By definition, Concours d’Elegance is a French term meaning a “Competition of Elegance” where prestigious vehicles are displayed and judged.
Today, there are 40 annual Concours d’Elegance events in luxurious locations worldwide. They start in February at Boca Raton and Amelia Island in Florida. Then on to other famous locations—throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and even Nairobi, Kenya—finishing at Hilton Head South Carolina in November.
The latest addition to this prestigious line-up of worldwide Concours events was the inaugural Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance brought to our town in 2019.
LAS VEGAS CONCOURS d’ELEGANCE
The man behind it is Founder and Chairman, Stuart Sobek, an avid fan of vintage automotive excellence. “I’ve been attending famous Concours events around the world for over three decades,” he notes, “and a few years ago, while at a show, I thought ‘why don’t we have this in Vegas?’… We have hockey with the Golden Knights, the Raiders are coming to our new stadium, hmmm... and it began a four-year labor of love that I am proud to say is today’s reality.”
In the automotive world, Concours d’Elegance events are simply the crème de la crème of automobile shows that transcends basic motoring history and instead, elevates truly outstanding and amazing vehicles to a captivating art form.
“I wanted to make ours equally good,” Sobek adds, “maybe even better.”
THE CHALLENGE OF LEGACY
While Sobek and the Las Vegas Concours team set out to ensure that their inaugural event would take its rightful place in the line-up of famed annual Concours showings and competitions from around the world—they also began adding numerous innovations and personal touches that have become a hallmark of the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance.
“As to be expected, we had amazing cars from famous collections all over the world,” states Sobek, "These spectacular cars were the stars of our first show, but we felt there was still more that could be done to highlight the 'spirit and essence' of the Concours d'Elegance and to honor those who preserve and archive these amazing automotive works of art."
One innovation that set the Las Vegas Concours apart from all others, was the Tour d’Elegance parade of cars down the Las Vegas Boulevard Strip on Sunday morning, following the show. “No other city had such an iconic street to parade the cars,” Sobek notes, “and we took advantage of something Las Vegas has to offer that is unlike any other venue in the world.”
But for Sobek and the LVCE team, such thinking was (and is) just the beginning.
ART, BEAUTY, AND INNOVATION
One aspect was to create a memorable image to symbolize this event—and they began researching the history of automotive design. In doing so, they came across a unique woman named Helene Rother.
In 1943, Rother became the first female automotive designer at General Motors. Extremely talented and clearly ahead of her time, she designed upscale interiors for automobiles that set an industry standard for moderately-priced models that rivaled the best luxury cars of the day. For many years, cars featuring her stylings boasted “interiors by Madame Helene Rother of Paris.”
The Sobek graphics team settled on Rother as the figurehead for the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance. They first created a logo that captured her beauty and spirit and then extended her likeness to a beautiful gleaming “Helene Awards” statuette presented to winners of the LVCE Best-in-Show judging competitions.
An interesting result of Sobek’s creation of the Helene Awards for his show is that it also brought Helene Rother into the spotlight within the automotive world. So much so that on July 21st of this year, she was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame—in Dearborn, Michigan – along with a small group of industry luminaries that included Jay Leno and the Chairman and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company. Thanks to Sobek and the Las Vegas Concours Helene Awards.
A FIELD OF DREAM CARS
The Second Annual Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance, scheduled for October of this year, will again bring more than 100 of the most famous magnificent collector cars to the entertainment capital of the world.
While amazing and captivating in its own right—for Sobek and the LVCE team—that is just for starters, as this year’s Concours will also be filled with innovative showmanship and never before seen ground-breaking direction from the opening ceremony to an exciting new venue.
It all begins on October 21st with the kick-off Concours d’Avant (French for “Before”) event at the Shelby Heritage Center, home of the famous Carroll Shelby Museum (featuring over 30 of his most famous Cobra and Ford Mustang cars) and the Shelby American Manufacturing Facility where today’s latest and hottest Cobras are being built, all just off the South end of the Las Vegas Strip.
This choice by Sobek and his team is indicative of their ability to envision and masterfully bring together the very best of automotive history and elegance and then seamlessly blend it with the best of today’s automotive world, all the while casting an eye to what may be just around the corner.
Interestingly enough, Peter Brock—one of Carroll Shelby’s first employees who later designed the famous Corvette Sting Ray—will also receive a Helene Award for lifetime “Achievement in Automotive Design” at this year’s show.
Beyond the golden age of automotive design—and its influence on America’s ability to travel the highways and byways of our nation—the automobile has played a leading role in hundreds of iconic Hollywood movies of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s up to and including the latest blockbuster hits of today.
Who could forget the James Bond 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in “Goldfinger” or Steve McQueen’s chase scene in “Bullitt” in his green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastback?
Carroll Shelby’s personal history and his impact and influence on the world of auto racing in the 1960s were also featured in the recent 2019 “Ford vs Ferrari” movie.
By coincidence, October 21st (the day of the Concours d’Avant kick-off at the Shelby Museum) is also widely known as “Back to the Future Day,” as that date was punched in by Marty and Doc in “Back to the Future II” and it is rumored they just may setting October 23rd for their famed DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine to appear at Sobek’s next ground-breaking innovation.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE...
Historically, Concours events are held on the lush fairways of famous golf courses around the world. However, Sobek thinks there is a better way to view and experience the very best of the automotive world’s classics.
As such, this year’s show blends 70-years of famed Concours elegance with one of today’s most up-to-the-minute sports facilities—the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin.
The recently completed $150 million stadium, owned by Howard Hughes Corporation, features a lush grass infield for spectator viewing and the league’s largest Daktronics LED video screen overhead—with nearly 4,000 square feet of visual display measuring 31 x 126 feet—for exciting close-up coverage of the world’s most beautiful classic cars drawn from exclusive private collections and famous automotive museums.
In addition to close-up viewing on the field, spectators will also experience an overall panorama from the grandstand and an exciting Concours “first” with after-dark viewing under the lights.
This is just some of what has earned Sobek and the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance the title of “The Future of Looking Back.”
While Las Vegas is regarded as the entertainment capital of the world, for three exciting days in October the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance is making our town the epicenter of the automotive world...past, present, and future.
“We’ll again have amazing cars...from famous collections all over the world...but that’s just the beginning,” states Sobek. “It will be the cultural event of 2021…to see and where to be seen...don’t miss it.”