Get ready for the Colorado Grand because a host of classic automobiles are headed our way. As many as 85 vehicles will pass through Delta County on the final leg of their multiple-day 1,000-mile route through the Rocky Mountains.
The schedule with approximate times will be as follows:
• On Friday, Sept. 14, the vintage vehicles will leave Grand Junction between 8 and 9:30 a.m.
• The cars will cross over Grand Mesa on Highway 65 and arrive in Cedaredge for a coffee break around 9-9:15 a.m.
• Leaving Cedaredge, they will pass through Eckert and Austin en route to a lunch stop in Hotchkiss around 11:30 a.m. (A few drivers may cruise through Cory but organizers expect the majority will travel south on Highway 65 and turn left on 1200 Road, then follow that Orchard City road until they reach Austin Road where they will again turn left to reach Highway 92.)
• After leaving Hotchkiss, cars will travel east on Highway 133 and are expected to stop at the Paradise Theater in Paonia for dessert around 12:30-1 p.m.
• After leaving Paonia, cars will proceed over McClure Pass for the return trip to Vail.
The foregoing times are approximate. Vintage sports cars and race cars will drift in and out of communities for most of Friday morning and will be visible at several spots along Surface Creek and in the North Fork Valley. Observant residents should be able to spot them at various locations between 9 a.m. and noon. However the vehicles won't be coming all at once and that's intentional because, according to Colorado Grand spokesperson Eddie O'Brien, "It's not a parade. There is no set schedule, no timing, and no competition."
Drivers will be marching to their own drummers as they traverse the mountains in their final salute to summer. The only real certainty is that the road tour will start and finish in Vail.
Colorado Grand is an annual charity tour that was founded decades ago by Englewood automotive enthusiast Bob Sutherland. For 30 years entrants from around the world have gathered to put their classic 1960 and earlier cars through their paces. It is not uncommon to see several vehicles from the 1920s and 1930s. Typical makes include Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, and Aston Martin.
Last year the Colorado Grand charity generated approximately $500,000 with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Western Slope towns included on the tour. The charity also contributes to the Colorado State Patrol to provide support and scholarships to families and children of injured and fallen officers. Over the years, Colorado Grand has generated over $6 million to support communities and the state patrol. Several state troopers will accompany the touring cars to provide support and security.
In addition to turning out to cheer on drivers and view and photograph these classic automobiles, the public can contribute to the Colorado Grand charity. To make a donation, log on to its website at co1000.com and click on the "Charity" link. Communities interested in being considered for grant funds can also get in touch with the organization through its website and "Charity" link.