The basic concept of any car show is so simple, that it’s very difficult to get it wrong.
Some still manage to make a complete and spectacular **** of it, but for the most part, it’s not that hard. You take an open area of some description, invite some cars to park up and voilà, you have a car show.
Because it’s so simple, it seems like everyone and their dog is running their own car show these days. Even over the last decade, the number of events every year continues to grow. While I don’t have an exact number, I would estimate that there’s been an approximate 6,000,004% increase (give or take) in the number of car shows on this side of the planet in recent times.
I’m sure a lot are doing it for good reasons, but I’m also certain that many are just trying to cash in…
For sure, there’s plenty of imitators out there, too. Those who ‘borrow’ ideas from others as they wouldn’t dare invest their own energy and ideas into creating something of their own. Why would they? Hasn’t someone else already done the hard work for them?
Then, there’s people like Jamie McToldridge and Carl Taylor, founders of the imitable Players Show. If you’ve read Speedhunters at any stage over the last decade, you should be familiar with the (primarily) UK based series of shows. What originally started as a once year event in Essex, just outside of London, has grown into three annual shows in the UK and the USA.
One of these in particular, is very special.
Having had the pleasure of visiting and experiencing some of the best shows and exhibitions on the planet over the last 10 years, I would rank Players Classic in its current format as the best of them all. Yes, I’m including the likes of Tokyo Auto Salon and SEMA in that judgement.
Not that the latter pair are bad in any way, I just feel that Players Classic is a little bit better than them.
It originally started as a one day event on the grounds of the glorious Goodwood Motor Circuit in Chichester, England. G.M.C. is just a short stone’s throw away from Lord March’s driveway, which plays host to something called the Goodwood Festival of Speed. You might have heard of it.
The Goodwood Motor Circuit itself hosts the annual Members Meeting & Revival events, which are about as prestigious as things can get here. As such, as a location and venue, the circuit is stunning. Every time I walk through the gate, I feel like I’ve been transported to an era where everything is just better.
The whole place is immaculately kept, from the pristine buildings and painted white fences, to the manicured grass and flowers. Exploring the venue during an event is one of the great automotive experiences.
Of course, a venue alone does not make the perfect car show. The process begins months in advance as the Players team sort through thousands of entries to hand select the best of the best cars to feature on these hallowed grounds.
There’s no bias towards one particular automotive sub-culture, every car is considered on its own merits and for just being a good or interesting car.
It’s the sort of event that rewards experimentation, too. It encourages people to build cars that they might not feel comfortable presenting elsewhere, because the kind of people who attend Players Classic are generally far more considered than those who attend other events I’ve covered. It’s a friendly place, filled with like minded people.
Since 2018, the event has expanded to two days, with a track day taking place on the Saturday. There’s always a curious mix of cars out there; from McLaren supercars to old Fords, a Renault Twingo and seemingly everything in-between. Our technical editor, Ryan Stewart, was busy frightening himself on track all day in his E92 M3.
It’s the only place where watching a MK2 Escort chase a 570S feels normal.
This was my fifth (I think) Players Classic event, and I had a little bit of a realisation on the Saturday evening after shooting all of these. I’ve never really taken the time to experience the event as a normal car person.
It’s always been for work reasons which involves chasing down cars, owners and stories for the duration of the event.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working the event, but having created over 20 stories from the event over the last few years, I figured it was time to approach it in a different way. So, for the Sunday, that’s exactly what I done.
It just happens that a Speedhunters’ day off, isn’t your normal day off…