Camp Pendleton to open gates for rare classic car tour in June

Camp Pendleton's borderline bisects this aerial view. Looking north, San Clemente at the left and San Onofre State Beach park to the right.
Camp Pendleton’s borderline bisects this aerial view. Looking north, San Clemente at the left and San Onofre State Beach park to the right.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Classic car events with tours or rallies are nothing new. One touring the largest military base on the West Coast is.

For the first time ever, Camp Pendleton will open its gates for auto enthusiasts to tour its 125,000-acre facility on June 21. The Rallye Basilone Historic Tour, which will raise money for three Marine Corps charities, is the inaugural event of the three-day Orange County Collector Car and Motorcycle Week.

Formerly known just as the Dana Point Concours d’Elegance, organizers are hoping to raise the event’s profile by extending it to a three-day “automotive celebration.” Friday’s tour will be followed by a festival on Saturday and the 31st annual Dana Point Concours on Sunday.


“Sooner or later, we’re going to make this a week-long event,” said Jeff Spellens, president of the Dana Point Concours d’Elegance. His nonprofit organization hopes that within five years the event will be five days long, similar to the higher-profile Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held every August.

Key to this growth is the daylong tour of Camp Pendleton. The field is limited to just 200 cars and costs $500 for a vehicle with two people. The entire donation is tax-deductible, and all proceeds go to three charities: the Semper Fi Fund, the Marsoc Foundation and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

“This is the largest charitable effort we’ve made in our organization’s history, and we couldn’t think of a more deserving group to support,” Spellens said.

Participants in the tour (who will need to pass Homeland Security background checks) will be able to watch numerous training facilities and activities throughout the base, eat lunch in the mess hall, share an on-base car show featuring the cars of the marines on base and have dinner at the Pacific Views Events Center.

Spellens said he got the idea for the tour at the 2011 presentation of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, presented by Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, a commanding general from Camp Pendleton. He and Bailey got to talking about the idea that night, Spellens said.

After 17 months of moving the idea through the correct channels of approval within the military, including the Pentagon, Spellens got the necessary approvals. That the event is to raise money for a trio of Marine Corps charities made the process easier, Spellens said.

“They said, ‘You’re helping us, we’ll make this happen,’” Spellens recalled. After working with several generals on the base, Spellens said he’s been told the tour will probably become an annual event.

Car fans unable to make the Camp Pendleton tour can attend the next day’s hot rod and custom car festival, which is free to the public. The following day, the Dana Point Concours d’Elegance opens to the public at 9:30 a.m., with the awards handed out starting at 12:30 p.m.


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