Audrain Concours d’Elegance:
a new School?
History, beauty, glamour are part of the criteria of a jury where also women have a solid weight.
The Audrain Concours & Motor week represents a different event in the international automotive scene. The successful mix of private concerts, gala dinners in exclusive locations, open activities, young audiences, cars of exceptional level, allowed the organizers to offer a 360-degree event, young, diverse and fun. Among the elements of unicity compared to other “traditional” competitions of elegance, there is also the judging method adopted at the Concorso d’Eleganza. Although it retains all the classic elements typical of a Concours, Audrain differs by proposing a new method.
Unlike many other competitions, where there are strict rules and judgments, the Audrain Competition is all about emotion, passion, and elegance. As the president of the competition, Donald Osborne stated, History, Luxury, Sports are the keywords that the judges must have in mind on the green. Certainly, the cars must be judged for their precision and accuracy in restoration, but it is also necessary to evaluate and appreciate their historical importance, their scenic presence, and their elegance. The cars that most reflect these values, which distinguish Newport, must be chosen as winners.
The couple of Maseratis that won the Petrolicious “Best Story Award” stunned the crowd at Audrain Concourse. Not just the most beautiful car in the show, but also capable to win many races back in the days.
The members of the jury of the Concorso d’Eleganza have been carefully selected among the best and most experienced judges on the international scene. In order to guarantee the highest level of quality in the judging, high caliber personalities were called upon to work. The selection of the jury was a task for Donald Osborne. David Kinney, a renowned American expert judge and contributor to Octane, among others, is chosen as president of the jury. Highlights among the judges include Sandra Button, president of the Pebble Beach Concours, Wayne Carini, restorer and American TV star famous for his show “Chasing Classic Cars”, Jay Ward, creative director of PIXAR Animation Studios, Edward Welburn, former design chief of GM Motors. There were 98 cars selected, of which 88 were judged. A very high number for an inaugural edition of a Concorso d’Eleganza.
Also worth noting is a new element that characterised this inaugural edition of the Competition: the presence of many women among the members of the jury. Although not yet represented in the same way as men, 8 women were invited to Audrain, a high number when compared to other international competitions of elegance. A good start and a good sign for the future of classic car events, which must be increasingly inclusive of women.
Miss Rhode Island, the most beautiful girl in the state, gives the Best of Show Award, selected by the jury, to Mrs. Cassini, owner of the 1927 Isotta Fraschini 8A.
As in the other competitions, Audrain awards “Special Awards” selected by special members of the jury. On this occasion, the prize for the most elegant car is decided and awarded by Sandra Button (Chairman of Pebble Beach Concourse), while that for the car with the most original story was given by Shayan Bokaye, Marketing Director of famous car blog Petrolicious. In Audrain, unlike many other competitions, a special award equals a Best in Class. This means that a car that wins that award can aspire to get the final Best of Show, even if it does not win the class.
As for the scoring system, for each category judged (engine, interior, exterior, and so on) are awarded 10 maximum points for originality and conditions. The method of judgement is precise and serious, certainly different from the ICJAG method, which evaluates in a more “scientific” way the smallest details of the car. The history and presence of the vehicle counts a lot in Audrain, so much so that for its historical value up to 15 points can be awarded, an almost unique element in competitions. Audrain is also awarded points for the car that best reflects the values of Newport: History, Luxury, Sport. This category has the highest score (20 points), and ‘the really distinctive element of this competition. The car that has the most stage presence, the most historical value and that best reflects Newport, wins.
Audrain is an example of how the Concours of Elegance are moving in a new direction. The cars are judged not only for the precision of the restoration and originality of all the components but also and especially for their stage presence, for their importance and historical relevance, for the values they represent. Are we moving in a new direction? Probably, and this is interesting news.
The judges at work: choosing a winner is not easy. Precision in restoration, originality of the components, historical relevance and presence are all factors that influence the final choice. The winning car is the one that best reflects the values of Newport.
Photo courtesy by Audrain Concours