2019 Summer Events Preview

A guide to four major historic car events around the country.

by | Jun 25, 2019 | Shows & Events

Lede Photo Credit: Mike Fiala

2019 Summer Events Preview

A guide to four major historic car events around the country.

by | Jun 25, 2019 | Shows & Events

Lede Photo Credit: Mike Fiala

There’s something about warm, sunny weather (or at least the promise of it) that brings classic cars — and the people who love and care for them — out of garages and storage facilities everywhere. You can find a list of your local events on Hemmings’ website. But for the purposes of this article, let’s think big! Here’s a guide to four major historic car events around the country. In each case, be sure to double check details at the links provided.

A 1968 Chevrolet Astro II and 1959 Stingray  on display at the Concours d'Elegance of America. Photo Credit: Steve Lagreca

A 1968 Chevrolet Astro II and 1959 Stingray on display at the Concours d’Elegance of America. Photo Credit: Steve Lagreca

Concours d’Elegance of America

July 26 to 28 The Inn at St. John’s Plymouth, Michigan

The 41st edition of the concours is on Sunday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Inn at St. John’s, a converted former monastery about 27 miles west of Detroit. Honorees this year include Bill Warner, the man behind the Amelia Island Concours, who is Enthusiast of the Year, and Wayne Carini, host of “Chasing Classic Cars,” who is the Grand Marshal.

Over 300 cars are expected, and among the featured vehicles will be six of the most significant Cadillac V-16s ever manufactured, and what the organizers modestly call the greatest collection of Ferrari road cars, Ferrari sports racers, and Ferrari Formula 1 cars ever displayed. There will be a salute to woodies, and the 100th anniversary of Bentley, along with a category called Detroit Power/Foreign Styling.

Mark Hyman, a classic car dealer in St. Louis, has been attending this event since it was originally held at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, Michigan, and he considers it one of the top three concours in the country, along with Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. “It’s a very Midwestern event, which means it’s very friendly, very relaxed,” he said.

“There’s tons of parking and it’s easy to get in and out of the property,” Hyman added.

“They’ve done a nice job of having a lot of events surrounding it,” Hyman said. The organizers draw cars from the Midwest that typically don’t show up at the coastal concours. Seminars include a Salute to Ferrari Formula One Legends and The Rise and Fall of the Cadillac Tailfin. On July 26, you can participate in a driving tour through the country roads of Wayne and Genesee counties, with a sit-down lunch and a stop at the GM Mobility Test Track; $75 per person.

Hyman recommended one event in particular. “They do a fundraiser on Saturday night, and it’s spectacular. It’s expensive, but the money goes to charity.”

Tickets for Sunday are $45 at the gate and $35 in advance. Parking with a shuttle service is $10, free with advance-purchase tickets. Children 12 and under are free. Learn More.

A Lamborghini Aventador puts on a show for the spectators who line the streets to watch the supercars roar out of the Exotics on Cannery Row event during Monterey Car Week. Photo Credit: Mike Fiala

Monterey Car Week

August 9 to 18 Monterey Peninsula

Think of this as the Mall of America for classic car fans: two anchor events connected by a seemingly endless line of smaller events, all vying for your time. The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 15 to 18 at Weathertech Raceway, and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 18 are the big events.

The key here is time management. Traffic can be terrible and parking difficult, so it’s wise to pick one key event each day and devote yourself to that. Also, dinner and hotel reservations tend to dry up far in advance, so you’ll probably be driving in to the Monterey Peninsula each day.

One thing you might consider is picking a favorite marque and seeing which events, if any, are dedicated to it. Constantin von Kageneck, responsible for Classic Marketing and Communications at Mercedes-Benz USA, has sent more than one Benz to the Pebble concours. His suggestion: “More off-the-radar events that enjoy growing popularity are the Legends of the Autobahn event, hosted by the Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz Clubs on Friday … and the Concours d’LeMons.” Von Kageneck also recommends the Concours on the Avenue on August 13.

All three of his suggestions are free. The Legends of the Autobahn, August 16 at the Club at Pasadera in Monterey, is a salute to German marques. Parking is $20. The Concours on the Avenue, August 13 in Carmel-by-the-Sea, will feature about 175 cars displayed along 18 blocks of Ocean Avenue.

The Concours d’LeMons on August 17, at Laguna Grande Park in Seaside, proudly calls itself “an ugly oil stain on Monterey Car Week.” The organizers say “Hoopties, Rust Buckets, Misfits, Mistakes, and the worst of the automotive world” compete for one last moment of glory before the scrapyard. It’s getting so popular, perspective entrants must now submit photos of their cars so that only the “worst of the worst” are chosen. The website says: “The best part is that the show is free for participants and spectators, so you’ll get exactly what you pay for.”

Let’s hope the same can be said for the biggest event of the week, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. General admission tickets are $375, or $450 if ordered after August 1. That includes parking and shuttle service to the event; children 12 and under are free with an adult. Tickets that include meals and other amenities start at $825. Featured classes this year include a Bentley Centennial, a Zagato Centennial, Bugatti Grand Prix & Touring Cars, and Historic Hot Rod “Cover Cars.” Learn More.

At the Pebble Beach Concours, the entrants’ clothes often match the panache of their cars. Photo Credit: Mike Fiala

At the Pebble Beach Concours, the entrants’ clothes often match the panache of their cars. Photo Credit: Mike Fiala

“An often-overlooked event is also the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance on Thursday that sets out near the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center on 17-Mile Drive and runs a 70-mile round-trip, usually down toward Big Sur and back,” Von Kageneck said. “This is a great event to get up VERY early, head over to the visitor parking lots on the Pebble Beach grounds and walk the lineup of cars before they depart on the tour.” He recommends that you be there around 6:30 a.m. for maximum impact and fewer crowds.

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in Laguna Seca salutes the 50th anniversary of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) sports car racing series, among more than a dozen historic classes. A four-day pass is $170 in advance, $190 at the gate. Tickets per day range from $40 to $100 in advance, $60 to $120 at the gate (Saturday being the priciest). Parking and paddock access are included; ages 15 or younger, free. Your guide to all the week’s events.

If you’re wondering why The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering isn’t included here — despite its headline status — that’s because it’s so exclusive, tickets are sold by a lottery (which has already passed).

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A Dodge Challenger, 1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air cars at the Woodward Dream Cruise. Photo Credit: Steve Lagreca

A Dodge Challenger, 1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air cars at the Woodward Dream Cruise. Photo Credit: Steve Lagreca

Woodward Dream Cruise

August 17, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Woodward Avenue north of Detroit.

What city could possibly want to celebrate a traffic jam? Detroit, of course — and when the “traffic” consists of about 40,000 hot rods, muscle cars, and other classics, you can expect about 1.5 million people to show up to watch.

That’s the estimate of the crowd size for the Woodward Dream Cruise, which started in 1995 as a fundraiser for a soccer field in Ferndale, Michigan. This will be the 25th anniversary cruise. It takes place along a 16-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue (the location of the first mile of concrete-paved roadway in the country) between Pontiac and Royal Oak just north of Detroit. The Detroit Free Press lists the intersection of 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak, and the east side of the intersection with 9 Mile Road in Ferndale as two of the best viewing areas.

“Think of it as Cars and Coffee that moves,” said a recent attendee.”Thousands of classic cars pack Woodward cruising bumper to bumper on both sides of the street, revving their engines. If you can hear above all of that, eavesdrop on the drivers talking about their cars to each other through open windows. It’s a treasure.”

Besides the parade itself, each of the communities along the route will stage events in conjunction with it. For example, the night before, from 6:30 to 7:30 on Friday, the City of Berkley hosts its CruiseFest along 12 Mile Road between the intersections of Coolidge and Greenfield. And the car parade is followed by live music from bands along the route.

The Dream Cruise is alcohol-free — for the spectators as well as the drivers — and a heavy police presence makes sure it stays that way! Admission is free (of course) and it couldn’t hurt to get there about 7 a.m. to stake out a prime spot. A folding chair or a blanket would come in handy. It’s also worth checking to see if the air-conditioned SMART buses will be running along Woodward on the open lanes not used by the cruise, as they did last year. Find Route information.

For the best guide to parking and other insiders’ tips, try the Free Press website. Learn More.

The celebratory Bugatti group photo on the Sam Posey Straight of Lime Rock Park. Photo Credit: Brian McCarthy

The celebratory Bugatti group photo on the Sam Posey Straight of Lime Rock Park. Photo Credit: Brian McCarthy

Lime Rock Park Historic Festival

August 29 to September 2 Lakeville, Connecticut

You know you’re getting old when a track holds a historic race honoring an event that you attended when it originally took place. If you have a significant other or child whom you want to introduce to racing but aren’t sure how they’ll take it, this is a great entry point. The races are short, the cars aren’t that noisy (not all of them, anyway), and the setting is beautiful: the rolling hills of northwestern Connecticut. In fact, the drive up from the New York area on Route 7 is delightful by itself. You’ll pass not one, but two covered bridges — Bull’s Bridge and the Cornwall Covered Bridge.

The track has no grandstands, but who needs them? Just spread out on the hillsides overlooking the main straight or the first few corners. A spectator bridge links both viewing sites, so you can try one and then the other. And paddock access is free, so you can get a close-up view of all the cars. On Thursday, there’s a parade of historic cars through local towns ending with a fair in Falls Village. Racing takes place on Friday, Saturday, and Monday of the Labor Day weekend, because of a local ordinance banning racing on Sundays. Although it’s “Gentlemen, stop your engines” that day, the track stages its own concours on Sunday, along with a classic car auction.

The grand marshal this year will be former Formula One driver and Le Mans winner Stefan Johansson of Sweden. The 50th anniversary of the Formula Ford will be saluted, along with Morgan, a marque celebrating its 110th anniversary.

A full weekend pass is $125 in advance, or $165 at the gate. Lodging is scarce in the surrounding area, so unless you plan to camp (reservations needed if you do), you might want a flex ticket good for either Saturday or Labor Day, $50 in advance or $65 at the gate. Sunday is $25 in advance, $40 at the gate. Children 16 and under are free if accompanied by an adult. From I-95, take Route 7 to Route 112. Learn More.

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