Drag Racing a Parsnip at the Concours de Maryhill


Car shows happen in the most unlikely places.

This weekend, the Goldendale Motorsports Association hosted the 16th annual Concours de Maryhill and hillclimb. The venue was the Maryhill Museum of Art, 103 miles east of Portland, overlooking the Columbia River. Entrepreneur Sam Hill built Maryhill and dedicated it to the public in 1926.

Saturday’s events included an eclectic gathering of 200 collectible cars, a parade of the race cars participating in the Sunday hillclimb escorted by the Washington State Highway Patrol, tours of the museum and my favorite, kids’ pinewood derby races using cars built out of vegetables.

We went to Maryhill in a two-Alfa caravan: my 1967 GTV with Round-Fendered Volvo Club guru Dean Koehler and Bradley as my co-piloti. Doug Hartman and friend Greg DuFour led the way in Doug’s restored 1967 Giulia Super.

Both cars have been fitted with 1750 engines, but Doug maintained that his car had the original 4.5 rear end, unlike the later 4.1 I put in the GTV. Anecdotal evidence suggested he was incorrect about his ratio, and we decided to settle it once and for all using Speed Box Free, a smartphone app that displays your true road speed.

According to the app, he was getting 20 mph per 1,000 rpm, so that 70 mph meant an engine speed of 3,500 rpm. That’s very relaxed for an Alfa with a redline of 6,300. It’s the same mph/rpm ratio I was turning, so we concluded that Doug’s Super had in fact received a rear-end upgrade at some point in its life.

We arrived at the concours (a car show really) at about noon, paid our $15-per-car entry and parked on the grass. Without being asked, Bradley opened the trunk, got out some Meguiar’s Quik Detailer, and wiped down the car.

We spent the next hour or so kicking tires. There were two cars that were new to me: an early ‘50s Jowett Jupiter with a boxer-four ahead of the front axle and a 1967 BMW/Glass 3000 V8, reportedly the only one in the U.S.

My emotional favorite was an Alfa Milano race car built by SCMer Mirko Freguia. The Milano has never been regarded as a particularly handsome car, but the graphics Mirko put on his make it look menacing and aggressive.

Veggie Racing

The best part of the day was the “veggie racing,” hosted by the GMA. Using fruits, vegetables and toothpicks as construction materials, the kids built pinewood derby-style race cars and then raced them against the clock down an inclined track.

Bradley was quickly enthralled and spent over an hour building and then modifying his parsnip racer. When he discovered it needed a wider stance, adding a couple of grapes did the trick. While he didn’t get top time of the day, his E.T. did get better with each modification.

He insisted on bringing his creation home, and, as I feared, it slowly disintegrated into its veggie component parts in the back seat of the GTV.

Culture Detour

The Maryhill Museum is known for its Rodin collection, but even more meaningful to me was the exhibit devoted to modern dance pioneer Loie Fuller. It was an unanticipated reminder of my own career as a modern dancer in New York City in the 1970s. Fuller was in many ways the founder of what we now call modern dance. She was followed by Isadora Duncan, then Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn with their Denishawn Dancers. Martha Graham, Charles Weidman and Doris Humphrey were members of Denishawn, and they each went on to found their own modern dance companies.

In my 20s I studied with Martha Graham and danced in Charles Weidman’s Theater Dance Company in NYC, so this exhibit really did bring things full circle. It felt like a kind of homecoming for me, and it was not something I expected to see in Maryhill, Washington.

Show and Shines are the Best

Every year I attend car shows ranging from Pebble Beach to Chantilly to Keels & Wheels and more. Each show has its own flavor and personality.

The Maryhill style of show remains my favorite as a participant. You arrive when you want to, dust your car off, pull out your folding chairs and kick tires. When you’re ready to leave, you go.

We didn’t get a trophy, but we did spend a full, relaxing day in the company of old cars and interesting people. And Bradley got to build his own race car and learned how to make wheels out of apple slices in the process.

(To see Keith’s FB album with over 40 photos, click here. You do not have to be a FB member to view them.)

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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