“Vegas Autofest was created to break the stale car show mold,” the event’s website informs.
And how would the hosts propose to refresh the auto show format?
“… by uniting clubs, enthusiasts, creators, and drivers in a visually striking location to share our collective knowledge and passion.
“We invite over 300 owners of the finest exotic, muscle, vintage, and custom vehicles and stage them against the dramatic backdrop of the Red Rock Country Club,” the website text continues. “Food, beverages, and live music are also part of the experience. We’re proud to bring together great community and astounding machines for a one-of-a-kind Las Vegas events.”
Indeed, we saw a couple of dazzling and fully feathered Vegas showgirls wandering the show field September 18 at the third annual Autofest.
Diversity could have been the theme of the event, that term applying to the vehicles on display and to the people who had come to see them. In addition to those showgirls, we saw people of all age groups, including many young families of a variety of hues, the sort of audience that car show and concours organizers want but rarely seem to successfully attract.
The setting was concours like, on the fairway of a fancy private country club golf course, but the atmosphere was local car show, albeit a local car show with some amazing exotics, an enjoyable gathering of vintage Volkswagen vans, and even the Ferrari P4 Ford v Ferrari movie car.
Among other things you likely won’t find at a concours d’elegance are a big import sedan covered in a Dennis the Menace wrap, a Jeep Gladiator still covered in the dust from an off-road excursion, and an admission fee of only $10, with all of that money earmarked for the i.m.perfect, a non-profit that provides programs and experiences for special-needs individuals over the age of 18.
Another thing we saw was a car owner inviting curious children to sit behind the steering wheel of his Factory Five 427 Shelby Cobra.
Wes Young and a couple of his buddies were sitting on lawn chairs a few yards behind their colorful Cobras, and when a dad and his young daughter were admiring Young’s blue machine, he got up from his chair and offered the girl a seat in the car.
He said he and his buddies often put kids in their cars at shows, explaining that they enjoy their cars, driving the daylights out of them on the road, and sharing them at shows.
Young remembered when he first fell for Carroll Shelby’s roadsters. He grew up in San Diego and, at age 14, saw the visiting Hollywood Cobra Club staging an event in the Padres baseball field parking lot before their return trip to the LA area.
Decades later, after his retirement, his wife reminded him he’d always wanted a Cobra, and she suggested he finally get one. He opted for the Factory Five version, in part, he said, because real 427s are million-dollar cars, and in part because even if he could afford one, he’d never risk driving a real 427 in traffic on public roads.