Report by John Waugh and pictures by the photographers of John Waugh, Photographic Images
The 2011 running of the Colorado Grand was held September 12-17, starting and ending in Vail, Colorado.
The Colorado Grand saw new ground in 2011 with the first ever travel outside of the state. As usual, a remarkable collection of entrants was assembled, highlighted by more than 20 Ferraris including three 250 GTOs. An Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 led an impressive group of 11 Alfas, while Jaguar was well represented with 19 entrants, headlined by two D-Types. In addition, various marques like OSCA, Talbot-Lago, Maserati and Bentley were some of the other rare mounts in attendance.
Departing from Vail, Colorado on Tuesday, September 13, 2011, the 23rd annual Colorado Grand traveled a northern route through the mountains ending in Steamboat Springs under a glorious blue-sky afternoon. The resounding echo of V-12 vintage racing engines still fresh in the air, as most of the initial shake down jitters had been solved and the mechanics were busy with a few minor problems to solve before the following morning.
The field of 94 entrants along with sponsors, board and staff paid a visit to Wyoming on day two where the West is Forever. Crossing the high chaparral through wide, sage-filled valleys on long straight roads allowed everyone to clear out the carbon and see what their entries would do at altitude. Saratoga hosted a wonderful lunch stop along the boardwalk streets that precluded a rainy run over the Medicine Bow Range into Baggs, famous for being the hideout of Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Two nights in Steamboat Springs gave the drivers an opportunity to experience a real western ranching community that happens to have a world-class ski area as well. Home to more Winter Olympians than anywhere else in the country, Steamboat really is Ski Town USA.
Weather and terrain always present a constant challenge on the Colorado Grand, making crossing the finish line a badge of accomplishment. This year would prove no different, as rain, fog and mist were encountered every day of the rally. Sometimes hard and persistent, other times fleeting showers made for difficult driving and uncomfortable conditions for the entrants in open top cars. Additionally, crossing the Continental Divide four times in four days stretched the horsepower of these fabulous automobiles to the limit. Even the Ferrari GTOs and Cobras noticed a marked drop in power though it wasn’t evident from the roadside.
Every day a different community hosts “The Grand” lunch stop. Hard rain in Meeker, Colorado forced the rally into the indoor arena at the county fairgrounds, temporarily creating possibly the greatest sports car museum in the country. It was truly a sight to behold for historic rally enthusiasts and school children alike. Ending the day in Grand Junction, Colorado, the entrants and mechanics were ready for a rest. However, only the entrants would get a break, as the tireless wrenches worked into the night to repair several cars for the next day.
The Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain at 53 square miles that rises to an altitude of 10,500 feet, set the course of the final day. It offered drivers a collection of hairpin turns and stunning vistas going up and coming down. With one more mountain pass and a scenic drive along the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon, the Grandees returned to Vail where they started 1021 miles ago.
The 2011 Colorado Grand ended with the Concours d’Non-Elegance, which showcases the vehicles on the Lionshead Promenade in full road grime, a tradition started by the Colorado Grand Founder, the late Bob Southerland. Another Grand in the books and another incredible collection of the finest vintage racing cars visiting cool and colorful Colorado.
Colorado Grand 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture)