Arlington Citizen-Journal

Vintage car celebration coming up in Arlington will benefit charity

Arlington resident and rare car collector Mike Ames is chairman of the Concours d’Elegance of Texas.
Arlington resident and rare car collector Mike Ames is chairman of the Concours d’Elegance of Texas. Courtesy photo

Arlington will be home to one of the most prestigious car and lifestyle events in the state. The Concours d’Elegance of Texas has moved from the Houston area that hosted the event for the past five years to Arlington’s entertainment district. The three-day event is set for April 21-23 and will be a world-class gathering of collector cars and other attractions.

With roots dating back to the 17th century, the Concours d’Elegance is a competition among highly luxurious automobile owners where their cars are judged on appearance and originality among other things. One of the earliest Concours in the U.S. was at Pebble Beach, still considered the top Concours event in the country. The Concours events are well known for their charitable giving and they have raised millions of dollars for nonprofits selected as beneficiaries. Arlington’s River Legacy Foundation was chosen as the local beneficiary.

Arlington resident and rare car collector Mike Ames is chairman of the Concours d’Elegance of Texas. “We are genuinely excited about our move to Arlington and look forward to being part of the continuing development of the Arlington entertainment district. The city of Arlington and the Convention & Visitors Bureau have been extremely helpful and we look forward to working together to make our Concours of Texas one of the top-tier exhibitions in the country,” Ames said in a press release.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said he is excited about the opportunity to host the event. “It adds great emphasis to our automotive heritage and it will be another world-class event for our city on a national stage and a destination for the exhibition of amazing classic cars right here in the center of the country,” he said in a statement.

Details about the event are online at www.concoursoftexas.org or call 817-695-5254 to make inquiries.

Brian Greene, owner of Greene HD Productions and producer of several car-themed television shows including “Reality Rides” and “Magnificent Motorcars,” is the general manager for the Concours d’Elegance of Texas. An Arlington native, Greene has years of experience in shooting car events all over the world. We caught up with him for a Q&A about the upcoming Arlington event.

For first-time attendees, what basic information should they know?

If you can only attend one event, the main day is April 23 in Richard Greene Linear Park. That is the Concours d’Elegance of Texas itself where the premier cars will be — approximately 110 of them will be on the show field. These are the cars that are competing, and they are world-class cars, very rare. Most of the cars that visitors can see here will not be available to be seen anywhere else. Most are even nicer than museum cars, and they are from all over the country.

Gates open to the public at 9 a.m., the awards ceremony is at 2:30 p.m. and the Concours of Texas will end around 4:30 p.m. We expect around 10,000 people to attend this first year.

If you can only say one thing about the event, what is it?

The most important thing to know is that this is not a car show! Yes, we are showing cars, but this is not a car show. It is an art show with the cars as art. Think of it as a giant beauty pageant for automobiles. Cars are being shipped in from California, the East Coast, Boca Raton and all over.

How does someone enter their car in the Concours?

All Concours are invitational. It’s like the Academy Awards — you have to be nominated to be on the show field. Around 300-400 invitations are sent out inviting people to submit their car for consideration and from those only about 110 are chosen to be on the show field.

How are winners chosen?

The competition is judged by independent judges from all over the country. It is a 100-point system. Typically, there is no car on the field that doesn’t start with at least 97 points to begin with. Winners are always within tenths of a point. It comes down to such things as: “The car is perfect but this one bolt is not original.”

Is there an awards presentation?

After an entire morning of judging, winners are chosen in 18 car classes along with a Best of Show and a Modern Best of Show. Judging starts around 9 a.m. and ends midafternoon.

The awards presentation includes a red carpet, an area that cars drive by to get their crystal award and then they drive around in a showy processional while the announcer describes them.

What about tickets and parking?

Tickets are $50 per person and children get in free. Discounted tickets are available on Groupon and the Rangers will give away discounted tickets as well.

Parking for the event is at Cowboys Silver Lot 4 at Randol Mill and AT&T Way. Shuttle service from the convention center will be available for overflow.

What else besides the cars in the competition will be offered?

Lots of attractions will be fun for people attending. There will be vendor displays. For example, my “Reality Rides” TV show will have a booth and my award-winning 1955 Buick will be there for people to see.

There will also be the Car Club Corral. Local car clubs will be highly selective in choosing cars to be in the corral — not just any car can be there. There will be 250 cars for people to enjoy and look at in this area.

Tell us about the motoring tour that’s part of the event.

The Six Flags Tour d’Elegance is on April 21. It will be a 43-mile police-escorted tour that departs from Globe Life Park and winds through the area passing points of interest and stops at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards at 11 a.m. for lunch. There will be around 50 cars in the motoring tour. Photo and press opportunities are at Globe Life Park from 7:45-8:30 a.m. or in the Fort Worth Stockyards between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Stockyards Station parking lot.

Will there be cars for sale during the event?

The Texas Classic Auction at Arlington Convention Center is open to the public and is a lot of fun to watch. On Friday evening there is an auction preview featuring 48 cars, and all day Saturday, around 100 cars will be up for auction. The public is invited but in order to bid, you must register. The cars are listed on the Worldwide Auctioneers website. Cars will be valued at an average of $150,000 with some valued around $1 million and even more. These cars are not thought of as transportation — they are art.

At other Concours auctions, what sort of bids do these cars receive?

A 1955 Lantia GT Spider, for example, recently had a starting bid of $1.5 million. Many of the rare cars sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other auctions featured, for example, a 1952 Porsche that sold for $350,000 and a 1967 Ferrari sold for $67,000. Even though it needed complete restoration, a 1961 Astin Martin VB4 sold for $300,000. The auctions are really fascinating to watch.

Is there a charity component of the event?

Concours d’Elegance is a nonprofit organization that donates generously to charities. The Texas event has chosen the River Legacy Foundation as the local charity. The Make a Wish North Texas is the regional charity selected, and Holy Angels, a nonprofit that operates residential facilities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is regional charity.

The Concours internal charity is the Next Gen Education program that uses automobiles to connect students to the fields of engineering and technical training and works with kids at risk of dropping out to develop an interest in careers connected with cars.

In the five years this event was in Conroe near Houston at a much smaller venue, they raised and gave away nearly $2.5 million.

What do you see as the future for the Concours of Texas?

We have worked for two years to get this event in Arlington, and we finally accomplished that goal by working with the city, Six Flags, the Chamber of Commerce, the CVB, the Rangers and the Cowboys and a whole range of sponsors.

This is an event, that if we grow it to become the third largest behind Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, it will without a doubt make this the largest event in the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Twitter @FayeReeder

  Comments