Written by Keith Martin, May 7, 2018
During the Cold War, a top-secret fallout shelter designed to house 1,100 people (every member of the U.S. Congress and one aide per politician) during a nuclear war was constructed under The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV.
This past Sunday, for the first time, The Greenbrier’s bunker became the home for a variety of sports and racing cars, including a 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC and a 1972 McLaren M8F CanAm.
The Greenbrier is a “Grand Hotel” in the traditional sense. It has 710 rooms set on 11,000 acres in West Virginia. It was founded in 1778, and is known for its hot sulfur springs and their supposed curative powers.
This was the first-ever Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance, which is the brainchild of long-time concours and vintage event organizers Bernie Martin, Paul Ianuario and Wayne Long.
A first event of this scale always has to contend with a few unexpected twists and turns, but this one had to fight the weather for two days. Torrential rains of a tropical nature swept the area on Saturday and Sunday. The organizers quickly formulated a “Plan B” and then a “Plan C” to ensure that the event continued.
By 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, organizers decided to move the concours off of the flooded golf course and to the Greenbrier Hotel. About 70 of the cars were arrayed on the oval entrance to the hotel, and cars that were more sensitive to the weather were moved directly into the bunker.
The 112,544-square-foot bunker was built between 1958 and 1961, and it is burrowed 720 feet into the hillside under the Greenbrier Hotel’s West Virginia Wing. I’m sure that the designers never pictured a parade of gorgeous collector cars rolling into their bunker.
I was privileged to be the emcee of the Greenbrier Concours.
I arrived on Thursday, and met good friends and SCM contributors Andy Reid and Larry Prinz in the hotel casino (sports coats required).
The next day on the tour, I was the navigator for Wayne Long as he drove a Panoz Esperante in a spirited fashion on the lovely backroads of West Virginia. I’d never been in a Panoz before, and it felt like a cross between a Miata on steroids and a Viper that had been forced to wear a coat and a tie.
Saturday was Car Clubs on the Showfield day. The turnout was light due to the intermittent rains, but I found a variety of cars to examine, including a supercharged Lotus Elise and a pair of extremely original cars, a Triumph GT6 and a Mercedes 230S.
Automotive historian and SCM contributor Ken Gross was there as a judge, with his wife Trish, and we spent time talking about his participation in the upcoming SCM 30th Anniversary tour.
“I haven’t driven an Alfa Giulietta Veloce since I went on the California Mille 20 years ago,” Ken remarked. I told him he’d have five to choose from on the tour.
Despite playing cat and mouse with rain squalls all day Sunday, the clouds broke and there was bright sunshine for the awards ceremony. Best in Class was awarded in eleven classes, ranging from Brass Era cars to Vipers.
Best of Show was awarded to a spectacular 1933 Swallow Sidecar (Jaguar) SS 1 Fixed Head Coupe owned by Carl and Marcia Baxter, of Huntingdon, PA. It is one of six known to survive, and was restored to a spectacular level.
The Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance put the Dodge Viper under the spotlight and recognized it as a contemporary classic. I moderated a panel discussion that included Roy Sjoberg, who is known as “The Father of the Viper.” The panel agreed that it was unlikely we would ever see a naturally aspirated two-seat super car again.
The Greenbrier has the elements necessary to become a significant concours. The location is spectacular. The event is partner/spouse friendly, with a host of activities on site from glass blowing to cooking classes. The organizers have a great deal of experience to draw on. And even in this first year, the curated quality of the cars was top-rate.
I look forward to returning next year.
What does it take to become a judge? What should you know about Concours Judging? Paul Ianuario discusses judging at a Concours.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – The Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance wrapped up its inaugural edition on Sunday, May 8, handing Carl Baxter’s 1934 Swallow Sidecar (Jaguar) SS1 Saloon its Best in Show trophy in front of the iconic front circle at America’s Resort, The Greenbrier.
The rare automobile that took home the Best in Show honors is one of six known to survive with all of its original running gear. Its interior features the Lyons-designed Sunburst door upholstery that replicated the archway leading into the Lyon’s original Swallow factory.
The unique trophy given to the winner, designed on The Greenbrier property by Virtu Glass, wrapped up a weekend full of events
The opening day on Friday, May 4, featured 40 cars participating in The Summit drive. Drivers took their cars to the top of the mountain at The Summit at The Greenbrier Sporting Club for lunch and then traversed scenic West Virginia backroads, testing the power and precision of their vehicles along the way. Saturday’s Car Club Day featured nearly 100 cars scattered throughout The Greenbrier’s famous golf courses, as spectators milled around looking at their favorites.
That evening, car owners, sponsors and guests listened attended mingled while listening to entertainment and watching the Kentucky Derby at the Charitable Gala. Money was raised to support to important charitable initiatives, the Mountaineer Autism Project and the Antique Automobile Club of America Library and Research Center.
A rare overnight storm dropped five inches or rain and flooded the golf courses on Sunday, rendering the original plan of holding the Concours d’Elegance on the same showfield impossible. Organizers quickly came together and implemented an entirely new blueprint to hold the event in front of the hotel on the paved front circle and inside the declassified nuclear bunker that is housed on property.
Less than two hours after scrapping the original plan, nearly 100 cars were spread throughout the two new locations, and the move proved to be a good one, providing a spectacular backdrop for photos as well as easy access for shelter during spotty rain showers throughout the day.
“Overall, it was a fantastic weekend,” said Show Director Wayne Long. “Mother Nature provided us with some obstacles along the way, but we were able to find positive solutions. The move to the front circle proved to be a blessing in disguise, and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from car owners and patrons who came out to enjoy the weekend.”
At the end of the weekend, 11 class champions were crowned in addition to the Best of Show winner. Those champions are listed below.
Plans are already being made for The 2019 Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance, and officials are excited about the possibilities of growing the event for years to come. “We really couldn’t have asked for a better start, but it’s just the beginning,” said Long. “We proved we could do it, we learned some lessons and we’re incredibly excited about the future. We expect many who participated this year to return, and we’re excited about bringing some new car enthusiasts to this amazing property, as well.”
Four main sponsors were critical to the success of the Concours – Astorg Auto,Foreign Cars Italia, Grand Home Furnishings and Mountaineer Automotive.
Inaugural concours at West Virginia resort defies wet weather
Last year, Paul Ianuario told me about a new concours event happening at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. While I was a bit skeptical about yet another concours being added to an already crowed collector car calendar, I had been to the Greenbrier and thought it would make for a great location for such an event.
Though initially planned for 2017, a number of issues put off the inaugural concours until May 5-6 of this year.
Though some might see it as being a year late, the extra time actually allowed the organizers to put on a true world-class show despite some issues with weather (think lots of rain).
The field comprised everything from brass era classics to the newest of categories, a 25-year anniversary celebration of the Dodge Viper. The Vipers were well received and included the original test mule as well as the Viper concept car.
The other classes at the Greenbrier Concours were also well filled with scores of top-caliber cars. The post-war European sports car class included such cars as a 1964 Porsche 901, a 1961 Triumph Italia, a 1961 Side-Latch Jaguar E-Type coupe, and a stunning 1956 Austin-Healey 100M. The racing car class had a number of amazing cars, among them a 1957 Ferrari 500-TRC, an amazing 1972 McLaren M8F Can Am car, a factory 1972 BMW CSL FIA Group 2 car, and a 1965 Cooper T-75.
Full classics were well represented as well, standouts being a 1928 Isotta Fraschini 8A SS, a 1928 Auburn 8-115 Speedster, and a beautiful 1936 Rolls Royce Phantom III.
The top honor of Best in Show went to a sinister-looking 1935 SS1 Saloon. It was a crowd favorite and deserved the award due to its rarity, presence, and presentation.
One of the nice things about this concours was the ability to display cars inside the Greenbrier’s vault.
The vault was a secret location during the Cold War where Congress could have been housed in the event of a nuclear war. For years, the location was a national secret but these days you can take a tour of the facility. The formerly secret location offered the space and safety from the elements needed to properly show the race car, exotic car, and preservation class cars.
Another neat thing about the location is that this turns out to be a very spouse friendly concours. The Greenbrier resort offers too many activities to list with everything from a spa to classes in glass blowing to horseback riding and even an on-site off-road driving class. This is in addition to the many restaurants and shopping opportunities. There is even a casino in the basement.
Listen To Wayne’s podcast by Clicking on the button above, or use your mobile podcast App on Apple Podcast, Google Play, or Stitcher
Wayne Long is life-long car guy whose love for cars started at the early age of 2. He would accompany his family to the SCCA races to support his Uncle who raced a Bug-eye Sprite and later a Fiat OSCA. As Wayne entered the teenage years he quenched his thirst for competition by racing Motocross.
By the time Wayne finished college, and started working as a Civil Engineer, he had switched from motorcycles to cars and began Autocrossing. Wayne spent 21 years practicing Engineering before he finally got his opportunity to enter the automotive industry. Opening Mid-Atlantic Sports Cars 10 years ago, Wayne and his childhood friends, Rick and David Biafora, chased their dream.
Since becoming a full-time automotive junkie Wayne has become a regular on the national auction circuit buying investment cars for his high-end clients. In addition, Wayne has become a Concours judge supporting events such as the Cortile at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix as well as the Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance and he is the Executive Director of the new Greenbrier Concours d’Eleganc
Listen To Bernie’s podcast by Clicking on the button above, or use your mobile podcast App on Apple Podcast, Google Play, or Stitcher.
Bernie Martin is the Founder and President of Rapid Production Marketing in Pittsburgh. It’s a branding and consulting agency that develops strategies and tactical implementation.
A long time resident of Pittsburgh, Bernie has combines his passion for cars and in 2009 created The Cortile in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix week. The Cortile takes place at the Bob O’Conner Gold Course at Shenley Park. It is a unique car show as it is one of the few events during the race weekend managed by the PVGP Association. Most of the other car marque shows are managed by the individual car clubs.
As the Managing Director of the event Bernie and his team bring a wide range of Italian marque cars to this very special show with this year’s highlight being Alfa Romeo.
During the 2017 Amelia Island Concours d' Elegance Wayne and Bernie where invited by Paul to spend some time with Roy Sjoberg.
Roy H. Sjoberg was named Executive Engineer-Viper Project in February 1989. In that position, he created and managed the Project Team for the development & production of the Dodge Viper. The "Platform Team" concept envisioned by Sjoberg (to bring the Viper to production) became the corporate-wide organizational structure for Chrysler.
There was some terrific stories about the inception of the Viper and Roy's recruitment to Chrysler!
We not sure if everyone know's Paul Ianuario backstory. Paul is a retired engineer who spent more than 40 years in the automotive supplier industry and has degrees in engineering, mathematics, and physics.
Our discussion on the patio at The Ritz ran the gammit from mothballed factories to CNC machining and CFD testing.
Paul is going to be the Chief Judge at the Inaugural Greenbrier Concours d'Elegance, so of course there was a healthy amount of discussion about all aspects of Concours judging ranging from car selection and assignment to classes to filed layout and weather contingencies.
Paul is the president of SLR Support Services, Inc. His company provides consulting services and support for museums and vehicle related events. Paul was under contract for twenty years as Curator of the BMW Zentrum and recently stepped down from this position. He was an AACA Museum Director and served eleven years in that capacity.
Wayne Long, Founder of the Greenbrier Concours, has selected Paul Ianuario as Chief Judge of the inaugural Concours.
The Greenbrier is proud to host the first annual Concours d'Elegance on September 21-24, 2017. The Greenbrier Concours d'Elegance is honored to welcome Paul Ianuario as Chief Judge of the inaugural Concours, to be held September 21-24, 2017 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Ianuario – a retired engineer, who spent more than 40 years in the automotive supplier industry and is a Master CCA judge, as well as an AACA judge – has been instrumental in setting up the Concours classes to make The Greenbrier Concours unique in comparison to any other Concours event around the world. Paul resides in Duncan, S.C., with his wife, Dinky.
Some of the stories, pictures and articles that we have been included in over the years.