Le Belle Macchine d’Europa 2013: (Part 1)
By: Richard Graves
During the summer months, the mountains in north-eastern Pennsylvania bear a definite resemblance to those we know and love in East Tennessee: Green, rolling, and generally pretty…….Just with less humidity, crap road surfaces, and more yankees. Most who visit this region do so to get out of the city, see the mountain scenery, escape the mafia, or just visit the newly-minted mega casino.
Similarly, my visit in late June also involved “scenery”, some Italians, and an expensive habit…. although in the form of prancing horses, raging bulls, their owners, and a racetrack
Always an entertaining excursion, my tally this year included a few cars I’d never seen before in person (rare these days), riding along for a few hot laps of the Pocono International roval, and a chance encounter with “The world’s most stereotypical Lamborghini owner” (as labeled by Jalopnik).
Hosted this year, and in numerous years prior, at the historic Pocono Manor, This Le Belle Macchine d’Europa encompassed two distinct events over three days: A concourse d’elegance (aka car-show), and two days on track at Pocono International Raceway.
In this first of two installments we’ll take a look at the event in-general and walk the lawn through the concours d’elegance, In the second, we’ll catch back up at the track….stick around for that part.
For the last 22 years, with few exceptions, my family has made a pilgrimage to the Pocono Mountains to enjoy a long weekend at what has, at times, been one of the largest primarily-Italian combined show/track events on the east coast.
If I remember correctly, which may be asking a bit considering I was just 9 years old at the time, my dad learned about this event from an episode of Motorweek and the next year we made the 13 hour jaunt from Knoxville to Mt. Pocono with a convoy of a ’73 DeTomaso Pantera L and a Ford Mustang (5.0LX if you must know).
The Le Belle Macchine d’Europa, (previously d’Italia, but expanded officially this year to include other vehicular nationalities) remains a welcome summer tradition.
Arriving at the Pocono Manor on Friday, we found ourselves greeted by a raft of renovations to the 100-year-old lodge. We had seen the grounds decay somewhat during the late ’90s, and the recent turn-around comes as a welcome change to mark the event’s return to this venue. Some of the changes hearken back to the ‘Manor’s heyday while other help bring the ammenities into the current century.
Naturally, the arrival lane and parking lots benefited from some incidental decor in addition to the Mountain Laurel blooms.
The car-show-proper annexed one of the fairways from the Pocono Manor’s golf-course for a day, and provided a pleasant atmosphere for the car show.
Now, speaking of atmosphere, let me set the mood here for a moment:
- First, if you drink wine, pour yourself a glass.
- Second, right click and open THIS LINK in a new window/tab
- Now….please pro-ceed sir/madam, onto the show-field….
Some have speculated that the LBdE Concours d’Elegance is purely an excuse for the organizers to break out their “best of Sinatra” album and loop it for three hours….but I’ll give them benefit of the doubt as the show nearly always brings out some VERY unique and interesting automobilia.
As I strolled through the gate, I felt obliged to chat up the fellow at the first tent to my right….mainly because he was wearing a McLaren shirt….and had brought three with him.
My first opportunity to stand next to an MP4-12C, I was struck by how compact the car seems. My first thought was that it was approximately the same as the NSX I’m familiar with and in fact the McLaren measures only fractionally longer, wider and a smidge taller than that car. Impressive considering how much…well, more car you get.
Moving down the row, I came upon another from the islands: A Morgan three-wheeler. ’So British it should come with a tweed jacket and a pipe.
Next to the Morgan sat something of a UK ex-pat, a Rossion Q1. Built by what used to be Noble, now based in Florida, but still using a derivative chassis and boosted ford motor. The owner, a real character, also owns a Pantera (which is insta-cred in my books) and regretted he’d be missing out on the track action for work….for shame. These are reputedly VERY quick.
Continuing around the way, here sits the best-in-show…..no, not that sexy GT2, but the very-blue Delage in the foreground. A Pre-War endurance racer, this car and/or one of it’s only six sisters enjoyed success in the European endurance racing circuit in the late 1930′s. This made me want to put leather hood-straps on something.
A veritable timeline of Porsche’s: A 991 and new Cayman bookended by some classic 911/912s and a 356.
Continuing down the row…..Wait….Who snuck that thing in !??!
Ok, normal service resuming…..At the far end of the field I found the Lamborghini section and a minor internet celebrity. Before we get to that bit though….
A rare sight in the wild, TWO wingless Countaches. The majority of these ’80s icons come festooned with a fairly significant chevron-shaped air foil on the rear decklid. I’m probably in the minority, but I prefer them without.
And now to contradict myself entirely by featuring my favorite Countach on the lawn, an immaculate 1983 LP5000S. These have the aggressive wheel arches and front splitter, but haven’t yet grown the kit-car-looking side skirts and intake slats of the later 4-valve cars and the 25th Anniversary edition. This particular car was a euro-spec import, so it lacks the US-spec block-bumpers, finishing off a really clean look (save for that wing )
From angles to curves: A Miura, the curvy pinup of the Lamborghini line, and next to that a very purple Diablo 6.0:
The Diablo 6.0 represents the first Audi influence on Lamborghini, the facelift penned by Luc Donckerwolke as a stop-gap while development finished on the Murcielago. Also, this was 1998….Lamborghini may have invented concave wheels…
Moving to something somewhat more modern: A Gallardo LP-570-4 Performante….essentially a rag-top Superleggera.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a true O.G. Lamborghini, a 400 GT:
Shifting spectrums again from the 60′s sophisticate, to the ’80s lunatic. The LM002 is a Hummer with a V12….that existed a decade before the actual Hummer….it also held the production truck record up Pikes Peak for many years. (props for the child seat….talk about a school-run hero!)
Before moving entirely out of Santa Agata, and on to Maranello I’ll share a short story:
As we arrived, my brother noticed a fellow in a somewhat flamboyant silk shirt, with a big collar, gold chain, and suitably over-the-top (almost literally) arm candy. He jokingly quipped, “I bet he drives a Lamborghini”. That triggered some neurons and I remembered reading a sequence of articles on Jalopnik where they first lambasted, then more-or-less apologized-to, and eventually nearly-featured a fellow they deemed “The World’s Most Stereotypical Lamborghini Owner” (NOTE: possibly NSFW for some: part 1, part 2, Google for LOTS more, lol). In the immortal words of Charlie Murphy, this guy is a habitual line-stepper. All that off-color, or over-the-top stuff you joke about doing if you were rich: ’has done’.
After a little internet time to get the name, I walked over to the lime-green Gallardo they drove in to confirm with the entry form. Sure enough! “Team Salamone”. About that time, the man himself: Bryan Salamone, sauntered up to retrieve something from his car…..I figured I’d say “hi”, just to see what happened.
After talking with him, I can report that he’s actually a reasonably pleasant fellow in person, far less ostentatious than you’d think from his internet fame, and quite the “car guy”. He’s just happily “in uniform” at these events, in the same manner that one might wear tweed to a British car show, cut-off jeans and a beer-logo to a NASCAR race, or flat-brimmed hats and neon shirts to a drift event (you know I love you guys ). Only rather than stop at just a flamboyant appearance, Bryan just turns it one louder at times. Maybe I should go back to law school….
Now then, I digress. Saying ciao to Ferruccio, and ciao again to Enzo, we get into the Ferrari section.
The classic 246 Dino in the title picture actually took home “best Ferrari”, beating out clean examples from several eras:
A 512TR: This lighter, stronger, better looking (imo) Testarossa revision remains a personal favorite
Look for this ex-NART racer in the track feature in coming days.
V8 Cars through the years:
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ferrari section without a couple of literal F-cars:
Let it not be said an F-50 doesn’t have trunk space. Here it is, in all it’s capacious glory: (note the car cover on the near side, and the tool roll on the far side and presumably you could fit a loaf of bread or so in the middle section there).
Staying in the “family”, representing Alfa Romeo, we have an 8C, and something actually fast (~450hp & ~1600lbs)
Next, a selection of Maseratis, both old and new. Starting with a gaggle of Gran Turismos.
Moving on to a Merak and it’s near-twin, the Bora:
….and rounding out with a Kamsin: a car possessing one of the more unique rear facias I’ve seen, as well as one of the more bizarre steering rack setups…only the Italians…
(and yes, that’s the spare tire under the front bumper, in front of the engine, and the steering rack on the top, in the foreground ?!?!)
Last, but not least from the Maserati’s, this Sebring won best in category, and with good reason. It’s gorgeous, immaculate, and I’d feel naked driving it in anything short of a tux. If I had to describe this car to someone sans photo, I’d have to say it reminds me of a classic Aston Martin…..only Italian.
Wrapping up our tour of the show-grounds, a few cars fell into something of a hybrid or “other” category, but are certainly still worth mentioning.
For instance, if you wanted something that looked convincingly like a classic Ferrari spyder, got power from an American V8, but wasn’t some blasphemous kit car…. you might consider an Intermeccanica Italia.
Finally, one for the engineers: Penn State brough their Formula SAE car to put on display:
Now, clearly that’s not much of a “show car”…but that’s ok, because we’re done here.
You may now turn the Sinatra down, stop drinking, and hope your boss doesn’t mind you tipsy at work where I know you’re reading this.
Look for a second installment in coming days from the track, and more “racecar”.