In Tampa Bay, they celebrate cars and cigars

Cigar City Concours d’Elegance held on Veterans Day weekend

A couple of years ago, television producer and car junkie Vic Piano had an idea. He had been to all of the major concours events around the country and he wanted to add another event to the long list of Florida car shows like Amelia Island, Boca Raton, Lake Mirror, Gasparilla, Ocean Reef and the others.

He came up with the Cigar City Concours, on Veterans Day weekend, noting the city’s ancient history as the cigar production capital of the USA.  

The first one, in 2018, was good, but the 2019 event was better.  Better because it was moved to a more suitable location, the Tampa Bay Downs horse racing track, and because a year’s experience had taught valuable lessons.

Event poster by artist JoePep

The second annual invitation-only event also featured beautiful logo and placard artwork by renowned artist and cartoonist Joe Pepitone, who goes by JoePep to avoid confusion with the Yankees baseball legend.

But, as with any event like this, it was the cars that counted, and the second annual had lots of variety across the decades and across the styles and classes, nothing with a brass radiator this time, but lots of Art Deco classics on up to 2019.

When the word gets out around the Tampa Bay car nut community, we think this event will grow and prosper, because it was so relaxed, friendly and unhurried all day long.

Our nominee for Most Interesting Display was this one, parked in front of a gorgeous first-in-class-winning Willy-Knight sedan (above), a crank-operated cutaway that shows how a Willys sleeve-valve engine works. Probably worth more than the car

Jim McCraw

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  • Vic Piano
    November 14, 2019, 6:08 AM

    Jim, thanks for attending the second annual Cigar City Concours d’Elegance, and for getting the word out about the event, with your excellent coverage. Looking forward to seeing you again in 2020.

    Vic Piano

  • Joe Pep
    November 15, 2019, 11:17 AM

    Jim, as I always say to parents who have there children at a car show or a concours d’elegance. It’s a out door history lesson on four wheels! At the Cigar City Conours d"Elgance you are seeing the best in automotive, like you had mentioned in your editorial, Mr. Piano’s event will grow and prosper. Happy Motoring… JoepeP!

  • James Turner
    November 16, 2019, 5:15 PM

    This was not a Concours d’ elegance! Very disorganized for the second year in a row. Vic Piano is definitely over his head and does not know how to run an event of this caliber. Owners were not taken care of! Over-Hyped. Very few cars, mostly hot rods and common cars you’d see at any typical small car show. The Chairman’s awards were given only to friends and assistants to said chairman, guess these "special" awards were all too aptly named. The rest of the cars got a little card like a kindergartener would get in school. Only 5 vendors were present. There was no mention of what charity was receiving the proceeds from the event, so one can only think it was going into Vic’s pocket. There was no pomp and circumstance, no music, and no winners’ cars paraded across the stage. Do not waste your time attending this show in the future, unless you are good with paying a fair amount of money for a highly mislabelled regular car show.

    • Vic Piano@James Turner
      November 17, 2019, 6:24 PM

      Wow, I have no problem receiving constructive criticism from individuals that are experienced and noted in any particular field of endeavor, in this case creating and staging a Concours d’Elegance. Mr. Turner made no mention of his expertise in this particular field. He did however cast aspersions toward the event and me personally, all with no factual basis. Apparently, he attended the inaugural Cigar City Concours d’Elegance and must have felt compelled to attend the second annual event. Now he is the quintessential Monday Morning Quarterback as well as making statements that are untrue.
      I would ask all who are reading the overall positive assessment of the second annual Cigar City Concours, to not be put off by Mr. Turner’s negativity but to come and see for yourselves. The third annual Cigar City Concours d’Elegance will once again be held at Tampa Bay Downs on November 15th, 2020.

  • Jim Acevedo
    November 17, 2019, 11:47 AM

    Took a ride to Tampa Bay Dows for this car show and I must say I was a bit disappointed. Don’t believe the name. I was expecting a field full of really Quality automobiles and I was very disappointed. A very weak automotive show. This is a regular car show with a very Hyped name. I did not stay for the awards but, from the comments I have heard the automotive owner were not happy. I heard that the winner only received a certificate.
    My over all assessment is…NEEDS A TON OF IMPROVEMENT.

  • Jane Malok
    November 19, 2019, 9:28 AM

    I am with Jim and James, this show was very lackluster and didn’t live up to Concours standards. The program didn’t have the vehicle’s providence in it nor pictures of the vehicles in it. While walking the show field I also noticed that there were no bathroom trailers and the only food option was overpriced and looked terrible forcing us to leave during the middle of the event to go find a restaurant for lunch. I agree there was only a hand full of Quality automobiles and other Concours events in the area were much better. Mr. Piano instead of bashing your criticizer it would be better for you to take their comments to heart and improve your event. I may have overlooked it but I also did not see nor hear of what charity was being repreasnted and supported from the proceeds of this show.

    • Vic Piano@Jane Malok
      November 19, 2019, 12:55 PM

      As I stated previously, I am always open to constructive criticism however, I don’t consider casting aspersions, making statements and accusations with no factual basis, as constructive. To address some of your concerns, there were in fact two six passenger golf carts running a bathroom shuttle to and from the Club House for the duration of the event. The food featured was Cajun
      cuisine although they did offer the standard fair of hot dogs and hamburgers as well. As for the pricing of the food, they were in line with other events in the area. Apparently you received a brochure when you got the to event, but you overlooked the inside back cover that list the four charities we support. As for photos of, and information about, the cars that were featured at the second annual Cigar City Concours d’Elegance, you’ll have to wait for next years program as we could not predict every car that would be on the Concours far enough in advance to have the program printed in time. If you have any valid suggestions as to how we might improve the Cigar City Concours d’Elegance in the future, I would appreciate hearing from you, as we want to make every effort to present an ever improving and evolving Concours d’Elegance.

      • Donald Hornsbrook@Vic Piano
        November 21, 2019, 11:31 AM

        This car show was very small and run of the mill, and I must say I was very disappointed. I Don’t believe the name it was in any stretch a Concours d Elegance. I was expecting to see unique, one-offs, brass cars, Cadillacs, Packards, Bentleys, and Rolls. Instead, there were mostly hot rods, kit cars, replicas, and run of the mill everyday cars. I heard the owners were not happy with the awards. Winners of car shows should recieve more recognition, not a handshake and a paper certificate. This would be a great little car show to have during race season at the track.
        I also think more food options would be nice, and it wouldn’t be hard to do with all the food trucks in town! If you need more help during the event contact the local AACA and other car clubs and see if you can get some volunteers. The event should be renamed to the Cigar City car show!!

      • Jane Malok@Vic Piano
        November 22, 2019, 8:20 AM

        Vic, I don’t think your open to constructive criticism by the tone and verbiage of your replies to honest opinions of other spectators. I believe the exact opposite and that you will continue on the path you are on. Your response to my comments sparked me to investigate the Cigar City Concours further. First, I must apologize about my comment on what charity was being represented as the last two pages of my program were stuck together and as I stated in my earlier comment I said, " I may have overlooked it but I also did not see nor hear of what charity was being represented and supported from the proceeds of this show." This comment was not meant to cast any aspersions! Second, The quality of the vehicles the first year appears to be of a much higher caliber. The only golf carts I saw were riding around the show field, and there was no mention you had to go to the main clubhouse. Gasparilla Concours, The Palm Event, Hilton Head Concours, Amelia Island Concours, and Boca Raton Concourse were able to have the entrants in their programs. Once again my commnets were vaild suggestions entrants and spectators do not wan one food choice or to have too ride a golf cart a quarter of a mile to use the bathroom. I would love an oppertunity to help you grow this event in the future!