The 2021 Chattanooga Motorcar Festival outshined its inaugural event in 2019 with wheel-to-wheel racing on the all-new approximately two-mile Pace Grand Prix at the Bend race track, special displays of significant, exotic and valuable cars in addition to those featured in the Concours d’Elegance, a challenging West Village Road Rallye through the verdant Tennessee countryside, and dozens of family-friendly activities and street festivals.
This year’s Festival, which was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic following a successful launch in 2019, was known as the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival — hosted by Fifty Plus Foundation presented by DeFoor Brothers, sponsored by Volkswagen and Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company, powered by EPB.
Funds raised through the Festival support the creation of research space at CHI Memorial, including the purchase of a state-of-the-art system that will be used to research the performance of robotic-assisted thrombectomies, a procedure that removes blood clots from inside an artery or vein. Through this space, CHI Memorial will generate the next 10-plus years of neuroscience medical breakthroughs overseen by Dr. Thomas Devlin, M.D. and PhD.
Proceeds will also support the NeuroScience Innovation Foundation in Chattanooga, which incubates cutting edge bio-medical technology and accelerates patient access to the latest medical advances to the people of this region and globally.
A tribute to Jim Pace, event chair and chief operating officer of the inaugural 2019 Festival who died of COVID-19 in 2020, was held at the Pace Grand Prix at the Bend, named in his honor, where a fleet of Lola race cars paraded in front of the podium while friends, family and racing dignitaries remembered the popular race-car driver from Mississippi known for his Southern charm.
Pace’s good friend Russell Gee glanced up and asked all to “look at the sky” as a skywriting plane spelled out “Pace” embraced by a heart, and flags flew, emblazoned with the words, “The Pace Grand Prix at the Bend.”
“Chattanooga is probably not the biggest city in the country, and it is certainly not the richest, but it’s got a big heart like Jim Pace,” said Byron DeFoor, founder of the Festival. “For all of the family that came, we have these flags for you. Thank you so much for coming. We want this race track to live forever. Let’s hope it does.”
The new race track in the heart of Chattanooga hosted seven classes of vintage, historic and contemporary race cars competing for 20 minutes in three races in two days, racing door-handle to door-handle as they vied for a winner’s trophy.
A highlight of the weekend was the Gathering of the Greats — Ferrari Edition, showcasing the world’s most significant Ferraris, many of which have not been seen anywhere else, such as the 1948 Ferrari 166 Spider Corsa, a 1954 Ferrari 250 Monza, a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider, and a 1985 288 GTO.
The West Village Road Rallye, run on Friday and Saturday, produced winners Robert and Casey Albertson in their 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo and Ashley and Riley O’Donald in a 2020 Mazda MX5 RF.
Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance was held under sunny skies and warm temperatures, creating a buzz through West Village as the class-winning cars drove up the ramp in front of the stage to receive their awards. The sculpted trophies were designed by local artist Cessna Decosimo.
Click here for the list of the top Concours d’Elegance Award winners
The Timeless Elegance Award went to Jack Boyd Smith’s 1936 Packard 12, and the People’s Choice was a 1950 Buick Special owned by Jeff Hardin.
The Best of Show was earned by a 1967 Ferrari NART Spyder owned by Rare Wheels Collection. “We’re topping off this year’s Festival with one of the best cars in the world,” said presenter Wayne Carini. “Luigi Chinetti’s vision was to have the top go down on a 275. They made 10 of these cars. It is probably the only silver one that was built. This deserves best in show.”
“We did it,” said event founder Byron DeFoor. “The city has been very good to us. Thank you all for coming to Chattanooga and supporting the event as well as neuroscience and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and strokes.
“It’s also about the cars and everyone coming to Chattanooga. We had a great show, at the Pace Grand Prix at the Bend and here in West Village at the Concours d’Elegance. Thank you all for believing in our event, in our cause, and for taking part in all the activities.”
DeFoor then presented the Chairman’s Award to Concours Director Ken Gross. “This it totally unexpected,” said Gross, an award-winning automotive journalist. “One of the reasons I said yes to Byron to help with this event is because the proceeds go to neuroscience research, Dr. Thomas Devlin and his researchers. I thought, these are great people, a great cause, and I’m in as long as you want me.”
Racing and car celebrities were on hand to support the event by interacting with the fans, signing autographs, participating in panel discussions on topics such as Barn Finds, Porsche’s Legacy, the Tucker, and Racing as TV Entertainment.
Corky Coker was the Grand Marshal and Brian Redman the Grand Ambassador. Racers and racing personalities Justin Bell, Alain de Cadenet, Ray Evernham, Tanner Foust, Derek Hill, David Hobbs, Scott Speed, Lyn St. James and Linda Vaughn joined car experts Wayne Carini, Tom Cotter, Ken Gross, Bill Rothermel, Keith Martin and Mike Tillson to discuss a range of automotive topics in the panel discussions and presented awards on the stage.
Here are some quotes from celebrity first-time visitors:
Justin Bell: “I didn’t even know where Chattanooga was, and yet when I got the chance to come, I was so excited. Everyone raved about their first visit here. Coming here, seeing the cars, the amazing people, was terrific. Everyone is so friendly. I had no idea. This is an event that is definitely on the automotive map now. I’ll be back!”
Lyn St. James: “It is the first time that I have been to the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I am amazed. I am amazed at how many things are going on at the same time. It gives people the opportunity to experience an auction, experience a car race, experience an assembly of cars – Ferraris, Lamborghinis – and it is all here in the West Village area. They’ve got music. They’ve got everything here. It is literally a festival of automobiles.”
Ray Evernham: “The Chattanooga Motorcar Festival has been a phenomenal event for me. I spent a couple of days at the race track having a blast. They built a race track, which amazes me. This morning, here at the Concours, I have seen incredible cars that normally I only see in a magazine. This is a must-see event!”
Derek Hill: “Being here at the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival is one of the best Concours and historic race events that I’ve been at. The people are so kind here in the South and Tennessee. There’s an incredible grouping of cars. It’s an exciting place to be. I love Chattanooga. My first time here!”
And some from those who were at the inaugural 2019 event:
Corky Coker: “In 2019, the idea of the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival was birthed by Ken and Byron DeFoor, and they lived up to that dream. We made vibrations around the car world – throughout the whole world, quite frankly. All the way to Europe and Japan, and everybody was in anticipation of 2020. Obviously, 2020 didn’t happen, but in 2021, Byron and I got together and dreamed up a two-mile race course. Byron called Dana Mecum and got the Mecum Auction here, so this year has been absolutely amazing. The crowds. Everyone to a person has said, ‘Chattanooga is amazing. The planning and thought of coming to a downtown concours has been wonderful. We are coming back!’”
David Hobbs: “I thought the Jim Pace tribute was handled very, very well, indeed. Brian Redman opened the proceedings with some remarks, which were very good. It was amusing, as well as touching. Byron ended the proceedings with just a few words of his own, which were also very apt, very good. All in all, it was great. We had the skywriter who put Jim’s name up in the sky with a heart, which was all very touching.”
And one from a first-time visitor from Nashville, Tenn.:
Susan Lane: “I am really impressed with what I’m seeing down here at the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. Chattanooga is not known as a car town but people are really enjoying the Concours. There’s great diversity with age, with gender, with race. People are having a great time talking to the people who have brought their cars. People are sharing the history of their cars. It’s just a beautiful day to be in Chattanooga.”