Commentary: The Job Of Bearing Witness To A Community of Enthusiasts

When you drive around in your modern automobile, there is a chance that you could be distracted for some reason or another. 

Not because you picked up your phone for some text – which is now illegal in most of the USA by now. Maybe you saw someone that is attractive to you.

Or, rather, it is a classic automobile.

Ah, the classics. For those who can and do have them, they drive alongside everyone else as a message to the rest of us – our car still runs, and you must respect that!

If only that was as simple as message as it gets. Though the work of ensuring it runs, looking great, inducing head-snapping, and carrying conversations are a lot harder than you think.

Harder, unless you know which channels and networks you can get parts to keep those classics running.

It is something modern enthusiasts may know a few things about – the upkeep of your precious machine. There is another thing they also know about – having a vehicle that speaks on your behalf and has a soul of its own.

This is why we take extra care of our vehicles. We give them names. We give them a well-deserved hand wash. We crawl underneath them to find out where some odd noise is coming from. We lovingly get our hands dirty to check fluid and to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape.

If we show them off, we drive carefully to some meet or another. It could be as big as Back to The 50’s or Minnesota Cars and Coffee. Or, it could be a small gathering of your friends at your favorite restaurant.

However, there is always the drive. The time that you have with your precious automobile on some road with no destination in mind. You could have some destination, however. There’s the big candy store on US Highway 169 south of Jordan. Or, to Mount Rushmore. Or, a long road trip across the country.

These are things you already know about automotive enthusiasm. It bears repeating, though. At every turn, we will find serendipity in how we approach the automobile – even dreaming about the next one. Or, the one we can never afford to own.

I’ve probably written all of the above over the past eight-plus years of doing this work. Maybe in one article or another. It serves as a reminder that enthusiasts represent a core of my audience and that you must be acknowledged in this work at all times.

Why did I go on this missive about automotive enthusiasm and your relationship with these magnificent machines? We are the middle of car season here in Minnesota. Throughout the summer there are major events that take place that is designed to engage with the vehicles and their owners.

Therefore, I made a return to the 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance in Excelsior. If you want the highest level of automotive enthusiasm in this state, this is the place you go to.

Being there for the first one, I have seen the growth in this event on various levels. It is not just about the number of entrants at the show – now with 155 qualified cars, 14 boats, and 18 motorcycles. The show has grown in terms of prominence and importance on the state’s automotive stage. In its seventh year, the trajectory of this show has been dictated by not only the number of sponsors it has on its roster but by the resonance this event it has on many communities in the Twin Cities.

The most important takeaway one should have about this show is the level of automotive enthusiasm exhibited at Excelsior Commons. Only in a few places across the country can you find a collection of the finest quality of vehicles around and still retain a more accessible level of owners and enthusiasts that own and appreciate these machines.

I always remind many people that the 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance is not Amelia Island, Greenwich, or Pebble Beach. For what Randy Guyer and his team do, they do well in their efforts for the past seven years.

There was a twist to this year’s 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance. Originally, I was not planning to attend or cover the show. However, an e-mail from the show’s public relations firm not only invited me to come and cover it – but to participate in it. They wanted me to be a "celebrity judge" for the costume contest.

Now, it was not the idea of judging a costume contest, as I was able to bring my expertise in bridging the costume with the vehicle they brought into the show. Rather, it was the "celebrity" part. I’m no celebrity. I don’t have a television or radio show. I'm an automotive journalist and blogger with a smaller audience than a lot of influencers on social media.

Once I swallowed that ego-stroking pill, I co-judged the contest and came up with a top three. I hope the winners enjoyed their prizes and recognition they received on Sunday.

This past wet Sunday continues to remind me of the great assets we have in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and throughout the Upper Midwest when it comes to automotive enthusiasm. It continues being a pleasure to cover these events for V&R and the other outlets I write for.

This is why I love this car community. You have many stories to tell. You do many things to create these stories. I’m just glad to witness it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Keep on doing what you do. And, I’ll keep on witnessing it.

Photo by Randy Stern

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