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Friends Pay Tribute to Automotive Legend Don Williams

Friends Pay Tribute to Automotive Legend Don Williams

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (August 14, 2023) — Auto impresario Don Williams often said he wanted to “touch every great car in the world,” and in the process of doing that—buying and selling, collecting, and sharing great cars—Don touched a multitude of car people too.

Williams, a beacon in the car hobby for more than five decades, died this past March, and he has been memorialized in speeches and articles, but now many of his close friends want to pay tribute more literally, paying forward Don’s love of cars by helping to fund a program that trains underserved youth to be mechanics and restorers.

“We hope these funds provide a brighter future for many young people as well as many cars,” said Pebble Beach Concours Chairman Sandra Button.

The idea to remember Don in this manner emerged in a conversation between Pebble Beach Concours Chairman Sandra Button and her husband, Martin, along with Barrett-Jackson Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson and his wife, Carolyn, the auction company’s Chief Philanthropy Officer.

“Don was a beloved member of our Barrett-Jackson family and the collector car community as a whole,” said Craig Jackson. “For five decades, Don was a vital part of our auctions. A trusted advisor, we shared a love for restoring cars and it’s an honor to make this donation in his memory as we fuel the growth and prosperity of this hobby that Don loved for generations to come.”

The Buttons and the Jackson Family Foundation each contributed substantial funds to bring the idea to reality—and they invited others to join them in this effort.

Meanwhile, their teams went in search of the best recipient for these funds—and found it in an emerging program at Rancho Cielo, one of the Pebble Beach Concours charities.

Rancho Cielo was founded in 2000 to provide education, workforce training, counseling, and a variety of services to youth that have not done well in traditional school systems and communities—youth often impacted by drugs or gang affiliations. Set on a small campus carved in 100 acres of ranch land, the organization has had great success helping disenfranchised youth graduate from high school and find their way into higher educational programs and lifelong vocations. Culinary and construction programs were instituted first, but auto repair and mechanical/engineering programs are now well underway.

The hope is that many trainees will be able to find work locally, given the large car community and the supporting resources that have grown in tandem with Pebble Beach Automotive Week and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, both of which trace their heritage to the first Pebble Beach Road Races and Concours d’Elegance in 1950.

Don Williams accomplished a lot of firsts in the car world. He was the first person to sell a car for more than $1 million, and his total sales over time easily eclipsed $1 billion. Don was also involved in founding Barrett-Jackson, the Blackhawk Museum, and what is now Dawn Patrol (initially Don Patrol) at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where he showed and shared (and often sold) his cars for over 50 consecutive years. Along the way, he connected with (and sometimes created) communities of car enthusiasts in Europe, Japan, China, and the Middle East.

“The cars are significant,” said Williams, as he approached his 50th year of continuous participation at Pebble Beach, “but the memories of all the wonderful people we have met and the lasting friendships that have been forged by participating in this great event over the last five decades are priceless.”

Now those friends are coming together to remember Don in a lasting way, and they invite others to join them. Contributions can be made in memory of Don Williams to the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, the charitable partner of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, via .

“Friendship is the glue that connects the car world globally,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button. “The word ‘friend’ doesn’t seem like a big enough word to describe Don and his influence on the whole of the collector car world. But it describes exactly what Don was: a friend to all.”


About Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

 First conducted in 1950, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance® ( has grown to be the world's premier celebration of the automobile. Only the most beautiful and historic cars are invited to appear on the famed 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links®, and connoisseurs of art and style gather to admire these masterpieces. Charitable donations raised by Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance® now total over $35 million. Related events include Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance® presented by Rolex, Pebble Beach RetroAuto™, Pebble Beach Classic Car Forum™ presented by Alliant Private Client, and Pebble Beach® Auctions presented by Gooding & Company. Pebble Beach®, Pebble Beach Golf Links®, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance®, Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance®, Pebble Beach RetroAuto™, Pebble Beach Classic Car Forum™, and Pebble Beach® Automotive Week are trademarks, service marks and trade dress of Pebble Beach Company. All rights reserved. For more information, please call 831-622-1700 or visit

About Pebble Beach Company

Pebble Beach Company, headquartered in Pebble Beach, Calif., owns and operates the world-famous Pebble Beach Resorts®, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach™, The Inn at Spanish Bay™, and Casa Palmero®. The company also operates five renowned golf courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links®, Spyglass Hill® Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay™, Del Monte™ Golf Course, and The Hay. Its other famed properties include scenic 17-Mile Drive®, The Spa at Pebble Beach™, Pebble Beach Golf Academy™, and Pebble Beach® Equestrian Center. It annually hosts premier events such as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach Food & Wine, TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, and the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee. Future site of the 2027, 2032, 2038, and 2044 U.S. Open Championships and the 2035, 2040 and 2048 U.S. Women’s Opens, Pebble Beach Golf Links® has hosted six U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, one PGA Championship, one U.S. Women’s Open and numerous other tournaments. For reservations or more information, please call 800-654-9300 or visit