Sunlight on Chrome

09 Jun 2021

Highlands Motoring Festival: sleek curves on the mountain

By Mandy Murry

The 14th season of the Highlands Motoring Festival is rev’d up and ready to transport you back in time with over 75 classic cars on display June 10-13, 2021. The grassroots festival organized by over 80 volunteers combines nostalgia, fun and forward-thinking. The 2021 event has joined forces with The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts, adding the elegant and sleek lines of vintage models as works of art on canvas, paper and sculpture with the exhibition - “FreeWheeling – the Allure of the Automobile in Contemporary Art. Additionally, there will be a rotating display of extremely rare and special automobiles in the gallery that is a testament to the concept of the automobile itself as art.

When a few locals came together after a 2006 Rotary meeting to pitch the town council the idea of a classic car show, I wonder if they knew what kind of impact they would have.

Historically, the car festival has been named one of the best classic car shows in the country. Highlands naturally draws a crowd and combining a judged and juried car show with artists has not been done. It is worth noting that four of the 14 artists are women, and women in automobile art and collecting are becoming a hot topic across the United States.

Steve Ham, the co-chair of this year’s event, says, “This year is very unique for the festival, and what I love most are the stories- the stories of the cars, and the families who own the cars.” 

With the 2020 cancellation of the acclaimed festival, the allure for car enthusiasts to participate in the “One Lap of the Mountains Driving Tour” was so big the Festival added a second day of western North Carolina mountain drive tours. “It is breathtaking to watch 25 million dollars of vintage and unique automobiles driving in procession around mountain curves and breathtaking landscape,” Steve mentioned. Unfortunately, this year’s paid driving events ($180.00) are sold out; however, the team putting together the festival has plans for “Mountain Motoring”- mountain drive tours and a mini-festival that will take place September 10-12, 2021. 

What to look for this year? The theme is Italian supercars from the 60s and 70s, cars representative of that smooth and sleek James Bond appeal, designed in a famous era. Cars invited to attend Saturday’s showing all date pre-1990. A few I have my eye on-

1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/2

1964 Aston Martin DB5

1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale

1972 Ferrari Dino GT

The Festival is free to the public. Cars and artists included in the show are by invitation only. Money raised is circulated back into the community. This year profits will be donated to The Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers, The Literacy & Learning Center, and REACH of Macon County. These organizations serve the tourism and hospitality workforce of Highlands. As Steve said it best, “we are giving back to those who are putting themselves at risk every day to serve tourists and locals alike.”


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Welcome Soirée at The Bascom- 5:30 - 8:30 pm

“One Lap of the Mountains” Driving Tour *SOLD OUT

Friday, June 11, 2021

“One Lap of the Mountains” Driving Tour *SOLD OUT

Parade of Main Street - 5:45 - 6:30 pm

Parade Party - 5:45 - 8:00 pm

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Cars in the Park - Premier Event - 7:30 am - 3:45 pm

Awards Gala - 6:00 - 9:30 pm 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

High Octane - 8:30 - 11:00 am - a less restrictive car show event.

The Bascom: FreeWheeling- The Allure of the Automobile in Contemporary Art - Exhibition Dates: May 11 - August 21, 2021. A special symposium with female artists is slated for August 2021. 


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