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It began as the dream of a few La Jolla business owners who were looking for a way to showcase the beauty and charm of downtown La Jolla during the winter months. In 2003, Michel Ullman, Terry Underwood and Yvette Marcum met at Georges at The Cove and drew up plans to host a car show on the lawn at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. The three were part of the local merchants’ association, at the time called Promote La Jolla. They brought their idea to the association’s board; in response, a group of passionate members–including Tiffany Share, Deborah Marengo, Bob Meigs, Steve Edelstein, Bill Price and Greg Rizzi–joined forces with all-star event promoter Laurel McFarlane to form the La Jolla Motor Car Classic committee.
The committee was successful in securing the support and financial backing necessary to bring their vision to life, and in January 2004, the inaugural La Jolla Motor Car Classic was held with humble but auspicious beginnings. The event attracted a diverse field of about 50 hot rods, antique automobiles and classic cars, all owned by local collectors and enthusiasts, but the committee saw the potential to bring the show to the next level by enlisting the support of the local car collector community.
So in the spring of 2004, Edelstein reached out to two La Jolla car aficionados, Chuck Spielman and Neal Wichard, to help promote a show that would appeal to a concours-quality audience. Spielman and Wichard believed that the stunning and picturesque Scripps Park venue held the potential to rival Pebble Beach and attract a national audience of car collectors.
The two friends reached out to their vast network of fellow collectors, including Alan Taylor, a well-respected local classic car restorer, to help recruit high-end classic automobiles; they also asked collector Cy Conrad to help Meigs establish the criteria for judging the show. In 2007, Spielman brought noted collector Dave Darwin on board, who urged the committee to turn the LJMCC into a weekend-long event, including fencing off Scripps Park and charging admission to the show. The first La Jolla Motor Classic Car Tour was born.
That same year, the committee designated the Monarch School, a San Diego school whose mission is to educate children impacted by homelessness, as a charitable beneficiary of the event. In the years that would follow, the event would expand its charitable contributions to include several other local charities.
The Promote La Jolla organization disbanded in 2009, and the La Jolla Historical Society, a nonprofit that seeks to preserve and celebrate La Jolla’s diverse past, assumed the underwriting of the event. Trip Bennett, then vice president of the Society, appreciated the living history that the event provided and saw great value in incorporating the LJMCC as part of the Society’s mission. Bennett assumed the role of LJMCC chairman, an office he held until 2011. With Bennett’s leadership, the La Jolla Historical Society helped create the foundation necessary for the LJMCC to continue to grow and fulfill its potential.
In 2010, Spielman brought Mike Dorvillier into the fold to help the committee develop a stronger sponsor base and further secure the involvement of La Jolla’s merchants. Dorvillier stepped up to fill the role of chairman in 2011, and, along with event producer McFarlane, helped elevate the event to its current status as one of the world’s top collector car shows, according to Octane magazine.
One of Dorvillier’s meaningful contributions to the event came in 2012, when he changed the name of the La Jolla Motor Car Classic to the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance. Today, the Concours is filled with three days of world-class exhibitions and celebrations that inspire all who attend. In a nod to the show’s humble roots, the event also includes a free car show open to the public.
From all of us at the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, we thank you for your support and participation in this unique event that honors the automobile and its historical significance.
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