Colorado Grand rolls into Vail Friday | VailDaily.com

Colorado Grand rolls into Vail Friday

Daily staff report
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Colorado Grand folks will be easy to pick out of the crowd Friday. They'll be a little windblown and grinning from ear to ear.

The 28th Colorado Grand — a 1,000 mile sojourn around Western Colorado featuring pre-1960 vintage vehicles — set out from Vail earlier this week, and returns Friday. They drive rain or shine, and will take a well-deserved victory lap through Vail and Lionshead villages this afternoon.

They'll be on display Saturday morning in Lionshead Village from 9 a.m. to noon.

On the road again

The idea of putting these cars on the road for several days remains one of the remarkable things about the Colorado Grand. Many were rare when they were new — production runs for some can be counted on both hands. Virtually all are museum pieces now, and some are worth millions. A few of the 10 Ferarri 275 NART Spyders have participated in the Grand, and one fetched $23 million at auction.

Colorado Grand folks are nothing if not fun-having good sports, running their cars 1,000 miles across the Western Slope in mid- to late September — with its unpredictable weather.

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Most of the cars are open sports or racing cars. Few have tops. Some don't have windshields. Given the fact our weather can be, shall we say, variable this time of year, that can bring some adventurous driving.

Tom Horan, a Colorado Grand driver for more than two decades, owns an Allard J2X, a rarity from the 1950s that combines an English sports car with a hulking American V-8 motor. To say it's not great in the snow is the height of understatement. And yet, a few years ago, the Grand participants awoke in Durango one morning to see 8 inches of snow on the ground.

Then there was the time the group hit a sleet storm. They put duct tape on their foreheads to protect themselves, explained Horan.

The cars are supposed to remain unwashed, just as they've come off the road. But some of the owners can't resist putting a bit of shine on their rides before display day, Horan said.

Auto ambassadors

Participants are also ambassadors for classic cars, and that means a willingness to get a car dirty and be available to the public. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld attracted some attention when he participated. He quickly deflected the attention away from himself and onto his car.

"On one stop, Jerry Seinfeld let a bunch of school kids sit in his Porsche," Horan said. "That's pretty special for everybody."

Driving for fun and charity

This is the Colorado Grand's 28th anniversary, and it features Aston Martins, Bentleys, Bugattis, Ferraris, Jaguars … the list is long and distinguished.

The event began in 1989 as a charity event and has donated more than $4.5 million dollars to Colorado charities and communities, along with an $8,000 college scholarship to a graduating high school senior in each of the towns that host their lunch stops along the way.

There aren't many places on the Western Slope that can serve a sit-down lunch to roughly 250 people. Local service clubs usually put on a picnic in the town park for the event. In return, those clubs get money from the Grand to finance any number of civic improvement projects, from a bandstand in Salida's riverfront park to the medical clinic in Walden.

If You Go

What: Colorado Grand

When: 2-5 p.m. Friday the cars roll back into Vail. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday they’re on display in Lionshead

Cost: Free to the public

Information: After completing their 1,000-mile sojourn around Western Colorado, the cars will take a victory lap around Vail Village and Lionshead this afternoon. All the cars will be on display Saturday morning in Lionshead.