The 2017 CBA Concours D’elegance was nothing like I had expected. This year’s event which marked the 47th edition since its initial launch was held at the Ngong Racecourse. I arrived at the event quite early and was shocked by the already mad traffic that was starting to build up along Ngong Road. All roads seemed to lead to this event as auto machine lovers streamed in, in huge numbers. Getting through security was no easy fit either. One had to go through various checkpoints to verify that you were fit to attend the event. The search was so intense that it got me to question my otherwise innocent self on whether I had carried anything worth flagging down.
Once inside the premises, I took a stroll around the field to preview what was going on. The first stop was the motorcycle section. Here I found a busy group of competitors and their teams putting in the finishing touches on their beasts. The 41 motorcycles which had been entered into the competition looked so magnificent; like something from a ‘70s movie. I later took a stroll down to the field to view the other stars of the event- the classic and vintage cars.
The 73 cars in attendance were parked neatly parked in rows. The competitors here were also very busy sprucing up their cars before the competition. Their exteriors were so sharply polished you could see your reflection. The competitors multitasked between catering to their vehicles and answering numerous questions from curious onlookers; car lovers are a very chatty bunch.
I had a little chat with few Ugandan competitors who narrated the story prior to their arrival in Nairobi for the competition. As has always been tradition, all drivers and riders drive all the way from Kampala to Nairobi every year in a bid to create awareness about Cancer, HIV/AIDS and road safety. This year’s 13 cars and 14 motorcycles which was a record for them started their journey to Kampala through Kigali to Tanzania then Mombasa arriving at Nairobi to prepare for the competition. Through the journey, they stop by hospitals and meet and greets to talk to people about Cancer, HIV/AIDS and road safety. Talk about racing for a good cause.
The competition kicked off at around 10.15am with both motorcycle and car competitions running simultaneously. I sat in to watch the car competition before switching to the motorcycle section. The competitors did not disappoint in the costume department. They dressed up in eye-catching costumes that best complimented their vehicles. The competitor who best caught my eye was a man dressed in a Cinderella-like costume. The costume gained him a lot of praise even from the judges. The competing cars drove through the judging runway as the able judges inspected their underside, exterior finish, interior boot, engine and engine compartment, roadworthiness, and finally the age.
I took a little break from watching the competition and visited the auto expo where 28 stands of cars and motorcycles stood up for sale. This was for any car or motorcycle enthusiasts who are willing and able to take these fancy automobiles home for personal or competition use. For some like me, our shallow pockets only allowed us to view them and drool inwardly. The heritage collection was also an interesting spot to visit. Here one marvelled at the automobiles, equipment and machinery that previous generations used. In comparison to the equipment used now, you appreciate the development that has and is still occurring in our world. Right next to the heritage section was the car parking lot. The entire field was packed with vehicles which are a testament to the number of people who had attended the event.
By lunchtime, a hoard of people had already arrived with more still streaming in. The organizers had ensured that food would be in plenty as various food and drinking options were availed to the public. People could only have been spoilt for choice. One thing that stood out for me was how central the eatery area was. Unlike other events I have attended, the food court was located in one area as opposed to being spread out across the venue which makes it a little taxing to look for food.
The social aspect which is also very important during this occasion was also not lacking. The people in attendance included families, friends and even a few schools. The theme Beauty and the Beasts was adhered to as people especially the women adorned killer outfits. From jeans to dresses to shorts, the women made sure that the event was a fashion spectacle. People socialized and bonded about their love for automobiles. The picture frenzy happening where the vehicles were packed was a sight to behold. No one was willing to leave the event without a memento to remember the beasts with. You could not walk five steps without accidentally walking into someone’s picture frame. The children were also not left behind in the fun as there was an innovation center where the kids played games and partook in constructive activities. There was also the usual Brookside tents where the kids could paint and play lego.
The winners who were announced later in the day saw various competitors win in their various classes. The overall prize winners in the car competition were: Diccon Wilcock with his 1934 Walton which scooped the first prize. Closely behind him in second place was his wife Julia Wilcock with her 1952 MG TD. Veronica Wroe with her 1934 Rolls Royce Boattail earned her position three. Tumaini Muthiga, Pradeep Ramachandani, Vitafoam Products, Sati Gata Aura, Nayen Kavia, Claude Mwende, Ronald Walusumbi, Gayling May, Rajesh Lakani, Ian Duncan, Julia Wilcock, and Diccon Wilcock scooped first place titles in their respective car classes.
The leading competitors in the Motorcycle competition were Sati’s classics with a 1925 DKW which scooped first place. On their heels was the 1929 Bevan Beckman’s New Harley followed by Another of Sati’s Classics, the 1947 Speedway JAP. The other class winners were Shaiman Mohammed, Enzo Amato, Gianfranco Masetto, and Antonia D’Augustino.
The crowd was treated to a lovely performance by live bands, a stunning fashion show and acrobats who showcased their prowess. We were also able to witness a fly past with a parachute drop where a skydiver dropped from the sky with a Kenyan flag tied to his back. We all flashed our cameras in a bid to capture the magnificent moment.
The event culminated in a pumped-up performance by Nyashinski as the people sang and danced along with him. The organizers did a great job in organizing the event all the way from tightening security measures, to the arrangement of multiple events and entertainment options. Everything flowed meticulously. Parking space was available without any hustle and they found a way to involve everyone in the event. This takes away any worry guests may have and allows them to enjoy the event to the maximum. So if you have been thinking of attending The CBA Concours D’elegance, make it a point to come to the next one. It was truly a lovely event.