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Judges at work.
Same rules, a different approach.

Duccio Lopresto, Young Judge Apprentice at both Pebble Beach and Salon Prive, tells us how two different Schools work.

Salon Prive Concourse of Elegance has become one of the leading classic car shows of the year. The quality of the cars invited, the beautiful location and the care for details of the organization committee make this event a must in the classic car scene. Like all elegance competitions, Salon Prive selects an international jury that evaluates the cars in competition and assigns prizes to the best cars on the green. Like Pebble Beach, Salon Prive also feels the need to instruct the “next generation” in the profession of judging.

For this reason, they invite since this year a selected number of young people under 30 years of age to act as “Young Apprentice Judge” in various classes. Although there are many similarities between the Pebble Beach and Salon Prive competitions, there are substantial differences between the two events that deserve to be described and analyzed in detail.

Unlike Pebble Beach, where each team of judges is assigned to only one class, Salon Prive assigns several classes to each team. At Salon Prive there are more or less 50 cars in competition, while at Pebble Beach there are more than 200. Each class at Pebble also includes an average of at least 6 cars (in some cases up to 10), while at Salon Prive many classes are composed of only four cars. The team of judges in the English Concourse is made up of a total of 33 judges, divided into Class Judges (23) and Honorary Judges (10), just like in Pebble Beach, where, however, the number of judges is much greater (in total over 70). The class judges are responsible for awarding the class prizes, while the Honorary Judges award the special prizes, which subjectively assess the most elegant cars, those with the best preserved interior or with the most special bodywork and so on.

This year there were three Young Judges in total, including me.

The magnificent Bentley R Type Continental that was awarded Best in Class by the Jury.

In Salon Prive, unlike Pebble Beach, there is both a President of Jury and a Chief Judge, Ed Gilbertson and Adolfo Orsi respectively. The former selects the members of the jury, among more than 500 international judges, and has an institutional role in the Event while the latter has the role of supervising the work of the judges, ensuring that the international guidelines and correct procedures are respected. They both have a say on the final Best of Show winner.

The main difference between the two events is that Salon Prive has joined the ICJAG (International Chief Judge Advisory Group) jury system since this year, while Pebble Beach uses its own evaluation system. The ICJAG system is used in many of the world’s most important competitions and offers an internationally recognized and approved way of judging. On a practical level, the two scoring systems are basically identical. Both assign to the cars in the classes a score of 100 points, from which points are deducted based on inaccuracies or errors found by the judges. One key difference is that at Pebble Beach driving your car during the Tour before the competition automatically increases the total score, while at Salon Prive driving your car during the Tour has no effect. At Salon Prive, in general, they appreciate if the car is used, driven, if it appears “lived”, always within the limits and in respect of a competition of elegance. While in Pebble Beach the cars on the green are in perfect conditions, and those that are preserved are strictly included in the “Preservation Classes”.

Judges Raoul San Giorgi and Nigel Matthews inspect the Hispano Suiza K6’s engine to see the quality of the restoration.

A substantial difference between the two competitions lies in the preparation of the Jury before the event. At Pebble Beach it consists of a single meeting lasting about two hours with all the judges before the show, where Chief Judge Chris Bock dictates the guidelines and procedures. At Salon Prive, on the contrary, the preparation of the judges lasts a full day, on the Wednesday before the competition. Here, Adolfo Orsi held a seminar where he explained the ICJAG international jury guidelines, described the ethical guidelines, listed potential point deduction lists for the competition, among other things. It was certainly very important for the judges to attend this seminar, since not everyone is aware of these international guidelines. This system is very important to treat all participants fairly and, especially, to understand in detail what are the problems and inaccuracies of the car.

The entrant can ask for the error card (without the points noted) after the end of the event, in order to improve the quality of his car and make it perfect.

It is key to show documentation and research material to the jury. Here, the owners show old pictures of the car leaving the factory to show that their restoration was accurate.

Other interesting topics dealt with in the seminar concerned issues such as the preservation and originality of the car. Adolfo stressed the fact that it is necessary to reward those who have carefully preserved and preserved elements of their car. There is an abyssal difference between preservation and neglect, so if parts of the car are in a state of neglect you have to remove points, but if instead the owner wanted to leave the original parts, used, preserved, then he or she should be rewarded. In case of equal scores, a common situation, they can use historical importance of the car as a tie breaker. In the meeting we talked about issues related to the jury process. Should we deduct points if the spare wheel is not original? Yes.

Can we penalize a competitor if we have strong doubts but we are not absolutely sure? No. A judge must always have concrete proof of his doubt. In addition, the judges have agreed on the Major Deductions for the Competition. As in Pebble Beach, if the car doesn’t start, if the chassis or the body are not the original ones but rebuilt, if the engine is of a different type, then 5 points are automatically removed. In practice, the car is excluded from the game if found with such inaccuracies.

The Ferrari Dino 206 owned by Cici Muldoon is ready to be evaluated by the judges. Don’t be stressed Cici, it’s just a training.

Another very useful and interesting thing was the training done, after the seminar, on two test cars, out of competition, to train the Young Judges in a practical way before the event. The training was done first on a Ferrari Dino 206 and then on a Mercedes W110 230. With all the judges present, two teams of judges evaluated the two cars as if they were present at the competition, removing the necessary points for each error found and then giving a final score. It was very useful as we could observe in first person the work of a judge, without the stress and pressure that you have during the official competition.

Chief Judge Adolfo Orsi explains the ICJAG guidelines and methods to the jury team during his Seminar.

This year, I had the honour to participate in the the team of judges of the pre-war competition cars, post-war British Coachbuilt and pre-war British open classes. The work on the green is really similar to the one in Pebble Beach: you evaluate the individual cars, you remove points for every error found, you give a final score and you assign the winners of the class. Unlike Pebble Beach, however, in Salon Prive there is only one Class Winner and the Runner-Up, no third in class.

For the Best of Show, three cars are selected from the thirteen class winners. Only the Chief Class Judges can participate in the decision of the Best of Show and give a judgment, all other members of the jury are excluded.

Assisting the jury at Salon Prive was an extremely useful experience, as I was able to compare an American judging system, at the most important competition in the world in Pebble Beach, with a more European vision of the Competitions of Elegance. Although there are subtle differences between the two events, the work of the judge in the two events is generally extremely similar.

The wonderful park of Blenheim Palace with the Concourse cars.

Photo courtesy by Wim Van Roy.

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