This was my third time attending the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival.

All car events are excuses for like-minded people to come together. This is true from the simplest Cars and Coffee to the stratospheric environs of Pebble Beach.

Each event has its own unique characteristics. At Chattanooga, their secret sauce is the location of the host hotel, The Westin Chattanooga. It’s at the heart of the weekend’s activities.

There are a wide variety of enthusiast-friendly events during the weekend: car club shows, a Concours d’Lemons, vintage racing on a nearby street course, a Mecum auction, the gala dinner, and the formal concours itself.

SCM Editor-in-Chief Jeff Sabatini and I attended. The ease of participating in all the events stood in stark contrast to Monterey Car Week, with its far-flung activities and lengthy transit times each day.  

It’s a treat to spend an afternoon looking at cars and mingling with the crowd, then being able to walk a block for an elegant dinner at nearby restaurants, such as Old Gilman Grill or Forge.

Even more important than its accessibility was the chance to just hang out with good friends from the car community. I spent time with SCM Contributing Editor and Ferrari specialist Steve Ahlgrim and his son Alex. It was also nice to see SCM Concours Ambassador Somer Hooker and his delightful wife Loyce. (Their Alfa Giulia Sprint Speciale went home with a trophy.)

SCM contributor Ken Gross was the concours director and he put together an impressive array of cars and judges. I also saw many friends including PR maven Judy Stropus, SCM contributor Tom Cotter and good friend Corky Coker. 

The driving force behind the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival is Byron DeFoor, who has pushed hard to bring this event to life. This year the title sponsor was Millennium Bank.

One of the event’s beneficiaries is the CHI Memorial Neuroscience Center. Its medical director, Dr. Thomas Devlin, interviewed me onstage on Friday. Our emcee was SCM contributor Bill Rothermel. His impromptu title for our talk was, “Under the Hood of a Stroke.”

Speaking with Dr. Devlin is always challenging and energizing. I provide him the unfiltered life experience of a stroke survivor, and in exchange he challenges me to develop new perspectives on my rehab and to set even more ambitious goals for myself.

On Sunday, Jeff and I took the stage for our SCM “State of the Market” seminar. We talked about how the collector car market has evolved since we first met in 2000 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction.

We agreed that the advent of televised auctions, the launch of eBay Motors and the evolution of Bring a Trailer have led to an enhanced awareness and participation in the collector car market. Today’s non-stop social media presence has been a boon to newcomers.

For example, a one-owner 1967 Porsche 912 sold Saturday on Bring a Trailer for an astounding $205,616. Within minutes the sale was splattered across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

We both think that the activity in the market will only continue to grow. And that the prices for the very best cars will continue to rise — and continue to amaze us.

I have only one suggestion for the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. I know that Velocity Invitational has made an impact by putting down an artificial grass on the infield at Laguna Seca. I might suggest this same treatment for the street area of the concours where the Duesenbergs and other Classics, along with the featured marques, are displayed.

I sent my son Bradley a stream of photos during the event. He disregarded the Porsche Speedster and Ferrari Enzo. The one car he wanted was a sinister and appealing rat rod. Perhaps he has watched Mad Max: Fury Road once too often.

The Chattanooga Motorcar Festival has improved and expanded each year I have attended. They are driven to support car enthusiasts and the community. It’s a winning combination.

(Concours results can be found elsewhere in this week’s newsletter.)


One Comment

  1. I’ve attended the Chattanooga Motor Festival the last two years. I really am amazed how this event has grown in three short years. As a Concours Participant I would like to thank to the Event Leadership, City of Chattanooga and countless Volunteers that make it happen. I heard many positive comments about the event and the City over the weekend. And Keith thank you for your support. It was good to see and hear you on stage.