Bridgehampton’s First Annual Concours Was A Massive Success
Photography by Michael Shaffer
If you’re going plan and hold an atypical automotive event, it helps if the vehicles, their owners, and visitors are treated to something strikingly different. Recently held at The Bridge private golf course, organizers were able to attract a selection of very special machines to be displayed—and not judged—as pieces of four-wheeled art, positioned skillfully around the course. Did I mention the grounds were once home to one of the world’s toughest racetracks, too?
I sat down with one of the founders, Jeffrey Einhorn, who shared with me the vision for an event that will soon become a fixture on the calendar for many more spectators.
Michael Banovsky: Can you tell me a little bit about the old Bridgehampton Circuit itself?
Jeffrey Einhorn: Yeah, racing in Bridgehampton goes back even before the circuit was open, to the early 1900s, and they raced around the town square. Then they had actual Grand Prix racing in the town. That closed down after New York outlawed it when one person was killed at Watkins Glen in the late ’40s, and people were hurt in Bridgehampton when cars would go off the road. They used hay bales and snow fences to keep the cars in line and obviously that had no effect in stopping these things.
The track opened in 1957. There was Can Am racing there. Trans Am racing there. SCCA was there. There was NASCAR there for three years.
It was really an amazing track. It’s where Paul Newman and Mario Andretti became friends. They built the Honker race cars there. It’s unbelievable. It was 2.85 miles, crazy elevation changes. Stirling Moss said it was the most difficult track in the United States, and it was truly frightening because you couldn’t even see where the course would go in certain places.
You would crest a hill and you would just floor it hoping that the next turn was in the same place that it was last time. There was sand everywhere, too, and the sand would change. Unlike a lot of these courses that are in the woods, this was in the dunes. So it was a completely different experience for race car drivers.
MB: It was a special place?
JE: What ended up happening was that it was closed down, well, first there was a noise restriction that was put into place by the town of Bridgehampton…Bob Rubin, who is one of my partners at the event—the other is the amazing Shamin Abas—Bob turned it into a golf course and tried to preserve as much of the race track as he possibly could.
MB: Usually in the U.S. when tracks get bulldozed…like, Riverside is a shopping mall. It’s really rare that a circuit is at least transformed with an eye to invite back enthusiasts.
JE: I will tell you, the coolest part if you go on my Instagram feed, if you go back to Friday when I was on site. I was on site with Mark Lester, he’s like a retired golf superintendent for the place but he raced there for many years, and he was taking me around—way off course. There are all these signs everywhere from the old track, all these things that are still up. It’s not just the old timing stations, which are so cool because they look like tree houses, basically. But there are these little signs and plaques everywhere.
As he said, the land speaks. It’s one of those places where the land speaks, and to be frank, this location was screaming to have some kind of event like this. We have an amazing collecting community out there that is completely under served from any having any kind of concours. And actually, concours isn’t the right name for what this is. It’s really an exhibition. A concours implies that there is some kind of judging going on.
All the judging that went on, that happened behind the scenes ahead of time when we decided and curated the show. When we decided that a particular or piece of art would fit our vision. You don’t see judges walking around the Met or MOMA giving out awards. We feel the same way about our cars. They all kind of stand on their own. That’s what makes them cool. It’s really a show run by car geeks and enthusiasts, granted, with world class cars. But people who care enough about each one that they would be offended if they were being judged against each other.
Also what makes Bridgehampton a little bit different is that we have a huge art community out there as well, and the Bridge is stocked with art. Primarily because Bob Rubin is a pretty famous art collector in his own right as well, and we wanted to use this event to merge the two communities together…because this doesn’t really happen anywhere else.
It kind of happens in auction houses, but even there they separate the car people from the art people and it’s all sculpture. It’s all really art: there’s no reason why it can’t be together, and I think everyone that was there on Saturday got it.
MB: So what was the reaction like? Were there any vehicles that kind of surprised you with how much people gravitated towards them?
JE: Actually, a few that I love and I wasn’t sure if non-car geeks and enthusiasts would gravitate towards. I put a Lancia Stratos HF over by the European competition cars and just took a step back.
The way we group them wasn’t by…they weren’t lined up in fields next to each other by make and model to be ticked off a box as you’d walk by. We had the European cars, the competition cars, kind of looping around the 9th hole. We had American muscle cars…a Challenger and a Charger and they looked like they were lined up over a dune and about to jump back over the main straight. I placed each of the cars like an English sculpture garden for people to walk through with the cars. They were done by shape and color and not make and model which I thought was really cool.
To go back to your question about which cars I was really surprised about that got a huge reaction, I would say the Lancia Stratos, people went nuts over it. That red orange color is one of my favorites and it was just bananas. It’s a car that only has like 3,000 original kilometers on it.
MB: Many people think that it’s super easy to set up cars and make them look good in certain locations, but having done photo shoots and everything else, that’s definitely not the case.
MB: The plans are already underway for next year it sounds like?
JE: The overall vision from the get-go has been to have a multi-day event, with dinners, rallies. Next year it’s going to be much bigger. This year we had 61 cars in total. Every single car that I had planned showed up, which was amazing.