If you’ve read Act I about the flea market and car corral, and Act II about the auction, then you know that AACA Hershey has a little bit of everything for everyone in this hobby. However, this is still a meet and its raison d’être is the judged show on Saturday.
The AACA judging process may seem arcane to the uninitiated, but First Junior, First Senior, Preservation, Grand National, DPC, and HPOF are embedded in the rule book, and are chased with unbridled enthusiasm. Why? For the same set of reasons: points, trophies, bragging rights. The weather, well-known to be unpredictable in this part of the world in October, hardly plays a role. When car owners have spent most of the year prepping their vehicles for The Big One, a little bit of water will not deter them from making an entrance.
Hershey is glorious when it’s sunny and 65. It’s barely tolerable when it’s cloudy, windy, and 50, as it was in 2018. Yet I would estimate that the show field was 95%+ filled, and foot traffic was more crowded than years past. Since vehicles are arranged by class, it’s easy to walk among the cars you want to see, and skip those you don’t. My continued infatuation with pre-war classics was rewarded with some beautiful machinery. And some newer cars weren’t so bad either. As you’ll read below under STORIES, meeting new hobbyists and hearing their stories continues to be an engaging part of the hobby.
My 1993 Mazda Miata NA (1st gen), making its Hershey debut in HPOF:
Stan and the Bucket
“Hey, where’d you get the water for the bucket?”
“Ha ha! From my bathtub! I filled it up and carried it down to the parking lot.”
It was Friday evening, the day before The Big Show. The gentleman had alighted from his 1954 Pontiac at the rear of the Harrisburg Marriott where we were both staying, and watched me sponge off my quite dirty Miata using clean water from my bucket. Actually, my car had been spic-and-span clean two days before. It was the drive out on Thursday in the torrential rain which soiled it. Since it was wearing a fresh coat of wax, my theory was that a gentle bath with warm water would cleanse it again, and it seemed to be working.
“Gee, that would work on my car, if only I had remembered to bring a bucket.”
“I’m actually done with the Miata. You staying here? You can borrow my bucket and give it back to me later.”
“You sure? Ok, well, thanks.”
With that, Stan took my bucket while I said to myself, the worst that happens is I never see the bucket again. No big deal.
Saturday morning, I headed out to my car, and sure enough, my bucket was next to my car. Whether Stan had gotten to use it or not, he was honest enough to return it.
Heading inside for breakfast, I ran into Stan, and he invited me to sit with him. He was traveling by himself, as I was. We talked cars (natch), and he told me that his Pontiac was going to be a first-time entry in HPOF, as was the case for my Miata.
We shared some tips with each other about preserving paint and the like, which is when Stan told me that he had some other cars at home in Maryland, including a 1967 Volvo 1800S.
“Oh, I know those Volvos a little bit…” I always start out cautiously with a new friend about any Volvo knowledge I might possess. Treading lightly is a good start in case they have reason to despise the marque, and also to avoid any implication that I’m some kind of expert, which I’m not.
Stan continued: “I actually have a bunch of other Fords and Chevys home, and I like them all. But there’s something special about that 1800….”
I learned for the umpteenth time not to make suppositions about car people. Watching someone motor along in his 1954 Pontiac, I would never presume that the same collector would also enjoy a ‘60s Swedish sporty car. I was glad to be wrong.
Larry and the Fire Extinguisher
My Miata and I arrived on the show field a few minutes past 9am. Normally I would have preferred to make my entrance earlier, but the morning sprinkles caused me to delay my departure to minimize re-soiling my clean car. It got dirty anyway. Out came the cleaning supplies, and the Great Car Show Detailing commenced once again.
Judging was due to start at 10am. At 9:55, I was still wiping down the painted horizontal surfaces when I heard the voice: “Is this your car?” I spun ‘round to face two men wearing judge’s hats. They’re early, I muttered to myself. Can’t blame them; they’ve got a lot of cars to judge.
The judges spent perhaps five minutes looking over my car. As the proud owner, I was too anxious to answer questions they hadn’t asked. They thanked me for bringing it, and moved to the ’68 Camaro next to me. I looked at my watch: 10:01am. This was a blessing! With no need to hang around my car, the day was free to move among all the glorious machinery on the show field. I began by walking down the row of the remaining HPOF cars.
It stood out like a bright light among the cars surrounding it: a 1st gen Porsche 928 in white. The owner was still wiping it down when I engaged him with some questions.
“How long have you had it?”
“Tell me, how are the maintenance and repair costs? I hear horror stories.”
“Not bad, really. Stay up on the preventative stuff, and it’s quite reliable.”
“Do you do your own work on it?”
“No, but it’s still not bad to maintain.”
With that, the 928 owner exclaimed “Oh crap. I forgot a fire extinguisher. Now what am I gonna do?”
“Listen”, I said, “my car’s been judged. I don’t need mine. I’d be happy to loan it to you.”
“Really? I’d appreciate it.”
I jogged back to the Miata, grabbed the extinguisher, and hustled it back to him.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Richard. I’ll swing by later, or, if you don’t see me, my car is the black Miata in the row behind you.”
“Thanks again, I really appreciate it.”
It hadn’t occurred to me that this was my weekend to loan items to fellow car owners, but it was OK. Again, the worst that could happen would be I would be out a relatively inexpensive fire extinguisher.
Hours later, I was finally heading back to my car. The extinguisher was on the floor, and I thought I would swing past the 928 one more time to see how he did. Its owner was sitting in the front seat. But I had forgotten his name. As I approached the car, I glanced at the dashboard placard: “Larry Holbert”.
“Hey Larry, how did you do?”
“Oh, judging went fine. And thanks for the extinguisher. I returned it.”
“Yes, I saw. Listen, I just noticed your last name, and the dealer plate on the back says this car came from Holbert Porsche. Any relation?”
“Yeah, my father started the dealership.”
“So you’re related to Al Holbert?”
“Al was my brother.”
A wave of emotion and nostalgia overwhelmed me. Al Holbert, a successful race car driver and team owner, was killed in a single-occupancy plane crash in 1988. I didn’t know Al, but at that time, I was in a band with a fellow band member who worked at the Porsche dealership and knew Al well. My friend was very broken up over the loss.
I told Larry about my band buddy, and expressed my condolences over his loss.
A while later, I looked up Larry Holbert. Up until the dealership was sold a few years ago, he had been president and CEO of Holbert Porsche. Yet when I asked him about his 928, said nothing about his executive status. He gave no hint that his stature meant that he could have these things taken care of. On a cool October Saturday on a show field in Hershey, Pennsylvania, he was just Larry, fellow car enthusiast.
All photographs copyright © 2018 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.