|The Hotel Hershey|
Founded in 2010, The Elegance at Hershey is rated as one of the best concours shows in the Eastern United States. Located at the very fancy Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania (a city noted, of course, for chocolate manufacture), the event runs over several days, with a Cars & Coffee get-together on Saturday, and the concours show itself on Sunday. In addition, there is a hill climb competition, The Grand Ascent, that begins on Friday and runs into Saturday. The Elegance raises money for charity, notably the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the largest research organization devoted to Type 1 diabetes in the world.
|Cars & Coffee Participants: Porsche, Ferrari, Morgan|
We were worried about the weather as it had rained heavily the evening before and still looked wet when we left from our hotel in Harrisburg. But by the time we reached the parking area for the Cars & Coffee the sun had come out and the temperature was climbing. We were fairly early but soon interesting cars were making their appearance as we enjoyed our coffee and doughnuts.
|Porsche 911, Fiat X1/9, surrounding our Corvette|
|Ford Model T touring car and vintage speedster|
|1970 Corvette Coupe|
|BMW 2002 Cabriolet, with body by Baur|
|Porsche 356 Coupe|
|An exotic car dealership had several nice cars on display, including this Ferrari F40|
|Shelby 427 Cobra replica|
With our coffees finished and doughnuts all gone, it was time to move on to The Grand Ascent Hill Climb. This event, run on a hill behind the Hotel Hershey, is a tribute to the Hershey Hill Climb, a racing event than ran from 1958 to 1970, then revived again from 2002 to 2008. It attracted up to 10,000 spectators. The Grand Ascent is a much more modest affair, running on a 7/10th of a mile course with 200 feet of altitude gain but which allows the contestants to return to the start via a return road so they are not required to wait at the top of the climb.
|In race preparation: Kissel Gold Bug, MG-TC, 1957 Corvette|
Walking from the C&C parking area, we found ourselves on a paved road where the contestants for the Grand Ascent were preparing their cars. Lots of activity as the rain covers came off and there was a surprisingly wide range of machines. The Grand Ascent is sanctioned by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA) and it was clear that some of the drivers were there to win. There were different categories, depending on the age of the car being raced.
As the cars warmed up, we walked past the starting gate and headed up the steepish hill on a dirt path alongside the road, stopping from time to time to watch the cars head up the road. There was a great deal of noise, particularly from the 1957 Corvettes, but the smaller cars looked very quick and agile.
|1919 Kissel 6-45 "Gold Bug" Speedster, a car whose performance belies its sporty looks!|
|1959 Abarth Zagato 750, with its distinctive "double bubble" roof|
|1912 Mercedes Grand Prix car, equipped with a Hall-Scott aero engine|
|Michael Rich, one of the founders of The Elegance, ready to race his 1951 Allard J2|
|Classic MG-TC, one of the few entries piloted by a woman|
|1957 Chevrolet Corvette|
|Another 1957 Chevrolet Corvette. Both cars are owned by Frank Gray and were raced by him and his son Adam. No. 77 is a restored tribute car as raced by noted driver Dave McDonald.|
The course is a bit deceiving in that there are some very fast straight sections, followed by tight corners. David Zavetsky, who is a regular participant in racing events with his powerful but lightweight Devin PE5 (Pink Elephant 5!), spun out on the quick left-hand turn near the top of the hill where most of the spectators had assembled. Nonetheless, he did go on to win The Grand Ascent with the fastest time during the weekend.
After watching the racing, we continued up the hill to the Hotel Hershey proper and looked around before having lunch at their very nice Harvest Restaurant. There were some terrific cars to look at, parked casually around the hotel, and we also saw where the concours show was to be held on Sunday.
|Replica of the one-off prototype 1928-29 Packard 626 Speedster, owner by noted Packard collector Ralph Marano|
|Ancient and unrestored Pierce-Arrow|
|Latest Aston Martin grand touring car, the DB11|
The most exciting discovery was the fabulous Sunoco Blue 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta, driven by famous racer Dan Gurney and journalist Brock Yates in the 1972 Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, a cross country trip that took them 35 hours and 54 minutes, averaging around 80 mph in spite of running into snow and getting one speeding ticket. Gurney noted that "at no time did they exceed 175 mph" in that era of 55 mph speed limits.
After lunch at the restaurant, we found that we had a good part of the afternoon free and decided to go to the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum, also located in Hershey.
|Hotel Hershey, without concours cars|
|Harvest Restaurant, The Hotel Hershey|