get back on the road. This year’s lunch was again paid for by Jeff Kreitzman, the very generous owner of Zenna tires and a man that is always the first to order the newest Lamborghini model.

As we left the fuel-and-lunch stop to get back on the road to Monterey, a repeat of the same spectator attention occurred- cellphone cameras snapping photos and video from every direction! The nice roads tempted us to let the cars do what they do best, but for safety reasons and because of thick California Highway Patrol presence, the group kept things calm after lunch. All made it safely (and legally!) to their hotel destinations in Monterey.

Once everyone settled into their hotels and had a brief hour or two to relax, most gathered at the Monterey Hilton for an Italian Stampede welcome to Monterey party. The event was sponsored by Cats Exotics, a family car dealer business, friend, and supporter of the Italian Stampede from year one. The party featured excellent food and drink and many friends to share post-event conversation with.

Planning for the 2016 event is well underway, so if you can make it, it’s worth the trouble of traveling to California. Any Italian make is invited to join, and if you do not own an Italian car, renting anything from a Fiat to a Maserati, Lamborghini, or Ferrari is welcomed!

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