MMR Blog

Sandy On Assignment: A New Tradition begins

Posted on 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.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 21, 2014 Comments (0)

NASCAR: Harvick is Worthy Champion

Harvick and Tony Stewart

Let’s get something straight from the beginning. These guys are good. It is too easy to overlook their talent and skills in what week after week looks like a high speed crash fest. But those cars are fast and finicky. They are always skating on the edge of control and the winning drivers are those who can best balance the changes to track and tire conditions and pick their spots to pass and avoid wrecks. Their two road races at Watkins Glen and Sears Point are easily among the best races on TV every year. These guys are very good.

Harvick is a worthy Champion! He has paid his dues. And he won the championship by winning the race. He came into the sport with Childress Racing as a replacement for Earnhardt senior in 2001. He was expected to become the “new” intimidator. But the sport was changing and the days of the brawny brawlers were over. Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson were the new style of champion and, though Harvick was edgy, he wasn’t winning championships. This year he joined Stewart–Haas Racing and with a new team and a new crew chief things came together.

Nascar Harvick Edwards fight

NASCAR ratings are up! NASCAR brass is taking a bow! Yes, it was their genius new format that did it, and the drivers agree. It must be so. Mainstream TV news which seemingly ignores anything but stick and ball games all year, but never misses a fire, a car crash or a baby falling out of a window, actually showed the pushing and shoving in two of the final four races and called it a “brawl”. THAT boosted ratings. As for the contenders appearing more motivated, eh, it’s possible that was merely frustration at having to contend for a title in a format that favors luck as much as skill.

F1: Finale will only be mildly interesting, then again…

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

After a long season of drama based as much on personality clashes as good racing, it boils down to this: If Hamilton’s car doesn’t fail or crash, he will be World Champion. And Rosberg will be second and Ricciardo will be third. But who will be fourth? Only four points separate Vettel, Alonso and Bottas and while everyone will be cheering on their favorite driver, the pressure from the teams will be enormous as each point earned represents huge dollars at year end.


MMR Classifieds

Jaguar XK150

We only list the top 500 Classified cars for sale by dealers around the world. This week's featured marque is Jaguar.


MMR Goods & Services Directory

Pete Lyons Photographs of Can-Am

Every week we feature one company from the MMR Goods and Services Directory. This week’s featured supplier is Pete Lyons – Photographer. MMR is lucky to have this Can-Am image and this one too in our World Headquarters and they are a source of endless pleasure.


Michael Furman Photography

Michael Furman's image this week is from his book, The Art and Colour of General Motors and shows the detailed beauty of a 1934 LaSalle.

Michael Furman's image this week is from his book, The Art and Colour of General Motors and shows the detailed beauty of a 1934 LaSalle.


Sandy on Assignment

Sandy Cotterman, London Concours de Elegance 2014

This week’s story and images are by Sandy Cotterman and are from the London Concours of Elegance. Held on the grounds of the Hampton Court Palace on the September 5-7 weekend, the setting is in many ways reminiscent of Villa d’Este in Italy.

Peter Bourassa


Sandy on Assignment: London’s Concours of Elegance…

Posted on November 19, 2014 Comments (1)

A weekend with a Prince!

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring -- Flying Star -- takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ takes Best in Show with the Pullman Trophy.

To walk among sixty of the world’s rarest historic cars, exclusively invited to participate in London’s Concours of Elegance was magnificent. To be in the presence of a Prince while doing so was extraordinary!

I was planning a trip to Germany; right about the time RM’s London auction was to take place. Without a moment’s hesitation, I adjusted my plans for a two-day stop over in London and a chance to attend RM’s eighth annual London auction. It was a great opportunity to watch my favorite auctioneer and RM’s European Managing Director, Max Girardo. Just as exciting, was discovering a new motorsports gem… London’s Concours of Elegance.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

This legendary 1922 Sunbeam Tourist Trophy Grand Prix Car remains one of the finest Sunbeam racing cars ever built.

Now in its third year, the UK’s budding international concours, uniquely held at a different Royal Palace each year, is definitely making its mark… not only among the motorsports elite, but with the public, as well. Held the first weekend of September, this event is the ultimate motorsports English garden party.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

Hampton Court gardens are breathtaking.

On Sunday, I attended the gardens of one of London’s spectacular palaces, Hampton Court, home to not only the sixty concours cars but cars from many UK car clubs and specialty car tours, as well as something unique… the “Talking Concours”, a staged area featuring interviews with greats from the car world.

The inaugural event of the Concours took place in 2012 within the private grounds of Windsor Castle to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee of reign. The second Concours of Elegance was held at the Royal Palace of St. James, last year.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Henry the VIII’s favorite royal playground was Hampton Court.

Although Hampton Court Palace has not been home to the British Royal Family since the 18th century, its grandeur stands out among world Royal Palaces. It is best remembered as Henry the VIII’s favorite royal residence. Nearly 200 years later, William III and Mary II embarked on a massive expansion of the Palace, which included the grounds enjoyed during this year’s Concours.

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Coupe received The Autoglym Elegant Design Award

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone and Webb Coupe

The William & Son Award for the Most Elegant British Motor Car went to this 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Freestone & Webb Coupe

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

This 1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C SS Corsica Roadster received The Royal Automobile Club Spirit of Motoring Award

Much like Villa d’Este, the Concours of Elegance differs from traditional concours where a ‘winning’ car is selected by a panel of judges. The Concours of Elegance organizers maintain that if a car has been invited to participate in the Concours, it is already a winner. On Saturday, each of the sixty Concours participants casts their vote for the vehicle they consider the most elegant, thus Best of Show. During an exclusive dinner Saturday evening in King Henry VIII’s Great Dining Hall at Hampton Court Palace, Concours Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent presented this year’s Best of Show to the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring ‘Flying Star’ with the Pullman Trophy.

A legendary show car, the 1931 Alfa Romeo made its concours debut in 1931 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where, accompanied by the model Josette Pozzo, it won the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este trophy. It has been winning accolades and trophies ever since.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

This 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza is one of the most desirable pre-war racing cars in existence.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

A vision for the future, this 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero Bertone Concept Car received RM Auction’s Award for the Most Innovative Car of its Era.

Spectators to the Concours of Elegance, reached well over 10,000 this year. Voting for a first time award… the Public Choice winner was awarded to a rare alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe, number 19 of only 29 alloy Gullwings built.

First owned by Italian gentleman racer Dottore Alberico Cacciari, this car was the only alloy-bodied 300 SL to compete in the 1956 and 1957 Mille Miglias, with Cacciari driving. The car appeared at Hampton Court, just as it raced in 1956, with its 452 racing numbers, and original tool kit and factory-fitted luggage.

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

This rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe received both the ‘Public Choice’ award and AGI Private Clients Award for the Most Historically Significant Car

So there I was, wandering among the beautiful cars and beautiful gardens in awe of the Palace when the Patron of the Concours of Elegance drove by. His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent accompanied by his lovely wife, the Princess, was admiring the cars and speaking with owners and vendors throughout the day.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Patron of the Concours of Elegance and his Princess were highly accessible to attendees throughout the weekend.

So which palace is up next for this prestigious concours? With the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, the 2015 Concours of Elegance will be held at the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

Moved last year to coincide with the Concours of Elegance, RM Auctions concluded its European auction calendar on Monday, with its London auction at Battersea Evolution. While pouring over one of the Jaguars during the preview just prior to the start of the auction, I started talking with a gentleman and his son. You just never know who you’ll meet at a RM auction! To my astonishment, he introduced himself as the previous owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which I had seen a year ago at the Goodwood Revival and this year at the Mille Miglia. To know me, is to know I adore transporters. I was tickled!

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting pretty among the sparkling lights, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ took the highest hammer price of the night.

Sitting in the second row, right in front of Max was definitely the highlight of the weekend! The crowd was very international with 35 countries represented in the room. We watched as the hammer went down on the final bid of $8,119,188 for the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ and $3,266,340 for the rare 1966 Ferrari GTB Alloy, and $1,959,804 for the highly original 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra. We were in awe watching the sales sore to $36,348,733 US dollars. Another whirlwind motorsports weekend was over… as the final hammer went down.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 14, 2014 Comments (1)

Art Direction and Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. Arizona Concours d'Elegance.

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.


Racing: Chess & Crisis in Brazil & Phoenix

F1

Kimi and Fernando

Chess

“Brazil was an interesting race”, that was Ferrari driver Fernando Alonzo’s take on the Brazil GP. And for him it was. For the remainder of us, other than the scrap Fernando had with his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen there was little to watch. This was a cerebral race. Like chess, the battle went on in the minds of Rosberg and Hamilton and Hamilton was the only one with something to lose. The highly touted Abu Dhabi will be no different. Another no-conflict second will bring him the Championship.

German stands

Crisis

F1 has two issues but both boil down to the same thing. Money. The cost of running a team in F1 is too high for but a few and they are becoming fewer. Initially supported by race car manufacturers and wealthy businessmen and sportsmen, the advent of tobacco money and big advertising, changed all that. Today there remain two self-funding car company teams, one is rich and the other is struggling. The remainder of the teams are dependent on outside sponsorship to survive. That brings us to the second issue. The price of staging a race is prohibitive and the organizers make money primarily on ticket sales. It is judged that attendance was down 50% in Brazil last weekend, the numbers for Russia were not available, and these are not the only places where the gate is down. All is not well in paradise. Incidentally this isn’t the only series where attendance is down.


Art Direction and Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. Arizona Concours d'Elegance.

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.


NASCAR

nascar chase grid final 2014

No fisticuffs this week but a war of quotes and the series winds down to its finale at Homestead, a typically dismal Florida track of cinderblock and former ocean bottom. The Chase has been whittled down to four potential winners. The irony is that none has to win the championship by winning the race. They simply must finish ahead of the other three. And one of them, Ryan Newman, hasn’t won a race this year. He got into the “final four” by intentionally pushing a competitor out of the way last weekend, something even he abhorred and for which he semi-apologized. This would all make for a hollow Championship indeed.

The racing season is in its dying moments. For those of us looking forward to the next one, January 11th in Scottsdale looks good. It may be hell in the summer, but it is definitely heaven in January.


Royce Rumsey photography, copyright 2014

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.

Our Resource Directory feature this week is the Arizona Concours d’Elegance at The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. The images are by Royce Rumsey of Auto-Focus and were taken at the Concours last year. They are a clue to the quality and diversity you can expect to see in January.


This week’s Michael Furman image is from his book Curves of Steel.

This week’s Michael Furman image is from his book Curves of Steel.


Please share this MMR Community Newsletter with a friend. See you all here next week.

Peter Bourassa

Art Direction and Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. Arizona Concours d'Elegance.

Arizona Concours d'Elegance. Photography by Royce Rumsey, Auto-Focused © 2014.


Santa Fe Concorso 2014

Posted on October 8, 2014 Comments (1)

With a slight bump and a bound the midsize commuter jet lands in Santa Fe and disgorges twenty passengers. It is early evening Wednesday and 24 hours from now we begin our Santa Fe Concorso Adventure. My companion is a fellow Bostonian and motorsports friend who owns a place in the Southeast quadrant of the city and has generously offered me lodging and transportation. He is a former Brit and an admirer of all things BRG. It’s genetic. Concurrent with the Concorso, a local British Car Club is also having a conclave and he anticipates att­ending a few of their functions.

First, a Quick Overview of Santa Fe

Conde Nast calls it the Best Small City to Visit and the #2 Travel Destination in the Country. Travel & Leisure have named it the #1 Cultural Getaway. With a relatively small population of 70,000 people and with growth physically limited by the surrounding state and Indian lands, Santa Fe may become more dense, but not larger. That is part of its charm.

Tourism and state government are the major industries In Santa Fe. In the past two years we have attended the Concorso event, “automobiles” have shared the city’s facilities with other major events, often food conventions. We never noticed them. Santa Fe thrives on tourism and they are geared for it. Happily, unlike Fernandina Beach at Amelia and Monterey during Monterey week, accommodation prices don’t skyrocket when the car money comes to town. Quite refreshing really. One last Chamber of Commerce note. Check out the prices to get there from wherever you are. From Boston, which is a fair distance we found the pricing very reasonable, particularly when booked far enough in advance.

Thursday: A Fine Beginning

Thursday evening marked first night of official Concorso happenings with a showing of the Steve McQueen’s film Bullitt at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Downtown area. It was introduced by Santa Fe resident and Concorso advisor, Denise McCluggage, who was friends with McQueen when they both lived in NYC and he was a struggling actor. The small, newly restored theater is the property of George RR Martin, creator of the King of Thrones book and movie series and this was a test run to see if there would be interest in an Automobile Film Festival as part of the Concorso weekend. The cost of attendance was $10. (Find that elsewhere!) And it was good fun to watch the chase scene on the big screen and count the five hubcaps that came off the big black Dodge. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and afterwards, as it was still relatively early, participants dispersed throughout the downtown area to sample various eateries and bars, many with live bands. The MMR Goods & Services Directory lists some of our favorite Santa Fe Restaurants under Haunts & Cafes in the Destinations and Events sections.

Friday: Indy Seminar and Gala at Santa Fe Airport

The Santa Fe airport facility is the nicest on the continent! Period. The administration building contains stunning artwork by local artisans. Art is, after all, Santa Fe’s major claim to fame. The airport terminal itself is small; it only has one gate. It also is decorated with local artwork, has a friendly staff, and boasts a very good reasonably priced family restaurant with a view of the tarmac from which one can watch the plane land and take off. It is serviced by United and American Airlines. No big planes land here and to give you a flavor of the place, our departure was delayed because the Flight Attendant called in sick and another had to be called in to replace him or her. Amazing. There is also an active private plane and glider population centered here. The afternoon event was a seminar of veteran IndyCar drivers moderated by writer/actor/photographer Tim Considine. The participating drivers were Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr., Johnny Rutherford, Parnelli Jones, Lyn St. James, Eddie Cheever, and Indy Historian Donald Davidson. In the presence of some significant Indy racecars, all told interesting and/or amusing stories about racing in the day and at Indy in particular. They also expressed strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong with today’s racing. They then happily sat at a long table and signed autographs for their audience.

Santa Fe Concorso

That evening, in the same location, a fine buffet was presented and more cars were exhibited both in the hanger and outside on the tarmac. The juxtaposition of smaller high performance planes and small high performance cars is always an interesting one. Typical of the weekend, from the first event to the last, each is well attended yet participants are never crowded or herded.

private plane in Santa Fe airport

Saturday: Mountain Tour and Unser Museum Fundraiser

Unser Museum Fundraiser

The plan called for the Mountain Tour cars to gather on the Santa Fe Town Plaza between 8:00 AM and 10:00AM then drive through the scenic parts of town and along the local highways to the post card perfect vintage town of Cerrillos, NM—film locale for the movie Young Guns. There to enjoy an excellent lunch (“imported” because the town’s café was destroyed in an insurance scam fire decades ago) and then a spirited drive back to town.

In the past, we have shot pictures of cars on tours, primarily at Pebble Beach, by attending the early morning gatherings, then setting up somewhere along the route and again at the destination. This tour was different in one significant respect. Through the good graces of the organizers, we sat in the press car, a supercharged Range Rover with a sun roof. While official photographer Garret Vreeland stood up in the back and shot through the roof, we sat in the extremely comfortable and far less exposed front passenger seat and shot out the side window. Our driver was automotive writer and former racecar driver Denise McCluggage.

The plan was to shoot in the plaza, then set up along a scenic city street and shoot the cars in motion as they went by. Once we had shot them, Garret would give the command to Denise to pass them all and hurry to the next stop along the road he had previously scouted. That would provide a different backdrop for the images. Once completed there he would ask Denise to once again pass them all and we could catch them as they arrived in Cerrillos. The task seemed daunting in my mind but seemingly simple to Denise. Forgive the unflattering simile, but she seemed like a dog being thrown a stick to fetch, she saw her duty and attacked the task with relish.

Tours are not in any way meant to be races, but no matter the age of the driver or his ride, a powerful car on a smooth winding road is a form of narcotic for those of us weak of will. In the midst of this add a former racing driver convinced she is possessed of a relevant mission and driving a supercharged Range Rover which she doesn’t own. This might be a recipe designed to alarm an amateur passenger. I assure you it alarmed me at first. But once my life had flashed before my eyes a dozen times, I tired of it and simply focused on not wetting myself.

To fully credit her consistency, the driver of the supercharged Range Rover rarely strayed below double the posted speed limit. For my part, other than prayer I pinned my hopes on the fact that drivers who used their mirrors would see that white behemoth with half a body sticking out of the roof and bearing down on them and simply pucker up, back off, make room and wait for their stomachs to settle. Oncoming traffic? Perish the thought. “Perish” is the operative word.

Range Rover press car Santa Fe Concorso

Feeling somewhat older, I arrived in Cerrillos and we all took pictures of the cars parked where horses might once have been tied. Fitting, in a way, since they did replace them. After a delicious lunch we climbed back into the Range Rover and “headed for the barn”, as we cowpokers say out here. The pace back to town was noticeably more sedate and once back on the Town Plaza, colors, smells and life itself appeared more … important … for lack of a better term. Add the word “thankfully” is somewhere in there.

The Indy 500 Winners

The Saturday evening event took place at the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, 45 miles to the south, and was a reprise of the previous day’s IndyCar Seminar, this time moderated by the aforementioned Donald Davidson. The event was a fundraiser for the Museum and like its Santa Fe counterpart, it was very well attended. Unlike the Concorso crowd, most of the attendees were supporters of the Unser Racing Museum and long-time friends of the Unser family. Seated at our table were several gentlemen who had crewed for Al Sr. and his brother Bobby when they ran Midgets in the early days. They had wonderful stories about dirt track racing in the area with the local greats of the day. Many of the cars they mentioned were in the museum along with other cars, images, engines, and memorabilia from the racing eras in which the Unser family competed.

Racing enthusiasts finding themselves in Albuquerque would really enjoy a visit to this first class facility. Find it and more similar locations in our Goods & Services Directory under Destination and Events – Museums.

Unser Museum Midget Racer

Sunday: The Concorso

It was cool in the morning and even rained at little at some point, but it warmed up in the afternoon and by prize-awarding time in the late afternoon, the weather was perfect. As mentioned, Santa Fe is a small city and in light of that the Santa Fe Concorso has always punched way above its weight in terms of quality of cars on the field. Of necessity, the mix on the field is eclectic. Despite that, each class has some exceptional cars and the difficulty in picking a winner is testament to this.

Early rain at the Santa Fe Concorso 2014

Santa Fe Concorso 2014 Show Winners

Organizers have worked hard to bring quality judging to the event and it appears owners have responded. The winning Packard, with body by Graber, is the epitome of the name of the class. It rightly won, Elegance. And a 1956 Maserati 300S, devoid of fancy winglets or added body parts that characterize sports cars today, is the essence of a racing “sports” car.

Other notable cars on the field included a huge white 1930 Isotta Frachini. What a presence the big car had all weekend. It dominated the smaller cars in town and on the Mountain Tour.

In keeping with the weekend theme of IndyCars, a separate display highlighted them at the entrance to the event and the 1938 Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special” which won Indy in 1939 and 1940 driven by Wilbur Shaw was on the field. The car was driven to the Award area by Al Unser Sr. who was presented with the Lee Iacocca Award for “Dedication to Excellence in Perpetuating an American Automotive Tradition”.

A 1930 Packard Roadster, regularly driven by its owner, 104-year-old Margaret Dunning, also attended and both made a strong impression. Norman Dewis, of Jaguar fame, supported a brace of C-types and D-types on the field.

It was an excellent show and a wonderful weekend. The organizers and volunteers worked very hard and their results reflect their effort. Please go to our Photo Gallery for more images of the Concorso. And, incidentally, do make a note to join us next year. This is an event enthusiasts should not miss.

Santa Fe Concorso 2014