PCA Parade: Of Q-tips and fingernails
By Cole Scrogham

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The Porsche Club of America's Parade Concours d'Elegance is something to behold, especially for those who have never seen the spectacle that highlights the national Parade event. For those strolling the grounds and inspecting the 225 or so beautiful Porsches, many have no idea that the beauty began many months and sometimes years in advance.

The "Q-tip" crowd, as some call them, have been hard at work for some time, at least for those who have any aspirations to come home with one of those coveted trophies. To be sure, it takes a special person to compete on a level that requires absolute cleanliness, but also takes a special person to restore, preserve and prepare a Porsche to any degree. For the United States, this is THE Porsche Concours, and competing at this level is not for everyone.

To accommodate a tiered system of competition, the rulemakers at PCA decided to incorporate several levels for the Parade held June 23-29 in Traverse City, Mich. For newcomers and those with only a limited time to prepare, the Street classes only judge the inside and outside of the car, Touring adds the front and rear trunk and/or engine bay, and the hypercompetitive Full Concours classes judge all areas of the car, including the undercarriage. This year saw a record entry with nearly 230 cars on display.

The official week begins with Concours prep, a unique gathering of cars and owners in the final prep area that opens several days before the show. This is usually a fun time of getting to know new people and finding old friends, commiserating over worn-down fingernails and endless Q-tips.
Cole Scrogham
A look at the indoor prep area for Porsche Club of America's Parade Concours d'Elegance in Traverse City, Mich.

This year, I helped with a very rare 1992 Carrera Cup USA from "the series that never was," converting the car back to racing specs, which was a daunting task and completed just in time for the event. The Concours prep time was the first time in many years that a Carrera Cup USA had even been seen at a Parade, much less entered with an intention of competing for the coveted Performance Group award. We worked feverishly on the car to remove any last-minute defects that were found after the long trip to Traverse City, and after several days were ready for a break.

That break would come in the form of the Parade Welcome Party, which provides welcome relief from all the activity and a chance to relax and catch up with other Porsche folks. This year we were treated to a very special guest, courtesy of Porsche Cars North America and Porsche Clubs Coordinator Paul Gregor — one of the prototype 50th anniversary edition models was flown in just to show off for the Welcome Party crowd!
Cole Scrogham
A prototype 50th anniversary edition Porsche 911 was flown in just to show off for the Welcome Party crowd at Parade Concours d'Elegance.

A first glimpse of the car was a really cool thing to see for the huge crowd, only eclipsed by a surprise visit from a new 991 GT3 at the Concours Awards Banquet a few evenings later. Porsche really knows how to put on a show; thanks for letting us get a sneak peek of these special cars.

The break did not last long, for the next morning would see Performance Group entrants up and moving their cars to position starting at 5:30 a.m. — ugh. Some of the later groups moved in around 9 a.m., which was much nicer. The layout celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 911 by placing all the 911s in a ring around the golf course, encircling all of the other Porsches placed in the center of the fairway.

A long day of judging ensued, excitement and patience alternated for everyone showing a car. I was helping to judge other cars, so finally I made my way back to the Cup car in time for the judging to begin. The group was very large with 17 cars, so it took some time for the judges to complete their 5-minute judging cycle on each car.

The owner was very pleased to tell the story of the car that I helped bring back to racing specs, and the judging went well, but now for the waiting. It seemed like hours before the scores began to come back in, showing scores for the Cup USA, a beautiful Brumos 934.5, a sports racer and several other very competitive entries.
Charissa Cobb
Waiting for the judges' results next to a restored 1992 Carrera Cup USA at Parade Concours d'Elegance.

Once the scores begin to be posted, there is always a flurry of activity. Scores are re-added to make sure they are accurate, deductions are examined to make sure they are valid, and every tenth of a point is scrutinized. This Concours was no exception.

After some re-adding and a protest that left a very nicely prepared sports racer out of the final results (the 1950s chassis was not built by Porsche, so the entry was disallowed), the position of the Performance Group classification changed twice — leaving the Cup USA the Group winner with 298.2 out of 300 points! We really couldn't believe it, the car had managed perfect scores in four of the six judging areas and received great marks from the judging team.

Now it's time for another, much longer, break. Doesn't this sound like fun?

Cole Scrogham is a strategy and team manager for Dempsey/Del Piero Racing, a start-up Porsche GT3 team in ALMS. Scrogham is a four-time Manhattan Concours winner and eight-time national champion team owner with Porsche brand. He is also a noted author of "Porsche 356 Carrera: Four Cam Production Car" and "Porsche 911 Engine Assembly Guide."