There once was a time when the automotive calendar went quiet after Monterey Car Week. Not so any longer.
In the months of August, September and October, we now have several top-flight but very different events to look forward to and attend.
I’ve recently returned from my second time at the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. On the way home (non-stop Portland-Atlanta and return, my first flights in two years), I reflected on the different approaches and intentions of these events.
SCM Contributor and friend Philip Richter once again produced his own car show, the Turtle Invitational, over the last weekend of September. He offers a highly curated group of cars and motorcycles on his family farm in Bedford, New York.
Philip’s show represents his personal approach to collecting in much the same way that Bill Warner’s does for the Amelia Island Concours. In the end, concours are boutique events that represent the visions of the founders. In just three years, the Turtle is speaking clearly with a unique voice.
From all reports, the Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week, held the following weekend, was a success. Bringing a level of sophistication and high-end activities reminiscent of Pebble Beach to Newport, I am told the event was well-organized from top to bottom. I am sure it will only get better.
My good friend and Alfa Giulia Super owner Chris Bright attended Hershey for the first time, held this year from October 6-9. I haven’t been in decades.
When I asked if he had taken his hip-waders for a walk through the infamous muddy aisles, he reported that, much to my surprise, the entire area was now paved. What fun is that? No more stepping completely out of your boot as you chased down your treasures?
When I was last there, I found some Hurst shift linkage parts I needed as we converted our 1964 Chevy II Nova wagon V8 from a three-speed column shift to a four-speed floor shift.
Chris told me that Hershey may be past its prime. The event schedule is shifting by one day next year, but he said more than one vendor said they didn’t plan on returning.
In an era of the Internet, with eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace all serving as alternatives to hauling parts to a physical location, with all the attendant costs of travel and lodging, physical swap meets will continue to have challenges.
Chattanooga Motorcar Festival
One key to a successful event is having a centrally located host hotel.
While nothing tops Monterey Car Week in terms of the number and quality of events, their physical separation and the logistics of lodging, transportation, parking and more are daunting, expensive and exhausting.
At the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, held over the October 15-17 weekend, nearly all of the events but the racing took place within walking distance of the Westin lobby. Following what is becoming standard at most major car events, the key moments of the event were broadcast on large screens throughout downtown so that no matter where you were you could take it all in.
Chattanooga is a full-service event, with street fairs, panels, racing, concours, and this year a Mecum auction. The indefatigable co-founder and chairman of the event, Byron DeFoor, makes no secret of his desire to improve his event every year.
New this year was wheel-to-wheel racing, a tribute to Jim Pace, the event chair and chief operating officer of the inaugural 2019 Festival who died of COVID-19 in 2020. There were seven classes of vintage, classic and modern motorsport competition, with three 20-minute races each over two days.
A long list of celebrities was on hand, including Justin Bell, Alain de Cadenet, Ray Evernham, Tanner Foust, Derek Hill, David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Scott Speed, Lyn St. James and Linda Vaughn. They joined car experts Steve Ahlgrim, Wayne Carini, Corky Coker, Tom Cotter, Ken Gross, Bill Rothermel, Mike Tillson and yours truly in discussing all things automotive throughout the weekend.
The highlight of the two-day Mecum sale was Friday night’s auction of a 1981 DeLorean at no reserve, with proceeds to benefit the CHI Memorial Stroke and Neuroscience Center. I was there when the auctioneer dropped the hammer at $50,000.
At the concours on Sunday, a 1967 Ferrari 275 NART Spyder owned by Rare Wheels Collection won the Best in Show. And we gave an SCM Special Award to the 1948 Simca Gordini Model F2 owned by Ray Morgan.
Greenwich, the Wrap Up
Included in this week’s newsletter are the results of this past weekend’s 25th annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. It is the Adam of the clan of concours in the northeast, with a rich tradition and deep roots in the car community there.
This was its first iteration after being purchased by Hagerty, and our own Bill Rotherman was one of the Masters of Ceremony. SCM Director of Digital Content John Nikas hosted several informative and entertaining panels during the day.
Lowell Paddock, an SCM contributor who was involved with the show, remarked that it was “remarkably well organized and presented, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.”
Hershey is not being shortened by a day, the calendar will move up a day due to Hershey Entertainment’s decision to operate the theme park on weekends in October next year. This details of this change were beyond the control of the AACA.