Elite Car Gathering Headed for Pinehurst
A tradition that dates back to the 17th century French aristocracy will debut at Pinehurst Resort next May when the inaugural Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance is conducted over four days.
A Concours d’Elegance is a gathering of prestigious cars, and is French for a “competition of elegance.”
“Our intent is for this great event to be held at the resort every year in perpetuity,” said Dean Kessel, a 20-year motorsports industry marketing veteran who has spent two years cultivating the initiative. “There are a lot of car-crazy people in North Carolina. I know there’s an appetite for this kind of event in the Carolinas.”
Kessel, 47, who makes an annual pilgrimage with friends to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, said he is confident that “the Pinehurst experience” will separate his event from Pebble Beach and others held across the country.
“We’re going to blend the history, heritage and grandeur from three of North Carolina’s proudest traditions — motorsports, golf and the military — in a unique celebration of America’s passion for the automobile,” he said. “Pinehurst is an iconic brand that has the same romance of Pebble Beach because people talk about both in the same breath.”
Tom Pashley, executive vice president of marketing for Pinehurst Resort, said hosting the event “seems a natural fit.”
“Vintage automobiles and classic golf courses share many similarities,” Pashley said. “Both tend to be visually stunning, their architecture is studied by enthusiasts for inspiration, and they withstand the test of time.
“We’re excited to welcome this event and its traditional loyal following of visitors to Pinehurst Resort and the village of Pinehurst.”
Kessel said the goal is to offer an experience to show-goers, automobile collectors and corporate partners that makes the Pinehurst Concours a “must-attend” for all.
“I’ve been a car guy almost my whole life. It’s a passion,” he said. “I’ve done a little consulting since leaving the motorsports industry, but this event in Pinehurst is my main job now. If you can make your passion your vocation, it’s not even work.”
The French aristocracy used to parade horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during summer weekends and holidays. Over time, carriages became horseless and the gatherings became a competition among automobile owners.
Traditionally, vehicle judging at a Concours d’Elegance is much more demanding than that of a general automobile show. Trained judges examine each vehicle thoroughly. They rate each and every component. Only those vehicles that are judged perfect — or very nearly so — in every way are considered eligible for trophy class.
Caleb Miles, president and CEO of the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the Pinehurst Concours “should be a terrific event” for the resort and the community.
“We really haven’t had an event quite like this before,” Miles said. “It’s my understanding that the resort and the community were picked because of their uniqueness. Hopefully, the event will be here for quite some time.”
Pat Corso, executive director of Partners in Progress, said he would have loved to launch the event when he was president and CEO of the resort a decade ago.
“I actually tried to get interest in the idea,” Corso said. “But it takes a guy like Dean to be the catalyst and we didn’t have a guy like him back then. It would have been great for an entrepreneur like Dean to come to us, but I couldn’t find anyone interested in putting the whole thing together.
“I think it’s an event that is long overdue. I think it will be a great success because it fits perfectly here, not only at the resort, but in Moore County. It will create quite a draw, and is an event that should last a long time here. I’m really excited about it.”
The event is scheduled to kick off May 2 with an Aerodrome Party at Moore County Airport. There will be a road rally on May 3 from the resort to Fort Bragg. A collector car auction will be held May 4, and the 150-car Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance will take place May 5.
Kessel said other details will be announced in the coming months, including ticket prices and packaging for both individuals and corporations, auction details, special event information, grand marshal and featured marque.
“We believe the Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance is destined to become a much-looked-forward-to annual tradition for automotive enthusiasts throughout the U.S. and internationally,” he said.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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