MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: The Elegance at Hershey

Posted on September 11, 2014 Comments (0)

…America’s Automotive Garden Party

by Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

A birds-eye view of The Elegance at Hershey.

Imagine receiving a huge candy kiss as a trophy! It happens the second weekend in June in Hershey, Pennsylvania at The Elegance at Hershey. More than just a car show, The Elegance is an event wrapped around the motivation to bring the best of the best together; from the automotive arena, benefiting the determination to cure Juvenile Diabetes and also preserve our automotive heritage through the Antique Automobile Club of America Library and Research Center. Before this year’s event tally, The Elegance had raised over a half-million dollars to support these causes, in just four years.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

This 1957 Maserati 300S received the Rolling Sculpture award.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

The Hotel Hershey Award went to this 1947 Delahaye 135-M.

Although an ocean apart, The Elegance is similar in many respects to what I would consider its European counterpart, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. An elegant, rather intimate automotive garden party, if you will, both events invite an exclusive small number of significant and historic cars. Many of the cars bring with them accolades and class wins from other esteemed show fields like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. At The Elegance, each car stands on its own merits the day of the event, to be judged using French judging criteria by a cadre of twenty-eight esteemed judges under the leadership of Dr. Paul Sable.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Harry Yeaggy’s yellow 1935 Deusenberg Mormon Meteor received the coveted Governors Cup Award.

Renound Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Renowned Italian Alfa collector, Corrado Lopresto, sent this 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato to The Elegance.

Like Villa d’Este, the setting is magnificent. Sixty-four automobiles were judged, with the Hershey Hotel and its elegant English gardens, beautiful porticos and fountain ponds, as their backdrop. This year’s winner of the Coppa d’Oro di Villa d’Este, collector Corrado Lopresto, sent over from Milan, Italy the most desirable of the Alfa Romeo 1900s… the 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Berlinetta by Zagato. Made specifically for racing, only 39 were made and this one had been left in a garage for 40 years until purchased by Lopresto in 2013. Awarded the Worn but not Forgotten award at The Elegance, the car remains in it’s unrestored state.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

Joe Parlanti at the Finish after a climb in his 1959 Abarth Zagato 750 Double Bubble.

The weekend at Hershey is very much steeped in motorsports tradition with The Grand Ascent, a revival of the historic Hershey hillclimb. In post World War II America, Pennsylvania was a hotbed for auto-racing and the concept of a hillclimb was the perfect event for the sports car enthusiast. One of the oldest forms of motorsports, with the first-known event taking place in France in 1897, the Hershey Hillclimb began in 1958 on the road to the rear of the Hershey Hotel. Held both Friday and Saturday during The Elegance weekend, I was mesmerized watching these vintage race cars traverse the heavily wooded hillside to set their individual times. At this year’s hillclimb, there were 36 registered entrants. Bring your camera and hiking shoes and walk the course, if it’s not too muddy! Daily admission is $10 with free parking. If you are up for one of those priceless experiences, for $50 you can get strapped in, helmet and all, as a passenger in one of the vintage race cars on the hillclimb!

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

From the Larry Porter Trust, a 1904 Model B in the forefront of the extensive “Alphabet Ford Collection”.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

This 1910 Model 10 was Buick’s competitor to Ford’s industry leading T.

After dodging the raindrops watching Friday’s hillclimb, an evening reception at the Antique Automobile Club of American Museum and its Library and Research Center was a wonderful opportunity to view another slice of Americana. I was particularly fascinated with the display of the “Alphabet Ford Collection”… and many exhibits of American automobilia. The AACC Museum is open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and highly recommended during The Elegance weekend.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

The Foundation houses a significant reference library and historical collection of both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

A glimpse at the many Rolls-Royce parts waiting to be catalogued within the restoration facility.

Saturday morning, we were treated to a private tour of the Rolls Royce Foundation and home to the historic display of Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars by Rubin Verdes, an officer of the Foundation, and Board Member Bill Rothermel. The small museum in Mechanicsburg, PA and restoration facilities are open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 am until 4 pm. In the afternoon, we decided to take in a bit of Hershey history. Coined the Sweetest City on Earth, the Hershey museum offered an amazing glimpse into the history of Hershey, Pennsylvania and visionary Milton S. Hershey. Next stop before heading back to the afternoon hillclimb, were the Hershey Gardens… a must.

Saturday morning, a 5K, Elegance Challenge takes place up the road of the hill climb. In the evening the fund-raiser dinner and charity auction takes place inside the Hershey Hotel, with this year’s Honorary Chairman, Robert Lutz, as guest speaker. There are also several other dinner opportunities within the Hershey Hotel, and surrounding area.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The Elegance is a great opportunity to view unique cars, like this 1946 Glasspar G-2 Roadster, which according to the Smithsonian Institute, pioneered the use of fiberglass in automobile construction and paved the way for the kit car industry.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The one-of-a-kind 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II took the People’s Choice Award.

The atmosphere generated mostly by volunteers, during the entire Elegance weekend, is very welcoming to the public, as well as the esteemed owners and their guests. Beginning at 7 am Sunday morning, the vehicles begin moving onto the show gardens and by 9 am the vision founder John (Jack) Rich, Sr. had for the event is created… a car show that brings back the days of the original Concours held in Europe. Unique to The Elegance this year was an informative walking tour personalized to just about every show car, prior to the award presentations, by Master of Ceremonies and automotive historian, Bill Rothermel.

In addition to the candy-kiss trophies every entrant receives, thirty-six awards were presented representing excellence for their time period, as well as spirited and historic awards. Among many worthy American cars, there was an equal display of Italian, British, and French beauties.

Since The Elegance weekend offers much for spectators to enjoy, spouses and families included, I would bump this event up towards the top of the motorsports enthusiasts’ bucket list. It’s another gem in the world of Concours events.