The sight of Jay Leno, Caitlyn Jenner, and Beverly Hills Mayor Robert Wunderlich cruising through downtown Beverly Hills on Father’s Day, names affixed to their luxury cars, could only mean one thing: the city is back. Canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the popular Concours d’Elegance transformed into Tour d’Elegance this year, a moving rally that featured approximately 50 cars.
The event benefited the Beverly Hills Police Officers Association and the Beverly Hills Firefighters’ Association. Earlier this year, the city had agreed to waive an estimated $13,254 in fees and permits and to cover marketing and advertising costs for the parade.
“This is a special treat to see the cars, hear the cars, and see the cars in motion,” Tour d’Elegance organizer Bruce Meyer told the Courier.
Participants congregated at the Petersen Automotive Museum early on Father’s Day for registration and a short reception before hitting the road for the 2.8-mile route. Drivers and passengers included celebrities, local politicians, media members, and event partners. O’Gara Coach was the title sponsor.
Wunderlich, Vice Mayor Lili Bosse, and City Councilmember Lester Friedman each drove or rode in one of the cars, as did Leno, Jenner, and “Beverly Hills, 90210” actress Tori Spelling, who was accompanied by Beverly Hills Cultural Heritage Commissioner Josh Flagg.
“I love old cars,” Spelling told the Courier. She said she has always wanted to come to the event and was excited to support the “amazing charity.”
The rally started at the Petersen at 10 a.m. and continued through Beverly Hills, concluding in front of City Hall. Once the cars were parked, spectators were able to gather in the street to view the vehicles up close.
“We’re going to treat the people of Beverly Hills and the people of Los Angeles to the most amazing moving show ever,” Meyer said in his remarks to the drivers shortly before the event began.
With beautiful weather and rare and exotic cars, the Tour d’Elegance was a joyous event for drivers and spectators alike.
“It is extremely exciting,” Bosse told the Courier. “To kick off Father’s Day in this way, I thank Bruce Meyer and [Rodeo Drive Commission President] Kathy Gohari and the Rodeo Drive Committee for once again being visionary and out of the box.”
Leno, a longtime resident of Beverly Hills, said he enjoyed the rally because it showcased many types of cars and didn’t involve judging.
“It’s very egalitarian, which I like,” he told the Courier. “It’s good for the kids. I like seeing kids looking at cars they’ve only seen in magazines and their eyes are bugging out.”
Gloria Young, a veteran teacher for the Beverly Hills Unified School District, arrived at City Hall hours early to secure a seat with the perfect view. In past years, she has participated in the Concours d’Elegance on Rodeo Drive.
“I love the show,” Young told the Courier. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s great to see that they’ve put so much into these cars.”
Jeff O’Neill took part in the car show for the first time this year, bringing his 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage” down from the Bay area. The highlight for him? The fact that his racecar didn’t overheat, he said with a smile.
“It’s a blast,” O’Neill told the Courier. “We’re big supporters of the Petersen and of Beverly Hills.”
In addition to celebrating the cars and Father’s Day, the event served as a de facto reopening for the city of Beverly Hills. The State of California had officially dropped COVID-19 restrictions only days earlier, and the Tour d’Elegance was the first event in Beverly Hills since before the pandemic.
“What a wonderful event this is, to celebrate Father’s Day, to celebrate the rally,” Wunderlich said as he addressed the crowd in front of City Hall. “A great way for us to come back from the pandemic.”
Wunderlich, joined by Bosse, Friedman, Meyer, and Leno, presented $5,000 checks to the Beverly Hills Police Officers Association and the Beverly Hills Firefighters’ Association. The television host and car aficionado thanked the officers for their service and treated the crowd to some impromptu comedy about his love for Beverly Hills.
“I’ve seen billionaires reach out and help millionaires. That’s what this city is about – helping the less fortunate,” Leno said.
When Leno’s co-presenters hailed him as a big supporter of the Beverly Hills police, he joked that Police Chief Dominick Rivetti should remember that next time Leno hits 100 mph on Mulholland Drive.
The mood was light throughout the day.
“It’s wonderful to see everybody out,” Young told the Courier. “There’s hope.”