The Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce and residents of the community welcomed the return of the Colorado Grand to the community last week.
The Colorado Grand® is an annual charity tour for 1960 and earlier sports and race cars of distinction. Every September at the peak of the fall color season, approximately 85 drivers cover 1,000 miles through the Rockies in this relaxed, non-competitive event.
In addition to the opportunity to view some extraordinary vintage sports cars, grants funded by entrants and sponsors are awarded to charitable organizations and students in each host town, like Hotchkiss, where lunch was served at the fairgrounds. The previous 29 Colorado Grand events generated more than $6 million for worthy causes.
This, the 30th running, featured Jaguars, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Aston Martins, Jaguars, Porsches and more. Chamber president Nathan Sponseller said, "By my estimation Hotchkiss has hosted the Grand for 22 of those 30 years. I have been the local organizer since 1996, and Zack's BBQ has been one of the main food providers since 1989."
This year Zack's, Pat's Bar & Grill and Big B's all provided some portion of the meal. The chamber was granted $10,000 to provide the meal which Sponseller said leaves a good nest egg for the chamber's special projects fund.
Grant applications are accepted via the Colorado Grand website through Oct. 1 so this year's winners haven't yet been revealed. An $8,500 scholarship has been funded and will be awarded to a Hotchkiss graduate in the spring.
The tour attracts entrants from around the world. Roland Frey shipped his 1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Le Mans from his home in Switzerland to Los Angeles. After picking up his car in LA, he and his wife Helen toured Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming before crossing the border to Canada. A drive south brought them to the Colorado Rockies for the five-day Colorado Grand. They plan to continue their tour of the U.S., eventually winding up in New York City having traveled 11,000 miles in their 90-year-old vehicle. In the spring of 2017, they completed a 3,000+-mile tour of New Zealand.
"These cars are meant to be driven," he said, pointing to nine Bentleys lined up outside Heritage Hall. Built from the late 1920s to the early 1930s, the Bentleys are among the oldest cars in the Colorado Grand, he said.
He explains the cars were manufactured in Great Britain and shipped to English territories like India and South Africa, where they were valued for their high clearance and robust engineering.
But it turns out W.O. Bentley was a better engineer than he was a businessman. In 1930, Bentley went into bankruptcy and was purchased by Rolls Royce.