“America’s Goodwood” will jockey with Motor Bella for racing enthusiasts’ attention this fall

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PME/ASF

On the heels of last week’s announcement that the new Motor Bella all-outdoor automotive festival is going forward as planned, Michigan’s M1 Concourse has announced another 2021 autumn event, the American Speed Festival.

Promoters say the first ASF “will showcase excellence in automotive engineering and design, as well as celebrate driving at speed, including the thrill of motorsport competition.” Featuring more than 200 automobiles from around the world, the American Speed Festival—scheduled for September 30–October 3, on the heels of Motor Bella—will also include live racing action on M1 Concourse’s 1.5-mile road course, Champion Motor Speedway.

If you think this is starting to sound like the American version of the Goodwood Revival—minus the 1948–66 throwback clothing—you’re not alone. And believe us when we say that’s a good thing.

“We’ve studied some of the best automotive events around the world, and we’re taking the best elements of all those shows and bringing them here to M1 Concourse with the American Speed Festival,” says Dave Sherman, interim chief executive officer of Pontiac Motorsport Exhibition (PME), the promoter of the new event. “This will truly be a celebration of racing and performance, and we will have experiences and elements that will appeal to everyone from eight to 80 years of age.”

Tim Hartge, PME chief marketing officer, agrees. “This is not a static car show,” he says. “This is an all-encompassing event that will delight all the senses of any car enthusiast.”

Organizers hope that the American Speed Festival will become an annual event; each year, they aim to highlight a featured class of cars and honor a legend of the industry. This year’s featured class will be the legendary Can Am race cars from the 1960s and ’70s, and the first “Master of Motorsports” award will go to Motorsport Hall of Fame racing innovator Jim Hall, who is scheduled to attend.

“What’s so important about having the Can Am cars here and honoring Jim Hall is that it fits right in with how we want to showcase innovation in racing and the automotive world,” Hartge says. “Jim Hall is truly legendary for the advancements he made to racing in terms of aerodynamics and engineering advancements.”

Jim Hall and Bruce McLaren
Jim Hall (L) and Bruce McLaren, 1967. Bernard Cahier/Getty Images

George Levy, president of the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America, is the author of an authorized Hall biography that will be released later this year. He says that Hall is in a class by himself.

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

Jim Hall John Surtees Can-Am racing
Jim Hall, John Surtees, Chaparral-Chevrolet 2E, Lola-Chevrolet T70 Mk.2, Riverside, 1966. Bernard Cahier/Getty Images

The American Speed Festival will kick off on Thursday, September 30, with an exclusive “Motor Grille” event in Metro Detroit that focuses on the great automotive history of the Motor City. Thursday evening’s American Speed Festival Can Am Kick Off reception will be open to the public.

Friday and Saturday, October 1–2, will feature high-speed on-track activity for past, present, and future race and performance vehicles. There will also be guest appearances and seminars, plus autograph and Q&A sessions.

Friday evening will include a special “ASF Garage Reveal” event that will bring together the drivers, owners, and industry insiders for an evening of bench racing. Saturday evening will feature the Checkered Flag Ball to benefit the Checkered Flag Challenge, a new 501(c)(3) supporting organizations that are changing lives in Pontiac.

Sunday’s finale will feature the American Speed Festival Exposition, a judged competition of the best car classes during the weekend.

Tickets are on sale now at americanspeedfestival.com. Daily ticket prices include all food and beverages; evening events are ticketed separately.

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