MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: Great Friends and Great Cars ... The Amelia Island Concours Car Week

Posted on March 19, 2015 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Taking final bows, Best in Show Concours de Sport (L), David Sydorick’s 1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and Concours d’Elegance winner from the Ed and Judy Schoenthaler Collection, the 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster.

Heading into a repeat event, I am always a bit anxious, wondering what on earth am I going to discover that is new to write about. This year I tried to stay calm, knowing that something would eventually hit me and make the weekend simply magical … and it did!

There is no other way for me to describe the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend than ... precious. Even after 20 years, it sparkles and is one of those events where, no matter who you are, you feel welcomed and a part of the excitement.

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE was this years Concours honoree.

1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

It was a thrill watching Andreas Mohringer from Salzburg, Austria take Best in Class, Race Cars (1960-1990), with his 1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, recently restored by Paul Russell and Company.

Last year, at 9:30 Sunday morning, I blinked my eyes and a mass of spectators ascended onto the show field. It was all over for me. I couldn’t even take pictures. This year was another story; even with over 32,000 spectators mingling among 315 show cars and motorcycles. The entire weekend seemed to stretch, giving everyone in attendance more time, more space and even more events to really get into everything auto!

When I head to Amelia, I’m Buddy Palumbo on the open road. I leave Clearwater before sunrise, driving north, top down and wind blowing in my face. For those flying into Jacksonville, it’s a very convenient airport to maneuver. My first year of lodging at Amelia was at the Day’s Inn. I graduated up from there and thanks to VRBO return annually to a fabulous villa within walking distance to the Ritz, joined by equally fabulous housemates… for less than the current Day’s Inn rate. It’s all about planning ahead!

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The ex-Marlene Dietrich, multiple best in show winner, the 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton (L) brought a final $742,500 at Bonhams.

1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Selling for a final $1,738,000 at Bonhams, I remembered this 1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster on the 2014 Amelia show field.

1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

With impeccable provenance, this 1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, a featured marque at this year’s Amelia Concours, brought a final $1,012,000 at the Bonhams auction.

As part of the stretchy weekend, Bonhams debuted their Amelia auction, with previews on Wednesday and the auction Thursday midday - the reason to arrive on Wednesday. I managed to work my way through a crowd gathering around Wayne Carini to speak with a woman who for some reason looked familiar. We started to chat about the Austin-Healey she was selling ... then bingo, it hit me. I had seen the episode on Chasing Classic Cars when Wayne visited her home. I felt like I knew her! The coveted 1956 Austin-Healey 100M BN2 Le Mans belonged to her late husband, shown in pristine preservation condition with only 37,000 miles from new. The car brought a final price of $206,800, as part of $13.95M in total sales for Bonhams.

For my own continuing education, I find auction previews an excellent opportunity to learn. As hard as it is, I keep my mouth shut and just lean in, snapping images of what’s wrong ... and what’s right ... especially of my own marque, Jaguar. At the RM auction in London last fall, I slipped and made a comment about the reflectors on a Jag. The gentleman who overheard me sparked up a conversation — he was the long-time owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which had recently sold! I was ecstatic since I had marveled over the transporter at Goodwood and also at the Mille Miglia! So sure enough at Bonhams, a gentleman asked me why I was taking so many pictures. We chatted, exchanged business cards and bingo ... my magical weekend was clicking into gear! This very low-key gentleman was none other than Formula 1 legend Howden Ganley. With strong ties to Bruce McLaren and 41 F1 Championship Grand Prix starts to his credit, I was thrilled to have the privilege of meeting him. Ganley was one of the featured authors during the weekend, autographing his new autobiography, The Road to Monaco, My Life in Motor Racing.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sitting pretty, this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet brought a premium sale of $2,090,000 at the Gooding auction.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A $10,862,500 picture! In front, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff sold for $2,337,500. On its pedestal in the rear, the stunning 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pinin Farina brought $6,380,000 and barely in sight is the Jaguar XJR-9.

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9

Auction sales were strong this year with RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction breaking records, garnering $60,328,550 in sales. Although catalogue estimates were aggressive, hammer prices reflected the market. Gooding & Company brought in $26,967,150 in sales, bringing the weekend take for all three major auction houses to over $101M!

Enjoying another thrill, I watched friend and racing legend Davy Jones slip into the familiar seat of the TWR Castrol Jaguar XJR-9 #388. Along with fellow drivers Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers, Jones took this winning race car to an overall first place win at the 1990, 24 hours of Daytona. With an aggressive catalogue estimate of $3-5,000,000, the hammer price on the Jaguar XJR-9 came in half the estimated range, at $1,950,000.

Along with celebrating my fifth Amelia Concours weekend came a comfort level with what’s what and where to find everything. Even though most of the off-site events can be reached by complimentary shuttles from the Ritz, having a car lets you venture into Fernandina Beach and over towards the Amelia Island Plantation to enjoy local restaurants ... Ciao Italian Bistro on Center Street and Plae at the Plantation are favorites.

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE.

A unique sanctioned Amelia Concours event, the duPont REGISTRY LIVE Aeroport Party Friday evening is a must, especially if you have never attended a hangar party. Graciously hosted by Tom and Ruth duPont, admission supports the Amelia Concours charities. Guests meander among classic and exotic cars in several airport hangars, while enjoying live music, unique entertainment and excellent food, orchestrated by Tim Webber and The Coordinator event company. It is my favorite evening of the weekend!

Youngest junior judge takes a break in the 1968 Lamborghini Miura, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

This year’s youngest junior judge takes a break in the Hagerty Children’s Award winner, the 1968 Lamborghini Miura.

The Amelia Island Cars and Coffee is definitely a family affair, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The Amelia Island Cars & Coffee is definitely a family affair!

The beauty of this Amelia Concours weekend is the ability to see it all. Auction preview times are generous, affording time to incorporate Friday’s Porsche Drive Experience, Saturday’s Cars & Coffee, test drives, and seminars with automobilia exhibits in between. The new MotorXpo offered a nice diversion on Sunday, stretching the crowds across a second venue. I was thrilled to see Tommy Kendall moderate the Car Guys of Television Seminar on Saturday. MMR readers followed his adventures as he drove the Viper at Le Mans in 2013. I had a chance to catch up with Tommy right after Sunday’s awards. I think we will be seeing more of him on television than on the track!

The most important rule for attending motorsports events and the one I consistently break is ... read the program first ... not on the ride home. The program should be your bible, when it comes to attending the concours.

What can I say, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

What can I say?

The Cars of the Cowboys seemed to be everywhere! What on earth were they thinking? Apparently, living their television screen lives through their daily drivers!

1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A class of their own, Forgotten Fiberglass, Best in Class went to the 1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II (R) with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona receiving the 2015 Amelia Award.

This year’s concours program featured articles written by individuals I know! Just over the pond from me in Tampa, Geoff Hacker is tenaciously resurrecting history along with Forgotten Fiberglass enthusiasts. The connections he has made with people and cars are fascinating.

1932 Ford Highboy Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A winner on the show field, Bruce Meyer’s 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster is featured on the Hot Rod commemorative U.S Postal Service stamp, marking the 20th anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

The more classic cars I see, the more I wonder what was going on in my life to have totally missed the automobiles’ contributions to history! I poured over the article written by Ken Gross about the origin of the hot rods, on the ride home. Hot rodding, as we know it, started on the West Coast in the early 1930s, most likely by mechanically minded servicemen looking for a way to combine their talents with their love of automobiles.

So what made this weekend magical? It was a weekend of admiring great cars and attending great auctions, but, most importantly, connecting with great friends! Friends all brought together, through a car connection.

There is nothing in the world like car friends!


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on January 8, 2015 Comments (0)

An Auspicious Beginning

Norman Dewis, OBE, and Jaguar Type C

Last week we joyfully announced that popular Jaguar representative Norman Dewis has received an OBE from the Queen and was to be knighted. We thank Alain de Cadenet for kindly pointing out that there are four basic grades leading to Knighthood and that Norman is on the second. He is an Officer and can now attach the letters OBE to the end of his name. Alain closed his message with a fitting and generous comment about Norman Dewis OBE that we will happily share: “Norman made a tremendous contribution to Jaguar and helped bring it onwards and upwards after WWII. Remember how broke poor old Britain was in 1945 … Norman is an object lesson to everyone with his tenacity, love of his work, and the simple fact that he is still breathing easily. A lovely man all round.”

My Motorsports Resources (MMR)

A number of you wrote to comment positively on our change of nomenclature. My Motorsports Resources appears to have struck a positive chord. Thank you.

A Less than Pleasant Beginning

james Allison, Ferrari

In the past three weeks, Ferrari has, as the expression goes, “cleaned house”. As Motor Sport’s Mark Hughes reports in its February issue, “As things stand, in one season the team has lost one president, two team principals, the engine chief, engineering chief, chief designer, chief strategist and chief tyre engineer.” That leaves technical boss James Allison to put together a team that can supply a car that can win for drivers Raikkonen and Vettel. It begs the question: What was Vettel thinking? And what is he thinking NOW?


Passing Notes

Actor and Master of Ceremonies at Pebble Beach, Edward Hermann

Edward Hermann, TV actor, car enthusiast, the Master of Ceremonies of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and who hosted the show Automobiles on The History Channel, has passed.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Frenchman Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Formula 1 race driver for Matra and BRM died at the age of seventy-seven. He was a teammate to Sir Jackie Stewart for Ken Tyrrell and later had his only GP win at Monaco in a BRM in 1972. He was married to Francois Cevert’s sister. Cevert was also a teammate of Jackie Stewart and was killed at Watkins Glen in 1973.

Image by Gene Ritvo

This week’s eye candy is from the  Gene Ritvo Portfolio in our MMR Photo Galleries. Gene was an excellent photographer and passionate car and motorcycle enthusiast. He helped us launch MMR and we display his work not in sadness, because he also has passed, but in celebration of the beauty he was capable of capturing with a camera.


Monthly Features

Hatch and Sons Mercedes W113 Pagoda SL

This week’s  MMR Classy Classifieds feature four different Mercedes W113 Pagoda SLs. These cars have a devoted following and despite the fact that they were built between 1963 and 1971 are still quite modern and usable cars. The 230SL is available from Fantasy Junction, in California, the 250SL from Cooper cars in NYC, the 280SL from Copley Motorcars, and 280SLR is a V8 powered special prepared by noted restorer Hatch & Sons.

Michael Furman image of 1937 Delage Coupe

Michael Furman’s image this week is the 1937 Delage Coupe from his book Curves of Steel.

Our Home page MMR Video this week is back by popular request, it is film maker Wes Anderson’s (Grand Budapest Hotel) short comedy entitled  Castello Cavalcanti.

Paul Newman Print by Chris Osborne

From the  MMR Goods and Services Directory, we display a page from our most recent publication. It features original artwork by Chris Osborne, depicting Paul Newman at his favorite track, Lime Rock, with his favorite car.

Vintage MGA photo and TR3 image

Our Sixties Retrospective continues. We feature our short personal reminiscence of the sixties British competitors, the MGA and the Triumph TR3.

That’s it for this week. We are in Phoenix for the Arizona Concours d’Elegance and we hope to see you there. If not, we’ll send pictures. Suixtil-USA’s Lisa Smith has scouted out the Phoenix-Scottsdale area for suitable restaurants and her guide follows.

Peter Bourassa


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 11, 2014 Comments (0)

Racing Alternatives

Toyota Endurance

Fed up with F1 blather? Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at another series in 2015. The World Endurance Championship (WEC) the purview of Audi in recent years and before them Porsche, was won in 2014 by Toyota. While everyone was keen on watching the two German giants fight it out, the Japanese giant won. They won at Silverstone, Spa, Fuji, Shanghai and finished second at Le Mans behind the winning Audi. Not bad for the guys nobody looked at after Porsche announced they would compete. Audi was second and Porsche was a close third. Next year Nissan join the fray in LMP1. Former F1 drivers Anthony (Ant) Davidson and Sebastian Beuemi, were the winning drivers for Toyota.

GT Cup for Manufacturers

In the GT Cup for Manufacturers portion of the series, Ferrari won the series over Aston and Porsche. In WEC, the cars and drivers are good and the racing is fierce and close. What more could a fan want? TV coverage for more than just Le Mans and possibly COTA for America PLEASE!!! I know we have the Tudor Sports car series, but why should that preclude having coverage of WEC?

Market Shifts

Gooding & Company AuctionFor the past year the dealers we have contacted have complained bitterly about the difficulty they have finding cars to sell. Nevertheless, 2014 will go down as a very good year for people who are selling classic and vintage cars. Unbelievable! has been attached to the selling price on so many auction cars that it has become the new norm. The key word here is “auctions”. No one dealer or person can make a market. But, auctions by introducing the element of entertainment to the sale of vintage cars have virtually become 21st century’s dealers and by the power of their numbers and their marketing presence, they are definitely influencing market pricing.

Barrett Jackson Auction Company

In the final analysis, dealers and auctions have the same goal, satisfying buyers and sellers. Generally both are looking for a fair price or, hopefully, better. The difficulty for sellers is choosing the market channel that best suits their needs. High prices achieved for spectacular cars and the glitz of huge crowds and TV coverage might appear to give auctions an advantage. They have become a spectator sport. But auctions also have a downside for sellers. Not everyone is selling a rare Ferrari. If your car is a second level or lower car, chances are that it won’t be seen on TV. And likely it won’t be presented in prime time. When the majority of people remaining in the room are car dealers looking for a steal, the seller may be thinking that a respected dealer with a good rolodex has something better to offer. Then again many dealers also use auctions to move their slower moving inventory. So it is an interesting game and as we have mentioned before on these pages, it is not one for the inexperienced. If you are considering buying or selling at an auction, you might also consider using one of the seven auction advisers listed in our MMR Goods & Services Directory.

Bell Chapal HelmetIn the 1950s and ‘60s many famous drivers raced wearing an open faced helmet with a visor and face shield. Bell Helmets and Chapal have teamed up to offer vintage racers a redo. The Helmet below is being offered by Hugh Ruthven of The Finish Line. For those of you in the Chicago area, during December only, you can view The Finish Line products at the corner of Cook and Lake Streets in Barrington IL. Or give them a call at 847-382-3020.

Cars of the 1960s

Jaguar XKE, droptop

The sixties were arguably the golden age of sports and GT cars. Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes, Aston, Corvette all delivered models whose desirability may never be matched. When the new Jaguar XKE was introduced in 1961 the motorsports world swooned. I remember them being offered in Canada at around $6K. Ads featuring the coupe in profile became the model for simplicity, beauty, grace, perfection. Someone quoted Enzo Ferrari as saying that the XKE was the most beautiful car ever made. Even if he thought it, it is unlikely he said it. At some point a friend scored a well used press car from Jaguar Canada and we drove it from Montreal to the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport in Ontario.

Driving it there and back that weekend was about 800 mostly highway miles. It was a cold rainy weekend and by its end the gorgeous green coupe was no longer the object of my affections. The seats were stylish but quite uncomfortable. The wipers didn’t work particularly well but worse of all, the car leaked horribly. If memory serves it was at the top of the windshield. First gear didn’t have a syncro and the lights didn’t seem to work that well at night in the rain. The engine leaked oil.

Jaguar XKE in profile

Jaguar eventually addressed the comfort problems by changing the seats and dropping the floor pan to provide a more comfortable angle of access to the pedals. The newer 4.2 engines were also better. For years the pricing for XKEs languished but no more. That original flat floor design tops the chart in XKE pricing. The desirability of the early XKEs appears to be based on the fact that it is exactly that, an early model. Either way, early XKEs are tough to pin down on price but we have seen them recently offered at well north of $200K. Subsequent models equipped with the 4.2 L engine and a full syncromesh transmission are generally more affordable. Go figure.

This week’s Michael Furman image is of a 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS from his book Curves of Steel.

1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS, by Michael Furman

Our Classifieds this week feature Maserati.

Speaking of buying, we encourage readers to support our advertisers. In the coming weeks we will be sharing advertising and buying suggestions from many of our MMR Community supporters.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


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


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