I recently interviewed a former boss, a courageous woman who once hired me as an intern. Sheâ€™s now affiliated with the Milwaukee Masterpiece, a high-end car show.
Meet Bev Jurkowski, my mentor â€“Â and the woman crazy enough to ask me to be a "celebrity judge" this weekend at the show.
OnMilwaukee.com: So how did you get involved in the Masterpiece?
Bev Jurkowski: Iâ€™ve been a gear head for a long time. It started with my days at Miller when I worked with the sports marketing group and got to meet race legends like Danny Sullivan (the guy who did a 360 at Indy â€“ not intentionally â€“ and still won the race), and NASCAR greats Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace. Iâ€™ve been involved in car clubs since the 1980s. A few of my friends in the Porsche Club are working behind the scenes for the Milwaukee Masterpiece and they drafted me to join them.
OMC: What can people expect to see when they attend the Masterpiece this year?
BJ: Itâ€™s a two-day event. On Saturday, Aug. 23, youâ€™ll see cars and motorcycles shown by anyone who wants to bring a vehicle down to the show field in Veterans Park. Spectators will pick a Peopleâ€™s Choice winner. Saturday is a prelude to Sunday. Thatâ€™s the real deal when the show field will be occupied by 230 vehicles that the Concours Committee has invited to compete for awards. These vehicles will be judged in 29 different classes. Each class will have a first-in-class winner. Prestige awards will be given as well including the Chief Judgeâ€™s award and the granddaddy award â€“ Best of Show.
The lakefront provides the perfect setting for this family friendly event.
OMC: This sounds kind of stuffy.
BJ: Not at all. The people who own these unique vehicles are down to Earth. Theyâ€™ll talk your ear off if you indicate the slightest interest in their vehicle. Stop and talk with Jack and Annie Bonham of Shawano who will be there with their 1941 Packard 120 Convertible Coupe. Jack spent 14 years working on the restoration.
OMC: Some of the vehicles are quite special, right?
BJ: There will be several cars on the show field that are valued at more than $1 million. Thereâ€™s the 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom I Torpedo that was built for film star Marlene Dietrich.
A 1956 Mercedes Benz Gullwing Coupe is also a show stopper.
OMC: Where are these vehicles coming from?
BJ: Surprisingly, thereâ€™s a wealth of outstanding vehicles in Wisconsin, including some classic and rare Ferraris, Jaguars, Excaliburs and muscle cars. But thatâ€™s not all. Many of the vehicles youâ€™ll see on Sunday are from out of state, including California, Texas and the Midwest.
OMC: What do those judges look for?
BJ: Well, if youâ€™ve never watched a concours judge in action, itâ€™s a sight to see. They wear white gloves and poke their fingers into places you never knew existed on a vehicle. Theyâ€™re looking for dirt. Theyâ€™ll shudder if a blade of grass is caught in the tread of a tire. And then mark points off on their scoresheet.
OMC: Youâ€™re celebrating the anniversaries of the introduction of three cars â€“ the Pontiac GTO, the Excalibur and the Ford Mustang. Tell us more.
BJ: These three vehicles each hold a unique place in automotive history. Spectators will see some incredible examples of each of these on Sunday in their respective classes. Weâ€™re delighted to feature a special guest as well. Jim Wangers, the Godfather of the GTO, will be on hand. Wangers was in his 30s when he came up with the marketing scheme for the GTO. Heâ€™s legendary among GTO owners and advertising history buffs.
OMC: What car are you most looking forward to seeing?
BJ: Itâ€™s gotta be the 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Super D 500 Convertible. Despite my love of German-engineered cars, Iâ€™m a Mopar nut to the core. Tell your friends to come on down. Tickets are available at the event. $15 for either day or $20 for a two-day admission ticket.
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