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Rain drain

Forest Grove's signature car show shuts down early due to weather
by: John Schrag Lee Wallace of Milwaukie, of the Westside Singers, paused to admire a classic Chevy after his group was rained out at Concours.

It's Oregon, it's July, and sometimes it rains.

But when wet stuff falls from the sky on Concours Sunday, it's tough to see a silver lining through the dark gray clouds.

Arguably Forest Grove's signature annual event, Concours d'Elegance typically draws spectators from throughout the Portland area and beyond who peer under the hoods of hundreds of classic restored cars, marveling at their mechanics and appreciating their accouterments.

This year, however, the car-crazed crowd was a mere fraction of its usual size, mostly due to inclement weather.

'We were down considerably in attendance,' said Jim Crisp, publicity chair for Concours and a member of the Forest Grove Rotary Club, which sponsors the show each year. 'I'd say we had less than half of our normal crowd.'

Blame it on the rain, which fell steadily from the time the event opened at 8:30 a.m. until organizers closed the gates prematurely around 2 p.m. - a full two hours before the show was scheduled for tear-down.

For Crisp, who's volunteered at Concours since he moved to town in 1987, it was a door-slamming disappointment.

'I talked to a number of people who said there's never been this much rain,' he noted. 'When Concours started, folks did a lot of research on weather patterns and determined that the third Sunday of July was the driest day of the year.'

Not so in this, Concours' 39th year, when the sun did a disappearing act from dawn until dusk.

The dreary weather caused about 60 car owners to bail completely, Crisp said. That was on top of 20 or so who'd phoned Rotary's Concours hotline in the days preceding the show to say their vehicles weren't ready and wouldn't make it.

Even with the no-shows, however, Sunday's Concours had 260 cars on-site.

'That's a good turnout,' said Crisp. 'It's a very decent number - about the normal number of entries.'

Among the shining examples of motoring magic was a 1939 Bugatti owned by Peter and Merle Mullin of Los Angeles, which won the show's 'best classic car' award.

'That was an exceptional car,' Crisp noted. 'Really a showstopper.'

The 'best in show' car, a 1933 Rolls-Royce owned by Jay and Christina Moore of Lahaina, Hawaii, logged a perfect score of 100 points from the show's panel of judges.

A trio of autos earned 99 points, an unusual feat at Concours, said Crisp.

Spectators who stuck it out in spite of the raindrops seemed to be having a good time.

Lee Wallace, a Milwaukie resident and a tenor with the Westside Singers - whose scheduled performance was thwarted by the rain - hung around to look at a few autos.

'We've never been rained out before, but what can you do?' said Wallace, 76. 'This is Oregon, after all.'

Wallace said he'd come back to Concours if the group was invited again. 'Sure, we're resilient,' he said. 'Why not?'

Members of the Rotary board will review a soggy financial picture Thursday as they take stock of Concours' ledger. Event proceeds, which usually fund student scholarships and buoy community service projects, likely will be nonexistent.

'We're going to be able to pay all our bills,' Crisp said, 'but I'm pretty sure we're going to lose money on this one.'