Skip Peterson, community volunteer, gearhead and noted photographer, has been associated with running the Dayton Concours d’Elegance for 22 years, so he knows a thing or two about the show.
The Concours is limited to 200 antique and classic automobiles and motorcycles and will be judged for awards in several dozen classes. The public is invited to enjoy roaming the park grounds to view the vehicles, plus visit the many intriguing exhibits at Carillon Historical Park, run by Dayton History, Montgomery County’s official historical organization. It’s a casual, family-friendly occasion.
This year the show chairman said he’s particularly excited about three aspects people can expect during the up-and-coming regional event:
• “We’ll be honoring Cadillac – great big, gorgeous American cars. They were the luxury cars before people knew what luxury cars were. They are beautifully designed machines.”
• “We will also be honoring the E-type Jaguar. The Jag XKE is quite possibly the most beautiful sports car that’s ever been built. It is the most graceful thing on wheels you can see.”
• “To have the guy who sketched the (Ford) Mustang, who lives in the area and is going to be at the Concours and available for people to talk to is going to be amazing.” Gale Halderman, former Ford design director and creator of the 1965 Mustang, has been named this year’s Concours Grand Marshall. Halderman is scheduled to bring his own red, 6-cylinder Mustang convertible and have his own tent, naturally next to a display of first-generation Mustangs, in which show-goers can visit him and ask questions.
Peterson said those three things are creating a great vibe and energy for the Concours.
“Clearly, if you come to our show and you can’t see anything you like, we’re going to have to quit doing it then,” he laughed. “There will be something there for you.”
Leo DeLuca, Dayton History’s media coordinator, said the park itself has plenty to offer car lovers.
“From the Speedwell Motor Car Company to the Hatfield Motor Vehicle Company, the Dayton region has a tremendous automotive history. A 1907 Hatfield Buggyabout built in Miamisburg will be at this year’s Concours. But the most tremendous part of the region’s automotive history is clearly the story of Charles Kettering and the Barn Gang,” he said.
“By 1900, there were only about 150 miles of asphalt-paved road in the United States. The automobile was considered an oddity, a passing fad. When Kettering and the Barn Gang built the starter motor, the auto industry boomed into the 20th century. The world was never the same,” DeLuca continued.
The Concours is organized and run by about 100 volunteers, Peterson said.
“There is a massive, behind-the-scenes, motivated team behind the event,” he noted, also crediting the professional staff at Dayton History for their work.
He also commended the many generous sponsors, including businesses in the community that support the event, sponsor classes and help pay for show trophies.
As for him, Peterson said he and his wife, Jennifer, have good reasons for supporting the event.
“I am passionate about collectors’ cars, Dayton’s history in the automotive world and our history of manufacturing,” he said. “I’ve always believed Carillon Historical Park is the right place to hold this event; we’re firmly established and are getting a reputation as a well-respected, regional concours. We’re hitting our stride.
“It really is a gem, and it’s all because of AAA, the Concours Committee and the tremendous sponsors that support the event,” DeLuca said.
“It’s not just a car show of cars lined up in a row,” Peterson concluded. “It’s anything but that.”
NEXT WEEK: The Concours and motorcycle directors weigh in