Report by John Waugh
The Colorado Grand 2010 was held September 12-17, starting and finishing in Vail, Colorado. “The Grand,” a four-day event for pre-1961 automobiles of distinction, is a premier event among the vintage automobile gatherings in North America.
This traditional tour based on the Mille Miglia of Italy is the vision of the late Bob Sutherland, an enthusiastic sports car collector with a love for driving the roads of the Colorado high country. “The Grand” is a fund raising event for The Colorado State Patrol Family Foundation and numerous other charities. The event has donated over $2.8 million towards these beneficiaries in its 22 year history.
The select group of 105 exceptional cars assembled in Vail, CO under high altitude blue skies that would stay with them all week. The group had numerous competition veterans including ten Ferraris, five Allards, five Bugattis, six Jaguars, two Maseratis, two Frazier Nash, two Bentleys, two OSCAs, and a BMW works car from 1938. The non-race selections were topped by nine Mercedes 300 SL Gullwings, nine Alfa Romeos, several Aston Martins, a fantastic collection of Ferraris and a list of memorable Ace’s, Siatas Porsches and a very rare Diedt “Rochester.”
A Monday morning take-off led the Tour through Glenwood Canyon of the Colorado River and over McClure Pass, the first of five passes on this year’s route. Lunch was provided by the community of Hotchkiss, CO under the trees of the Delta County Fairgrounds. Barbecue and fresh fruit pies were enjoyed by all. Enduring unusual heat of 95 degrees, the drive wound its way through the aspens over the Grand Mesa, which is the largest flat-topped mountain in North America, to Grand Junction.
On day two the Gateway Canyons Resort sponsored coffee and pastries, with a tour through the Colorado Gateway Automobile Museum. The museum houses an excellent collection of American automobile history from the earliest Fords and Cadillacs to modern muscle cars and custom rods. This beautiful assemblage includes the 1954 Harley Earl Oldsmobile 88 “Golden Rocket” concept car. The Grand was joined this year by returning sponsor Mercedes-Benz and the SLS AMG offered to entrants for exhilarating test drives. Nine original 300 SL Gullwings combined with the new super car for “Fifty Five years of SL’s” photographs. Proceeding up the Dolores River Canyon with twelve cylinder tuned exhaust echoing off of the massive red sandstone cliffs, the tour crossed over the Umcompahgre Plateau, arriving in Crested Butte, CO beneath the rugged West Elk Range.
Day three crossed the continental divide twice and descended from 12,095 foot Independence Pass into the historic mining town and contemporary resort destination of Aspen, CO.
The fourth day of the tour followed the Roaring Fork River to the Colorado River and then turned north through the Williams Fork Mountains into Steamboat Springs, CO for a warm welcome over lunch. The cars then set out for one more crossing of the continental divide to reach the finish line in Vail.
A Gala banquet, auction and awards presentation for the road weary but exuberant participants concluded the driving portion of the event.
Friday was celebrated with a Concours de’non-Elegance. The cars, sporting a thousand miles of road grime and grass hoppers were displayed throughout the Vail Square at Lions Head for the public to enjoy.
This unique route traversed 1088 miles of the Colorado High Country for Colorado Grand 2010, summiting five passes over 9,000 feet and crossing the continental divide three times. The participants exercised these remarkable automobiles enthusiastically through the Rocky Mountains for the benefit of many deserving charities. The 2010 edition of the Colorado Grand was an event to remember.
Colorado Grand 2010 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)