Mother Earth is Having Hot Flashes

Rat Creek Road

Even our car hobby felt her wrath last year, and now recently in 2021, then surely again and again.

Last winter, part of Highway 1, south of Big Sur at Rat Creek, plunged into the Pacific again.

Nurbergring Disaster

Car in Germany.
Ahrweiler, Germany (New York Times).

This summer, the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps tracks need repairs from flooding and the Ring is now used as a staging site for distributing donations, supplies, and equipment needed by local residents and surrounding towns.

A year ago, the only part of the Monterey Car Week  that wasn’t cancelled due to the pandemic — racing historic cars at Laguna Seca without spectators — was threatened by grass fires from the east and burning redwoods to the north. Fire season is now another name for summer.

Yosemite With Ash Haze
Yosemite Park up in smoke. Photo credit: Noah Berger (Associated Press).

Michigan’s Concours of America (COA) — acquired this year by Hagerty — happened this year July 23–25 at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth. Last year’s COA was canceled due to the pandemic.

Tour leader.
Set to tour, with Jeff Lane, Lane Motor Museum’s Devin/Panhard. Photo credit: Jeremy Leng.

This year, the circles for classics on the links and fairways had to be scrambled onto hot parking lots. Why? Their usual grassy venue was still too squishy to drive upon due to record rains. Next year’s event will be on Woodward Avenue in front of the Detroit Institute of Arts — if all goes well.

Cars crowded on parking lot.
Concours cars parked like refugees, shades of a detention center. Photo credit: Jeremy Leng.

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for the pre-concours Friday tour to Hell, Michigan. It was just a little wet. Also, the route and pace could have been better. The $75 per person tickets were pitched as “This year’s tour will take you to Hell (MI) and back! Enjoy the scenic roadways of Wayne, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties, then round out the trip with Hagerty’s VP of Content Larry Webster’s secret “road tested” route to Ypsilanti — NOT! I was disappointed because the best roads for road tests and spirited driving are west of Hell. My Jag performed as good as a new car, but more viscerally. I skipped the rest of the concours events. I can’t remember ever doing that. My co-driver, Jeremy Leng pressed on regardless.

One Jag following another.
My Jag following another. Photo credit: Jeremy Leng.
Jag at Hell MI
Our tour’s destiny? OK, not exactly, rather for the hell of it.

It seems Mother Earth is putting her foot down more often on our big automotive events and venues. Could it be she doesn’t like what we have done to her thin skin which we call our atmosphere? On July 21 2021, Jeff Bezos said “When you look at the planet, there are no borders. It’s one planet, and we share it and it’s fragile. You can’t imagine how thin the atmosphere is when you see it from space.”

But I won’t give up hope for more fun with our cars. I’ll continue to search and test apps for planning and sharing fun car tour routes to invite a few enthusiasts on motoring adventures using our mobile devices. Yes, my “car world” is shrinking as big events are suffering. But still I suspect that small, under the radar and cheap events, like Cars & Coffee, might escape Mother Earth’s notice because they are nimble and more resilient. Commercial exploitation of our events is no longer a growth industry. So it is right and proper that a major insurer steps up and manages select events as a customer service. I suspect that small motoring happenings and pop ups for fun can thrive for more decades, until most gas stations close. Even then we could tour from tanker to tanker truck.

Oh, and the Best of Show at the Concours of American 2021 — a 1953 Ferrari 250 MM Spider by Vignale and a 1937 Cadillac V16 by Hartmann.

Best of show cars
Best of Show at the Concours of America 2021; a foreign and a domestic (but in a foreign gown!). Photo credit: Zac Palmer.

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