MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: Heading Off to Judging School

Posted on June 11, 2013 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Finally, an official assignment! I’m about to hop a flight to Boston when the email comes through. Peter has asked me to write about the JCNA (Jaguar Clubs of North America) judges’ certification course I am off to take. Jeez, I’m thinking, why on earth would anyone want to read about that?

Under the bonnet at Boca.

Under the bonnet at Boca.

It seems like only yesterday I was happily tootling off to my very first JCNA-sanctioned concours, in scenic Sturbridge, Massachusetts. As the cliché reads, that was the first day of the rest of my life ... my motorsporting life, that is. Totally clueless as to what to expect, I had my car professionally detailed the day before so it would sparkle. I figured that would do it. Ha! When I drove into the mega parking lot adjacent to the event, a plethora of Jaguars were there, and their owners were on high alert, spritzing and polishing. The early morning trek out of Boston had kicked up a lot of dirt, leaving my $250 detail job worthless. There I was, without so much as a paper towel or a drop of Windex. Everyone else had Q-tips and tongue depressors for cleaning wheel crevices, plus a trunk full of detailer sprays, waxing compounds, and special-looking yellow towels to wipe it all off. I was sunk!

I must have looked dumbfounded … actually paralyzed. Since the car stuck out like a sore thumb, in that red I’ve already written about, I couldn’t be missed. To my amusement, men started coming up asking if I needed help. I know what you’re thinking! But seriously, they directed me to the secret car wash area behind the hotel and then generously offered coveted cleaning supplies and those lint-free yellow towels.

After much primping and polishing, the XKR makes its debut.

After much primping and polishing, the XKR makes its debut.

Suffice to say I went home with an award, third place in my class. I was happy enough. What I didn’t realize, my Type A personality, suppressed the last couple of years, was about to kick in. Over the ensuing 12 months I diligently went through my car’s score sheet, paying whatever it took to make everything wrong, right. Fast forward to the next year’s concours award ceremony—third place again! What’s up with this, I thought? Well, not only was I correcting, but so was everyone else! That’s when it struck me: a concours hits your core, taking pride in one’s car to make it as perfect as one is able… factory perfect, as they say.

I’m sure it was obvious to the members of my Jaguar Club (JANE) that this gal was genuinely becoming interested in cars. Peter Bourassa had just penned The Making of a Car Lady, my personal 365-day plan of motorsports adventures, and I was already in auto-overload implementing it. Aldo Cipriano, JANE’s Chief Judge at the time, was starting to drop subtle hints about my becoming a lady judge. The next spring I flew up to Richmond, Virginia, to attend the JCNA Annual General Meeting. While attending the session on judging E-Types I had an epiphany… I love this stuff!

Conferring at Concorso Italiano. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Conferring at Concorso Italiano. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Judge Sir Sterling Moss at Pebble.

Judge Sir Sterling Moss at Pebble.

Now three years into judging, I’m obsessed with learning and humbled by the cadre of fellow concours judges I am privileged to judge alongside. Concours judges bring to the field years of classic car experience, whether through a background in restoration, specific marque certification, as a collector, or as a classic car broker. Others are motorsports historians, museum curators, and even racing legends. Still a neophyte in the motorsports world, I am fortunate to be coming up the ranks with mentoring and experience in both French style and JCNA-based judging. It is safe to say, while French judging a concours, a Jaguar entrant will boast to me how relieved they are not to be judged by JCNA standards. I just smile.

Serious business. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Serious business. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

So when Peter said write about “Miss Sandy goes to Jag School,” I started to reflect over the big picture of concours judging. I’m realizing that no matter which type of judging style, entrants have the responsibility to be advocates for their cars.

Judging the Maharaja Rolls Royce. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

Judging the Maharaja Rolls Royce. Photo by Ralf Berthiez

The proof is in the pudding!

The proof is in the pudding!

Restored to high standards and making its show debut, the 1936 Lancia Astura at Pebble Beach in 2012. Photo by Ruben Verdes

Restored to high standards and making its show debut, the 1936 Lancia Astura at Pebble Beach in 2012. Photo by Ruben Verdes

What does that mean exactly? I doubt anyone would head off to a job interview without a resume or looking halfway decent. The same goes for your car! At Jag School, we learn that each car has only 15 minutes to shine. Without laying a finger on the car, judges work in teams, scouring every inch, looking for a composite score or ranking based on major areas—interior, exterior, operation verification (do lights, horns, and signals work)—not to mention, does the car start, and engine compartment for certain divisions of judging. Judging goes beyond “fit and finish” to include authenticity of the model or correctness for the period. If in doubt, it’s the owner’s responsibility to show documentation as to a point in question.

In French judging we are also looking at provenance—what historically makes this car special. I was on a judging team looking at a car whose rallying history set it apart, compensating for its rather rough-around-the-edges appearance. Prototypes, limited survivors, celebrity-owned, phenomenal race history, anything significant boosts a car’s uniqueness and award potential. A car entered in a Concours d’Elegance or local car show means to me that the owner has done whatever he or she can to make their car look its best. Entering just to win an award may not do the car justice, especially if it’s still midway through cleanup or restoration.

Speaking of restoration, Tom duPont’s statement I referred to in my last assignment about vetting a car before purchasing, includes restoration work. Not all restorers are the same. It’s no fun as a judge having to lower a car’s award placement due to a poor, yet pricey restoration. Spending money doesn’t necessarily guarantee a winner. Detailing a car, or at least washing it, goes a long way on the judging field!

This year’s Jag School, presented by our Chief Judge Jim Sambold for the Jaguar Association of New England, was outstanding. Accompanying Jim’s powerpoint on the fine details of judging was a video featuring Gary Hagopian going over every inch of an XK140 for judging specifications.

About to become, the Best of Show, the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo. Photo by Ruben Verdes

About to become, the Best of Show, the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo. Photo by Ruben Verdes

Stunning, the SS100 accepts its award at Amelia.

Stunning, the SS100 accepts its award at Amelia.

Will the winner please drive forward.

Will the winner please drive forward.

Who would have guessed 60, or even 80, years ago that judges would be pouring over what we now call classic cars to give them awards and trophies. I’m sure early manufacturers were just happy all the parts fit together!


Sandy on Assignment: Formula 1 in Monaco

Posted on May 30, 2013 Comments (7)

…Looking Through the Spyglass

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

So what is it about Formula 1 in Monaco that makes it so special? Unlike all the other races I’ve attended, which I can still count on two hands, Monaco is about being right there... 60 feet above the first turn out of the start. At first I was shattered that I wouldn’t be seeing the pits or mingling with the drivers. But to be hovering above the cars was spectacular.

Perched above the streets of Monaco.

Perched above the streets of Monaco.

First turn out the start then up and around.

First turn out the start then up and around.

What mattered most was that my very first foray into F1 would be Monaco. The uniqueness of this Grand Prix venue is racing a street course… that narrowly winds through one of the most breathtaking coastal cities in the world… and of course watching the elite of the elite… drivers and cars. Although I arrived in France on Wednesday, my real adventure started Thursday after a short train ride from Nice into Monaco. If you’re doing Monaco for the very first time or your tenth, do it with a group that knows what they’re doing and can provide you with a seamless experience and no hassles. Otherwise, stay home and watch the races on television! Tours F1 was my choice after meeting Paul and Biffy Wuori last September during the British Invasion in Stowe, VT. Check out Paul’s story about his early days with Bruce McLaren in MMR’s articles. F1 was still an unknown to me, but after meeting Paul, I had a connection and began reading all I could about McLaren’s remarkable, yet short, life.

My logistic tips for this race and venue are few, but essential. Take the only direct flight to Nice from the States, out of JFK, and do whatever it takes to sleep through to the next day’s early morning arrival. Plan to arrive on Wednesday, which affords you the opportunity to watch the two F1 practice sessions on Thursday and the third practice as well as Qualifying on Saturday. Thursday and Saturday are also filled with all the practice and qualifying sessions for the Porsche Mobile 1 Supercup and Formula Renault 3.5 which start off Sundays races at 9:45 am. Besides getting your fix of racing, arriving early also gives you Friday as a catch-up day to sightsee, unless you’re a die-hard GP2 fan.

There is much to see in Nice.

There is much to see in Nice.

Maneuvering within the train or bus systems is relatively easy so traveling to Antibes, Eze or Cannes is also doable on this free day. I took it easy and strolled the streets of Nice. Staying in either Nice or Monaco is your call. Keep everything in perspective. Like most race weekends, no matter where they are in the world, costs are way out of whack. Plan for your own convenience. Taking the train or a taxi out of Nice just depends upon your personal choice on race days. I did both. An unbelievable treat is dinner at Le Chantecler, the Hotel Negresco’s Michelin 2 star restaurant along the water in Nice. With the dollar still in the pits, my shopping remained strictly motorsports related, so I wasn’t tempted by the plethora of trendy boutiques, everywhere! People watching is free, so enjoy the many cafes… you can’t go wrong with the food in France!

The best viewing for this event is from terraces on residential or hotel balconies lining the street course in Monaco. Although the harbor is dotted with yachts of all sizes, be careful what you wish for when it comes to actually seeing the race. I had just purchased high power binoculars so I could spy. The crowds on these vessels didn’t appear to be actually watching the races… and they did not have nearly the perspective as seen from above or from strategically staged grandstands.

There were around 14 of us staying in a boutique hotel off rue Grimaldi in Nice. All fantastic people and over the top race fans! We met up with others, including Paul and Biffy, who were staying in Monaco, to bring the group up to around 30, the perfect number to enjoy the wrap around 5th floor terraces of the apartment where we were to watch the races... and dine on delectable fare. Outside, on the streets, were stands of official and non-official team-specific clothes and ‘stuff.’ Not much different than any other race venue. The best buy, was a pair of 10 euro headphones that fit nicely over ear plugs!

Lotus started the Crash Fest before Sunday!

Lotus started the “Crash Fest” before Sunday!

So how would I describe the 71th Grand Prix De Monaco? A Crash Fest was pretty much the consensus. Somewhat unusual, Sunday’s race was stretched out beyond the scheduled two hours to accommodate two safety-car-led recoveries and one red call, following the three major incidents of the day. The first two crashes Sunday, starting with Massa in the Ferrari were most likely driver error… the third, more of a victim of circumstances.

Massa is the first crash Sunday, a repeat of Saturday.

Massa is the first crash Sunday, a repeat of Saturday.

Being checked out.

Being checked out.

The cars are lifted off the course.

The cars are lifted off the course.

Maneuvering and passing on this track can often result in overly optimist moves. With the low rear view visibility of the F1 car, there just isn’t anywhere to go, on the 40’ wide track, which narrows around the corners! From my line of vision, I was able to capture images of these first two crashes, adding to quite a few taken during Thursday’s and Saturday’s Crash Festivals. The drivers look at turn one, St. Devote, as very bumpy under braking. With the walls on the left coming into the track, plus the propensity to take too much kerb on the inside, cars were ending up into the wall in front of me!

The start around the first corner.

The start around the first corner.

Around the hairpin and back at me, with the Mercedes still in front.

Around the hairpin and back at me, with the Mercedes still in front.

From my vantage point, I could see the cars maneuvering down and out of pit lane, around the first corner (St. Devote) and up the first steep, somewhat bumpy straightaway to the Massenet corner then on to the Casino. There was a short distance hidden from sight, yet clearly visible on the big screen monitor right in front of us. Suddenly the cars appeared again, descending the fastest part of the road at 280km/h then looping around a corner to maneuver a sharp hairpin turn to avoid flying into the water… and back directly facing me down the straightaway and along the stretch in front of the yachts. Another two turns (Virage de la Rascasse and Virage Antony Noghes) and the 3km340meter course starts all over again working off the total 78 lap countdown.

The intimacy of the street course and viewing vantage, plus the in-car footage on the big screen made me feel like I was right there with each driver. I was tipped off Thursday on how to recognize drivers on the same team. In the case of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Team, Rosberg’s top light would be black and Hamilton’s neon yellow…. a helpful hint that held true for team driver order. It almost looked like the second team car was protecting the first, especially in the case of the Mercedes and Red Bull teams. Knowing this made watching even more of a thrill. Of course, it didn’t take long for the order to be broken!

Victory to Nico Rosberg and the Mercedes.

Victory to Nico Rosberg and the Mercedes.

Watching the victory had to be on the huge screen for this venue, but it still was exciting to zoom in with my camera to see the smiles of the top three drivers, watch the champagne pop and hear the German national anthem.

Following the race, several of us headed off to the Columbia Hotel in Monaco to celebrate. Paul ran into old McLaren friends. Since I had been sent off to the races with a McLaren t-shirt from my local Tampa Bay dealership, I followed Button and Perez pretty closely. I passed the shirt on to Paul who will do his best to get autographs in Montreal!

My summer vacation started in Monaco with Formula 1 and will continue on to the 24 hours of LeMans in three weeks. In reality, this year’s LeMans adventure started two years ago when the tears rolled down my cheeks as I belted out our American national anthem and proudly waved my little American flags. The Corvette had won its GT class.

On Saturday and again on Sunday, in Monaco, I got to meet the driver who had won that 2011 race at LeMans in the Corvette… Olivier Beretta. We were watching the races from his 98-year-old grandmother’s apartment. It just so happened that I had the pictures of Olivier’s victory celebration on the podium right there with me on my laptop! Fast forward to 2013. Olivier will be racing the Ferrari factory car at the 24 and, again, I will be there cheering, this time knowing him and his family. I will also be cheering on the American Viper team and our MMR favorite, American Tommy (TK) Kendall. You know I will also be cheering the Porsches, especially if Americans, Patrick Long and Spencer Pompelli are driving again.

The world of motorsports is simply magical... for me.


Sandy on Assignment: Concours for a Cause

Posted on May 15, 2013 Comments (2)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

I feel like I’ve come to a screeching halt! The Florida Concours season has basically ended, and the next onslaught of motorsports events hasn’t quite kicked into gear.

Before jumping into this summer’s adventures, I wanted to reflect on an event that has evolved into a top notch Concours and also raises a ton of money for charity. In only its seventh year, the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance is a shining example of how to do it right. Many, if not all, Concours and even smaller car shows these days have a charity they support. The Boca event is the crown jewel of Concours for a Cause.

What makes this Concours stand out? Six million dollars and over 12,000 at-risk boys and girls. All-volunteer-driven, monies raised during this spectacular three-day weekend go directly to support the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County. When Rick Case, the inspiration and producer of the event, threw out the $6M figure, I had no clue if this was a lot of money in the world of motorsporting events. If a car can auction off for $13M, how do we put everything else in perspective? Look and listen next time you’re at a car event as to the amount raised for charity. Noteworthy, cumulative charitable giving by the Amelia Island Concours Foundation, entering its 18th year, was $2M, and Pebble Beach eased into its 62nd year with $15M in total giving. So $6M in seven years is astonishing, and part of the distinction for this “fastest growing and most charitable Concours in the world,” as it rightfully boasts.

The timeless 1960 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster.

The timeless 1960 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster.

Chairman’s Choice Award winner, Corrado Loprestos’ 1931 Alfa Romeo GS 6C 1750 Zagato/Aprile, was a 2012 Pebble Beach winner.

Chairman’s Choice Award winner, Corrado Loprestos’ 1931 Alfa Romeo GS 6C 1750 Zagato/Aprile, was a 2012 Pebble Beach winner.

The fun thing for us mere mortal enthusiasts is that Boca’s Concours is actually something we all can afford. The weekend-long event kicked off Friday with an inaugural first, the complimentary collector car seminar, which could net you a tremendous gain if you are in the market for a classic car! The Collector Car Market – the Past Five Years and the Five Years to Come was moderated by the Grand Marshal for the Concours, Keith Martin, with panelists Wayne Carini, Tom duPont, Dave Kinney, Bill Rothermel and Dr. Paul Sable. I felt like I was getting insider tips! Explosive was how they described the last five years. Television has brought more people into the automobile investment market, noted Wayne Carini. Barrett Jackson and Mecum have become household names!

So, why are classic car prices running up? The general consensus was that the wealthy have cash parked and are now unleashing it and truly enjoying the cars they buy. Getting into the classic car hobby? A word of advice from Tom duPont, “You should well vet your purchases.” Auctions are emotional, so do your homework ahead of time and hire consultants to help you evaluate a car before buying. Along with vetting your purchases, well-thought-out financial and estate planning will net you and your heirs higher returns in the long run.

Rupert Banner, Bonhams auctioneer, joins the panel to share trends in the collector car market.

Rupert Banner, Bonhams auctioneer, joins the panel to share trends in the collector car market.

Quirky and unique, Saharas are exceedingly rare with only about two dozen surviving.

Quirky and unique, Saharas are exceedingly rare with only about two dozen surviving.

A show stopper, the fully restored 1962 Jaguar XKE, Series 1 3.8 Liter fixed head coupe in opalescent bronze sold for $165,000.

A show stopper, the fully restored 1962 Jaguar XKE, Series 1 3.8 Liter fixed head coupe in opalescent bronze sold for $165,000.

Also making its debut at Boca, Bonhams inaugural auction on Saturday was a chance for spectators to roam freely among the auction cars lining the entrance to the luxurious Boca Raton Resort and Club. Entry into the auction was a bargain—and great entertainment! Do I know how to pick them, or what? I must, because the photo snapped, the day before, was next to the 1962 Citroen 2CV Sahara 4X, which unleashed an uproar in bidding, between the audience and phone bidders.    

This Concours weekend also boasted high-end lifestyle events, including the duPont Registry Live! Hanger Party. And, yes, a pricey Gala drew in many East Coast high rollers. At the end of the day, what mattered most was that everyone attending had a blast and made a difference in a child’s life. By keeping the children in the forefront, even before the cars, guests were engaged in the Cause throughout the entire weekend. Gracious and constant appreciation for everyone’s support abounded.

I winked back at the stunning 1969 Lamborghini Miura S!

I winked back at the stunning 1969 Lamborghini Miura S!

Thanks to Dr. Paul Sable and his team of judges!

Thanks to Dr. Paul Sable and his team of judges!

20s Flappers pose with the 1929 Willys Knight 66B.

‘20s Flappers pose with the 1929 Willys Knight 66B.

So on to the Concours! This isn’t “just” a car show. I recognized cars from the Cavallino Sports Sunday at Mar-A-Lago which, by the way, has a $250 gate entry fee verses the Boca $50 general admission. Several cars were even on the fairway at Amelia two weeks later, so Boca is evolving as a great layover for top Florida Concours cars. There were upward of 200 cars and motorcycles representing over 24 classes ranging from 1924 Brass, Antique, and Vintage cars through every era of American and European classic and production cars, as well as foreign sports cars and special marque features: Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Lamborghini. Motorcycles had ten classes of their own.

The field was clearly laid out by a team of volunteers headed by the Director of Show Operations, Russell Glace, in the wee hours of the morning. You may not have given it much thought, but two strong factors in the success of a Concours are the judges and the Master of Ceremonies, both of whom are top notch at Boca. Dr. Paul Sable serves as Chief Judge, with a compliment of 21 lead judges, supported by an additional 24 show car judges. Bill Rothermel, another gem in the world of Concours Master of Ceremonies, joined Tom duPont in keeping the show moving, while offering an entertaining history lesson on each awardee. Besides seeing beautiful cars, you actually got to learn something!

Emerson Fittipaldi, F1 1972 Champion and Indianapolis 500 two time winner.

Emerson Fittipaldi, 1972 and 1974 F1 Champion and two time Indianapolis 500 winner.

My ears perked up when the Concours’ 2013 Automotive Lifetime Achievement Awardee and motorsports racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi stepped onto the awards stage on Sunday. His praise for the fundraising efforts of the Concours was quite touching.

Hagerty Youth Judges hover over the 1946 MG TC S-Type.

Hagerty Youth Judges hover over the 1946 MG TC S-Type.

Another aspect of this Concours, which I think was pretty special, was the cadre of Hagerty Youth Judges. Now in its seventh year, Operation Ignite, the Hagerty Insurance Youth Judging Program, brought its program to the Boca Concours for a second year. While nurturing future generations of classic car enthusiasts, the judging program actually gives these boys and girls a chance to learn how to judge a car based on design, interior, electrical, paint, and engine. Owners were only too happy to share the history and uniqueness of their cars. The Hagerty Youth Judges’ winning choice was a 1985 Lamborghini Countach 5000S, a classic for their generation!

Entertainment added to the festive Concours!

Entertainment added to the festive Concours!

Sandy’s favorite, the 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster.

Sandy’s favorite, the 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster.

If it’s February in Florida, Concours for a Cause, the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance, is a great choice for your next year’s winter vacation.


Sandy on Assignment:
What is it about cars…

Posted on April 24, 2013 Comments (2)

…that makes us smile?

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Technically, I wasn’t on assignment while sitting in Panera having coffee the other day, when I just happened to glance out the window to see a woman snapping a photo of the back end of my car with her iPad… all smiles. It made me smile just to watch her have so much fun. I’m pretty sure my cars are on the most photographed list of cars on the road, for whatever reason. Toll booth cameras love them. Not a day goes by when I’m either sitting at a light or stuck in traffic that I look in my rearview mirror and see someone taking a picture… all smiles.

Double the pleasure!

Double the pleasure!

When I head off to car events, my car is shiny... and knock-you-over red. The color was not my choice. The fact that I could get my dream car, a convertible (forget the make and model, because I really didn’t know much, OK anything, about cars four years ago) was what counted. All I knew was that I had always wanted a top-down two-seater car. The short version to the story is that I now have twin Jaguars, a 2000 XKR and a 2004 XK8… identical, except for the supercharging look. Don’t ask. I’m female and we have two of everything.  

The smile factor came the very first year I purchased the cars. After the British Invasion, in Stowe, Vermont, the “Brit Boys” as they are known to me (none of whom are British, but all own something British) and I were having drinks with the event organizer, Michael Gaetano. I was interested in knowing more about the “People’s Choice Awards.” I was blunt in asking, “How do I get one?” You need a gimmick to catch people’s attention, Michael encouraged… candy by the car… anything to make them stop, look, and vote for your car. That same summer I actually got to see the car belonging to the woman I met at my first Daytona 24, Miss Amy. Her car has a license plate to match her name! How cool is that, I thought. I put two and two together and came up with the smile factor for my cars, which has been a lot of fun ever since!

Seeing the Brit Boys and their cars always makes me smile.

Seeing the “Brit Boys” and their cars always makes me smile.

So what is my smile factor? I’m a Jag Girl, with license plates to prove it. I have a female mechanic who works under the cars in red stiletto heels. Getting a visual? It’s like watching Candid Camera or Funniest Home Videos, depending on where you fall in generations. At car events I get a kick out of spectators walking by the car then turning back for a double take… all smiles.  

Everyone smiles at JANE the mechanic.

Everyone smiles at JANE the mechanic.

All this got me thinking. What draws my attention to a particular car? It’s common sense that it’s gut reaction and the WOW factor. When I’m judging a Concours, it’s first impressions, along with a set of very specific criteria. I decided to go back into my photo gallery of images taken over the past three years… thousands of them… to see what caught my eye. Still not sure I nailed my own tastes, I trekked off to a Festival of Speed in St. Petersburg, then a couple of cars and coffees, and finally a few hours watching the Speed and Velocity channels to test my gut reaction.  

It’s not always the perfect Concours car that strikes us, although it may. Maybe it’s something that triggers memories; maybe it is the uniqueness of this art form, or maybe it’s just a feeling we get inside. I watch guys peering under the bonnets, salivating at engines, carburetors, and mazes of wires! Most car guys I know have memories of tinkering on a car during high school, or rebuilding an engine with their dad, or secretly drag racing with friends down straightaways.  

Xenis, Jacques Saoutchik’s 1938 Hispano-Suiza coachwork turns heads.

“Xenis”, Jacques Saoutchik’s 1938 Hispano-Suiza coachwork turns heads.

The sleek Bertone concept car caught everyone’s attention at Concorso Italiano 2012.

The sleek Bertone concept car caught everyone’s attention at Concorso Italiano 2012.

After a little research I discovered my trigger… speed. My smile comes from within when I see racecars… and racecar drivers… seriously! It comes with an adrenaline rush either imagining what it would be like to race, or just watching the cars race. It must be innate, because I’m mesmerized at tracks. I think it’s a combination, the technology of the car and the skill of the driver. My preference? I like the “stealth”’ look, although if it races, I pretty much smile! We already know Porsche 911s make my heart pitter patter. And I’m smitten with vintage race cars, even the young 50-60 year olds!

Le Mans keeps me mesmerized.

Le Mans keeps me mesmerized.

Pagani at The Quail topped off my day.

Pagani at The Quail topped off my day.

This photo always makes me smile inside. John Fitch, Lime Rock Historics, 2011.

This photo always makes me smile inside. John Fitch, Lime Rock Historics, 2011.

The curves of European classic cars also strike my fancy… a front or back end with personality. Sleek lines draw a sophisticated smile and raised eyebrow. Porsche 356s and Mercedes 300 SLs stop me in my tracks. Although I’m not a big fan of American muscle cars, probably because I lived through that era, my eyes widen at the sight of Americana when it comes to Cords, Auburns, and Duesenbergs. Seeing what’s right on a car… authenticity… gets a big nod.

Who can resist smiling at chubby cheeks on this 1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster.

Who can resist smiling at chubby cheeks on this 1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster.

Just picture this 1932 Duesenberg driving through middle America, in the day.

Just picture this 1932 Duesenberg driving through middle America, in the day.

Picture perfect! The 1962 Porsche 356 B Super Cabriolet at the St. Michael’s Concours 2012.

Picture perfect! The 1962 Porsche 356 B Super Cabriolet at the St. Michael’s Concours 2012.

At the end of the day I believe it’s the pleasure that cars give those who appreciate them, and that pleasure is in the eyes of the beholder.   

What is it about cars that makes you smile? I’d love to know!


Sandy on Assignment: Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Posted on March 27, 2013 Comments (1)

Where the people are Best in Show

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Heading off for my third year at Amelia, I was hoping to finally click with this event, since it is one of the top Concours in the whole wide world. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what the weekend would bring.

The beauty of Amelia is also it’s downside—everything in close proximity and easily accessible. It can become a blur. I mapped out my adventures beforehand embracing what makes Amelia so unique… the people.

My Best in Show, Concours de Sport… A World Class Car Guy

My Best in Show, Concours de Sport… A World Class Car Guy

Yes, it is about the cars, but this year the people were my Best in Show. Behind every car is a story – about a racecar driver, collector, designer, or manufacturer. Someone who had chosen to design it, save it, or restore it. Someone who had used his or her gifts and talent to make that particular car special.

Hagertys’ Junior Judge admires the 1913  Peugeot Boat-tailed ‘skiff.’

Hagertys’ Junior Judge admires the 1913  Peugeot Boat-tailed ‘skiff.’

First off, if you think this Concours is beyond your reach for whatever reason, it’s not. All it takes is pre-planning, which means now, for 2014. Get a group of friends together, go online and find a condo to rent, preferably near the beach, and you’re set. Major hotel chains may already be booked.

When ticket sales open, jump without hesitation. Buy a ticket to every seminar. For $25–30 each, you get to see and hear legends share their fantastic and funny stories. Consider purchasing a coveted Porsche Driving Experience Road Tour ticket for two, which equates to $100 per person, for a full day’s activities, lunch and thrill of a lifetime. Plan to attend the free, duPont Registry Cars and Coffee, Saturday at 9AM, on the same 18th fairway as Sunday’s Concours.

My Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance…The Savvy Car Girl, RM’s youngest bidder

My Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance…The Savvy Car Girl, RM’s youngest bidder

NO SALE  $1.3M bid wasn’t enough to buy the 1970 Porsche 908/3.

NO SALE  $1.3M bid wasn’t enough to buy the 1970 Porsche 908/3.

Rare 1938 H.R.G Airline Coupe Prototype sold for $253,000

Rare 1938 H.R.G Airline Coupe Prototype sold for $253,000

Go to the Ritz and have lunch by the pool and drinks on the veranda. It costs less than you think. Purchase one $75-80 general admission for two, including catalogues to RM and Gooding auctions, but do not raise your hand unless you want to part with your money. Watch the people, especially Max Girardo, RM’s auctioneer—he’s worth the price of admission. I was taken with an adorable little girl and her parents. Minutes later, little Lockland raised her hand to become the days youngest RM bidder and buyer, taking home the 1941 BMW 327 Sport Cabriolet for a mere $247,500. Now that’s a car girl!  

Now for my adventures…

Keep in mind; my mission was to make this weekend click, so I was game to try some new experiences. I had purchased a rather pricey Rolls- Royce Wine Maker’s dinner ticket, month’s prior. Ironically, the RR dinner turned into a dinner honoring the Guardians of Porsche. To know me is to know my dream car is a Porsche. So there I was, about to sit at a table with total strangers, yet beaming because I was in a room filled with Porsche People, all celebrating the 50th birthday of the 911.

I introduced myself and found everyone to be genuinely friendly at our table. On my right, two couples had just completed the four-day tour around Florida as Amelia Island Concours entrants. On my left was an empty seat to this sold out dinner, then an extremely gracious and engaging couple. I was my usual chatty self, asking about their tie into the motorsports world. James, the husband, said he had a race team that raced a hybrid. Something about the fastest Ferrari and Pininfarina and the Nurburgring, a bit much to digest instantly and I couldn’t quite wrap my arms around a hybrid racing. I chatted with all the guests for a few minutes, then like a lightning bolt, it hit me. A race team, that’s very special. I was still hung up on the hybrid concept, since all I could picture was a Toyota Prius. James offered to write down the name of the car so I could look it up later. During dinner his wife Meg and I shared great conversations. Every course seemed to come with dessert—a picture of one of James cars passed to me on his iPhone.

I spied Vic Elford and his lovely wife Anita and went over to say “Hi.” During the PowerPoint presentation, pictures of Porsche legends, all in attendance that evening, were flashed on the screen. Also on the screen was a striking individual I had never heard of before, Magnus Walker from L.A. After dinner, and the four wine-pairings, I mustered up the nerve to walk over and introduce myself to Patrick Long. There was no doubt, Amelia was going to click this year, and it was only Thursday!

1967 GT 40 MkIV, The Automotive Heritage Award Winner

1967 GT 40 MkIV, The Automotive Heritage Award Winner

When I got back to the MMR condo that evening, Peter and I shared what we had done for dinner. I dug up the paper with the name of the owner and car I needed to research. Peter stared at me in disbelief and calmly said, “You had dinner with whom? Do you know who he is?” Thank goodness for Google. One site noted James Glickenhaus as the most interesting car guy in the world! Also, courtesy of Google, I know exactly what the P 4/5 Competizione is and the history behind the 1967 GT40 Mk IV entered in Sunday’s Concours and its tie to Bruce McLaren. And it was still only Thursday, at Amelia!

Friday morning at 7am, in the dark, I was at the Fernandina Beach Airport with 99 other cars ready for the all day Porsche Driving Experience and Road Tour to begin. Due to a snag in logistics, I was without a navigator. Not a good thing to happen for a road tour. An announcement was made and another navigator-less participant surfaced, Chris Nast, whose cute business card read, “Auto Sommeliers.” For the next 7 hours, we had a blast.

First stop, the St. John River Ferry to transport us over the river. On land again, we headed off to the Mayport Naval Station where the Porsche Sports Driving School instructors and new Porsche 911s and Boxsters would test our autocross skills. I was first in line. It all went too quickly. I got back in line for seconds. I hopped in again, buckled up and looked over to the instructor in the passenger’s seat. It was Geoffrey Lowdermilk, my instructor from the Porsche School in Leeds, Alabama. “Show me what I taught you,” was all he had to say and we were off!

Magnus Walker and Karen Caid rode with both drivers for hot laps!

Magnus Walker and Karen Caid rode with both drivers for hot laps!

Chris and Sandy ready for their hot laps!

Chris and Sandy ready for their hot laps!

Back in our car, Chris and I headed to another section of the naval base for hot laps with a racecar driver. We had our pick of two, Hurley Haywood or Patrick Long! Can you feel my excitement? I’ve done hot laps before. The biggest challenge is climbing into the car. We put on helmets and waited in line. We had a plan; Chris would pick Hurley and I, Patrick. Who should be in front of us, Magnus Walker. He was so gracious letting me take his picture and even handing me his business card. Another thank you to Goggle… urbanoutlaw.tv tells his amazing story.

A spin with Patrick Long!

A spin with Patrick Long!

When we reached our respective cars a little voice inside my head said, “Get into the car gracefully,” and I did. Patrick remembered me, I think, or at least I wanted to believe, and we were off. I asked if he handled these corners like he would at LeMans. “Not as fast”, he replied. My response, “See you at LeMans.”

A conversation starter, the XK140

Another conversation starter, the XK140

Saturday morning was a huge success for the first annual duPont Registry Cars and Coffee sponsored by Hancock Insurance at Amelia. Again, the camaraderie was unbelievable. Standing in front of an XK120 I overhead two men talking about Buddy Polumbo. I couldn’t help but chime in.

Another tip about enjoying Amelia is to reach out and meet new people. Fascinating enthusiasts are everywhere and eager to chat. Peter graciously brought me along to share the company of Denise McCluggage, known to all as the First Lady of sports car racing. Not only are her stories amazing, her sense of humor shines through. Her take on growing old gracefully was priceless. “I’m going for preservation class, not a full restoration”, she joked.

The Chairman’s Choice Award and Most Historically Significant Race Car Driven by Sam Posey, the 1971 Ferrari 512 M

The Chairman’s Choice Award and Most Historically Significant Race Car Driven by Sam Posey,
the 1971 Ferrari 512 M

Everyone who attends a Concours picks his or her own favorites. For me, it’s often the marque or a special owner. Others seek out the unique or nostalgic favorites. My marque is Jaguar so my antennae are always searching for Jags. On Sunday, I spied a beautiful SS100 being awarded the Most Historically Significant Jaguar. A stunning XK120 OTS received the Most Outstanding Jaguar. At the Jaguar pavilion I spotted racecar legend Davey Jones talking up the latest Jaguar models and sharing stories from his racing days.

Prinz Heinrich Benz Racing Touring Cars, the 1908, No.46 and 1911, No. 38

Prinz Heinrich Benz Racing Touring Cars, the 1908, No.46 and 1911, No. 38

You may remember my adventures at Retromobile, where I was taken with one of the Prinz Heinrich racecars, the green number 38. Here it was on display at Amelia, next to its mate, the number 46 white Benz, both newly restored and together for the very first time in public in the United States. Also seen in Paris at the Artcurial auction, was a Messerschmitt. Another and supposedly only one in the United States popped up at Amelia. My comment, “Oh no, not another Messerschmitt!”

American Classic (Pre 1930) awardee, the 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Roadster by Murphy

American Classic (Pre 1930) awardee, the 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Roadster
by Murphy

Hugh Ruthven II was showing his Formula Junior car, a 1959 Bandini, and quite the crowd pleaser. Also on the field was Bob Matteucci, again with an award winning Rolls-Royce, his beautiful yellow 1929 Springfield Phantom I Roadster by Murphy. The Duesenbergs came in a variety of colors. The silver 1936 SJN took top honors, yet Steve Wolf’s red, 1932 Duesenberg really must have been the Duesy of its day.

The covers didn’t even have to come off the cars on the field, for me to get excited over the GT40s! During the Ford GT40 seminar on Saturday morning, I learned how the victory champagne tradition came to be. Started by Dan Gurney spontaneously, after his 1967 win at Le Mans, Sam Posey and Bill Warner kept that tradition alive for Amelia, toasting this year’s Concours winners.

Amelia more than clicked for me this year. I was touched, moved, and inspired. I want to learn more about the cars. I want to keep following my dreams, like the racecar drivers. But most of all, I want to continue to embrace this wonderful world of motorsports because it’s all about the people, and they are precious.