Here She Comes, Miss America(IX)!
Author: Blanche T. Sullivan
She’s stunning, graceful and possesses a remarkable talent that does not involve flaming batons. Her name is Miss America IX, and she holds the unique distinction of being the first hydroplane, or speedboat, in the world to exceed 100 miles per hour. Miss America IX achieved this record-breaking feat back in 1931 and, while she’s no bikini-clad pageant contestant, this legendary lady continues to ride the waves and attract awestruck paparazzi and adoring fans wherever she goes. Due to popular demand, she’ll be back among the historic boats—and other celebrated “stars”—featured at the 2012 Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance.
Boats? At the Concours? You bet! What purred to life as a humble two-day car show back in 2001 has roared into one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s “Top 20 Events.” Not surprising to those familiar with the event, which is now hailed as a prestigious, highly anticipated, world-class festival that attracts thousands of passionate attendees and hundreds of awe-inspiring works of vehicular art, including classic boats, cars, motorcycles and more.
Participants can enjoy 10 whole days of incredible activities, such as thrilling hot laps around a racetrack, an elegant Rolls Royce motoring tour, a unique Cigars & Cars event, fabulous cooking demonstrations and wine dinners, impressive art exhibits and beyond. Whether you’re a diehard auto buff or not, this motoring festival offers excitement for all interests and ages.
In addition to its variety of impressive exhibits and activities, the motoring festival’s engaging exhibitors have interesting tales to share regarding their “loves.” Take the Miss America IX, for example. Raced to victory nearly 100 years ago in Indian Creek, Florida, by “Speedboat King” Gar Wood, the legendary lady is, today, in the beloved possession of Bluffton, South Carolina, residents Charles and Diane Mistele who secured and restored her.
To the delight of enthusiasts around the country, the Misteles continue to take their treasure to events and into the water, and share her fascinating and heart-warming history—the Miss America IX is only one of five in existence and the only one that still “gets her feet wet.” They even possess a number of historic items that once belonged to Wood, including racing goggles and a bloodstained race suit.
The humble Misteles also have, among their extraordinary collection, a heart-stopping red stunner that took the revered People’s Choice Award at last year’s festival—a 1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster. The only thing more moving than their passion for their treasures is their inspiring, eye-twinkling adoration for each other.
Check out the festival and you’ll see that, in addition to the event’s charitable component, good vibrations are a common element among festivalgoers and exhibitors.
Motoring Festival @ A Glance
Savannah Speed Classic (Oct. 26-28; Savannah, GA)
Strap in for the Speed Classic, a unique racetrack experience on Hutchinson Island that kicks off the festival with hot laps, pit access, and other racing excitement.
Car Club Jamboree (Nov. 3; Honey Horn)
This nostalgic festival day celebrates the role cars have played in our lives and hosts car clubs from around the U.S. You’ll see muscle cars, hot rods, European sports cars, and more.
Motoring Midway (Nov. 3 & 4; Honey Horn)
The Motoring Midway features a diverse array of exhibits celebrating motoring heritage and technology. The 2012 exhibits spotlight: Life in the Service, On the Water, Two Wheels, Road to the Future and automotive-themed children’s activities.
Concours d’Elegance (Nov. 4; Honey Horn)
Don your vintage attire and prepare for an incredible festival finale where more than 150 classic vehicles compete for the coveted “Best of Show” title. The Concours offers that “wow factor.”
For more details, including additional events, a remarkable photo gallery, or to purchase tickets, visit hhiconcours.com.