ELEGANCE AND HORSEPOWER COME TOGETHER AT THE HILTON HEAD ISLAND MOTORING FESTIVAL.
Since its inception, the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance has gone from strong to stronger. What began as a well-curated but modest collection of classic cars has unfolded into a week of events both on and off the island. There are still the classic cars, of course, but these days you’ll find them among a slew of special exhibitions and guest appearances from some of the biggest names in the automotive world.
So why should you attend this year’s Concours, to be held Oct. 27 through Nov. 5? We’re glad you asked, because it just so happens we have a list.
1. WHO’S YOUR CADDY?
Considered by many to be the “Cadillac of Cars,” this year’s Honored Marque will be that emblem of American excellence, Cadillac.
>>> Cadillac is the honored marque at the 2017 Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance. This 1912 Cadillac 30 is owned by Bob and Jennifer Lancaster of Wilmington, N.C.
In celebration of the line’s history of automotive inspiration, the Concours d’Elegance will host three classes on Nov. 5: Classics (1916-1948), Production (1949-1962) and Production (1963-1973). During the competition, festivalgoers will get to see firsthand how Cadillac revolutionized the industry, from the first electric starter and lights to the design element that would define cool: the tail fin.
The Concours itself will include a variety of historic Caddys, from a 1908 Model T Victoria Touring to a ’55 St. Moritz. And don’t miss the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone brought to the show by Pinnacle Collector Jeff Gross — it’s packed with high-tech goodies and will make you weep for the future of automobiles that could have been.
2. BURN RUBBER AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF AMERICAN GRAND PRIX
One little fun tidbit of Savannah history: it’s the birthplace of Grand Prix racing in America. The Automobile Club of America held its first American Grand Prize in 1908 on a 25-mile stock car track comprising what is now Savannah’s Victory Drive. Nearly 250,000 people showed up to watch the Thanksgiving Day race, including Horace Dodge, Henry Ford and the president of Firestone Tires (who was forced to sleep in the city jail because everywhere else was booked).
Today, that tradition is honored on Hutchinson Island’s Grand Prize of America Road Course as part of the motoring festival’s opening event: The Savannah Speed Classic, held at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. For three days, you can get up close and personal with the racing world, gaining insight into life on the track and the thrill of competition.
And speaking of history, this year marks a momentous occasion for the Grand Prize of America track. It’s celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first race, the Indy Lights Dixie Crystals Grand Prix in 1997.
3. BY LAND AND BY AIR
You think it’s all just jaw-dropping cars at this year’s motoring festival? Think again.
Automotive and aviation elegance will be paired in several events that will — ahem — elevate this year’s festival.
Held Nov. 3 at Hilton Head Island Airport, the Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala parks gorgeous Concous cars side-by-side on the runway with vintage airplanes in an upscale celebration of transportation. Special entertainment, succulent Lowcountry cuisine and flowing Champagne will accompany an evening spent strolling the hangars of the airport and basking in the aeronautical splendor of yesteryear.
Then on Nov. 4, free shuttles from the Car Club Showcase will bring festivalgoers to the Aero Expo, giving them a chance to tour aviation history. Everything form vintage flying machines to advanced aircraft will be on display during the event, free with Car Club Showcase admission.
4. CELEBRATE IN STYLE
While the Hilton Head Motoring Festival puts the focus squarely on automotive grandeur, it is still a festival. And festivals are serious business on Hilton Head. Along with a slew of events are several chances to get out there and have a good time with friends and neighbors, starting with the Savannah Speed Classic Pace Lap Party at Savannah’s City Market. Starting at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27, this is your chance to meet the drivers and check out some of the machines that will be taking to the track after the party.
On Nov. 4, the South Carolina Yacht Club will host “Design Among The Stars,” a soiree that lets you dine and mingle with some of the automotive industry’s most inspired designers.
Other events include “Cars & Cigars” at Carolina Cigars, a Ferrari dinner at Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana and even a special showing at Park Plaza Cinema of “24 Hour War,” which documents the fight between Ford and Ferrari at LeMans.
5. CONCOURS EVENTS: WHEN AND WHERE
Here are the festival highlights. For a full schedule of events, go to www.hhiconcours.com/events.
OCT. 26: PACE LAP PARTY
From 5:30-8:30 p.m., Ellis Square will host the official kick-off part for the Savannah Speed Classic. There will be live music, food and beverages from City Market restaurants, plus your chance to check out a few cars competing in the race. Free.
OCT. 27: SCAD OPEN STUDIO NIGHT
Tour SCAD’s Alexander Hall starting at 7 p.m. for a special open studio event. Free and open to the public.
OCT. 27-29: SAVANNAH SPEED CLASSIC
Get up close and personal with blistering fast racing action as competitors take to the track at Grand Prize of America Road Course next to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. Come as a spectator or register to race at hscrrace.com. Tickets start at $20.
NOV. 2: EVENING OF CARS AND CIGARS
Head to Carolina Cigars at 6:30 p.m. for an event combining elegant show cars and the finest cigars from around the world. Tickets are $50 per person.
NOV. 3: FLIGHTS & FANCY AEROPORT GALA
The festival touches down at the Hilton Head Island Airport for an opening gala from 7-10 p.m. featuring vintage and cutting-edge aircraft alongside a selection of exquisite cars from the Motoring Festival. Tickets start at $175.
NOV. 4: CAR CLUB SHOWCASE
Form 9 a.m.-4 p.m., the fairways of Planter’s Row Golf Course at the Port Royal Golf Club will host car clubs from around the southeast and beyond, representing a variety of different makes, models and passions. Tickets start at $50.
NOV. 4: AERO EXPO
Missed your chance to check out the mix of aviation and automotive excellence during the gala? You can enjoy complimentary shuttle service to the airport with a ticket to the Car Club showcase and see all the aircraft and cars on display.
NOV. 4: 2ND ANNUAL SCM INSIDER’S SEMINAR
The leading experts in collector cars will lead a seminar from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Port Royal Golf Clubhouse outlining the state of the market, current trends and more. Those just starting out and experienced collectors alike will find something to gain from this insightful panel discussion. $25 per person.
NOV. 4: DESIGN AMONG THE STARS
Join some of the automotive world’s finest designers starting at 6:30 p.m. at the South Carolina Yacht Club in a uniquely intimate setting. An upscale cocktail event will lead to a chance to bid on automotive art created on-site. Tickets $375 per person.
NOV. 4-5: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE
The festival culminates in the grand Concours d’Elegance, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Port Royal Golf Club, where cars from all over the world, including examples of honored marque Cadillac’s line, compete for recognition from judges. Tickets start at $55.