Monterey, California: ARX-05 Racecar & 2018 Acura RLX Debuts at The Quail Motorsports Gathering

Odometer (Legend):  554,418

Odometer (Sonata Rental):  12,000

“Car Week” in Monterey, California is kind of a big deal.  A lot of automotive enthusiasts have heard of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  Don’t you dare call it just a “car show,” because its organizers are that confident it’s much, much more than that.  The event, which started in 1950, draws some 15,000 spectators annually who come to see some of the finest collector vehicles in the world.  When you consider that ticket prices are $375 a pop, it comes out to a $5.6 million event.  “Big smoke,” in the words of my grandpa.  This ain’t your everyday cars & coffee. And it’s for a good cause, too.  The proceeds from the event benefit United Way and other charitable organizations.

What many don’t know is that there are dozens of other automotive events in the Monterey Bay area of the Central California coastline the same week as Pebble.  My friend Rob and I flew out to attend two very special activities.  One of those was “The Quail” Motorsports Gathering, held at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club with its lush green lawns and clubhouse facilities.  Acura is a major sponsor at The Quail and I first attended this event in 2016, wide-eyed and awestruck at the quality and class that it exudes.

Once again I was given the opportunity to attend The Quail, but this time with an added extra bonus.  True to Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” slogan, the company has become increasingly active in racing and motorsports.  On Thursday morning bright and early, my friend Rob and I flew from Phoenix to San Jose, then hit up the beach in Santa Cruz since we had a little bit of time to kill.

We checked into our ‘tiny house’ AirBNB rental in nearby Soquel up a scenic, windy canyon road.  The house was far out of reach from any cell phone signal, which was actually kind of nice!  After a wardrobe change, we made our way to the Carmel Valley Lodge in Carmel for an exclusive debut.

Announced in early July, in partnership with Penske, a new “Daytona Prototype International” (DPi) racecar will make its first race at the Rolex 24 in Daytona, Florida in January.  Named the ARX-05, the racecar is powered by a 3.5 liter, twin-turbo V6 engine (fundamentally similar to that which powers other Acura models today).  Acura pulled the sheets off the car to a group of enthusiasts (including me) on Thursday night.

In attendance were stakeholders from both Acura and Penske, as well as a few celebrities sprinkled in:  While everyone else was in sport coats and neckties, Jay Leno came down the entryway stairs in his typical head-to-toe denim fashion.  Comedian Adam Carolla, actor Jesse Metcalfe, and Motor Trend’s Johnny Lieberman were also making their rounds through the crowd.  I enjoyed the chance to reconnect with friends who were there from the NSX Club of America and other Acura enthusiast communities.  And the ARX-05?  Absolutely stunning!

Acura’s head of PR, Matt Sloustcher, at right here in the blue.

On Friday, we made our way to The Quail.  The 50-mile drive down Highway 1 from our tiny house in Soquel to Quail Lodge took us over two hours, thanks to traffic from Friday commuters + car show people like us.  At least the instructions were clearly laid out:  We needed to stash our Hyundai Sonata rental car in “sponsor city” car lot, check in for our credentials, and then ride a shuttle bus to the entrance.

We made it to the Acura booth just in the nick of time for the press conference at 11:20 a.m.  First on the stage was Matt of Acura Public Relations, pictured above.  Then Art St Cyr, President of Honda Performance Development, introduced the ARX-05 to the crowd and turned the time over to Roger Penske for a few closing remarks.

Rob, Ira, and I made the rounds to experience some of the cuisine and beverages at the 5 food pavilions.  Each one was regionally themed (Beverly Hills, Carmel Valley, China, Italy, and France).  My favorite was the fried rice at the China booth.  We got ice cream for dessert at Infiniti’s display.  There was no shortage of buffet-style dining at this event!  That’s probably one of the reasons why each of the 3,000 tickets go for $600 a piece.  Champagne and caviar?  Right this way, please!  Notice, too, the restrooms are called “water closets.”

There was a ride-and-drive station set up on the outskirts of the grounds where people would sign up in advance to drive the NSX and other Acura models.  Acura’s RLX, debuting for the 2014 model year, was the successor to the RL, which was the successor to the Legend, so naturally it holds a special place in my heart.  Sales success has not been great historically, but with some enhancements for the 2018 mid-cycle refresh, it might just gain some relevance in the marketplace.  The RLX puts a total of 377 horses to the ground via all-wheel drive in the upgraded trim level.  From a design perspective, it now more closely resembles its smaller TLX sibling.  My favorite view is the rear.

In the evening, Rob and I met up with my friends Scott & Sandy for dining at a Mexican place in Carmel:  A fun, walkable town along the coastline.  Saturday’s flight back to Phoenix came around midday and I was delighted that our travels toward the San Jose airport took us through some very scenic and curvy backroads.  Now, if only I’d had a car better than a Sonata rental to experience them in!  Many thanks to Acura for the invitation to participate in this weekend’s activities!   More photos and a short video follow.

Airport bound in the 1994 Vigor GS!

Beachfront view while we ate lunch at Picnic Basket in Santa Cruz

Headed up the canyon road to our place in Soquel

Kicking back!

Evening arrival at Carmel Valley Lodge

By this time we had met up with my Oregonian friend, Ira (at right)

Sharing some remarks on the newly-redesigned 2018 RLX

Friends from the NSX Club of America – with a great photo bomb by Acura President, Jon Ikeda

Chris, Ira, May, Tyson – NSXCA Members

Jhae Pfenning and Peter Cunningham – a couple heroes of mine!

And the one and only Jesse Metcalfe, as seen in Desperate Housewives

Rob and I looked like a couple of church missionaries in our dress attire and bland midsize sedan

The Quail entrance.  That grass is real!  Totally immaculate.

Having ice cream from Infiniti

One of the only Hondas I saw there:  An S800 roadster

NSXCA group again

Come right on in!

More scenery

Dinner friends Scott & Sandy in Carmel

Saying goodbye to the tiny house in Soquel before flying back to Arizona

16 Responses to “Monterey, California: ARX-05 Racecar & 2018 Acura RLX Debuts at The Quail Motorsports Gathering”

  1. Wow! Great tour, Tyson. Seems like an amazing event! That ARX-05 is breathtaking. I can only imagine what it must be like to drive. New RLX front end is a dramatic improvement over the 2014-2017 front, and those tail lights are wicked. And it’s great that the head of an entire automotive division has a sense of humor and knows how to properly photobomb.

    Did you happen to put that S800 into your suitcase for me? I actually stated building a scale model of an s800 a few years ago- that picture you took may have inspired me to go finish it! Gotta dig it out of the closet and get back to work.

  2. The Monterey car week is one of those events that’s on my bucket list, as it likely is with just about every other car enthusiast around the globe. The tiny house looks interesting – all you need to rest your head for the night. Was it practical or painful? Looking forward to your “all fives” celebration in the Legend coupe in the not too distant future!

    • Thanks Adam! I was *just* coordinating with Josh Clymer this morning on some tentative timing for the all fives. It’ll be fun. The tiny house was “fine” for what we needed, but there were a couple of things that made it a little uncomfortable. The water had a really bad smell to it, and the toilet was actually INSIDE the shower. I’ll have to post a picture for it to make sense. But at least it was an efficient use of space! I hope you had a great weekend and I’m looking forward to reading about your next trip.

      • Inside the shower is actually quite common for motorhomes and campers it’s how they conserve space. Makes me wonder if the “tiny house” is actually a refurbished/modified camper?

      • That makes sense. It’s definitely a modified camper. You can see the trailer tongue! Wonder how much work it would take to make it roadworthy again.

  3. As usual looks like you had a great time… too bad this conflicted with the Woodward Dream Cruise maybe we can plan for next year?

    So how was the RLX in person, still understated?

    Can’t believe you took the Vigor to Sky Harbor though. Too risky for me guess you like living on the wild side.

    BTW love those swank palatial accomodations. Considering the area and all the events I’m sure it was pricey too…

    • Woodward Dream Cruise is definitely on my must-see list. I usually make it to Detroit once a year, but it’s always in the wrong time of year (January). The RLX has a nice presence about it in person. I don’t know if pricing is announced yet but I’m curious where this one will fall. As for our accommodations, the tiny house was reasonable (albeit simple) but we had to drive 50 miles away from the venues to get there. It made for a tiresome commute but luckily we only went back and forth once per day. Pricing and availability of hotels in Monterey kept them far out of our reach, even when we started looking early on.

      I haven’t forgotten that I want your Magic Touch on one of my cars! Let me know what your next few weeks or like and I’ll deliver one to you, or swap, or whatever works! Have a great day.

  4. Looks like a very swanky event! It would’ve been too elegant for the likes of me. Haha. Was there a good view of the eclipse in your area? I was in Columbia, MO — right in the path of totality. Amazing experience. Hopefully I’ll make it to Santa Fe tonight. Longgggg drive. Uber might’ve been easier 😉

    • Are you headed this direction? I have a couple friends (okay, maybe 10!) stopping by for a ‘car wash party’ between 10:00 and 2:00 at my place in central Phoenix on Saturday. You might have a few bugs to wipe off the Accord by then! The eclipse wasn’t much to write home about here. There was a group of people congregating outside the office when we had “max coverage” around 10:33 in the morning. But it didn’t amount to much. My cousins in Wyoming had full totality as well and loved the experience. That’s cool you got to be a part of it!

  5. What an amazing trip. So jealous you get to rub elbows with some of the automotive elite.

  6. Midnight Mystery Says:

    The new RLX really seems like something!!!
    Love the red color!!!

    Hey, take it easy on the Hyundai, we had a Kia for years, flawless!!! Also rented a 2016 Elantra GT which is a very fun car to drive… I want to drive a turbo Optima, like a 2012… I don’t like the Sonota much though…

    I’m excited for the new Accord!!!

    • The new Accord looks really nice. I only wish they hadn’t discontinued the coupe!

      • Midnight Mystery Says:

        I was wondering about the coupe… Is it ever coming back?

        Hate to like that Honda is going turbo, but I like the turbo in my RDX more than the J32 in my TL, it has far more torque at low to midrange RPMs…

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