Two new auto shows head to M1 Concourse in September

‘The traditional auto show model is changing’

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published January 25, 2021

 Jim Hall drives in the Chaparral 2G at Bridgehampton, New York, in 1967. Hall is scheduled to be at the first ever American Speed Festival.

Jim Hall drives in the Chaparral 2G at Bridgehampton, New York, in 1967. Hall is scheduled to be at the first ever American Speed Festival.

Photo provided by the Revs Institute

PONTIAC — Just as downtown Detroit announced the cancellation of the North American International Auto Show, Pontiac celebrates not one but two new auto events slated for this fall.

The first ever Motor Bella, an all-outdoor auto show, and a new auto show and motorsport competition called the American Speed Festival, will both be hosted by M1 Concourse.

Motor Bella is scheduled for Sept. 21-26 and bills itself as a “next-generation” mobility show with 1.6 million square feet of exhibitions. The event was originally planned as a celebration of Italian and British supercars and classic vehicles, and it was planned to have debuted at last year’s NAIAS, which was canceled due to the pandemic.

Organizers say the all-outdoor setting will serve not only to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but it will also give vendors an ideal place to showcase off-roading capabilities, driving technology and more.

“The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business,” Motor Bella Executive Director Rod Alberts said in a press release. “This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products.”

Alberts promises attendees a multisensory experience with a focus on the future of mobility in a “festival-like” atmosphere that’s more interactive than auto shows of the past.

“While auto shows remain an important platform to promote new mobility innovations and to help people make major vehicle purchase decisions, the traditional auto show model is changing,” Alberts said. “We cannot ignore the major disruptions caused by the pandemic and the impact it has had on budgets. As such, we will be providing an amazing experience to the media, the auto industry and the public in a cost-effective way.”

The first American Speed Festival will pull into M1 Sept. 30-Oct. 3. Organizers envision the event as a celebration of cars and, in particular, speed — past, present and future — with more than 200 automobiles drawn from original equipment manufacturers and collections around the world.

“The American Speed Festival will bring together the best elements of the automotive world into one place this September,” said Tim Hartge, the chief marketing officer of Pontiac Motorsport Exhibition, or PME, the promoter of the new event.

Like Motor Bella, the American Speed Festival will be modeled after modern auto shows around the world that have steered away from static shows. Along with exhibitions and live vehicle demos, the American Speed Festival has races planned on M1’s 1.5-mile track. There are food and wine, and networking events planned as part of the event.

Each year, the American Speed Festival will have a featured class of cars and will honor a legend of the industry. For its debut, the featured class will be the legendary Can Am race cars from the 1960s and 1970s, and the “Master of Motorsports” award will go to Motorsport Hall of Fame racing innovator Jim Hall, who’s scheduled to attend.

“I don’t know that there is anyone who, by himself, changed the sport of auto racing globally as much as Jim Hall,” George Levy, the president of the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America, said in a prepared statement. “To car-crazy kids like me in the 1960s, Jim Hall was the Neil Armstrong of motorsports during that time.”

Both Motor Bella and the American Speed Festival plan to continue the NAIAS tradition of hosting charitable events for local nonprofit organizations. Visitors are encouraged to follow both events online for information on ticketing for the week of exhibitions and the formal fundraisers.

“This is the place to be at the end of September,” said Hartge in a prepared statement. “You’ll find the best cars, the best food and spirits, and the best people in the industry … all gathering at M1 Concourse. It is the best of the best, and you won’t want to miss it.”

Bloomfield Township Supervisor Dani Walsh could not be reached for comment before press time on how the new events might impact residents and businesses nearby. M1 Concourse sits right at the edge of the township, just east of Telegraph Road and the newly developed Village at Bloomfield.

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M1 Concourse is located at 1 Concourse Dr. in Pontiac.