Audrain Concours 2022
Volume 47 Issue 23
Nov 13, 2022
Newport Rhode Island hosts the Audrain Concours on the grounds of the Vanderbilt home known as The Breakers. Not that one, but with the nearby ocean and beautiful grounds it was a wonderful day to show a Ferrari.
To most people, thoughts of Newport, Rhode Island, often trigger images of large sailboats gliding about the harbor, art museums, and gilded age mansions, but not classic automobiles.
However, in 1900, William K. “Willie” Vanderbilt II, hopped into his foreign import and joined some of his wealthy friends with cars at the Aquidneck Park horse track for a series of races he put together. Many consider that gathering as the birth of competitive racing in the US.
Flash forward 122 years and the Newport area now hosts two new and growing car museums, the Audrain Auto Museum and the Newport Car Museum, both offering a wide variety of cars on display.
The granddaddy of the two is the Audrain Automobile Museum founded in 2014 with a mission of “Preserving, Celebrating & Sharing Automotive History.”
It is located in a restored historic building on swank Bellevue Avenue next to the Newport Casino, home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Museum rotates exhibits of 15-20 cars and motocycles at a time from their own inventory and regularly includes loaners from renowned private collections.
In 2019, Donald Osborne, newly appointed CEO of Audrain LLC, announced the first annual Audrain Newport Concours d’Elegance & Motor Week. The Concours was held (where it continues today) on the back lawn of the famous Vanderbilt mansion, known as The Breakers, overlooking the ocean.
Eighty five vehicles were invited for display and judging that year. 2020 was a bust but the Museum started a video series featuring various cars driven by Jay Leno and Osborne around Newport, a driving tour and cars & coffee events around city.
The 2021 celebration was marked by many more cars and beautiful weather.
This year the motor week ran from Wednesday, 9/28 to Sunday 10/2. The Museum announced that 180 vehicles were participating chosen by a committee including Museum Chairman Nicholas Schorsch, Donald Osborne and Concours Executive Director Nic Waller.
The shows popularity continues to spread and is now attracting serious collectors from around the US and abroad. Registration, seminars and a welcome dinner greeted us Wednesday.
In the days that followed people could partake in many more seminars, social gatherings, vendor booths, an autograph session and an evening gala with a 1970s theme headlined by Jay Leno (who has a house in Newport).
In addition, there was a gathering of cars with champagne refreshment at Doris Duke’s estate Rough Point and a Bonhams auction Friday while Saturday featured an early morning 2 ½ driving tour.
Returning to Newport, the cars parked along Bellevue Avenue for public viewing while drivers and friends had lunch nearby. A busy schedule similar to Monterey Car week I suspect.
The first three days of events had glorious fall weather, but the remnants of Hurricane Ian arrived in force and hit Rhode Island with cloudy skies, heavy rain Saturday with 30-40 mph winds on Sunday.
Despite the terrible, soggy, conditions, a hardy group of 25 to 30 cars (including Tom Yang and I in my 1972 365 GTC/4) showed up early Saturday morning for the 2 ½ hour tour as thoughts of Gilligan’s Island flashed through my mind.
True grit shone forth that morning. It was raining buckets, puddles were deep and getting deeper with the wind strong enough to blow water through windows cracked open a bit (for those cars that had them!) to help clear foggy windshields, and it was cold.
Some notable cars in the event were a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton, 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Berlinetta, 1966 Ford GT40 Mk 1, 1930 Bentley Speed Six Gurney Nutting Coupe, 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe and 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC. More on some of them later.
It was a remarkable turnout, especially as participants got no credit for participating unlike the Monterey tour. The only casualty I saw along the way was the Ford GT Mk 1 that drove through a deep puddle frying its electrical system. No matter; next day they were on the grid, pushed up to the podium to receive the class award for British Sports Cars 1945-1980.
The concours field was crowded Sunday. We arrived early for placement on the lawn, the dawn patrol greeting us with waves and pictures as we entered through the main gates of the mansion.
A fantastic and friendly crew of Audrain volunteers spent much of the Saturday night laying down plywood panels to prevent us from sinking into the mud as we passed around the corner of house. We were then lined up in class groups, our 11 Ferraris being one of the largest, a fitting tribute as Ferrari is celebrating its 75th birthday.
Whereas IAC/PFA judging focuses on sticker label placement or the types of screws in trim pieces, the judges at Audrain were tasked by the concours committee to employ a riff on the “French” judging method emphasizing “History, Luxury & Sport” unlike the FCA Annual Meet which focuses heavily on “as it left the factory”.
Now I have to apologize. I tried to take pictures of the Ferrari judging, as well as the concours field at large, but my ancient cellphone was not up to the task.
These are the 11 cars in our group listed by age:
1951 212 Inter Vignale/Drogo convertible S/N 0147 E by Nick Soprano
1951 212 Inter Vignale Coupe S/N 0157 EL by Donald and Carol Murray
1953 212 Inter Vignale Coupe S/N 0267 EU by Bradley and Buzz Calkins
1953 250 MM Vignale Spyder S/N 0260 MM by The Cultivated Collector
1967 365 California Spyder S/N 10077 by Nethercutt Collection
1967 330 GTC S/N 11077 by Tom Larsen
1968 206 GT S/N 00210 by Stephen Serio
1970 246 GT/L S/N 01016 by Bradley and Rebecca Chase
1970 365 GTC/4 S/N 14953 by Sam Hallowell
1981 512 BB S/N 37717 by Ben Blake
1992 F40 S/N 93380 by Scott Sherwood
The concours featured music, streaming videos, tents with food and drink, booths with vendors surrounding a large crowd rolling about the cars.
They peppered us with questions and smiles while the sixty-five judges did their thing.
Later that afternoon we experienced all the pomp and circumstance that flows around the awarding of many class and special prizes.
Despite the inclement weather, the Audrain staff and volunteers pulled off a wonderful event. Kudos to Donald Osborne and his crew and Best of Show winner the 1930 Bentley Speed Six Sports Saloon owned by William Medcalf.
Our Ferrari class did very well too. The beautiful 1952 Inter Vignale Coupe owned by Bradley and Buzz Calkins won the Ferrari Class award, while the special ”Sporting Choice” prize went to The Cultivated Collector for their 1953 250 MM Vignale Spyder.
No doubt about it, I will be back October 1, 2023, to see what the Museum pulls out of its hat next.
Francesca Dolnier photos follow.