The next five years will be a telling time for car tours. If entrants and organizers don’t play their hands correctly, tours as we know them may disappear.
There is a growing dichotomy between the performance ability of new cars and the consequences of a mishap. We were reminded of this by news of a fatal incident during a recent tour that has been widely circulated on social media.
The specifics are not so important. Suffice it to say that participants in an event geared to modern, high-performance sports cars were going 140 mph on a public road. At those speeds, your chances of recovering from an unexpected issue or driver error are miniscule.
This accident could have been much worse. Imagine if the car, hurtling at 140 mph and rolling end over end, had crashed into a van full of school children.
As I write this, entrants in our SCM 1000 AMG Invitational are beginning to check in to our host hotel in Bend, OR. We have 1,000 miles of two-lane roads laid out for them in our route book.
During the driver’s meeting, our job will be to impress upon the participants their sense of responsibility to the inhabitants of the communities we are passing through. We are guests and visitors here. We want to leave behind memories of gorgeous, exotic cars being driven responsibly, rather than scenes from “Hot Rods to Hell.”
As tour organizers, we have serious questions to ask ourselves about future events.
At SCM, we are committed to limiting classic tours to cars from before 1975. While there were hyper-performance cars in this era (think: Ferrari Daytona), these classics simply don’t go as fast as easily as new cars.
Our vision for SCM tours includes enjoyable cultural immersion in the communities we are passing through and camaraderie between the entrants in our evening “Conversations With Collectors.” Safe driving is essential.
If car owners wish to explore their car’s performance envelope, they belong on a race track, not on a public road.
We continue to stress that our tours are an “automotive Chautauqua,” a chance to enjoy the company of like-minded enthusiasts while passing through fantastic scenery.
To ensure the continued availability of collector car tours in the SCM style, we have a shared responsibility. First, as organizers, we need to inculcate a spirit of enthusiastic yet responsible driving. This is a tour, not a rally or a race.
As participants, we need to respect and appreciate what a gift it is to be able to take our old cars out on the open road. At the moment, we don’t need special permits or permission from the towns and counties we are passing through. That could easily change.
Or the end of our tours could come about due to insurance companies simply refusing to provide liability coverage. Securing such coverage is already growing more difficult.
I want to encourage all tour organizers to reflect on their events, and how they can offer the greatest pleasure to their participants in the safest way.
Let’s work together to make it possible for car tours of all types to continue.
It’s easy to get caught up when a few others start to drive irresponsibly. In retrospect I realize I did when I was driving a Testarossa in Monterey and made a foolish pass on a public road on a tour that led to laguna Seca. Your fun can’t endanger the safety of others.
While there may be some comfort in pre-1975 vehicles being slower, they’re also infinitely less safe than modern cars, meaning smaller wrecks have bigger consequences.
If you want to be allowed back, to the State/County/City/Event, behave yourself.
If want to be invited back, don’t just behave, be nice!
Excellent article Keith, should be distributed to and signed by every participant of a classic (or less classic) “rally”. Unfortunately some irresponsible drivers are a real threat to our hobby.
I could not agree more. The arrogant and insensitive actions of the two who offed themselves here or the even worse incident in the Gumball 3000 “rally” some years ago are the enemy of responsible car enthusiasts everywhere. Their irresponsibility and lack of consideration will only lead to legal, insurance, legislative, and public perception complications that are detrimental to the rest of us.
I wish this article could have a broader reach than just the SCM crowd here. Every automotive club, event organizer, sponsor and participant should read it and heed it. I haven’t participated in an event since before the pandemic but look forward to getting out there again. I for one would love to participate in an “automotive Chautauqua,” as opposed to a “let’s go to someone else’s town and raise hell” extravaganza.
My favorite quote of this article, “If car owners wish to explore their car’s performance envelope, they belong on a race track, not on a public road.” This applies everywhere, always. I have done more than my share of spirited driving on public roads and sometimes as part of an organized group. I know my car’s and my own limits through autocross and track time (no racing though ☹️) and public highways or streets are not the place for such experimentation. To do so is simply irresponsible.
I could go on and on…
Thank you Keith