“Check your ego at the door, put your pedals to the floor.”
“There are the guys who buy these cars, store them and keep them locked up. And then there are the guys who actually drive them.
Obviously, we’re among the latter, at the first-ever Porsche Carrera GT event of its kind, in Napa Valley, California. Organized by the Luxury Rally Club, one of the world’s top players in the ultra-exclusive experiential automotive space, the inaugural CGT rally saw around $15 million worth of rare and highly collectible Porsche supercars, including only around 1,200 examples. were built from 2003, gather some equally impressive 911s for the ride last May.
The event began at the impeccably designed resort of Alila Napa Valley in St. Helena, and included stops for alfresco oysters by the ocean and an exclusive dinner at The French Laundry, Michelin-starred , before wrapping up in Sonoma with an awards dinner at Aperture Cellars, the label launched by winemaker prodigy Jesse Katz, famous for crafting a record-breaking $1 million bottle of cabernet.
Despite all this impressive stuff, LRC’s unofficial motto might just be “check your ego at the door, put your pedals to the floor”.
The club was started by Trevor Johnson, an affable former professional hockey player from Canada who once hosted private hockey games for Justin Bieber wherever the pop star toured the world.
This then turned into a job as a brand ambassador for a luxury travel agency; which ultimately paved the way for Craig Ekberg to help organize a premium rally for classic Bentley collectors in 2019.
Ekberg is a former construction magnate with a stunning car collection that includes a 1928 Bentley 4 1/2 liter Le Mans, a Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” and a Ferrari 250 GT, which he stores in hangers with an assembly of vintage aircraft in Long Beach, California. When the Bentley event proved to be a success, Johnson and Ekberg came together to form the Luxury Rally Club.
When it comes to collecting cars, “It’s technically the best investment out there,” as Ekberg told Terrenea Life. “It has gone beyond real estate and works of art. You can put money in something that makes you happy, instead of a bank account or a building, and it’s a lot more fun.
But beyond the collection, it’s driving the automotive artwork that’s the real thrill. “When you’re racing [in a car tour], you can imagine what it was like back then to own one of these beauties,” he notes. It’s almost like time travel.
The event for like-minded owners of the Carrera GT, a two-door targa-top roadster with a 603hp V10 engine that rockets it from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, with a top speed of 205 mph – and, importantly, a manual transmission – is the latest evolution of LRC’s go-anywhere philosophy.
“If our members and collectors want to do it, we can do it, anywhere, anytime,” Johnson says. Johnson is something of a miracle worker who can organize complicated events – luxury rallies, he says, are like ‘marriages on wheels’ – run smoothly with minimal staff, finding solutions on the go .
During the CGT rally, we kept pace in a custom Rolls-Royce Cullinan painted Saint-Tropez orange and carried both a Porsche mechanic and crash tools (there were none). “The challenge for guys who own these cars is where can they drive them?” Johnson postulates.
“There are plenty of collectors out there who would never dream of taking a multi-million dollar classic on the road. But those who do are much more fun to be around. from CGT were invited, as well as some special guests – was certainly more exuberant than at any other event of its kind we have attended.
Much of that is due to the infectious bonhomie of Johnson and his team members, including Barrett Mitchell of McLaren Beverly Hills, Ben Keegan of DandyLion Entertainment and shoe designer Brent James.
In order to host dinner for 40 people at The French Laundry, Johnson had to not only buy out the entire restaurant at a cost well north of $100,000, but convince superstar chef Thomas Keller and his staff to come on their day off. .
It helped that Keller, who personally oversaw the wonderful multi-course meal, was a Porsche owner and car enthusiast; but the fact that one of the LRC’s billionaire members, and owner of the CGT, is a regular at the world-famous restaurant helped seal the deal; photographer Drake O’Konski was also on hand to record it all for posterity.
Among its wider members and event participants, LRC has around 20 billionaires in total, with many high net worth individuals making up the rest of the crew. The club now holds 10-12 events a year, which in recent months have included a 50th anniversary Lamborghini Countach rally that was a veritable orgy of ’80s automotive excess; a Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” rally where around 50 of the most coveted cars gathered; and the Santa Lucia Preserve Concours, an ultra-exclusive event held during Monterey Car Week in the lead up to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Along the way, they’ve amassed an impressive portfolio of partners and sponsors, including RM Sotheby’s, The Macallan, Jet Edge, Hagerty, V-Moda, Merit Partners and Liht Organics, the brand of talented entrepreneur Nerissa Low who is changing our way of thinking. beauty products.
LRC members and guests are younger than one might imagine given the amounts of money involved, but at just 40, Johnson notes that his peers tend to come from the younger ranks of the car collectors.
For example, Jimmy Prountzos of Junipero Serra Porsche & Mercedes-Benz in San Francisco, Carrera GT owner and Porsche collector who originally designed the CGT event. With his elaborate tattoos, Nashville Imogine + Willie t-shirts, Blaken-customized gold Rolex Daytona, and black belt in jiu-jitsu, Prountzos is living proof that collecting multimillion-dollar cars doesn’t matter. doesn’t have to be a suffocating pastime. by seniors.
“I wanted to honor the Carrera GT in a way that hadn’t been done before, to bring owners together and celebrate by driving some of the best roads in Northern California, eating and drinking amazing food and wine and spending a few days admiring the car. “, he tells us. “When I told Trevor about my idea, he immediately agreed. LRC couldn’t have done better. »
Perhaps the key to it all is that at extremely cool LRC events the main directive is just to have a lot of fun, and there are very few rules except, of course, when you’re behind the wheel,” always keep the shiny side up.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Maxim magazine.
Tags: Aperture Cellars bentley classic cars Drake O’Konski Jesse Katz Jimmy Prountzos lamborghini Lamborghini Countach LRC luxury cars Luxury Rally Club magazine article Mercedes 300 SL Mercedes-Benz Napa porsche Porsche Carrera GT Rides Sonoma The French Laundry Trevor Johnson