I was totally guilted into starting a Facebook page a couple years ago by Luan Mendel, the most excellent novelist (Yard Sale) and wife of Honda’s U.S. boss John Mendel. As much as my skin crawls thinking of the little billionaire weasel who started Facebook (or stole it from those loser Winklevoss twins), I have been sucked into the social wormhole. From writers to designers to racing drivers; from extended family to virtual high-school reunions to the vast number of reader “friends” whom I’ve never met—Facebook is an all day and night news feed of the stuff that makes my world go around.
Among the unexpected surprises that have come our way via the insidious, suspicious world of Facebook: The art of Nicolas Cancelier via his friend request (“Speed Strokes,” September 2010). Car designer Jason White’s how-to car-design book, Old School Viscom (“20 Steps To Draw a Car,” February 2011) via his friend request. The outpouring of condolences and remembrances on the sad occasion of the death in March of our founder, David E. Davis, Jr. (Letters, June 2011) I am understandably an enthusiastic participant.
Today’s Facebook news flash: a fantastic group of discerning car collectors, concours winners, car-museum owners, and friends—under the inspiration of Jack Rich, Sr., chairman emeritus of Reading Anthracite and owner of the JWR Automobile Museum in Frackville, Pennsylvania—have spent the past year putting together The Elegance at Hershey, a brand-new car show on the grounds of the magnificent Hotel Hershey (think Biltmore Estate, rising from a chocolate mist) in eastern Pennsylvania. The Elegance could very quickly become one of the premier auto events in the country.
Longtime readers of this column will have one eye raised askance at my sudden interest in the world of dead-car shows. It’s true that I love to see old cars in motion best of all, which seems reasonable, huh? They’re not hothouse flowers—they don’t need to be whisked into the covered trailer at the first sprinkle. They are all-weather devices meant to cause lust as they roar by; the more visceral the roar and blistering the pass-by, the better. That’s exactly how the June 11th weekend in Hershey will begin—with the Grand Ascent, a return of the historic Hershey Hill-climb, which ran from 1958 until the early 1970s. God bless! The oldest vintage-racing club in America—the Vintage Sports Car Club of America—is the sanctioning body, and we will see what promises to be a stunning group of some forty pre-1959 racing cars storming up the twisty, wooded back road to the Hotel Hershey. “We’re talking ’30s-era Alfas and Maseratis and such!” says the enthusiastic curator of the JWR Automobile Museum, Mark Lizewskie. “We even have a 1912 Mercedes grand prix car fitted with a nine-liter Hall-Scott aero engine and a 1929 Bugatti T45 sixteen-cylinder racer. Makes the current Veyron suddenly seem mundane.”
Now we’re cooking with gas. My kind of “Hell, yes.” Things slow to a stop on Sunday for the lawn party, but all is not tea and crumpets. The day will feature some of the rarest, most historically significant, most beautiful cars in history. Because these are serious collectors who understand these things, perhaps ten of the five dozen or so invitees will be unrestored, or “kindly kept.”
Half of the proceeds from the weekend will go to my avowed charity, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, while the second half will be split between the AACA Museum and the AACA Library and Research Center, both in Hershey. Everything you need to know is on The Elegance at Hershey’s Facebook page. Or visit theeleganceathershey.com. If you get this message in time, meet me there, Friends! I’ll be driving.