April 26, 2016
Pinehurst Resort and Fort Bragg. Golfing and guns. It’s really quite the dichotomy of two worlds.
But on the first weekend of May the two institutions, widely recognizable names across the United States and the world, will join forces and exchange machinery if you will for a parade of cars and courage as the inaugural Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance heads to one of the nation’s largest Army bases for a day of discovery and fellowship.
Many show cars, some estimated at more than $1 million, will make the 70-mile round trip from the Pinehurst traffic circle to the famous circle at the intersection of Randolph and Armistead Streets on base for the Iron Mike Rally.
Sure, cars that participate in the rally will earn an extra point in the final judging May 5, but none will be making that trip for an extra scoreboard tally alone.
The rally will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to rub shoulders with thousands who protect our freedoms.
“We’ll be taking all the back roads,” said Pinehurst Concours d’ Elegance executive director Jay Howard. “The first 10 miles are Southern Pines and Pinehurst, beautiful horse country, and then when we get to the back entrance of the base it’s all two-lane wide open road, and from a car guy’s perspective, that’s what you want. There is not a cross walk, a traffic signal or stop sign the rest of the way.”
The 15-foot Iron Mike statue is a symbol of the thousands of airborne soldiers who have defended American liberties in numerous world conflicts and are continuing to do so today. Once the cars arrive on base, they will be lined up on the post’s parade field for a mini show, with a “soldier’s choice award” coming at the end of the day.
“It’s really taking two worlds and bringing them together,” Howard said.
“Unlike all the other Concours across the country this is unique to involve the American soldier and their families in some significant way,” added Tommy Bolton, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army. “How many soldiers have ever seen one of two Porsche race cars there are in the world or an old 1936 woodie? These are incredible, incredible cars and an incredible opportunity for the soldiers. They get to enjoy something they couldn’t get anywhere else in the world.”
And so will the cars owners, who will be able to fire military rifles, and climb into a humvee or helicopter. When asked which group would be more excited, the military or the muscle car guys, Bolton chuckled.
“I think you are going to have a draw there,” he said. “It’s pretty far up there for the military. Things at Fort Bragg are very fast paced. The missions, the speed is pretty quick, so the soldiers don’t get as much downtime as they used to. They are either training for deployment or there is always something very active going on. They don’t get out and do the kind of things in the community that you or I might be able to do, so to see this is very rare and unique for the soldiers.”
Bolton expects as many as 20,000-25,000 military and family members to attend the Iron Mike Rally.
“The bottom line is to create a day the soldier’s families can enjoy, and have an extraordinary opportunity to meet these car guys,” Bolton said. “And the car guys get to see something they can’t see anywhere else, either. They are actually going to be able to pick up the M-4 or M-9 rifle and fire that rifle in what is called engagement skills training. Its laser fire but you are firing the real weapon at targets and see what the soldiers are actually going through and learn how to handle a weapon. All the sudden targets start popping up around you, what do you do now? They can learn that and meet these incredible warriors and peacekeepers and the families that support them.”
The caravan of show cars weaving their way through the Sandhills from traffic circle to traffic circle will be quite a scene the morning of Friday, May 3.
“A lot of the owners of these vehicles subscribe to the theory that cars are meant to be driven so they set them up to drive,” Howard said. “They will love this drive.”
“Soldiers by nature are car nuts or high-tech guys with interest in what’s going on in today’s marketplace,” added Bolton. “I would consider this a heck of a day for them.”
For ticket information, visit www.pinehurstconcours.com.