Audrain’s Newport Concours Debuts Their First 30 Under 30 Class

An interview with the winner of the 30 Under 30 class

by | Nov 1, 2019 | Journals

Photo Credit: Josh Sweeney

Audrain’s Newport Concours Debuts Their First 30 Under 30 Class

An interview with the winner of the 30 Under 30 class

by | Nov 1, 2019 | Journals

Photo Credit: Josh Sweeney

Debuting this year at the 2019 Concours d’Elegance during Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week was an exclusive 30 Under 30 class. This event was held on Sunday, October 6 at the Breakers.

The 30 Under 30 class was structured for enthusiasts under 30 years of age who invested less than $30k into their vehicle. This category is relevant on numerous levels. First, it highlights the idea that you don’t need to spend a fortune getting your car to Concours quality, but rather with smart use of funds, an essential vehicle in your life can park on the lawn amongst world-class cars. It also acknowledges the future of the collector car world is in the hands of the younger enthusiasts. With its unique 30 Under 30 class, Audrain’s Newport Concours is catering to a portion of the hobby that will one day become the majority of stakeholders at future events.

It is no secret that attrition is a concern amongst veteran collectors, with the focus of younger enthusiasts aimed in a different direction than the conservative set. Gatherings such as Radwood, the Malaise Motors Facebook group and various other outlets are signaling a shift in interests. Although it is not a complete about-face, it would be baseless and unjust to categorize all younger auto aficionados as only appreciating the cars they knew from their youth. Additionally, the prevalence of social media has made it easier for anyone with internet access to become a part of the hobby, regardless of age or status.

When it comes to that dreaded dystopian idea that the future of the car is strictly autonomous due to the lack of interest from Generation Z, fear not. The good news on a broader scale is that, while more coming-of-age drivers are electing to forego their licenses for ride-sharing apps, a higher percentage are taking an interest in the industry, guaranteeing the stability of the hobby.

We took a moment to speak with Carter Kelly Cramer, the winner of the 30 Under 30 class at Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week. Cramer has participated in The Quail at Monterey Car Week and has the highest video views on the Petrolicious site. He shared some insights regarding his car, an Inca orange 1976 BMW 2002 he’s had since he was 16-years-old, the current state of younger enthusiasts and the future of the hobby.

Inca orange 1976 BMW 2002

Collier AutoMedia: It’s been quite the extended road trip you’ve had with your 2002, which I understand from watching your recent Instagram Stories you bought in 2011 when you were 16, correct?

Carter Kelly Cramer: I bought the car when I was 16 – I couldn’t drive past 9 PM because I still had my junior driver’s license!

CAM: Let’s go back to get a baseline… how did you become interested in cars? Was it inherited at birth, with your brain pre-wired for automotive action? Or was it an acquired taste later on in life?

CKC: So, my family didn’t really care about cars. We always had somewhat cool cars (BMW, Audi, Mercedes), but it’s not like my dad had a Ferrari or a Jaguar. However, I always loved cars. I knew the make and model of any car from when I was young. When I was 12 my friend’s dad took me for a ride in his Ferrari F430 – from that moment on I didn’t just like cars – I WAS OBSESSED!

CAM: How did you land on the 2002 as a car you wanted to build up? Was it your intention from the start to take your car to the level it’s at today? And I know project cars are never really finished, but is it?

CKC: So I actually thought the 2002 was ugly when I first saw it. I was playing Gran Turismo, and they had a 2002 Turbo – I said: “what the heck is that thing?” Then my friend got a 1976 2002 finished in Fjord Blue. I thought it was actually pretty cool looking in person. He took me for a ride, and I really wanted one… badly. We went driving through all the twisty roads of backcountry Greenwich. I couldn’t get over how well this car handled and how quickly you could go barreling into turns in a car that was designed in the 1960s. My goal from the start was to make the car what it is today, but obviously, I couldn’t do it at first. It took me 10 years to get the car where it is today, and it’s still not done! I have a laundry list of things I want to do to it. Jeffrey Prisco told me one time that old cars are never finished – part of the fun is working on them! Which I agree with.

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CAM: This is nearly an impossible question to answer in brief, but what have you learned from the process of building the 2002 from when you got it to where it stands today?

CKC: What I’ve learned is that great things take time, and you have to be patient. I never won a trophy or an award for my car until a year ago, and it really bothered me. But I realized that all the trophies I’ve won in the past year haven’t been because of the car, but more so because of the story. A story of setting a goal that might be out of reach, but working hard and bettering yourself to reach that goal. I’ve also learned not to let others influence your car. If you like your wheels or the color of your car – that’s the way it should be. It’s your car, not theirs.

CAM: You’ve won the 30 Under 30 class at Audrain and were awarded with a similar accolade at the 2019 Turtle Invitational — the Young Enthusiast Award. What does winning those titles mean to you? Would you consider yourself a good representative of today’s younger enthusiast?

CKC: Winning both awards feels like a dream. I am just so happy that others enjoy my story and my car as much as I do. Being able to drive my car across the stage [at Audrain] with two of the biggest icons in the automotive world – Jay Leno and Donald Osbourne complimenting my car. I can’t stop watching the video. It feels like a dream. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a good representative, but I’m glad that I’ve inspired others with my story and my car – it’s really cool. I like when people tell me that I’ve inspired them to buy an old car and work on it themselves or participate in car events.

CAM: With today’s technology giving people more mediums to enjoy their hobbies than they know what to do with, how would you suggest the collective Concours class proceed into the future, ensuring they capture the shorter attention span of today’s digitally-minded enthusiast?

CKC: I think 30 Under 30 at Audrain was one of the most clever things I’ve seen in a long time for the Concours world. As what Jay Leno says – it’s dominated by old guys with gray hair, and I couldn’t agree more. It was really cool being the first person to ever win it. I think all Concours should have this class – Pebble Beach, Amelia Island. It’s a new generation of car enthusiasts and although we can’t afford a Daytona or 73 Carrera RS yet, we will be able to afford it one day – probably when we have gray hair!

CAM: What part of the hobby’s future do you see yourself playing?

CKC: I hope I can inspire others to collect, restore, drive and participate with vintage cars. I like new cars, but they’re too reliable and predictable. With an old car – it’s always something. It keeps it exciting. Also, older cars are harder to find and more unique. I want to see more young people with vintage cars.

CAM: Anything further to end on?

CKC: I think one thing to note is that having a cell phone for today’s generation makes having an old car less intimidating. We have so many car groups on Facebook. The BMW 2002 group, for example, has 20,000 members. You can call AAA or go on YouTube and look for similar issues if you’re stuck on the side of the road. I’ve done it a few times, and it really makes vintage car ownership far less intimidating.

Jay Leno, who spearheaded the unique category, said it best as Carter drove up to the stage, “Our first driver without gray hair, ladies and gentlemen. Ok, this is the winner of the 30 under 30 [class].”

The next Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week is scheduled for October 1-4, 2020. Mark your calendars, you won’t want to miss this event.

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