I go to about 10-12 events every year from local club shows to big productions like the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. As a result, I get to see a wide range of event production quality, venues, and activities. As you might expect my experiences run the gamut from pretty incredible to downright miserable. What you might not expect is that the quality of each event doesn’t seem to have any relation to the size of the outfit putting it on or their financial resources. I’ve been to smallish events put on with a shoestring budget that were just a blast to be at (Eurocar in Cazenovia, NY and the Show of Dreams in Hudson, NH fall into this category) and that I return year after year because they’re simply fun to be at. The flip side is that I’ve been to events produced by people with years of experience in show production and budget to spare that were/are just dismal affairs.
The Austin-Healey Club of New England’s recent Seaside Summit event would fall into the category of smaller local events (about 75 cars and 140 or so people) but has really set the bar in terms of production quality, venue and high fun factor. Event chairman Rick Neville and his very hardworking team did a masterful job of selecting a venue (the Wylie Inn) that was both central to all of the activities they planned (and very comfortable) as well as creating a daily calendar filled with both the usual (valve cover races, gymkhana and the like) and the unusual (schooner cruises in the harbor, a tour of women-owned local businesses, and an outrageous “lobstah fest”) leaving something for everybody to do as well as showcasing the local area. To top it off, the ubiquitous tech sessions were a cut above the usual fare featuring master restorer Bill Rawles walking us through building up a 100s and the Barrett-Jackson presentation on how they value cars and generally how the auction runs. Fascinating stuff.