Local motorsports enthusiast Gordon McCall has come a long way since his years as a Carmel teenager without a license, hiding a motorcycle in his friend’s garage. The cofounder of McCall Events, Inc., with wife Molly, presents the illustrious McCall’s Motorworks Revival Event at the Monterey Jet Center each August on the Wednesday preceding the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. This kick-off event to Monterey’s famous car week features 2,800 guests in two hangars and on 8 acres of tarmac, perusing airplanes, rare cars and motorcycles, while shopping for luxury goods and imbibing gourmet food and drink.
“We are viewed as the benchmark event to Car Week,” McCall says. “It’s really flattering and it’s really wild but it works.”
This year marks the 24th anniversary of the event, and will showcase a grouping of Vincent Black Shadow hand-built motorcycles.
“They are mysterious and have had songs written about them, and until the Jaguar XK120 was built, were the fastest things on the road,” McCall says. “I have a feeling they will steal a little attention.”
Event sponsors include Gulf Stream, Maserati, Bell Helicopter, Alfa Romeo, Shelby American, Pilatus, the Monterey Jet Center, Bernardus Winery, Carmel Realty Company, Pagani, Ferrari, El Jefe Tequila, Foxy Couture, Epic Aircraft and many more.
A significant part of the event is its charity component that benefits the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation, to help widows and orphans of CHP officers killed in the line of duty. Gleim the Jeweler has donated Baume and Mercier watches for a raffle to benefit the foundation, which has provided more than $17 million in aid and scholarships to CHP families.
“There isn’t a car enthusiast that I know that doesn’t appreciate what the highway patrol does,” says McCall.“Personally, it’s such an honor to be associated not only as an active board member, but through the event…I feel this way about our military too.We all get to do what we do because of their huge sacrifices…We stop the event and play the National Anthem…and hire students from Naval Postgraduate School and off-duty CHP officers to work the event.”
McCall worked as a high school student sweeping the floors of a local Ferrari dealership, had a car restoration business, was a specialist for Christie’s International, a class judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and a field coordinator for more than 25 years. He is cofounder of the boutique event The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, which takes place the Friday during Car Week (this year on August 14), and is a member of the executive board of directors for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He is an avid collector of rare and unique vehicles.
“My interests and collection are pretty diverse,” he says.“I learned how to drive in 1973 in a 1969 BMW 2002. In 1983, I bought a 1970 2002 from a friend, and I still have it today: it’s a pretty, tidy, fun little car. I also have a 1972 BMW 3.0CS, which is the car that I dreamed about while driving my 2002 30 years ago. I have a Daytona blue 1963 Corvette Split Window coupe…It was designed by a friend of mine,Peter Brock, who at the age of 19, was GM’s youngest designer ever. He also designed the Cobra Daytona Coupe that won America its only Manufacturers World Championship back in 1965. It also represents many firsts, such as the first year they were called Stingrays and the first year Corvette built a coupe…It was also the first year for retractable headlights…and most importantly, the first and only year of the cars’ trademark rear split window…I love it!”
McCall’s fascination with all things on wheels stems back to being a small child rolling cars across the carpet. Once he got his first bicycle, there was no stopping him.
“We weren’t allowed to play inside the house unless it was raining,” he recalls. “It gave me, at a very young age, a big sense of adventure and imagination. I grew up in Carmel Meadows building forts down at the beach, and building coaster carts.”
McCall reflects that most of his fellow “car guys” got their interest from their dads; however, his father passed away when he was just 8 in 1965.
The following year, in 1966, McCall’s mother started dropping him off on Highway 68 near Laguna Seca Raceway and he was allowed to walk in and visit the track all day, as long as he was back by the road by 5pm.
During his first visit to the Can-Am races, legendary racer Phil Hill won the event.
Many years later, Hill became a friend. “It’s almost eerie,” McCall says. “My whole life in the car world has been like that.”
As he grew up, McCall transitioned from a bicycle to a motorcycle, which was expressly forbidden by his mother. He hid the Honda 90, which he still has, at his friend’s house.
“I was always taller than people my age, and I wore a dark shield on my helmet. I didn’t even have a permit and was riding it to Carmel High School,” he remembers. “There’s a sense of satisfaction directly related to what risks you are willing to take.That Honda 90 taught me everything—more than any parent or mentor. If I got in trouble, it was over.”
McCall articulated that passion and adrenaline-seeking in a recent motorcycle documentary he participated in,“Why We Ride.”
“It was an amazing project,” he says. “I don’t hear of too many parents today buying their kids mini bikes.There are fewer places to ride. It teaches freedom, independence and responsibility.”
And while McCall readily states that participating in the car world is a luxury, he is happy to use his influence to give back to the community.
“Seeing people at the event—and we are talking about international and well-traveled folks who know what they are looking at, and can afford at that level—have a good time, makes it satisfying,” McCall says. “A lot of that satisfaction is knowing that something a lot bigger is coming out of it, as well.”
For more information on the McCall’s Motorworks Revival Event, which takes place on Wednesday, August 12, from 5-10pm, or for tickets, go to http://mccallevents.com.