Pontiac, MI — 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 to 1972.
Vandagriff recalls spending three months a year in Pontiac with his dad’s Can-Am team from 1969-1971. Now he’s been recruited by M1 Concourse CEO Tim McGrane to curate vintage cars for the inaugural American Speed Festival in Pontiac, set for Sept. 30-Oct. 3. See the 15 historic cars already confirmed for the festival.
Vandagriff 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, but he dropped out of racing after Peter Revson, a good friend, lost his life. He stayed out until 1980 when a friend bought a vintage race car and asked Vandagriff to teach him to drive. “I got on the track and I was hooked again,” he said.
After growing Hollywood Sport Cars into the largest Ferrari dealership in North America, Vandagriff 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,” he said. “Everyone wants to see Jim Hall and the Chaparrals. If you weren’t at the races in 1960’s and 1970s, you have never seen these cars. They rarely participate in shows. They are one of a kind and extremely special.”
The vintage cars’ appreciation in value makes many owners hesitant to take them to shows. ASF does not have wheel-to-wheel racing, which makes it much more appealing to many owners.
“The cars we are securing from across the country — California to New York to DC to Texas — have not been seen at any car show in Michigan,” Vandagriff said.
He appreciates the thought and planning that have gone into ASF. “The cars you will see aren’t ones from 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.”