Labor day is the symbolic end of summer, and is a great last long weekend to spend at the beach. However, if you do so, you miss one of the great vintage gearhead long weekends in the country. And we ironically have to thank a local ordinance in northwestern Connecticut. In a nutshell, you can’t make a bunch of noise on Sunday which would normally be race day. As a result, there are four days of fun. Friday is practice, Saturday is more practice and qualifying, Sunday is a great car show and Concours, and Monday is race day.
And by the way, the club corral and parking lot has several hundred more interesting cars and at least a few dozen motorcycles over the weekend. And don’t forget vendors from fine arts to poor parts. If you just came and walked through these areas each day, you could be exposed to an amazing variety of vehicles, talk with lots of interesting and knowledgeable people, and go home satisfied. But that is not why you go to the Vintage Festival…
You go for many things, but at the center is the eclectic collection of vintage race cars that get used as they were intended during the weekend. They covered 8 decades. That is 80 years of history, innovation, technology, competition, and human drama, suddenly contained within a few acres. Even if you are not into cars, this is a living, breathing, please look/smell/listen/touch museum. If you are a gearhead, it is much more. For many of us, the competition version of our car is in the paddock. Several cool street versions are in the club corral or the parking lot. A museum quality example is in the show on Sunday.
Speaking of Sunday, there are few concours like this one. The cars are displayed on the racetrack. That’s 2 miles of cars. Cars that include mult-million dollar examples and some well-patina’d daily drivers. Good stuff all. This year, there was a noticeable absence of Bentley and Rolls Royce contingents, so perhaps the gray weather scared them off. Odd for products from England. This was an anniversary for Jaguar, so they were out in force. I have to say that one of my personal top 3 of the show was the stunning black Jaguar MkII. The paint was a deep mirror, and the interior was perfect tan leather and burled walnut. Spectacular.
There were two other cars in my top 3. The first of those was an Alpina BMW 3.0 CS in silver. It was another car with paint that looked like it cost more than some cars on display. The whole car was flawless, and driven. It was in the club corral on Saturday. Bonus points then. The final vehicle in my top three was the beautiful VW panel bus of Toni Fishman. Not exactly a car, but I spent a bunch of time admiring it, and speaking with Toni who is also an early Porsche nut. Go figure.
Then there was a very personal surprise. In the corral was my old 93 1/2 911T that went to Vermont several years ago. It is a track car now, but looked great and I got to hear how the new owner is still enjoying the car. It is a small world, and you need to live right. I am of course passing over many many great race cars in particular, but perhaps they need their own review….Can’t wait for next year.