All posts by Jim McCraw

Jim McCraw has been writing about cars, motorcycles, design, technology, car people and racing for 50 years, in such publications as Hot Rod Deluxe, Super Chevy, Muscle Mustangs, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Penthouse, Winding Road, The Mercedes-Benz Star, AutoWeek, The New York Times, and a number of European publications. He was executive editor of Motor Trend, editor of Hot Rod and Super Stock. He co-holds the record for the drive from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, 96:22, and has run in major events such as the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy, Goodwood, the California Mille, the Colorado Grand, the New England 1000, Forza Mille, and four One Lap Of America competitions He owns a pristine Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan.

Atlanta concours’ winning formula: Southern hospitality and classic cars

It’s only two years old, but the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance held on the grounds of automotive entrepreneur and racer Don Panoz’s Chateau Elan resort, acts like a seasoned veteran of the car show circuit.

The concours presented an informal car show this past Saturday, kind of an all-day cars and coffee, as well as a road tour that climbed the hills and dales of suburban Atlanta and toured the famous Road Atlanta race track just a few miles up the road.

The crop of more than 180 vehicles was as deep and as broad as you would expect at a senior concours, with special attractions like Fabulous Fins Of The Fifties, vintage motorcycles, a display of nearly all of the surviving Lozier automobiles — and members of the Lozier family. There were special presentations by the Evergreen Collection of Lebanon, Missouri, circles of cars from collectors Jim Gebhardt and Ray Morgan, and a Russian astronaut-recovery airboat. Brass, classic, sports, prewar, muscle, oddballs.

In short, something for everybody.

With the vehicles arranged in a giant U-shape behind the resort’s golf club, the spectators had plenty of room to wander through the various classes of cars and enjoy the special presentations arrayed in the center of the fairway.

On Sunday, masters of ceremonies Keith Martin of TV’s What’s My Car Worth and motorsports broadcaster Bob Varsha, this year’s special honoree, made sure that all the class winners were recognized, and then they were parked together on a long slope so that spectators could have a final look at each one.

Concours founder Harry Krix then presented the Karen L. Krix commemorative trophy to the automobile that best exemplified the spirit of the Atlanta Concours. It went to Rob Adams, the owner of the 1956 Arnott Sports Climax 1100, the first car designed and built by a woman. Mrs. Krix died of cancer in July.

Then it was time to present Best of Show American to the 1930 Packard 745 SP Phaeton owner by the Cofer Collection of Tucker, Georgia, and Best Of Show European to the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K shown by Evergreen Historic Automobiles, the 600-car collection from Missouri.

Cool, breezy Atlanta fall weather, 180 wonderful cars, a dozen vintage motorcycles, and Southern hospitality adds up to we are coming back next year.

Motor City madness: A cars ‘n’ coffee of concours quality

Since Fiat Chrysler design boss Ralph Gilles was honored  as Enthusiast Of The Year, and since Vipers are finished, they brought a few to show | Jim McCraw photos
Since Fiat Chrysler designer Ralph Gilles was honored as Enthusiast Of The Year, and since Vipers are finished, they brought a few | Jim McCraw photos

The Saturday morning Cars & Coffee event that normally takes place at M1 Concourse, the new luxury garage and race track complex in Pontiac, Michigan, where a GM plant used to stand, was moved to the grounds of The Inn At St. John’s on the last weekend in July because the Concours d’Elegance of America was taking over the place for the weekend and it seemed appropriate to M1, to sponsors Car and Driver and Road & Track and the other normal sponsors of the gathering. Concourse meets Concours. Continue reading

At Eagle Field, vintage drag racing is at its best

Drainpipe starting line structure, flagman, and two-story tower without A/C demonstrate the basic nature of Eagle Field | Jim McCraw photos
Drainpipe starting line structure, flagman, and two-story tower without A/C demonstrate the basic nature of Eagle Field | Jim McCraw photos

In the tiny farming town of Firebaugh, California, there is a World War II Army Air Corps training facility called Eagle Field. It has been there since 1942 and there is so much aviation fuel, so many lubricants and other chemicals in the soil that, right in the middle of the huge San Joaquin Valley, one of the largest and most productive agricultural valleys in the world, there is hardly a blade of grass.

Eagle Field has changed hands many times from government to investor to farmer and back to government, and was rescued in 1980 by airplane aficionado Joe Davis, who has started assembling an aviation museum. In 2009, a group of local drag racers asked if they could use the one surviving runway to do some racing. Continue reading

An automotive treasure chest at Tampa Bay

1929 Tracta A roadster, one of two, finished first in class at Le Mans | Jim McCraw photos,
1929 Tracta A roadster, one of two, finished first in class at Le Mans | Jim McCraw photos,

Back in 2005, Alain Cerf opened the doors of the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum to celebrate the engineering, design and innovation that went into some of the pioneering cars of the Twenties and Thirties from Europe and America.

Since that grand opening, the museum has grown, evolved, and acquired more and more exotic European machinery, almost six dozen cars in all, many with badges that most enthusiasts have never heard of. That’s what makes it so completely wonderful. Continue reading

The King’s collection: Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

Don Garlits built the first truly successful rear-engined dragster in 1971 after a huge explosion in his last front-engined car | Jim McCraw photos
Don Garlits built the first truly successful rear-engined dragster in 1971 after a huge explosion in his last front-engined car | Jim McCraw photos

Don Garlits is the undisputed king of drag racing. Now 85, he has won 17 championships, won almost 150 races, and built, tuned and driven about 60 different race cars since he started racing in 1950.

He is known around the world as “Big Daddy,” and about 40 of his race cars have been called “Swamp Rat,” because Garlits was born and raised in Florida. Continue reading

More than parts, NPD has 200+ classics in its collection

Remember these slick Indy Pace Car Mustangs?  This one has only traveled 56 miles since new | Jim McCraw photos
Remember these slick Indy Pace Car Mustangs? This one has only traveled 56 miles since new | Jim McCraw photos

With 207 cars and trucks already in place, and more on the way, the NPD Collection in Ocala, Florida, must be among the largest private classic car collections on Earth.

Put together by the father and son team of Jim and Rick Schmidt, the collection traces its roots back to Jim’s basement in Cleveland in 1976. The company he started there, National Parts Depot, is one of the world’s premier producers of reproduction parts for classic American cars and trucks, a company that started making parts for the 1955-57 classic Ford Thunderbirds, branched out from there to Mustangs, and now covers just about every American classic car make and model you can think of. Continue reading

Howey -In-The-Hills and its hyphenated hoot of a car show

A 1933 Harley-Davidson with package-truck sidecar among the many and various cars at the show | Jim McCraw photos
A 1933 Harley-Davidson with package-truck sidecar among the many and various cars at the show | Jim McCraw photos

The setting was as familiar as Pebble Beach, Meadow Brook, or St. John’s. A car show on a beautiful golf course on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But this wasn’t one of the big ones. Instead, this was a local annual car show held at the beautiful Mission Inn & Resort in the tiny community of Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida, the American town with more hyphens in its name than any other. Continue reading

Nothing second-fiddle about Amelia’s Cars & Coffee show

As the cars and crowd might indicate, Amelia's Cars & Coffee was a big hit | Jim McCraw photos
As the cars and crowd might indicate, Amelia’s Cars & Coffee was a big hit | Jim McCraw photos

Across the street, one of the greatest car shows on Earth was going on, but over here, in its own paddock, was the Amelia Island Cars & Coffee, a very tidy collection of street cars that were pre-registered for the event and just came in, turned right, and drove onto the grass for the day, without the aid of Passport, Intercity, Horseless Carriage, Reliable, or any of the other companies that usually transport classic vehicles to concours events. They just drove in and parked. Continue reading

AACA opens 2017 show season with Winter Meet in Ocala

A complete rack of 1936 Fords in most but not all body styles | Jim McCraw photos
A complete rack of 1936 Fords in most but not all body styles | Jim McCraw photos

The first of what will be 16 events organized by the Antique Automobile Club of America took place late last month when the Winter Meet was held on the campus of the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida, the horse capital of the world. Around 250 vehicles were on display, ranging in birthday from 1912 to 1992, hosted by the AACA’s Sunshine State region and chapters of the Central Florida Region. Continue reading

Grand opening: Motorsports Hall Of Fame Museum

Motorsports Hall of Fame honors all forms of motorized competition | Jim McCraw photos
Motorsports Hall of Fame honors all forms of motorized competition | Jim McCraw photos

This has been a long time coming. The Motorsports Hall Of Fame started life way back in 1989 in an old building in Novi, Michigan, a few miles west of Detroit, with a handful of old race cars on display.

Its mission was and is to recognize greatness in American racing, in every kind of racing, from Indy to NASCAR to drag racing, aviation, boats, sports cars, and motorcycles, with induction ceremonies of a new class every spring. Continue reading