We made our annual pilgrimage to the LA Auto Show earlier this week, and as in year’s past, there is a lot to see and a little bit of something for everyone. Bring the family, bring the kids, bring your significant other, bring your car- loving friends, but hurry since the last day of the show this year is Sunday, December 9th.
Here’s a video snippet of a sampling of some of the many cars on display at the Los Angeles Convention Center, home of the LA Auto Show.
Virtually every major car company is at the show, showcasing new cars and models. Some companies offered world debuts of their new cars, or US debuts, or auto show debuts. There were a few specific brands we always visit, and we made a point to stop in those booths. We did wander the entire show floor for a glance at everything. You could be there all day – we spent a good four hours wandering the show floor – which covers both major halls in the LA Convention Center – and still didn’t see everything.
My advice, look online at the show website in advance, to see if there is a particular car you would like to see. Check to see if you would like to test drive a car – several companies are offering this, but only until 5:00 pm. If you are bringing kids, look for kid-friendly displays, and let your kids sit inside the vehicles, they might have fun sitting behind the steering wheel for a photo! Then, be sure to wander and stop by some booths that are new to you. Be sure to visit the Galpin Auto display (in a room in between the two convention halls) and the Porsche exhibit (also off in its own area), and the “garage” down below for some custom cars and after-market suppliers.
The Ford booth had some netting overhead – an obstacle course for climbing through – great for kids. They also had a make your own Lego figure display – and then you could pose the figures in Ford Lego landscapes.
Lego figures I created in the Ford booth – and then posed in a Lego runway
Lego figures I created in the Ford booth – and then posed in a Lego race car garage
Mitsubishi’s area was in front of the Ford area – and you can see Honda on the left.
Climbing net above the Ford booth – fun for kids (and adults) to climb through during the show.
I liked the look – especially the interior – of this Hyundai concept car, Le Fil Rouge.
Le Fil Rouge concept car in the Hyundai booth
It was fun seeing the new Lexus UX – I drove this car for the A Girls Guide to Cars conference two weeks ago.
I love the trident on the Maserati grill.
Beautiful styling on the Acura NSX
Rivian is a new company that aims to make rugged off-road electric SUVs.
A new electric off-road SUV company, Rivian
I gravitated towards the Subaru booth this year. I am most familiar with their WRX, but the Outbacks really looked interesting, and then I posed in the new Ascent for a #SharetheLoveSelfie – Subaru is donating money to one of four charities for every selfie posted.
The Subaru Outback – I really liked it in black, and would love to test drive it someday.
Posing for a #SharetheloveSelfie, and Subaru will donate to a charity.
All the cars in the Mercedes Booth were stylish, but this one in particular stood out.
Ahh, had to stop by the Mercedes Benz booth, where all the cars are beautiful, but especially this 2020 GTR Pro
In the Volvo booth, the company said that it plans that 25% of plastic in its cars produced after 2025 will be recycled plastic. This seems very in keeping with the Volvo brand.
Volvo is committing to have 25% of all plastic in their cars produced after 2025 come from recycled plastic. Seems very on-brand for them.
Downstairs in the garage were custom autos and after-market vendors like Al & Ed’s Audio Sound and West Coast Customs.
West Coast Customs in the “garage” downstairs modified this Ferrari 488 GTB
West Coast Customs modified this 1965 Porsche 356
In addition to seeing all the models in the VW booth, they had this fun screen that mirrored the movements of anyone standing in front of this. I imagine kids would find this endlessly entertaining. I sure did.
Galpin Autos had a large room to display their cars. This 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera made me swoon. And how about this fun throwback pain scheme on this van and mini-wagon?
The Galpin display had this beautiful 2019 Aston Martin DBS SuperLeggera.
Galpin had many cars on display including this van and mini-wagon in fun 70’s era paint.
In the Jaguar booth, we spent a lot of time learning about the I-pace, Jaguar’s electric SUV. If you sign up to take a 90-second tour to learn more about the vehicle, you get a really nice Jaguar baseball cap. On the right pictured below is an interactive screen in the Jaguar booth, kids might find this entertaining.
The Jaguar I-pace electric SUV.
This interactive screen lets you follow the Jaguar with your movements
I liked the look of this all-new Mazda 3 (and since I drive a Mazda, I am partial to them). The hatchback was on a raised stage, but there was a sedan version in their booth that you could sit inside.
The all new Mazda 3.
In the BMW booth, I stopped by to see the M3 and M4. The M4 in a convertible, which sounds like a brilliant idea!
The BMW booth with a race car upstairs
Not wild about the color, but wild about the M3
A Convertible M4 !
In the Audi booth, they had a station where you could push pedals and hear the engine notes for different models.
The Grand Tour Game, related to the Amazon show, The Grand Tour, had an area outside on of the halls set-up with stations to play the game. And take a photo with a Porsche 918 Spyder.
The Grand Tour had a display outside of one of the halls – and you could have your picture taken with this Porsche 918 Spyder.
There were also game stations set so you could play the game.
As usual, Porsche had its own booth…and you saw the just-announced Porsche
The Porsched 911 GT2 RS Clubsport – front and center when you enter the Porsche room.
These photos only represent a sampling of what I took the other night. There are many cars to see and learn more about, and there are fun activities sprinkled throughout the show that hopefully will delight the little ones.
The LA Auto Show runs through Sunday, Decmeber 9. The show is open from 9:00 AM through 10:00 PM on Saturday, and 9:00 AM through 7:00 PM on Sunday. Check the LA Auto Show website for a list of cars at the show and events or drive-around schedule.
As car racing fan, and aficionado of classic racing cars, it’s a bit surprising that I do not own a fast car nor have I raced on a track or attended a driving school. I’ve been a passenger in a race car on a track, and I love watching racing drivers push their car to the limits on a track, but doing that myself? Not yet.
When A Girls Guide to Cars invited me to their Drive2Learn conference in Palm Springs recently, I was excited to attend and test drive the various vehicles made available to our group, but my eyes got big when I read that we’d be visiting the BMW Performance Driving Center in Thermal, CA.
BMW Performance Driving Center in Thermal, California. Photo courtesy of BMW Performance Driving Center
The half-day experience we had at the school is a mash-up of the different courses and classes BMW offers. While you will not be able to replicate our exact experience (and we didn’t do everything they offer), you can read what we did, and then determine what class might be the best fit for you.
View of the shorter track from the second level of the BMW Performance Center. This track was marked with cones and split into three smaller sections during our class.
Having attended a class at the BMW Performance Driving Center, I cannot wait to return. Here’s why I loved my experience there, and why I recommend you make plans to attend a class there soon.
After a buffet breakfast upstairs overlooking the track, our group gathered downstairs in a classroom where Adam, the lead instructor, introduced the other driving instructors. All of the instructors have racing experience and have been teaching at BMW for some time.
Love the humor on the coffee cups.
Can’t believe I’m at the BMW Performance Driving Center to drive BMWs!
Adam led a shortened course on driving basics – how to adjust your seat and steering wheel, where to place your hands (surprise it’s not 10:00 and 2:00 as many of us were taught in driver’s ed, but 9:00 and 3:00), and where to look when you are driving (look where you want to go).
Lead instructor Adam highlights the paddle shift levers on the steering wheel – you could use these if you wanted while driving, and I did!
Our short lesson complete, we were divided into groups and sent out to start driving.
The first rotation for my group was on the track with M4s, with two of us in each vehicle with the instructor in the lead vehicle. I paired up with Myra and drove first. Instructor Dave used a walkie talkie to communicate with us while we were driving. He led us in a caravan to the track and then explained that we would drive a lap following him, one car behind the other. As we drove in formation around the track, he noted braking points, apexes, straightaways where we could floor it, and curves where we needed to be looking out the side windows as we steered (use the side windows as you turn to see where you want the car to go). We were given the option to drive the car in automatic, or we could use the paddle shifts for manual mode. I tried that since I drive a manual transmission car.
With each successive lap, we went faster and faster. He coached us, and calmly led us around the track, encouraging us to go increase our speed with each lap. The car was quite simply a joy to drive. It was smooth and fast and stopped on a dime. At various points on the track Dave encouraged us to floor it, and I did. I know I hit over 100 mph, maybe even 115, and it was exhilarating. I know the car could go faster, but for my first drive I was being a bit timid. We did about four laps of driving and then switched passenger and driver. As we completed additional laps, my confidence grew in knowing what was coming next, where to push the car to go faster, when to lift off and brake, and where to steer to use make most effective use of the racing line (how’s that for a race term I learned watching Formula 1?).
Me and the M4 I drove around the track.
Caution though – riding along as a passenger caused some in our group to feel a bit of motion sickness. If that was an issue, the instructors encouraged those individuals to drive first, and then when we swapped driver and passenger, they could step out of the car instead of riding along and getting sick.
Here’s video of me at the end of the drive – thank you Myra for recording this!
Our next stop was to a smaller track layout where we would drive several different BMW models. We were handed off to a different instructor who led us around the track in a caravan of different BMWs – an M2, M4, 5550i, X5, and X6. Once we learned the braking points and apexes on the short track, we drove two laps in each vehicle, switched passenger to driver for two laps, and then moved to the next car. In quick succession, we were able to experience the performance and handling of each different model. To experience the difference between an M2 and M4, between an X5 and and X6, was illuminating. Sure the M4 felt like it was powered with a huge awesome engine, but the M2 was smaller and felt nimbler, easier to zip around corners and perfect for short – but fun – trips around town. The 550i felt like a solid car – large and roomy, with solid handling. The SUVs were surprisingly quick with good pick-up and were easy to manipulate around the short track. If you are thinking about purchasing a BMW, this is the thing to do – drive each model in quick succession and see which vehicle suits your driving style best. The best part – you can go fast and feel like you are really driving and feel the performance of each vehicle – not taking a slow loop around the block at a dealership.
Here’s a clip of us driving around the shortened track in the various cars by Peyton’s Momma.
We moved on to another small track for timed laps. Here we were paired again and drove in formation around this short track in 3 series BMWs. After noting the brake points and apexes, we were sent out to do timed practice laps. We had to drive the course as fast as we could and then stop within the stop box for our time to count. After two practice laps, we were sent on the track one by one to complete two timed laps. As we did our laps, it was quickly apparent who the two fastest drivers were in our group (and I was not one of them). Although I wasn’t the fastest, I concentrated on improving my time for each lap (which I did), taking the corners tighter, braking later, and trying to determine how to use the entire track to my advantage.
M3s and M4s lined up at the larger track for instruction laps and hot laps.
Our last stop was back at the big track for a hot lap with the instructors. As I sat in the back seat with two others from our group, David whipped around the track, braking, accelerating and drifting to give us the ride of our lives. It was so fun, I couldn’t stop laughing and squealing. What a thrill to experience the car being pushed to its limit while in the control of an experience driver.
Here’s what the hot lap looks like from outside the car (video clip courtesy of BMW Performance Center West):
Here’s the video I took while in the back seat during the hot lap – there’s a lot of laughing and squealing (also watch Jess Doll’s hair in the front seat as the car turns). It was a rush!
A BMW M3 speeds off on a hot lap.
Did I Say It’s Educational?
A word about the instructors
Yes, the BMW is the “ultimate driving machine,” but simply sitting behind the wheel of a BMW doesn’t necessarily provide the ultimate driving experience. The instructors were without fail engaging, calm, reassuring, and funny. I never felt pushed to do anything I was uncomfortable with, and they encouraged us to push the car, go faster, and enjoy it. It was seamless and fun, yet I walked away feeling like I learned how to drive better – whether I was in a BMW or not. If the thought of driving fast or doing laps on a track is scary, you can come here to learn in a no-pressure, non-intimidating environment and progress at your level. That is not always the case when you’re taking a class to learn something new, and the instructors here really impressed me.
Our half day of “class” done, we returned upstairs where Adam presented us with BMW Performance Driving School goodies – the best being the BMW Performance Driving school hat – with a California bear on the side (distinguishing it from BMW’s other Performance Driving School in South Carolina). The winners of the timed lap were announced and congratulated (not surprisingly I was not one of them), and then it was over. It went by so quickly – probably because we were all having so much fun!
I think I look good behind the wheel of the M4! What a thrill it was driving this at top speeds around the track.
There is something for everyone at the BMW Performance Driving Center. Whether you want to learn tips for better driving, how to extract the maximum performance out of a car, optimal racing lines on a track, what it feels like to ride a hot lap, or test various BMW models, there is a class for you.
There’s a wonderful selection of BMW branded merchandise at the store.
There are many classes to select: Car Control, M School, BMW Performance Drive, M Track Drive, Mini Driving Experience, and a BMW Track Meet event. Pricing starts at $299 for a half-day M-track drive or BMW Performance Center drive and goes up to $3,999 for a two-day M school package.
Enter to Win a BMW Driver Experience!
Enter to win A Girls Guide to Cars Grand Prize Giveaway that includes a drive experience at BMW Performance Center West, a stay at the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa and more! Click this link to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Contest rules: Entries must be completed by 11:59PM Pacific December 31st, 2018. No purchase necessary; contest open only to US residents 18 years old or older and subject to the laws of the state of California. Winner will be chosen by random drawing from qualified entires and verified by A Girls Guide to Cars; winner will be notified by email no later than January 7th, 2019. Prize will be delivered by USPS to a valid US address; prizes cannot be shipped to a P.O. box. Winners may be asked to provide identification to receive their prize. Prize valued at $1,200, not exchangeable for cash or other items. Prize is limited to one (1) night accommodations at Miramonte Resort, Indian Wells, CA with date of accommodation subject to approval by Miramonte management; one (1) breakfast for two at Miramonte Resort; one (1) half day driving instruction and hot lap package for one person at BMW Performance Center West, Thermal, CA. Travel and additional accommodations are the responsibility of the winner. Contest is administered by and prizes awarded by A Girls Guide to Cars, which assumes no liability for the administration of this contest. Miramonte Indian Wells Resort, BMW Performance Center, Visit Greater Palm Springs Area, and all other event partners assume no responsibility or liability for the administration of this contest. A total of 1 grand prize will be awarded.
Disclosure: I was a guest of A Girls’ Guide to Cars, BMW Performance Driving School, and Visit Greater Palm Springs for this trip in exchange for my honest opinion of my experience. All the opinions here are my own.
Two weeks ago, thirty female bloggers and journalists gathered at the Aloft Hotel in El Segundo, less than a mile from LAX Airport. We were there to meet for the inaugural A Girls Guide to Cars #Drive2Learn conference. In the parking lot eight different cars of varying makes and models awaited us to explore the drive from LA to Greater Palm Springs, the location for our two and a half day conference.
The mission of A Girls Guide to Cars is to empower women to be smarter, happier car owners, and that’s something I can support, especially since women buy or influence the purchase of 85% of cars.
While at the conference, we had the opportunity to drive the cars in groups to lunch, to scenic spots around Greater Palm Springs, and to and from Los Angeles.
This small, sporty car comfortably fit three women, and would be perfect for quick trips around town. While I am not normally a fan of red leather interiors, the red interior on this car grew on me – paired with the white exterior, the red really pops.
Front passenger side of the Acura ILX with red leather interior
Back seating in the Acura ILX
Here’s a close-up of the interior from the passenger side of the car.
Passenger side of the Acura ILX showing the center console
Looking for a quick bite to eat, we found IW Coffee coffee a short drive away. After lunch we decided to drive around town, and given our short time-frame, decided to cruise along El Paseo, a popular shopping district/street in Palm Desert. The Acura ILX was perfect for zipping around and parking, making it a perfect option for running errands, joining friends for lunch, or commuting to work. This small but sporty car is boasts a luxurious interior, so it’s luxury in a small but mighty package.
The Acura ILX parked across from IW Coffee
Small to fit into cramped parking spaces at shopping centers.
Dani cruising El Paseo in the Acura ILX.
Our time with the Acura was short, but my first impression was a good one. Since I drive a compact-sized car at home, this would be the perfect entry for me into the Acura line-up. I’m not looking for a big SUV, but I want something that has a bit of zip, and a luxurious feel, and on first glance the Acura ILX seems to fit the bill.
Me and the Acura ILX
Would it be a visit to Greater Palm Springs without a picture of any palms?
Palm trees in Palm Springs
The Acura ILX is described by Acura as being, “Savvy, sporty, and bold, it’s the ride for your life.” With a starting price of $25,900, this premium sports sedan an affordable luxury. Learn more on the Acura website.
Disclosure: I was a guest of A Girls’ Guide to Cars and Visit Greater Palm Springs for this trip in exchange for my honest opinion of my experience. All the opinions here are my own.
Enter A Girls Guide to Cars Grand Prize Giveaway
Enter to Win the A Girls Guide to Cars Grand Prize giveaway, and you could win a BMW Drive Experience and a night stay at the Miramonte Resort. Enter using this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway Contest rules: Entries must be completed by 11:59PM Pacific December 31st, 2018. No purchase necessary; contest open only to US residents 18 years old or older and subject to the laws of the state of California. Winner will be chosen by random drawing from qualified entires and verified by A Girls Guide to Cars; winner will be notified by email no later than January 7th, 2019. Prize will be delivered by USPS to a valid US address; prizes cannot be shipped to a P.O. box. Winners may be asked to provide identification to receive their prize. Prize valued at $1,200, not exchangeable for cash or other items. Prize is limited to one (1) night accommodations at Miramonte Resort, Indian Wells, CA with date of accommodation subject to approval by Miramonte management; one (1) breakfast for two at Miramonte Resort; one (1) half day driving instruction and hot lap package for one person at BMW Performance Center West, Thermal, CA. Travel and additional accommodations are the responsibility of the winner. Contest is administered by and prizes awarded by A Girls Guide to Cars, which assumes no liability for the administration of this contest. Miramonte Indian Wells Resort, BMW Performance Center, Visit Greater Palm Springs Area, and all other event partners assume no responsibility or liability for the administration of this contest. A total of 1 grand prize will be awarded.
Inspired by a Twitter discussion of Bugattis, group co-leader Mara picked a date in February for us to gather and tour the museum. I had not visited the museum since it re-opened in December, 2015, after a $125 million restoration, so I was excited to see the museum with fellow car racing fans. Not sure how many people would attend an event that did not involve watching Formula 1, Mara was pleasantly surprised when over twenty people pre-paid so that our group received a discounted ticket rate.
Meeting in the museum lobby, Mara checked everyone in and purchased additional tickets while we mingled and discussed the latest developments in Formula 1 (the hot topic was Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement, Valtteri Bottas’ signing with Mercedes AMG Petronas to replace him, and Felipe Massa’s un-retiring to drive this year with Williams).
Everyone gathered to pose for a photo in the lobby before we entered the museum.
LA F1 Fans in our first non-race viewing event at the Petersen Automotive Museum
After trying to squeeze all of us in the elevator, and bouncing a few times, our group split and made our way to the third floor to begin exploring the museum. The top floor featured early cars, such as this replica of the first practical car, an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen, as well as General Motor’s 1996 EV1, the world’s first mass-produced electric powered vehicle.
The first practical car – an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen (replica). One prototype was built and 25 replicas.
General Motors’ 1996 EV1, the first modern, mass-produced electric vehicle.
This being Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood and the film industry, there are several cars featured in movies on display.
1963 Volkswagen Beetle, “Herbie” driving in the 2005 film, “Herbie: Fully Loaded.”
We wandered the exhibits on our own pace chatting with fellow F1 fans.
LA F1 Fans discuss car design in front of this 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne XP-37
This 1953 Nash-Healy was particularly beautiful.
1953 Nash-Healey designed by Pinin Farina
For those more interested in race cars, this 1997 Porsche 911 Gt1 was a special treat to see.
1997 Porsche 911 GT1
1997 Porsche 911 GT1
The McLaren P1 on display showcases the production vehicles developed by the other side of the McLaren F1 team parent company.
2015 McLaren P1
An exhibit on American racing legend Dan Gurney opened January 28th. “The Eagles Have Landed: Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers,” features 11 AAR cars, memorabilia and short films on the walls of the display about Dan Gurney’s racing career.
Dan Gurney exhibit featured several of his race cars including the 1967 AAR Eagle Gurney-Weslake V-12 #36 F1 Grand Prix Car
Dan Gurney memorabilia on display includes the original magnum of Moet & Chandon champagne he sprayed from the podium when he and A.J. Foyt won the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The ground floor of the museum featured a large exhibit on the Bugatti. Most of the cars are from the Mullin Auto Museum (perhaps one day we can organize a group visit there).
1931 Bugatti Type 50 S
The 1925 Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix
Mara suggested that we meet at Tom Bergin’s (the second oldest bar in Los Angeles) down the street from the museum once we were finished touring the museum. I was part of the last of our group that was in the museum, and there was a small remaining group in Tom Bergin’s by the time I arrived that enjoyed beer, Irish coffee and lunch together.
The last of the LA F1 Fans at Tom Bergin’s after touring the Petersen
Yvette, Mara, Mike and Eric enjoying lunch and Tom Bergin’s famous Irish Coffee
Anmol and Alen enjoying lunch at Tom Bergin’s
John, Dave and Kiera enjoying Irish coffee at the bar at Tom Bergin’s
In all, the first LA F1 Fans non-race meetup activity was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy the museum and the opportunity to visit with other Formula 1 fans.
Based on the success of this gathering, Mara already scheduled our next meetup on March 12th to visit the Malibu Cars and Coffee gathering.
The 2017 Formula 1 season opens on March 26th with the Australian Grand Prix. Join the Los Angeles Formula 1 fans meetup group to see where we will gather to watch the race.
The chilly temperatures of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day continued in the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Los Angeles. With family visiting, I did not make it to the beach and outdoors as much as I normally do, but I was able to venture outside a few days and take some pictures while out walking the dogs.
Our walk on Thursday night, December 29th started late, and soon we we were walking in the dusk and then the dark along the Strand. But with so many houses displaying Christmas lights, there was something to enjoy. I realized I had not taken any photos of the decorated Manhattan Beach Pier, so I made sure to walk on the pier to capture the pretty lights.
Strands of white lights lead the way to the “tree” atop the Round House Aquarium
The Pier Christmas Tree in lights
My phone could not focus on the lights with the darkness, but I still thought they were pretty even though they are blurred.
Looking from the end of the pier back to Manhattan Beach
The Season’s Greeting sign hanging across Manhattan Beach Boulevard was there as usual.
Looking west on Manhattan Beach Boulevard to the Seasons Greeting sign and the Manhattan Beach Pier
On New Year’s Eve, we were determined to take the dogs for a long walk on the Strand. They needed to stretch their legs, and we wanted to tire them out before the inevitable fireworks at midnight that scare them.
It was a cold and windy day. I brought their rain coats in case it started to rain, and not ten minutes after we started walking, the rain came. It was a steady rain, so even though the boys do not enjoy wearing their rain coats, it kept most of the water off of them.
Heading down a walk street to the Strand in Manhattan Beach
It was very gray, but the sun is peeking through on the horizon.
There was hardly anyone out on the Strand. The wind made it feel colder than it was and my hands felt very raw. Luckily I had a good rain jacket that kept me dry.
Looking through the flowers to the sun on the horizon
Koa and Lau Lau making the most of the wet, cold and windy weather on New Year’s Eve along the Strand.
Sun on the horizon lights up the ships in the ocean
This snack shop is normally busy no mater what time of day you walk by.
The wet and windy Strand on Manhattan Beach on New Year’s Eve. No one was out!
The sun setting with the gray clouds overhead
It was sunny on the horizon but not where we were! Look at the light catching the tips of the plant.
Last sunset of 2016
The boys sporting their rain coats.
Lau Lau in the front and Koa in the back.
The next day, the storm and the clouds moved on, and we were treated to a bright, clear day at the beach. The Strand was very crowded, especially compared to the day before, as everyone was outside enjoying the day and the first day of 2017!
What a difference compared to the day before!
You can see on the far right the snack shop is busy compared to the day before! And you can see the mountains near Santa Monica and Malibu
After sixteen years of living in the South Bay, I finally visited El Segundo’s Candy Cane Lane on Christmas night. Every holiday season since 1949, the 1200 block of Acacia Lane in El Segundo, California transforms into a festival of lights.
Closed off to vehicle traffice, Candy Cane Lane attracts all ages to wonder at the beautiful Christmas light displays.
On my way home from a family Christmas dinner in Santa Clarita, I decided that I should stop off to see the lights. Driving south on the 405 Freeway, I took the 105 Freeway west and exited at the first exit past the end of the Freeway (California Street). Acacia Lane is only a few blocks away. Luckily, I was able to find a parking spot on Acacia Street only a block from Candy Cane Lane, perhaps this was because it was Christmas night. I hear parking can be a challenge during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
A simply decorated house on Candy Cane Lane. I love the greenery around the front door, lit wreath overhead and Christmas tree in the window.
The street is blocked off to vehicle traffic so pedestrians can walk freely and appreciate the lights without worrying about being hit by a car. There were a fair amount of people the night I went, but it was not overwhelming. Many families with children were enjoying the lights.
The Candy Cane arch at this home was a popular spot for taking pictures
Every house had a different look or theme, but all of them were covered in lights.
Animals in the yard at this home
One of my favorite light displays – I love the lighted jars and chandeliers hanging from the tree.
The lights might still be on for New Year’s Eve, and some homeowner’s have started taking down their displays. But, the opening date for Candy Cane Lane in 2017 is already announced – December 9, 2017.
It is well worth a visit if you live in the South Bay, or if you are traveling through LAX Airport in December. Candy Cane Lane is a short drive south from LAX!
See more photos from my visit below the details!
What:El Segundo’s Candy Cane Lane, 1200 Block of Acacia Lane, El Segundo, CA
I have not posted any South Bay Scenes in a while, and this week’s scenes all come from this past weekend. But the skies were clear and the golden hour light beautiful when we walked the boys late on Saturday afternoon, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures!
Earlier in the week, there was rain and then high winds, so it was not ideal for nice walks along the beach. By Saturday the rain had moved on, and it was a glorious day.
Beach volleyball in El Porto, Manhattan Beach
Looking north from the walk section of the Strand in Manhattan Beach
Looking south from the walk section of the Strand toward the Manhattan Beach Pier
This group was playing beach volleyball while the sun was setting.
Playing beach volleyball as the sun sets
The Manhattan Beach Pier, a setting sun reflected in the water and beach volleyball
The Manhattan Beach Pier with Catalina Island in the distance
The sun getting ready to slip beyond the horizon.
Even as we walked away from the Strand, I kept taking photos of the pretty sky.
Walk Street Manhattan Beach
Pretty street lights decorated for the holidays
The weather was beautiful, but it was also cold. When I went out to my car early on Sunday morning, there was frost on my windshield! I do not think that has ever happened here in Redondo Beach. I took a picture of it after I scraped it off so I could see where I was driving!
Last weekend, we licked our wounds because we weren’t in Austin to watch a beautiful, sunny weekend of Formula 1 racing at Circuit of the Americas. But we found a salve for not being there in person with the next best thing, watching the race live with fellow Formula 1 fans in Los Angeles at Pirelli P Zero World.
Watching the USGP at Pirelli P Zero World with fellow F1 fans
Thanks to the LA F1 Fans meet-up group Mark Sternberg created a few years ago, each week during the Formula 1 season LA fans gather to watch the races with fellow F1 enthusiasts. We once thought we were the only Formula 1 fans here in the US, since hardly any of our friends knew what we were talking about when we said, “Formula 1.” Now we meet with other followers of the FIA’s premier motorsport series, Formula 1, to watch races at various locations throughout Los Angeles.
Most race weekends, the group watches a tape delayed broadcast of the race due to the international nature of the sport. With races occurring around the world, finding a location to watch a race in the middle of the night, and the willingness to watch in the middle of the night, is a tough proposition.
Usually, the LA F1 group gathers at the Britannia Pub or Cock and Bull Pub in Santa Monica. For the season opener in Australia, Mark arranged for a viewing party at Tom’s Urban in downtown LA. A few weeks ago, the group returned to Tom’s Urban to watch the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka live – starting at 10:00 PM Los Angeles time. The new U.S. Formula 1 team, Haas F1, sponsored the party and offered team hats and other team promotional items that Mark raffled off. Over 100 people gathered to watch.
Last weekend, for the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, the LA F1 Fans group met at Pirelli P Zero World in Century City. Pirelli is the official tire for Formula 1. A catered buffet, wine, and beer were offered (for a fee), and we enjoyed a big screen viewing of the race.
Pirelli’s P Zero World in Century City, Los Angeles
A Lavazza cappuccino and Formula 1 viewing
It was a good, but not great race. Our group really made some noise when Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were battling for fifth position near the end of the race and Alonso and Massa almost took each other out.
Watching the USGP at Pirelli P Zero World in Los Angeles
During the commercial breaks, the fans chatted with each other and looked at the cars on display and parked outside.
A McLaren 570 GT parked in the back of Pirelli P Zero World
McLaren 650S in Pirelli P Zero World
There’s a McLaren behind us but we’re all focused on the action on the track!
Wearing my Williams Martini racing shirt to support Felipe Massa by this beautiful Maserati
This weekend, Formula 1 is in Mexico, offering US west-coast fans an opportunity to watch the race live at a reasonable hour. Join them tomorrow at the Britannia Pub in Santa Monica, and cheer for your favorite team and driver among fellow Formula 1 fans!
What: LA F1 Fans watch the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix live
Where: Britannia Pub, 318 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA
While Mercedes AMG Petronas has clinched the constructor’s title for the third straight year, the driver’s championship is still in play. Nico Rosberg could clinch his first F1 world championship if he wins the race and his teammate, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, finishes tenth or lower. But Lewis is on the pole for the race, with Nico in the second grid position and the Red Bulls breathing down their necks in third and fourth. It should be an exciting race. We hope to see you at the Britannia to watch with us live tomorrow!
Who do you think will win the race? Who do you think will win the driver’s championship?
More photos from the USGP viewing party are here:
Beautiful Maserati on display at Pirelli P Zero World
On Sunday we drove down to San Diego and Coronado Island for the 19th Annual Coronado Speed Festival. Hosted by Naval Base Coronado on Naval Air Station North Island, the “Race at the Base” features a car corral, ten different car class races on an active runway, and the opportunity to tour the Naval base and ships and explore some of the aircraft on display.
We left Riverside around 7:30 AM (after a friend’s wedding the night before) and arrived shortly before 9:00 AM. Traffic was light so we were able to drive through Coronado Island onto the base and park with no waiting. After parking, we walked to security screening, much like at an airport, except that no large bags or backpacks were allowed. I was turned around with my small backpack as it was deemed too large. Luckily I brought my fanny pack along so I stuffed that with my wallet, cell phone, extra battery and ear plugs, and I hand carried a can of spray sunscreen. The marine layer was still overhead when we arrived, but we knew it would burn off and we would need sun protection.
The Coronado Speed Festival runs all day Saturday and Sunday and is part of Fleet Week San Diego. Tickets for each day were $25 for adults, but we had a coupon from Reader City for $15 each (Active duty military personnel are admitted free and children under 12 are free; a weekend pass is $35). While we missed some of the early races, each group of cars raced in the afternoon as well, and we were able to watch all the different groups race later in the day.
We walked around the paddock where each car was getting race prepped. There was a wide variety of cars to enjoy; I always enjoy the older cars, especially the pre-war racers.
A beautiful Morgan automobile.
A vintage Porsche
The 1991 IMSA GTO Roush Mustang. When we peaked inside the back, there was gravel all over the car floor, picked up from the track.
The back of the1991 IMSA GTO Roush Mustang exposed.
Three cars in the paddock.
Comedian, podcaster, documentary filmmaker and vintage car racer Adam Carolla, who was racing in Group 8 with his Bob Sharp Datsun 610, posed for a picture with us. He said that the first two races on Saturday seemed to go well, but there was something not right with the car, and they were not sure if they had it fixed. He advised that if we saw his car moving slowly on the track, it was the car and not the driver. Sadly when we watched his group race, we knew that his car problems continued, and he did not participate in the afternoon race for his group.
Dave and I chatted with Adam Carolla before his group raced.
Many of the cars had signs that described their provenance and race history.
1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Trans-AM / IMSA GTO – this car would be in a heated battle for first place in the last race of the day.
The 1952 Allard K2
Watching the Races
We walked over to one of two spectator stands, and when we climbed to the top, we could peer over and see the cars lining up in advance of each race. It was fun to watch the cars drive in and be directed to their place in the grid.
Group 8 cars – mass produced cars and sedans built prior to 1973 – line up on the race grid.
Looking down on the Group 8 grid from the stands. In the distance on the left is the short course for the Jaguar test drives.
Group 10 – NASCAR Cup and Nationwide Stock Cars – line up on the grid
The Pre-War race cars line up in the grid as the NASCAR group exits the track
The pre-war race cars lined up in the grid (the San Diego skyline is in the back on the right)
From this perch we could see almost all of the 1.7 mile race track. Facing north, sailboats sailed by on San Diego bay and flights departed from the airport as the marine layer hugged San Diego in the morning.
Group 9 – “Wings & Slicks” open-wheel race cars as raced from 1973 – 2008 – on the grid with San Diego Bay and San Diego to the north in the background.
Heading from the grid
Heading from the grid for Group 7
Other Activities at the Base
Unfortunately while we were watching groups 8 and 10 race, we missed the pit crew challenge. Active duty military personnel competed in a pit crew time trial with NASCAR cars and equipment.
We were treated to some of the Naval Seahawk helicopters flying over the racetrack while we were in the stands, and we also saw some F-18s take off (they were a bit too fast to take a picture).
Naval Seakhawk helicopters flew over the track during the races
During the noon lunch break, I was fortunate to take a selfie with actor Gary Sinise. Gary and his Lt. Dan Band performed on Saturday at the fest. He was the Grand Marshall for the races. I thanked him for all that he does to support our military with the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Meeting Actor and Coronado Speed Festival Grand Marshall Gary Sinise (note my hand-carried can of sunscreen!)
I realized too late that while the racing paused for a lunch time breaks that hot laps were offered – spectators were being driven around as passengers in some of the cars. By the time I realized this and got in line, it was too late. Something I definitely would like to do next year!
After grabbing lunch, we stood in line to test drive Jaguars. Jaguar is a sponsor of the event and had professional drivers there to tell us about their vehicles. We had the option of either being driven around the short course on the field or driving the cars ourselves. The line to test drive the Jaguars was long, not surprising, and I wish we stood in line for the test drive when we first arrived – the line was shorter and the sun was still hiding behind the marine layer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the drive and accelerating these beautiful vehicles on the track. I first drove the XE and then after getting a feel for the track switched to the F-type, with much more horse power and sportier styling. Both beautiful cars, and I liked their power!
The groups all raced again in the afternoon, and while we planned to leave early, we ended up staying to watch my favorite group, the pre-war cars. Since there was only one race after that, we decided to remain for that as well, Group 10b, and I’m glad we did. The 1998 Ford/Penske Taurus Stock Car and 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Winston Cup traded places the entire race, and as we could see all of the track from near the start/finish line, it was fun to watch them battle on track for position with one car being better in the turns while another caught up on the straights. All of the cars that raced by group are listed on the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association website, as are the results from each of the qualifying sessions (from Saturday) and races.
Pre-war cars race at Coronado Speed Festival
The Pre-War race featured this National with two drivers.
The last race of the day proved to be quite exciting.
These two cars traded positions the entire race. Eventually the white car barely edged out the black car at the finish line.
This Ford/Penske Taurus Stock car and Oldsmobile Cutlass Winston fought for first place the entire race.
In this photo, the Oldsmobile is in the lead.
Learning About Naval Helicopters
Once the racing concluded, we walked out past the helicopters that lined the entrance to the event. The pilots allowed us to peak inside and tell us about their aircraft. We saw MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters with different configurations depending on the mission of each. It was amazing to see these machines up close, and even more amazing that they are able to leave the ground and fly.
MH-60 Seahawk Helicopters parked at Naval Air Station North Island
MH-60 Seahawk Helicopters parked at Naval Air Station North Island
The cockpit of one of the MH-60 Seahawks on display
MH-60 Seahawk Naval Helicopter on display for the Coronado Speed Festival
While we didn’t beat the traffic leaving the base, the delays were not onerous as we sat in some traffic on Coronado Island heading to the Coronado Bay Bridge.
Overall, it was a fun day. While there are a good number of cars to see, there weren’t so many that it was exhausting. We were able to walk up and down each of the paddock lanes a few times each and see everything. Because we were only there on the one day though, we didn’t allow time for touring of the ships that were open or for touring the base.
The Race at the Base is a fun weekend event, something the entire family can enjoy. Where else can you see classic cars racing on a live naval runway with the beautiful waters of San Diego Bay surrounding you and the skyline of San Diego to the east?
View of downtown San Diego from Naval Air Station North Island and the Coronado Speed Festival
For more information on the other activities during Fleet Week San Diego, visit their website.
The Team USA Road to Rio tour visited Venice Beach, California, last weekend, and I stopped by for a quick visit. The tour has been traveling around the United States since last summer, visiting nine cities with the goal of, “giving fans access to Team USA athletes and experiences earlier than ever before, and heightening awareness and excitement for the Rio Games in the buildup to 2016,” as the press release announcing the tour stated.
As I walked along Venice Beach towards the Road to Rio tour, I saw these national flags in the sand. They reminded me of all the countries coming together to compete at the Olympic games.
Team USA had a large area along the beach with a zip-line, concert stage, and several booths and trailers with Olympic memorabilia on display. Some local celebrities and Olympic athletes made appearances each day, and there were musical acts to entertain the crowd.
Liberty Mutual sponsored the tour and insures all the medals that Team USA athletes win at the Olympic games. They had a photo stand set to pose with an Olympic medal.
Here I am posing with my “Olympic medal.”
Another photo station had us pose as if we were on the diving platform.
In one of the trailers, there was an area to experience different Olympic sports through virtual reality. Since I posed as if I was diving, I tried the diving demo narrated by Olympic gold medal diver David Boudia. I always have had an appreciation for the Olympic divers, but this really provided a sense of how high those diving platforms are! In the demo, David explained how divers start on the lower platforms, train there and then when they are completely comfortable they move up to a higher platform. By the time they reach the 10 meter platform, they are comfortable with the height.
Virtual reality demos at the Road to Rio tour.
On the other side of the VR station was another photo opportunity – to pose for a high jump. I laid back on this green prop and the back drop was filled in to look like I was clearing the high jump bar.
Green screen and green cushion for the high jump photos.
Here I am completing a high jump!
Another trailer featured displays on American Olympic athletes and Olympic memorabilia.
Examples of team uniforms were on display.
Paralympic cycling jersey
Track and Field jersey from the 1960 Olympics
Tickets for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London
Another photo station posed us with the back drop of the beach in Rio. I held the torch used for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics torch relay. It weighs more than I thought! I remember seeing the torch relay run through New York City on the way to Atlanta in 1996.
Here you can see how my teal shirt blended into the background because of the ‘green screen.’
I loved this display of the gold, silver and bronze medals for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. They are beautiful.
The last station I visited was the Los Angeles 2024 booth. Los Angeles is an official bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. As we stood in front of a rendering of what the Santa Monica beach and pier would look like with the beach volleyball courts and stands set for the games, we held the symbol for Los Angeles’ bid theme, Follow the Sun.
It was a fun event, and I want to thank the wonderful Team USA ambassadors that worked at all of the stations. Every single one of them was welcoming, enthusiastic and having fun. Their attitudes were infectious. Thank you!
The Summer Olympic games begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5th. I will be at home watching as much coverage as possible and cheering for Team USA!