Top-10 stories of 2017: No. 2 — Concours chaos
Just four months after presenting another spectacular array of vehicles, this time with an ultra-valuable, rare and rivet-seamed 1936 Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic taking Best of Show honors, organizers of the Arizona Concours d’Elegance announced that their event would not be back at the acclaimed and intimate setting of the Arizona Biltmore resort.
The issue after brief but spectacular four-year run, they said, was an inability to find enough sponsorship money to keep the show going.
The collector car world was stunned. The Arizona event had provided a glorious start to what had become known as Arizona Car Week, which now once again becomes Arizona Auction Week. The concours also provided an impetus to other collector car events — seminars, panel presentations, youth programs — being staged that opening weekend.
Several weeks after the concours’ demise, Scuderia Southwest, which stages a monthly cars-and-coffee style Motorsports Gathering event and a Festival of Speed in Scottsdale, and the Concours in the Hills at nearby Fountain Hills, announced a new event to take the Arizona Concours’ place, Concorso Arizona, and said it had secured a spot on January 13 at Salt Rivers Fields at Talking Stick, where Russo and Steele stages its Arizona collector car auction.
The idea was sort of doing an Arizona version of Monterey’s Concorso Italiano, though with an international rather than strictly Italian-based field of cars.
But after just a few weeks, the group said it had postponed its plans “indefinitely.”
While the collapse of such events might have seemed centered in Arizona, that wasn’t the case. Concours events in Kansas City, New Jersey and southwestern Michigan also have folded, and a new concours announced to launch at the famed Greenbrier resort in West Virginia didn’t happen, although it is on the calendar for 2018.
Yet another new concours, planned near Atlanta, had to be abandoned for the time being when an interstate highway overpass collapsed because of a fire, causing weeks of traffic nightmares and the event being pushed to early June 2018.
On the other hand, some new events cropped up during 2017. New England got a new concours in held conjunction with the Barrett-Jackson auction in Connecticut, a new concours was held at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, and the national Studebaker museum in South Bend, Indiana, announced plans to launch a concours d’elegance in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Amelia Island Concours demonstrated the flexibility that has been one of the event’s features, though usually with the inclusion of wonderfully creative car classes. When stormy weather was forecast to swamp the popular concours on the Sunday in March when it was to be held, rather than cancel, organizers announced with just a few days’ notice that the sweeping event would be pushed forward a day to Saturday.
Though there was undoubtedly scrambling behind the scenes, for the thousands of spectators, the show went on without hitch.2 comments