The 10th annual St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance is poised to enthrall at the bay
The redolent aroma of aged leather. The rich texture of authentic fine-grain wood. The timeless sophistication of artisan-crafted coachwork, featuring brilliantly sculpted lines and contours that echo the vestiges of a time when quality, elegance and inspiration were the only things that mattered. These are the touchstones of a rare coach-built automobile, and there is nothing else that can compare with experiencing these works of art firsthand and up-close as they deliver you to another place and time. On Sept. 25, the Eastern Shore will again enjoy the rarefied privilege of showcasing the best of these testaments to human ingenuity and passion at the 10th annual St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance Motor Car event at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
Make no mistake: The St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance is as much an auto show as Buckingham Palace is a house. Continuing in the grand tradition of the 67-year-old Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the St. Michaels event will assemble 45 of the finest automobiles that exist anywhere on the planet, some of which are valued upward of $10 million.
The Concours d’Elegance got its start nearly a century ago, when the finest coach-builders (carrosseries) gathered with renowned couturiers in the Parc de Paris to put on a grand display of the finest human achievement in design for both automobiles and women’s fashion. The St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance Motor Car event will do likewise, with not only these miraculous automobiles but also an array of women’s haute couture and a collection of classic wooden speedboats splayed opulently over the verdant campus of the Maritime Museum, right off the bay, at Fog Cove Landing. The only thing that will be missing from this resplendent event will be Jay Gatsby himself.
“The Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach [California] is considered the Super Bowl among the events of this kind around the United States. If that’s true — and it is — then it would be fair to say that the St. Michaels event is the Pro Bowl,” said George Walish, chairman and founder of the St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance. “I consider it a true privilege to be associated with it.”
Walish launched the event in 2007, following a 30-year executive career in the automotive industry, because there had been no event of its kind in a corridor that stretched all the way from Radnor, Pa., to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
“That just seemed wrong to me,” shared Walish, a resident of Oxford, Md. “I’ve been coming to the Eastern Shore every year since I was a kid, so I knew this area was ideal for a show like this. Fortunately, I’ve received invaluable help from people like the Honorable Judge John C. North II and Gail and Henry Petronis, without whom I doubt I could have ever gotten this off projectthe ground.”
The process to qualify for this prestigious event begins in April, when a two-person executive committee sends out invitations with applications to potentially qualifying automobiles situated all over the country. After the applications are reviewed and approved, the would-be entrants receive an official invitation. All qualifying automobiles must have classic status — meaning, each must be at least 50 years old — and they must have already won senior awards at bona fide competitive events. The qualifying automobiles fall into two basic categories: pre-World War II Grand Classic coach-built automobiles and significant postwar sports cars, which must have manufactured between 1945 and 1966.
For the 10th anniversary event, there will be approximately 30 Grand Classics and 15 significant postwar sports cars, representing such legendary nameplates as Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Duesenberg, Lancia, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and yes, even a V16 Cadillac. They will be judged in 12 distinct categories, including special awards for Best of Show, People’s Choice and the Honorary Chairman’s Award.
The event is open to the public on Sunday, Sept. 25, but for the entrants, it is a weekend-long affair. As perched in its bayside venue at the Maritime Museum, the 10th annual Concours d’Elegance truly represents a unique confluence of quintessential beauty, both natural and man-made.
For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.smcde.org.
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