Only a few months ago, brothers Ken and Byron DeFoor thought it would be fun to create a concours d’elegance event in the West Village neighborhood of downtown Chattanooga, where many of their real estate holdings are located. They chose the Chattanooga-based Erlanger Neuroscience Institute as their charity and got on their phones to make it happen.
This past weekend, it happened, and it was pretty darn spectacular for their first time out.
With major sponsorships from Chattanooga’s Volkswagen, Coca-Cola, GM, and Atlanta-based Porsche, the event featured an entire parking lot full of vintage VWs, a Porsche party with a new-product reveal, and an excellent display of five historic Corvettes from museums.
There were five elements to the weekend. For the racers, there were two days of time trials along the banks of the Tennessee River over a 1.5-mile course with a 180-degree turn and two sets of chicanes. (Two course workers were injured when a mechanical failure caused one of the time-trial cars to crash.)
For the marine-minded, there was a display of vintage boats, moored in the river.
For enthusiast drivers, there were two road rallies through the Tennessee hills, starting and finishing at Coker Tire, the world’s largest supplier of vintage-car tires and a Chattanooga institution.
There were two days of cars-and-coffee at the headquarters Westin hotel parking lot and other lots scattered around the hotel.
The concours ran all day Saturday, not on some nearby golf course, like Amelia Island, St. John’s, Pebble Beach and others, but on the streets around the Westin for five blocks.
There were celebrities all over the place, starting with British racing greats, grand marshal Brian Redman, racer and TV host David Hobbs, and Alain de Cadenet, American racers Bill Elliott, Tanner Foust, Jim Pace and Dorsey Schroeder, who ran the time trials, car collector and vintage racer Brian Johnson of the rock group AC/DC, TV personalities Keith Martin, Donald Osborne, Barry Meguiar, and Wayne Carini, and honored collector Corky Coker, along with the first lady of motorsports, Linda Vaughn.
The quality and variety of the cars on display first time was out excellent, many of them prize winners from previous events, all put together by journalist, author, hot-rodder, museum exhibition curator and all-around car nut, Ken Gross.
We can’t wait to see what this team comes up with next year.