Montecito Motor Classic Moves

By James Buckley   |   August 8, 2019
Last year's Montecito Motor Classic SCORE Award winner was this white 1966 Porsche 906, owned by Marco Diez of Diez Concepts

They are still calling it the Montecito Motor Classic, but it won’t be taking place on Coast Village Road. Actually, the popular eight-year-old car show couldn’t have taken place on Coast Village this year because the county is about to begin a three-month resurfacing project on Coast Village Circle, hit hard by last year’s debris flow, and which has been the go-to alternative when Coast Village Road has been shut for the occasion. So, I sat down recently with Mike Hammer, chief sponsor of the show, at his Carpinteria redoubt, along with Dolores Morelli Johnson of Million Air, and Mark Alfano to discuss the move.

“We’re going into our eighth year,” Mike says, “and we started out small, with just a little section of Coast Village and kept expanding and expanding it and getting more people from around California appreciating the quality of the show and what we’re doing by helping the police organizations (Santa Barbara Police Activities League, Santa Barbara Police Foundation, and DRAGG [Drag Racing Against Gangs & Graffiti]) that are trying to help the children, so we outgrew it.”

Chief Montecito Motor Classic sponsor Michael Armand Hammer with one of the many awards he and his car have garnered over the years (photo by Kahn Media)

He explains further that although “the community loved it,” they had to be fair to the merchants who would be negatively affected. The traffic issue, of course, is the big one, as because of ongoing highway construction, Coast Village Road has become one big parking lot from about 3 pm to nearly 6 pm daily. That situation is exacerbated by additional traffic flow both north and south on Fridays and Sundays, as vacationers take to the roads in their RVs and campers.

 “You know,” says Dolores, “it takes a year, from two days after the show ends to the day it opens again, and for three years in a row, we raised just within a couple thousand dollars more and we realized we needed to grow and that we could no longer grow where we were.”

The show is scheduled for Sunday, September 22 from 9 am to 2 pm at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. One hour later, at 3 pm, a polo match begins, so those attending the car show can simply move over to watch the game. 

The car show is free; if one wants to park on premises, there will be a charge of $10 per vehicle, but there will be parking along the surface street adjacent to the polo field.

This year’s theme is “Supercar Designs & Legacy Milestones,” featuring one-of-a-kind or a small handful of cars made by Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, and others. Mike Hammer explains that “something over and above what would be normal, like a Bugatti with 1100 horsepower,” would be a “supercar.” Mark Alfano adds, “It is a car that is very exotic looking, very fast, and tends to be pricier… The best of the best, the rarest of the rare, a Ferrari Enzo, Bugatti Veyron, and others like that. We’re fortunate,” he adds, “to be in a town where these cars do exist.”

Some of the early highlights chosen are that 2019 Santa Barbara Teen Star Sofia Schuster will be on hand to sing the National Anthem at noon. Included will be a children’s section and a military section. Sam Freeman has designed five different car models that snap together (rather than glued) “and kids will be able to put them together in a special section,” Mike notes. The late Hollywood car customizer George Barris’s Batmobile will be on display, as will many other special vehicles. The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will be even more involved than it has been, and the inimitable Monte Wilson will act once again as emcee. A large food court made up of a variety of food trucks (and maybe even a large McConnell’s ice cream presence) is also planned.

“It’s going to be a car show-picnic-and-polo experience,” Hammer promises.

Car owners who wish to enter can sign up online at the cost is just $100 for an individual car; dealerships are structured differently.


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