May 16, 2022

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Half the Automotive

With Widespread Availability of the COVID Vaccine, Are Car Shows Back?

Photo credit: Pebble Beach

Photo credit: Pebble Beach

From Autoweek

Saturday I went to a car show. There was a time when that might not have been considered news. But it was the first car show I have been to in over a year.

With the COVID-19 Pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of everything from the NBA season to your kids’ school year, it was a heck of a 12 months. But it’s looking more and more like it might soon be over.

The show I went to was a fun one, put on by a group called Auto Conduct. This was their 15th curated event held in different locations around Southern California, if I’ve counted correctly. Organizers pick a theme then sit back and see who shows up. This show’s theme was vans, and there was everything present from cute little Japanese kei-class mini-micro buses to one gigantic converted Sprinter camping van from Texino complete with pop-top roof to sleep six. In between were a 1967 Chevy 90 van, a 4×4 Mitsubishi Dacia, a slammed Mercedes Metris, and what may have been the first public showing of the new Kia Carnival. It was all fun but was made remarkable by its timing.

Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

Auto Conduct cofounder Ezekiel Wheeler was more than ready to get back to normal. Like many, he missed seeing friends and fellow enthusiasts.

“It’s that sense of community, that sense of friendship that you miss, if you’ve been so isolated for so long,” he said. “The car show is definitely back as we’re starting to enter the Red Tier (allowing more locations and events to reopen) and people are kind of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with herd immunity coming. So we’re excited to be back, we took a year off literally to the day.”

Some show-and-shine events kept going during the pandemic.

“We decided a long time ago that we weren’t going to be one of those shows that kept going, just out of respect for trying to learn what was going on in the world. And now we’re excited to be back, now that we know the rules, now that we know everybody’s kind of comfortable and familiar with how to interact with each other in a public setting.”

Everybody—except one guy—wore masks at Auto Conduct, and for the most part everybody was six feet apart at least. And it was outdoors.

Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

But that was one small show in downtown Los Angeles. What about the rest of the large, ginormous car show world?

Pebble Beach, Monterey, and everything that goes with it will go on in full, from the looks of it, from the Concours d’Lemons to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. That includes: The Quail on Friday August 13; the Rolex Motorsports Reunion, Aug. 12-15, Concorso Italiano, Aug. 14; and, as far as we can tell, all those other events you know and love each year.

And with the Return of the Pebble, the rest of the 2021 concours and car show calendar looks like it’ll be almost normal.

Photo credit: Autoweek

Photo credit: Autoweek

Amelia Island Concours will go on as usual.

“Reminder: The 26th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will take place May 20-23, 2021,” read the headline of an Amelia Island release Feb. 26.

This year’s honoree will be Lyn St. James, and Amelia will also have two motorsports seminars hosted by Ray Evernham and featuring a who’s who of panelists, from George Follmer and Brian Redman, to Alwin Springer and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival will go on Oct. 21-24 in Savannah, Georgia, and Nov. 5-7 at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The Hagerty Greenwich Concours d’Elegance will celebrate its 25th anniversary Oct. 22-24 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Eyes On Design will go on this year at the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, but has moved from its traditional Father’s Day date to Sept. 19 because of concerns over COVID. The event is put on by eye doctors, after all.

“Our disappointment with this delay is eased in part by proximity of the new date to Motor Bella, the September 21-26 next-generation mobility event at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac,” said Eyes On Design Chairman Kathy Pecar Lightbody. “We’ll have announcements coming soon about additional ways we plan to celebrate automotive design in 2021.”

Motor Bella is the event that came out of the cancellation of the 2021 Detroit Auto Show, a show canceled at least in part because of COVID, the other part because traditional big, expensive car shows might not be sustainable anymore. Motor Bella will include new car debuts like an auto show, but the new event will be held outdoors at the M1 Concours facility, which has been described as an 87-acre playground for car enthusiasts. There’s even a one-and-a-half-mile race track, which they certainly never had a the auto show’s Detroit convention center home.

The Concours d’Elegance of America, formerly known as Meadowbrook, will take place July 23-25 at The Inn at St. John’s, with the Motoring Tour Friday, Cars And Coffee Saturday, and the Concours Sunday.

Photo credit: Goodguys

Photo credit: Goodguys

The Good Guys Rod & Custom Association had to cancel its first two events of the year, both at Pleasanton, California, and had to reschedule its Del Mar, Calif. event, the 20th Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals, to Oct. 1-3. Apart from those changes, there will be a total of 17 Good Guys events in 2021.

The Pleasanton cancellations came about because the facility where they are held is being used for large-scale COVID-19 vaccination drives, which are scheduled to occur through at least the first half of the year.

“While we faced many disheartening cancellations in 2020, this is the first that we can be optimistic about,” said Goodguys Chief Operating Officer Andrew Ebel. “Being displaced by local vaccination efforts only serves to accelerate the pace of our return to a healthy community and events without restrictions. This news is positive for Del Mar, for Pleasanton, and for Goodguys.”

Goodguys’ first 2021 event, the LMC Truck Spring Lone Star Nationals, took place March 12–14 in Fort Worth, Texas. Good Guys said the event was approved by all local government and health officials and abided by “Goodguys Cares Guidelines,” which you can see outlined here.

Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

And as for Auto Conduct out in SoCal? They are going really big. They now have a couple of buildings to offer full services to car enthusiasts.

“This is our new headquarters,” Wheeler said, pointing to a couple large industrial structures. “We have that building, that building, 15,000 square feet, plus the parking lot, one acre total property.”

What are they going to do with all that?

“We’ll have car storage, a content production studio, automotive exhibition hall, and retail and food. It’ll be called the Auto Conduct Arcade. And our car storage will eventually be named the Auto Conduct Bunker.”

I plan to move my GTO and some of the Duesenbergs as soon as possible. As soon as I buy them. Other than that, be safe, everybody!

Will you be hitting the car shows this year? Let us know in the comments below.