Sandy On Assignment: A New Tradition begins

December 23, 2014 Comments (1)

... for the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

1939 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster, Best of Show, First Place

The 1939 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster takes Best of Show as First Place in the Trophy Division

If it’s November in Florida, the winter motorsports season is about to begin! Already steeped in tradition, with spectators soaring to 80,000, I could not imagine how this jewel within the motorsports world could get any better. Now in its 13th year, the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance has matured from its early days when it was known as “the Best Street Show in the country”, as shared with me by founder, Bob Tallgren.

356 Porsche display

The 356 Porsche contingent was well represented this year. Photo courtesy Alex Dearborn

I was rather intrigued by the history surrounding this particular Concours. The inaugural Winter Park show came about as a request from city officials who wanted to re-energize the downtown Park Avenue shopping area. Ferrari was the Honored Marque that first year with 30 or so Ferraris turning out – including a 1957 250 GT Tour de France. The scene on Winter Park’s downtown Park Avenue was virtually “wall to wall” people from the very beginning. With over 25,000 spectators that first year, there were lines outside every restaurant. City officials were ecstatic!

The success formula for the show’s first year has remained constant, as Bob Tallgren shared with me during this year’s concours. The show’s hallmark became the high quality of its cars – both restored and unrestored. The original intent to invite 150 cars, judged by highly respected judges, remains today.

1968 Bizzarrini Spyder S.I. Targa

The 1968 Bizzarrini Spyder S.I. Targa took both Best of Show as First Place in the Open Division and First Place in the Special Interest Class

1957 Bentley S-1 Saloon

Taking both First Place in the European Classics division and the Judges Award is this 1957 Bentley S-1 Saloon by Hooper

The show continued to build momentum for the next few years. The overall genre of the show evolved from a collection of exotic road cars to a more “all inclusive” Concours d’Elegance, bringing more of the elegant classic American cars into the mix along with some of the distinguished European marques.

1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan

Collector of the Year, Steve Wolf’s 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan. Photo courtesy Bill Rothermel

This year’s Concours honored three distinct marques: Mercedes Benz as the Honored Marque; Maserati for its 100th anniversary; and, Mustang for celebrating 50 years. The Collector of the Year honoree, Steve Wolf started his collection over 50 years ago and continues his dedication to the car hobby and vehicle preservation.

Today’s Concours is a true Weekend of Motoring Events, beginning with the highly touted Friday evening duPont Registry Live aeroport reception for charity. I can honestly say that this ‘hangar party’ is one of the best, if not the best I’ve attended. As part of the reception, the Battle of the Heavyweights allows guests to take a high-speed ride for charity on the Sanford airport runway with a professional driver. Guests also mingle amongst cars, motorcycles and jets in uniquely themed private hangars with just as unique entertainment.

Tour owners mingle at Winter Park

Owners mingle before leaving on the Tour d’Elegance

The Saturday morning Tour d’Elegance is considered by many to be the heart and soul of the weekend. It is an event where participants can exercise their cars and see some of the back roads of Central Florida. The day starts in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square for a gourmet breakfast. Like the aeroport reception the night before, this is also a ticketed event. It is my weekend favorite. Publicized as a relaxed driving event, I always find myself turning it into a mini-rally, pedal to the metal ... after the police escort falls back!

The 1967 Maserati Quattroporte Sedan, a local favorite, was awarded the Historical Vehicle Association award

Each year, a respected and distinguished automotive expert joins Head Judge, Pete Bartelli and the 50-member judging cadre, as the Concours Grand Marshal. Ed Gilbertson, this year’s Grand Marshal lead the judging team to select the 2014 Winter Park Preservation Award and the HVA/FIVA Award.

If you have been to Carmel during Monterey Week and Thursday’s Display on the Avenue, you know how crowded a street show can get, not to mention nerve wracking for the car owners. By it’s tenth year, the streets in Winter Park were overflowing with cars and crowds working their way onto the curbs. The city’s Parks and Recreation Board had approved the use of a grassy area in Central Park for the awards ceremony and special display area, but the Concours still needed more space.

1960 Porsche 356B

First Place in the Porsche 356 Division went to Lee Payne and his 1960 356B Roadster. Photo courtesy Alex Dearborn

1963 AC V-8 Prototype Roadster

In the British Class, the 1963 AC V-8 Prototype Roadster took First Place in the Rest of Britain category

1954 Cisitalia 33 DF Voloradente Coupe

One of my favorites, this 1954 Cisitalia 33 DF Voloradente Coupe

Early on in the show’s beginnings, organizers had their eye on the Winter Park Country Club Golf Course, a venue which would allow cars to spread out, so to speak. The New Tradition began this year, with tremendous success, as the 2014 Concours moved to the Winter Park Country Club Golf Course, just down the street from Park Avenue. Celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year, the golf course is a wonderful venue where today’s Executive Director, Tim Webber is able to expand the event and make it quite special for participants and spectators.

1964 Alfa Romeo Guia Spider Veloce Convertible

The WPC Spirit Award went to this 1964 Alfa Romeo Guia Spider Veloce Convertible

This year, motorsports historian Bill Rothermel was featured during the awards ceremony to add a commentary on each one of the top award cars. Founder Bob Tallgren continues to share his vision for the Concours as judging classes expand and opportunities for car clubs develop.

Winter Park is unique in itself. Home to Rollins College just north of Orlando, this upscale community is a wonderful place to visit with the Concours as its backdrop. Besides Disney just minutes away, the area boasts some of Florida’s best cycling trails and shopping! Held the third weekend of November, the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance has an eye to the future.

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Comments (1)

  1. Keith Carlson:
    Dec 25, 2014 at 09:03 AM

    Another fine job, Sandy, and good for you for being down there. Merry Christmas of course, as well. Very pleasing that you've adopted "aeroport"; now if I can just get you to continue on that path to "aerodrome". And help bring back dirigibles?


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