As President of the Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA), Cris Vandagriff and his family have been “extremely involved” with motorsports for generations. His great grandfather, Harry Buchanan Grey, began as a riding mechanic at the Indy 500. His father, Chic Vandagriff, ran his Hollywood Sport Cars racing team from 1968 – ’72.
Like a glimpse into the future, Cris recalls spending three months a year in Pontiac with his dad’s Can-Am team 69-71. Recently M1 Concourse CEO Tim McGrane recruited Vandagriff to curate vintage cars for the inaugural American Speed Festival in Pontiac, which will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 3.
Cris began driving after attending the Johnny Kasner driving school at Willow Springs and his first race was in 1973. He believed his purpose in life was to drive race cars. He dropped out of racing after Peter Revson, a good friend, lost his life. Cris stayed out until 1980 when a friend bought a vintage race car and asked Cris to teach him to drive. “I got on the track and I was hooked again.”
After growing Hollywood Sport Cars into the largest Ferrari dealership in North America, Cris became a driving instructor for vintage cars. He also became involved with HMSA, which he now leads, to help preserve the legacy of the world’s greatest drivers and automobiles, a tradition he will help foster at the new M1 Concourse American Speed Festival.
“The response has been really positive because, while new, it has the workings of a great event. Everyone wants to see Jim Hall and the Chaparrals. If you weren’t at the races in ‘60’s and ‘70s you have never seen these cars. They rarely participate in shows. They are one of a kind and extremely special.”
The appreciation in value of the vintage cars is such that many owners hesitate to take them to shows. ASF does not have wheel to wheel racing which makes it much more appealing to many owners.
Cris says vintage car owners love to share their cars and they love to go to new places. “The cars we are securing from across the country from California to New York to DC to Texas – have not been seen at any car show in Michigan.”
So much thought and planning has gone into ASF, says Cris. “The cars you see aren’t ones you see in a museum. They are in private collections and you will get to meet the owners and hear their stories and maybe get in the cars. Because every car has a story, and their owners like to share them.”