Ironstone Concours knocks it out of the park

Photography by Tim Suddard

For 25 years, the Ironstone Concours d’ Elegance–held about two and a half hours east of the Bay Area–has quietly become one of the best concours events in America.

Something that sets apart this one: the venue. This site, set up for concerts and large functions, is every event organizer’s dream. The winery grounds are pretty and have its own lake plus a dirt track.

The main show field featured terraces–reminiscent of the Radnor Hunt Concours in Pennsylvania. The big cars were parked on the main field, and then other groups got their own areas: The British cars were down along the lake, the vintage engine display was off to itself in another area, and the vintage camper display was set up in a shady park-like corner of the field and so on.

Yes, we mentioned shade. Garden-like oases offered spectators and car owners a comfortable place to escape the heat of the day.

Unlike some concours events, the Ironstone Concours felt very inclusive. Sure, they had the big cars and crazy one-offs that you expect at this type of event, but with 300 plus machines on display, they offered the full range–Model T Fords to a Dodge Viper. The whole event felt like an incredibly impressive concours combined with a casual Cars and Coffee-type event.

But it wasn’t a quiet event: The firing of the last front-engine dragster built gathered a crowd, while old race cars from the Roaring Twenties were let loose on the dirt track.

New for this year were interviews with noted racer Kevin Buckler and Duesenberg restorer Randy Ema. These interviews were hosted by Classic Motorsports Publisher Tim Suddard.

The Friday before the show–unlike many other concours events, this one takes place on Saturday–we were treated to a classic car tour through California Gold Country, one of the most beautiful, car-friendly areas. We experienced beautiful weather, superlative driving roads and a catered lunch on a houseboat on the nearby New Melones Reservoir. A casual dinner capped off Friday night with a silent auction raising money for the event’s charity, the area 4-H Clubs. (Remember, this is farming and ranching country.)

The action centers around the 150-year-old Murphys Historic Hotel, which came alive each evening with cars and people.

We go to a lot of concours events, but this one will be on the schedule going forward–a beautiful setting, friendly faces and laid-back atmosphere plus some choice machines.

Details and winners can be found on their website, ironstoneconcours.org.

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