The Beverly Hills City Council on May 4 unanimously approved the proposed June 20 Tour d’Elegance, an updated version of the annual Concours d’Elegance Father’s Day car show on Rodeo Drive. Cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the popular event returns for its 27th year as a touring rally to accommodate public health and social distancing guidelines. The event will support local first responders, benefitting both the Beverly Hills Police Association and the Beverly Hills Fire Association.
Mayor Robert Wunderlich said he is looking forward to the event–and not just because as mayor, he gets to ride in one of the cars. More importantly, he said, the rally provides an opportunity to bring back a “wildly popular” event in a responsible fashion. “This is a way for us to enjoy the event, enjoy the cars, but do it in a way that makes sense and is safe as we emerge from the pandemic,” he told the Courier.
The Rodeo Drive Special Events Holiday Program Liaison Committee on April 23 recommended approval of the Tour d’Elegance, including the Rodeo Drive Committee’s (RDC) request for the city to waive an estimated $13,254 in fees and permits and to cover marketing and advertising costs for the event. The City Council approved the request on May 4.
The proposal also calls for a street closure of the 400 block of N. Crescent Drive from N. Santa Monica Boulevard to S. Santa Monica Boulevard, directly in front of City Hall, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 20. The Beverly Hills Police Department has approved the route and will lead the car line.
For RDC president-elect Kathy Gohari, the city’s support has been critical. “We’re very, very fortunate that we worked very closely with the city,” she told the Courier. “We all seem to have pretty much the same goal–our main message is to try to invite everybody back to our city and our street.”
Curated by car enthusiast and Concours d’Elegance co-founder Bruce Meyer, this year’s car rally will stretch 2.8 miles, beginning at the Petersen Automotive Museum and continuing through Beverly Hills, concluding in front of City Hall. There will be approximately 50 vehicles in the rally, and drivers and passengers will include celebrities, sponsors, media members, and local partners. According to Gohari, there are even cars coming from other states and countries.
The procession is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and last one hour. Following the rally, the Tour d’Elegance will conclude with a brief presentation in front of City Hall honoring the top cars and drivers.
While the event typically attracts more than 30,000 spectators, the organizers opted for a parade-style rally to avoid congregating large crowds, instead urging the public to watch from various landmarks along the route, including The Beverly Hills Hotel. Measures will be implemented to ensure proper physical distancing, masking, and sanitization. In addition to ensuring the safety of the entire event, Wunderlich added that this format also may allow people to see the cars more easily than in the past.
Meyer and the RDC are soliciting sponsorship for the cars and to cover costs of the event, including logistics, production, and advertising. Gohari said businesses have been especially enthusiastic and generous this year. The city also will support the event’s marketing efforts, namely through newspaper advertisements, signage, and social media posts.
With the state of California slated to fully reopen on June 15, the Tour d’Elegance will represent a kickoff of sorts for the Beverly Hills community.
“I think the way that it’s being held is actually perfect, because it’s an opening. It’s reemerging,” said Wunderlich. “I think it’s setting exactly the right tone: that we can be optimistic about emerging, that we can start to do things that we couldn’t do over the last year, but we can’t act as though we’re all the way back.”
To Gohari, the event is a celebration,”almost like a debutante or a prom,” she joked.