As Converse College celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, the Alumnae Association is putting Converse in the driver's seat for an auto show called "Art in Motion." On Saturday, Sept. 28, the show will be held on the Converse campus to kick off a national program sponsored by the Edelbrock Family Foundation, called Campus Cruisers. The program aims to educate college-age students about cars, as well as provide mentoring and networking opportunities in the automotive industry.
"We will get a glimpse of the glamour that is associated with the best known car shows in the world, right here in Spartanburg.
"There has never been an event like this in the upstate, maybe even SC," said Converse alumna Karen Thomas, who is coordinating the event. A Converse Alumnae Board member, Thomas worked for months to create "Art In Motion" to celebrate the ideals of Converse as well as provide a spectacular and educational event for the Spartanburg and surrounding communities.
Featured among the 125 cars will be a 1914 Watson Racer, along with classics to 2014 models ranging from Bentleys to Buicks and from Ferraris to Fiats. Patterned after the high-end Concours d'Elegance events in Pebble Beach, CA, Hilton Head and Pinehurst, Art in Motion showcases handpicked cars from all over. "These cars could be featured at events anywhere any weekend," Thomas says. "The fact that they're coming to Converse is a big deal."
Roger Habisreutinger, a Spartanburg business leader and car enthusiast, plans to display his 1974 Ferrari, 1949 Bentley Mark VI, 1966 Pontiac Catalina 2+2, and 1951 Jaguar Roadster at the event. The Mark VI is the first Bentley his father ever bought. An avid automobile collector, the late Rolf Habisreutinger had it restored and presented as a wedding gift to Roger and his wife, Marianna. "The car is really Marianna's. My father invited her to pick from his collection, and it remains in her name today," said Habisreutinger. "I was 8 years old when my dad bought it. Needless to say, that car is very near and dear to us." Habisreutinger is one of several local community leaders whose enthusiasm for Art in Motion is helping to drive the initiative's success. "We will get a glimpse of the glamour that is associated with the best known car shows in the world, right here in Spartanburg. There will be some very significant cars exhibited, and to have them come to Spartanburg is very exciting," he said.
In addition to the unique variety of specialty cars, Benson Fiat of Greer is sponsoring an "Art Car" for children. Converse students will guide children as they use dry-erase markers to create their own masterpiece on the car. Kids also become junior judges for the day, complete with badges and official ballots, compliments of Summit Racing. And artist David Kramer of Elizabethton, Tenn. will create an air bush rendition of one of the cars on site during the event.
The educational mission of the Edelbrock Family aligns well with that of Converse. In 1941, the foundation's patriarch, Vic Edelbrock Sr., made history when he shattered a national speed record, driving 121 mph in a 1932 Ford Roadster that he'd retooled to boost its performance. Today, the 75-year-old company's educational arm includes Vic Sr.'s son, Vic, and granddaughter, Christi, who is thrilled that these cars are coming to Converse, a women's-only liberal arts college.
"She's a big promoter of women in the automotive industry," Thomas says of Christi Edelbrock, "Converse is the perfect place. Women in the industry are moving to the forefront. Cars are now being designed for and by women."
Art in Motion festivities kick off at the college at 9 a.m. with a parade of the cars by year, the national anthem and a balloon release. Options for lunch are available on campus. Awards, including the Bill Wakefield Best in Show, will be presented at 2 p.m. Students, children and seniors pay no admission, and a $10 donation is appreciated from everyone else. At 4 PM the cars will cruise to the world famous Beacon Drive In to be accessible for those who might not have had the chance to catch them earlier in the day. For more information about the event, contact Karen Waters Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org or (864) 877-5795.