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Louisville Concours d’Elegance 2011 – Report and Photos

This 1976 Crossle 32F was raced by Jason Cowdrey.Photo: Michael Casey-DiPleco
This 1976 Crossle 32F was raced by Jason Cowdrey. Photo: Michael Casey-DiPleco

Report and photos by Leigh Dorrington

The 2011 Louisville Concours d’Elegance at Churchill Downs benefitting Brooklawn Child and Family Services provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the 1915 Duesenberg racing car of Joe Freeman to be driven on the historic Churchill Downs track.

The Duesenberg is one of five team cars built by brothers Fred and Augie Duesenberg between 1913-1916 and finished 2nd in the 1916 Indianapolis 500. The car is now the second-oldest Duesenberg known to exist and has also been driven at venues as widespread as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Monterey Historics.

Restorer David Greenlees who drove the car on the track said, “It’s not what we’re used to! It’s like driving on the ‘cushion’ all the way around. The car didn’t even want to slow down when it came to the turns.”

The brief drive took place before an excited crowd as part of special featured activities honoring 100 Years of Racing at Indianapolis—located only about 100 miles from Churchill Downs.

The featured class was created to highlight significant automobiles representing each decade of racing at Indianapolis—plus a 1921 H.C.S. Pace car. Other invited automobiles included:

  • 1911 Interstate-first Indianapolis 500
  • 1923 Miller–Tommy Milton winner
  • 1934 Miller-Bill Cummings winner
  • 1951 Kurtis K4000-Jack McGrath 5rd place 1953
  • 1953 Kurtis KK500B-Jimmy Davies 3rd place 1955
  • 1968 STP Lotus Turbine car
  • 1973 Sunoco Eagle-Offy-Mark Donohue defending race winner
  • 1982 Wildcat-Cosworth-Gordon Johncock defending race winner
  • 2000 Target GForce-Oldsmobile-Juan Montoya winner

Owners of the Indianapolis cars were encouraged to start their engines on the brick grid shortly before awards presentations began, which was greeted with a huge cheer and ear-to-ear grins.

Among the many other highlights of the concours field, also honoring the 125th Anniversary of Mercedes and Benz, were an 1886 Benz Patent Wagen replica and a 1931 Mercedes-Benz 370S Mannheim Special Cabriolet from the Kemp Auto Museum in St. Louis, one of three examples built and the only one surviving. Post-war Mercedes-Benz included superb examples of the complete Mercedes-Benz 300 range.

Outstanding examples of pre-war American Classics included a 1932 Packard 905 Coupe Roadster presented by Sally and Gene Perkins, 1930 Stutz Supercharged Lancefield Coupe and a 1932 Stutz Bearcat DV-32, both exhibited by Richard Mitchell and a 1930 Ruxton Roadster owned by Cliff Ernst.

Among the pre-war European automobiles were the 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Towncar of Gregory Aarssen, a 1937 Railton built by British Land Speed Record engineer Reid Railton on an American Hudson chassis and presented by Hudson collector Eldon Hostetler and the 1931 Bugatti Type 40A Roadster of Jim Stranberg. The Patterson Collection of Louisville presented two automobiles for display only—the 2010 Pebble Beach Best in Show Delage D 8S Roadster and a 1937 Talbot-Lago T-150C Roadster. Both still were rewarded, with the Rolling Sculpture Award and the People’s Choice Award respectively.

Standing out among all racing cars other than the Indianapolis cars was the extraordinary 1949 Talbot-Lago T-26 GP of the type that raced as both grand prix and sports racing cars in the early post-war years.

The Backroads of the Bluegrass Motoring Tour on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 meandered through the rolling countryside surrounding historic Bardstown, KY, known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World”. The tour led participants to the Heaven Hill Distillery, home of famous brands including Evan Williams—Kentucky’s first bourbon.

The Best in Show-winning Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton participated in the tour. Charles Letts Jr. purchased the Duesenberg in New Jersey in 1953, for $3,500. The automobile, recently restored, has remained in his family for the past 58 years.

The 2012 Louisville Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for September 29-30, 2012. Featured marques will include Cadillac and Porsche.

Louisville Concours d’Elegance 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture)

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Louisville Concours d’Elegance 2011 – Award Winners

Best in Show
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton, Charles L. Letts, Jr. Bloomfield Hills MI

People’s Choice
1937 Talbot-Lago T-150C, The Patterson Collection, Louisville KY

Timeless Elegance Award
1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Town Car, Gregory Aarssen, Chatham, Ontario

Grand Marshall’s Award
1953 Mercedes-Benz 300S Roadster, David Stitzer, Warwick PA

Chief Judge’s Award
1911 Inter-State Race Car, Clem Langhe, Huntingburg, IN

Rolling Sculpture Award
1933 Delage D 8S Roadster (Pebble Beach winner), The Patterson Collection, Louisville KY

Brooklawn Children’s Choice Award
2009 Lamborghini Murcielago, Frank Ansari, Jeffersonville IN

Louisville Concours d’Elegance 2011 – Best in Class Award Winners

Featured Marque Mercedes-Benz to 1939
1931 Mercedes-Benz 370S Mannheim Special Cabriolet, The Kemp Auto Museum, Chesterfield MO

Featured Marque Mercedes-Benz 1945-1971
1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, Mike and Barbara Schultz, Canton OH

100 Years of Racing at Indianapolis
1953 Kurtis KK500B Race Car, Bill Akin, Hermitage TN

Racing Cars-All Years
1949 Talbot-Lago T-26C GP, David Duthu, Seabrook, TX

Vintage 1928-1948
1930 Ford Model A Town Sedan, Emeric Howell, Louisville KY

American Classics 1925-1948
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton, Charles L. Letts, Jr. Bloomfield Hills MI

Foreign Classics
1937 Talbot-Lago T-150C, The Patterson Collection, Louisville KY

American 1949-1975
1954 Ford Crestline Victoria, Carroll Rousey, Danville KY

Foreign Sports 1949-1975
1967 Austin-Healey 3000, William Collins, Louisville KY

Woodies to 1953
1936 Ford Woodie Station Wagon, Rick King, Hickory Corners MI

Corvette 1953-1975
1961 Corvette Convertible, John A. Paul, South Rockwood, MI

Muscle Cars 1961-1972
1970 Ford Boss 429, Rick Campbell, Greenwood IN

Contemporary Sports Cars
2008 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, Steve Malz, Indianapolis IN

1952 Volkswagen, Richard Reischman, St. Clairsville, OH

1960 Ariel Leader Touring, Jerry Bingham, Louisville KY

[Source: Leigh Dorrington]