VISITORS to the People’s Park next Thursday could be forgiven for thinking that they have stepped back in time, as period costumes and vintage and classic vehicles will be on display at the Jersey 2023 Concours d’Elegance.
Returning as the prelude to this year’s Jersey International Motoring Festival, organised by Steve Salmon and his team, this year’s Concours – which embraces the Island’s rich motoring history – is the brainchild of Le Riche Automobile Restorers and benefits from the support of a principal sponsor, Islands Private Clients.
Ian Barnes, of Barnes Publishing, is promoting the event and, given his family’s long association with the Island’s motor trade, he has a particular affinity with the Concours.
‘Not only did my family own a motor business in the Island for many years but my father, Alan Barnes, won the Prix d’Elegance at Jersey’s first Concours d’Elegance, which took place along Victoria Avenue in 1951,’ he explained.
The Concours then moved to the People’s Park the following year, and it is this venue which will host this year’s event, at which 50 cars and 25 motorcycles from a range of veteran and vintage models will line up alongside ‘curiosities’ and the latest super cars.
Jim Purkiss, of Islands Private Clients, said: ‘Following the success of last year’s event, we are delighted, working with Joe and Ian, to have added super car and motorcycle classes. Not only does extending the Concours to motorcyclists broaden the event’s appeal but the bikes will bring some additional theatre and noise to the spectacle.’
While describing the Concours as a ‘day of historical motoring interest’, Joe is keen to stress that the event, which is free to attend, does not appeal solely to car enthusiasts.
‘This is not just for petrolheads and grease monkeys,’ he said. ‘It will also appeal to anyone with an appreciation for beautiful and interesting items and, as it falls within the half-term holiday, it also makes an ideal family day out.’
Indeed, the focus on elegance is apparent in every element of the event, including the posters, which have been designed by Le Riche Automobile spray painter – and fine-art graduate – Nick Hawel.
And it was the vehicles on which Nick and the rest of the team work which originally inspired Joe and Ian to revive this historic motoring event.
‘Ian Le Riche and I started Le Riche Automobiles in 1990 and, after more than 30 years, it seemed a natural evolution of the business to showcase some of our clients’ cars and to build on the Island’s motoring history with a Concours d’Elegance for both motor enthusiasts and members of the public to enjoy,’ Joe said.
Indeed, keen to encourage as many people as possible to ‘make a day of it’, Joe is urging both spectators and participants to ‘get into the spirit of the event and create something of the Goodwood Festival feel’.
‘We encourage participants and attendees to dress in costume and enjoy the atmosphere,’ he added.
‘Spectators last year said that they loved the interactive nature of the event. This is not a static display but more of a beauty pageant for vehicles, so people can get up close and admire their design and then see them being driven while benefitting from a commentary over the PA system which explains more about the history of both the model and that particular car or motorcycle.’
Building on the entertainment element of the Concours, the Liberation Group and Veuve Clicquot Champagne have joined as two new feature sponsors for 2023, while the organisers have also opened more aspects of the event to the public.
‘Last year, the prize-giving ceremony took place privately,’ said Joe. ‘This year, the judging will take place in the morning; there will then be a break for lunch before the winners will be announced publicly in the afternoon, with the victorious vehicles taking to the causeway one more time.’
And there will be plenty of food options for spectators to enjoy, with people invited either to bring a picnic or to select their food from the summer-orientated ‘salad kitchen’, organised by event charity Headway.
‘Not only will Headway benefit from a proportion of the entry fees and event sponsorship but they will also run a twist on the popular Shelter Trust Soup Kitchen, with a number of restaurants and hotels providing salads for people to tuck into in exchange for a donation to the charity,’ said Ian.
While work to bring next week’s event to the People’s Park continues apace, thoughts are already turning to the 2024 Concours.
‘Having attracted entrants and spectators from the UK and France for this year’s event, we are keen to continue building the Concours so that it becomes an established part of the events calendar for which Jersey is renowned,’ said Joe.
‘Event-led tourism is a priority for Visit Jersey and the Concours has a role to play in attracting both visitors and Islanders to the first day of a four-day motoring extravaganza.’