The 2019 Geneva Concours d’Elegance

The Chicago Region SCCA was again for the second year a featured group in the Geneva Concours d’Elegance an event celebrating the “Art of the Automobile”.  This year’s concours was a huge success, with great weather, and an extremely large spectator turnout, all to benefit the LIVINGWELL Cancer Resource Center, in Geneva, Illinois.  The event features this year were; STuTZ Automobiles, Cars of Sydney Allard, Fabulous Fin-tailed Cars, 100 years of the Bentley Motor Company, and the 75thAnniversary of the Sports Car Club of America.  There were 215 cars entered in the concours, which included the 30 cars from the Chicago Region’s “Concours for Sports Cars”.  With the designated Car Club parking area and the Porsche Club area the total count was well above 300 cars on display.  

The theme for the Chicago Region SCCA “Concours for Sports Cars” was celebrating the 75thAnniversary of SCCA.  The cars entered demonstrated the full scope and ranged of the clubs history from Jerry Cihak’s 1946 MG TC to Chris Pedersen’s 2018 GT2/TA2 Camaro race car.  Other notable cars were Tom Simpson’s 1966 McKee MKVI CanAm car, and during the day Bob McKee stopped by and spent some time with Tom and the car.  Bobby Rahal drove his white 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA Stradale into the show area early Sunday morning and spent a nice quiet day relaxing, visiting with friends, and answering questions about the car.  Georg Olsen’s brought his 1960 EP Austin Healey 3000, a true historical SCCA race car that had just been on the track the day before.  Representing the Solo group Tracy Ramsey’s 2016 STR Mazda Miata and a vintage 1969 DP Datsun 2000 originally campaigned by Chicago Region Ex-RE Kim Breitenbach in the 1970’s.  

Over the many years the Geneva Concours has taken place, Chicago Region member and self-proclaimed “World’s Fastest Novelist “BS” Levy”, Burt Levy has been a regular at the show. This year the Chicago Region invited Burt to join us on Campbell Street where he could sell his books and be part of our event.  You may know, Burt visits racing events and classic car concours across the country, and for some of the concours Burt presents the “Buddy Palumbo Award” which is awarded to an individual that maintains their car themselves and drives it.  Burt was very kind and is allowing the Chicago Region to use this name on one of our awards.  This year The Buddy Palumbo Award went to a beautiful red 1953 MG TD owned, maintained, and driven by Bob Lee. 

This year just like last, the premise of the Chicago Region’s event at the Geneva Concours is to be a fun day focused on the social, not the competitive side.  All of the cars entered in our “Concours for Sports Cars” are worthy of winning a trophy, and the committee does their very best when choosing a recipient.  There are nine trophies in all, the prestigious “Carl F. Benz” award from the Geneva Concours d’Elegance and eight “Concours for Sports Cars” plaques. 

The award winners for 2019 are:  

Geneva Concours Carl F. Benz Award (Award of Distinction)       Tom Simpson – 1966 McKee CanAm 

This car was designed by Chicago Region SCCA member Bob McKee and built by McKee Engineering Corporation, in Lake Zurich, Ill. This is the second of three MK VIs made and the only one powered by a Chevrolet engine. This cars racing career includes Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) and Canadian American Challenge Cup (CanAm) competition. It finished first at the 1966 Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints® at Road America.  Current owner and vintage racer Tom Simpson raced this car at the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Leguna Seca in Monterey California, and this year at the 2019 International Challenge with Brian Redman at Road America, in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.

SCCA Diamond Award (Historically significant)                           Georg Olsen – 1960 Austin Healey

This one-owner Austin-Healey has been racing since it rolled off the showroom floor and continues to be part of Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) club racing and also Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) vintage racing.  It was first campaigned with Cal Club (California Sports Car Club) an SCCA Region and most recently in the 2018 Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints® at Road America.  Updated to the club’s new D Production specs in 1974 and again in 1981 to SCCA E Production specs, it has been raced as such ever since. The owner possesses several early log books, including the original endorsed by Donald Healey.

Buddy Palumbo Award(maintained and driven by owner)         Bob Lee – 1953 MG TD

Bob’s red MG is a perfect example of what the founding members of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the Chicago Region would have owned and raced during the early years of the SCCA.  MG’s were one of the primary racing groups and you can still find them on road race tracks participating in vintage race events.  

Best of Show (most outstanding car in show)                             Jerry Cihak – 1946 MG TC

Jerry’s MG TC is number 1,543 for 1946. This car has been driven in several Michigan Milias (1,000-mile rallies) around Lake Michigan to test its endurance and reliability. It has raced at Watkins Glen and Road America with the MG and vintage racers and participated with the Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association at Grattan and Black Farms Raceway. Jerry has also driven the car on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

1st Sports car                                                                            Bobby Rahal – 1965 Alfa Romeo GTA

The GTA was introduced in 1965, Alfa Romeo turned its affordable sports car, the Giulia GT, into a spectacular race car. The company emphasized weight reduction – the A stands for alleggerita or “lightened.”  The GTA Stradale (“street”) was built as a homologation special so that Alfa Romeo could race the GTA. Consequently, it had a race-tuned 1600cc, Weber-carbed, four-cylinder engine and other performance enhancements. Five hundred GTA Stradales were built to conform to homologation rules.

2nd Sports Car                                                                           Chris Olszewski – 1969 Datsun 2000

Purchased new in 1969 by Kim Breitenbach at Carrara Motors in Lombard Illinios this car was a twin to the Datsun 2000 Kim’s wife Linda owned. Linda’s remained a street car and this one became a race car.  In 1970 car was converted into a D Prepared SCCA Solo II (autocross) competition car. The car is now owned by Chris and Heidi (Breitenbach) Olszewski, Kim’s daughter.  The car looks much like it did when Kim retired the car from competition thirty three years ago.

1st Race Car                                                                              Chris Pedersen – 2018 Camaro GT2        

Chris and his race team all dressed in team colors brought this purpose built Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) TA2/GT-2, 2018 Camaro race car for all to enjoy.  This Camaro was prepared to race in the SCCA Trans Am, TA-2 pro series, as well in SCCA armature racing in GT-2.  This year at the Chicago Region June Sprints® Chris and the Camaro earned 3rdplace podium finish at Road America in the Saturday, June Sprints Dash race which is part of the SCCA Hoosier Super Tour.  

RE’s Favorite (whatever the RE or past RE’s present like)           Burt Richmond – 2013 Fiat 500

This 2013 Fiat 500 has been painted to match Burt’s 1963 Fiat 500 Abarth rally car that he has owed for the past 12 years.  The ’63 Fiat 500 was being used as a daily driver in Chicago until three of its Abarth wheels were destroyed driving through potholes. Deciding to preserve the original from the dangers of Chicago streets and having to replace wheels and other parts, Burt purchased this 2013 Fiat 500 and had it repainted to match the 1963.  Burt Richmond has competed in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) completion events over the years and has a rather extensive drivers resume.  He has competed in H – Production, Formula – V, and Formula Ford, and has the distinct honor of being a Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints® Champion from the early 1970s.  

Burt’s motto for this 2013 Fiat 500 is; “It’s more fun to go fast in a slow car, than to go slow in a fast car.” 

Fun Committee Favorite (selected by committee members)      Terri Gardner – 2016 Rezvani Beast

Terri, a Chicago Region member entered this Rezvani Beast, a custom car built around a modified Ariel Atom chassis.  Rezvani is a small car company specializing in extreme custom builds.  Cars are built to order, and fitted to the owner as a one off vehicle.  This is the third one built and as of the spring 2019 there are now five Rezvani Beast. This car was featured on Jay Leno’s Garage web-series where Jay reviewed the car with creator Ferris Rezvani. After the taping of the show the car was modified to add a roll bar and fixed wing.  The Beast is a true roadster, no doors, built on a modified chassis, it weighs only 1700 Lbs.  It is powered by a Honda K24, 2.4 liter Supercharged 500 h.p. performance engine mated to a six speed manual transmission and will go 0-60 in 2.7 seconds. 

If you haven’t been to this show, you need to put it on your calendar as a must.  The Geneva Concours d’Elegance is always held on the third Sunday in August on Third Street in Geneva Illinois’ historical district.  If you have a race car or sports car and haven’t entered it, why not?  If you’re interested in entering a car contact Steve Laske 630-258-3820 or the Chicago Region SCCA Club Office 847-729-2211 and we will add you to our list and send you an entry form when registration opens.  Come join us, spend a nice quite day, enjoying the “Art of the Automobile”, visiting with friends and helping support a worthy and important cause, the LIVINGWELL Cancer Resource Center, in Geneva, Illinois.