7 Events to Attend When Banned from a Concours
Say (hypothetically, of course) that you’re an automotive writer who wrote a piece that concours people got offended by and then banned you from their event. There’d be nothing to write about anymore, would there? One could never possibly find anything else interesting in the entire car hobby, right? Of course you could. BoldRide presents seven events to attend instead: Gould’s Microcar Event:
July 12, 13 and 14
Charles Gould had been collecting cars since the age of 12. When I wrote about his event in the Boston Globe in 2002, he suggested that he switched from Jaguars and Corvettes to microcars because “[n]obody drove the cars, and there was more knowledge about wax and polish than about mechanical components.”
Gould has been running his microcar event for 18 years now, and it’s literally abuzz with activity. The schedule includes a 100 mile trip to Mount Wachusett in central Massachusetts, and a lawn event at the Larz Anderson museum in Brookline, which includes rides in a mind-blowingly eclectic array of mini and microcars from around the world. An event not to be missed, especially if you have kids.
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days:
July 19, 20 and 21
I went to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Vintage Motorcycle Days in 2008 for the first time. Before arriving, I met up with my friend Scott Cavalari in the pouring rain for breakfast. He’d been the day before and said to me, “Look: this thing is unlike anything you’ve ever been to before. It’s like being in a Dr. Seuss book.”
Turns out, he was right. Park yourself in one spot on the grounds of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio and there’s no end of the wild and wonderful motorcycles you’ll see. Scott Flying Squirrels, Yankee Z’s, Rokon Trailbreakers, it’s all there, and most of it’s running. For the attention-deficient, there’s an auction, a swap meet, a bike show, trials riding demonstrations, on-track racing, off-road racing, a fuel economy challenge, and a parade of motorcycle racing greats from every era. It’s the entire hobby compressed into one weekend.
AACA Eastern Division National Fall Meet:
October 9, 10, 11, 12
You might not know it by its full title. Most people just refer to it as “Hershey,” as in “You’ve been to Hershey, right?” It takes place on the grounds of Hershey Park and the Giant Center, and it’s ground zero for the vintage car hobbyists. For me, the big draw is the swap meet, which is billed as the biggest in the country. There are vendor tents for the big aftermarket players placed right next to some little one-man shop that produces nothing but reproductions of vintage travel stickers to put on your Woody’s window.
The car corral is massive. It’s not only a good place to find a cool vintage car of your own, it’s a place to learn more about what the value of a particular car really is. You won’t see one early 1970s Torino for sale, you’ll find three or four, and usually one that fits your budget. I still kick myself for not buying at least one car at this corral every year I attended.
After my rant on concours last week, I guess it’s surprising that Concorso Italiano ends up on the list, but there’s a whole different vibe here. I mentioned in my article that there’s a dedicated parking area for attendees with vintage cars which is just as interesting as what’s on the show field. But the thing I like about Concorso Italiano is that it’s inclusive. You want your car on the field? Pay the registration fee and it’s done, even if it’s not Italian.
You’ll see some of the rarest, most beautiful, most expensive Italian cars in the world, parked in relatively close proximity to some pretty beat-up Fiats and Lancias, and that’s the charm of this event. The vendor’s midway is always full of interesting stuff and there’s a fashion show in case you want to ogle attractive women.
AACA Grand National:
June 27, 28 and 29
The AACA Grand National is hosted by a different local chapter of the AACA every year. The 2013 event takes place in Moline, Illinois, right on the Mississippi River. AACA Grand Nationals bring out the best cars in the country vying for Junior, Senior and Grand National awards. I attended the event in Buffalo several years ago, and was blown away by the quality of the cars there.
What’s nice for the spectator and the car owner alike is that the AACA seems fairly specific about how the cars are arranged. There’s plenty of room around the cars so that there’s no danger of a stray door hitting another car, and it’s not overrun with hangers-on blocking the view of the sheetmetal. If you’re really interested in seeing some of the country’s finest cars, the AACA Grand National is the place to do it.
Carlisle Import and Kit Car Nationals:
May 16, 17 and 18
Carlisle has an event for every taste, but the Import and Kit Car Nationals lumps anything not made here into one giant weekend. You’ll have to wait until 2014 to attend, because it takes place much earlier in the year that most car events do.
There’s a show field, a swap meet and an autocross to keep you occupied for long stretches of the day. I love that the folks encourage competition between car clubs attending, for the most elaborate club tents on the field. If you’re a fan of one of the orphan brands like Saab or Opel (at least its an orphan here in the United States), it’s the place where you’re likely to meet a ton of people who think the way you do.
September 20, 21 and 22
Car show? Northern Vermont? Really?
British Invasion is a phenomenal event focused solely on the cars of Great Britain — most of which, save for Land Rover, Jaguar, Rolls and Bentley, haven’t been sold here for generations. If the weather’s good — which can be dicey in Northern New England in the early fall — 600 cars have been known to show up. That must make up at least half of all the British cars left in New England.
The cars are, of course, the stars here at British Invasion, but the folks that put this event on really encourage some amazing displays. Don’t be surprised if you find an entire British car repair garage on the show field. This, and the fact that you can get honest-to-God British beer on site makes it worth the drive through the Green Mountain State.