Huixquilucan, México April 6-7, 2019
written by Pete Reith
The 33rd annual Gran Concurso Internacional de Elegancia took place on April 6th and 7th, 2019 at Dos Rios, Huixquilucan, Mexico. Tom Krefetz and Pete Rieth have, by invitation, teamed to provide judging support to the JCNA sanctioned event organized by Club Jaguar of Mexico (CJM) for over 12 years. Jamie Holbrook, Harvey Williamson and Bob Anderson (we miss them!), and other JCNA judges from the San Antonio and Austin clubs (e.g., Brian Blackwell, Greg Nel and Jeff Snyder) have also participated in various years. Club Jaguar’s first concours was in 1985 in Chapultepec Park, and has been at this site since 1989. Over the years, the event has mushroomed to the limits of the Las Caballerizas Dos Rios site (a former equestrian club) located southwest of Mexico City about halfway to Toluca. The picturesque location is in pine-forested hills at a sunny altitude of more than 8900 feet.
Recent concours have hosted up to 550 cars and motorcycles of more than three dozen marques from Jaguar and Rolls Royce to Isettas and Datsuns in an event spanning two days. This year’s event hosted about 465 cars and bikes of many marques. The event commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar MK 2 and the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar XJ.Our activities, as in past years, began with a flight from Tijuana airport (reached via the Cross-Border Express “tunnel” on Thursday 4 April. Upon arrival, we were met by Alexander Mena and went to an office facility downtown for the JCNA-required annual joint Rule Book training session chaired by CJM President and Chief Judge Jeff Carlson. The briefing and discussion were presented by Pete Rieth for certified judges of SDJC and Club Mexico, followed by lively discussion of recent rule changes applicable to the classic vintages.
We enjoyed a working dinner of delicious heavy hors d’oeuvres before checking in at our hotel. Friday morning began early, with a quick breakfast and a drive to the suburbs where we formed a caravan of cars to be relocated to the event site. This entails a beautiful one hour drive along fine highways and through small mountain villages (Read many speed bumps or ‘topes’). After arrival, we joined our Mexican friends for their annual club luncheon at the wonderful restaurant on the grounds. Good fellowship among old friends abounded as we enjoyed the finest Mexican cuisine. Making our late afternoon way back to the city after cleaning and securing the cars, we enjoyed cocktails at Jeff and Sarita Carlson’s suburban home while examining the Series III E-type that Jeff fully restored himself.
Saturday, April 6th dawned beautifully. After a snack in our hotel, we ferried out to the site where many last-minute preps were underway. A catered breakfast on site at the same restaurant got us fueled for the day ahead. In addition to the show cars, the distributors and car manufacturers that yearly exhibit include Jeep, BMW, Porsche and of course Jaguar-Land Rover. Following a briefing for Judges by Jeff Carlson, we were organized into teams according to our expertise and commenced judging. Meanwhile, the same was happening within each of the other clubs represented. Judging, adjudication of protests and score sheet reviews continued into the late afternoon, with only minor interruption by a freak hail storm. Live music added to the pleasant atmosphere. An excellent catering team kept the club members well fueled throughout both days of the event.
I must say that seeing (and recording) Tom at work as he judges E-types, early XKs and other models is a fascinating exercise in ‘sipping from a firehose of knowledge’. We’ve often performed courtesy assessments after the formal judging when time is not a constraint, only darkness, in order to help owners improve their cars. Wrapping up and securing the cars for the night took some time. Then we all headed back to Mexico City for a mellow, late dinner at CJM Treasurer Alejandro Isoard’s home ’man cave’, and a short night of rest and relaxation.
Sunday morning early brought us out on the road again. Sunday is the event finale. Cross-Club judging in the ‘Corral’ containing the best car of each club selected the Best American Car (a 1931 Chrysler Runabout), the Best European Car (a 1948 Cisitalia 202 GT coupe), and the Best of Show (the Cisitalia).
Other events included an afternoon spectacular award ceremony complete with live music, stage decorations and fashion show, parade of Winners, confetti blasts and colorful ribbons. Then came the denouement of restoring the site to pristine condition (and Afterglow in the CJM hospitality tent), returning the cars (in the dark) to their city homes, a quick snack for hungry judges, fond adios, Buen Viajes, abrazos, and wrapping up arrangements for the flights home next morning.