Virtual exotic car show will make Father’s Day one to remember

For its first 10 years, starting in 2010, it was an open-air exhibition that attracted thousands of visitors and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities.

Norris McDonald By: Norris McDonald June 19, 2021
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If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. Or so they say.

I’m talking about the annual Yorkville Exotic Car Show, which will be held tomorrow, Father’s Day. For its first 10 years, starting in 2010, it was an open-air exhibition that attracted thousands of visitors and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities.

Then, a year ago, it went from the street to the living room and became a virtual presentation because of the pandemic. Still reeling from COVID-19 a year later, the automotive extravaganza will again be a virtual affair, but a number of changes have been made that organizers hope will eliminate some of the missteps of a year ago when the show was live.

Chief among them: a change in platforms (no more Instagram Live; the exotic cars and celebrities will be seen this year on Facebook Live) and the show will be recorded before being broadcast.

Here, in a nutshell, is the plan for tomorrow: Streaming from noon to 5p.m. on Facebook Live, the show will feature a new theme every hour. Its charity partner this year is the Melanoma Network of Canada (melanomanetwork.ca) with the hope of raising $10,000 for the organization. How you can donate and more details about the show are available on the Yorkville Exotic Car Show Facebook page or its website, yorkvilleexotics.com.

Okay, got all that? Pretty easy, eh?

I got all this information from David Elsner, a data analytics professor and business consultant in real life who started out with the car show as a volunteer and now runs it. He filled me in on some of the background, particularly the decision last year to go virtual.

“We knew going virtual would be a challenge,” he said, “but we wanted to keep the show going, to raise some money for charity and also make sure that people don’t forget we exist.” Then he added: “It’s harder to put on a virtual show than a real show, because we have the template for the real show; we’ve been doing it for years.”

Elsner said that the show first started in 2010 when a couple of fellows came up with the idea of inviting members of the Porsche Club to show off their pride and joys in Yorkville, the centre of exotic car culture in Toronto.

“The first year, 2010, the Porsche Club got some other car clubs to join in and we showed the cars off on Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue. Twenty-five thousand people showed up and we raised $10,000 for a couple of charities. Then our main charity for years was Prostate Cancer Canada, but they became part of the Canadian Cancer Society a year or so ago so now our money goes to the Melanoma Network of Canada, which is all about sun safety.”

Money? “Since the beginning,” Elsner said, “we have raised almost $400,000 for cancer research in its various forms. After the first year, we moved to Bloor Street just south of Yorkville, and in 2019, our 10th anniversary, when we were still outside, we had 105,000 attend between noon and 5 p.m., which made the show one of the largest one-day events in the country. We raised $85.000 that day.”

But now it’s a virtual deal and when I say virtual, I mean it.

There are five segments, each has a host and each of the cars is the focus of a video with narration frequently done by the owner. The segments, in order, will include Exotics, American, Porsche, Open Class and Electric Vehicles, with each running between 30- to 50-minutes and featuring a few cars.

One of the personalities featured will be former Wheels writer Jim Kenzie, who will be reporting from the Milton-area Legendary Motorcar Ltd. on the 2005 Saleen S7.

In conversation, Jim told me this week that this gorgeous coupe, built by businessman and former race car driver Steve Saleen, has an all-carbon fibre-body, draped over a lightweight steel and aluminum honeycomb composite chassis. Twin-turbo, mid-engined, of course.

“Gary Klute of Legendary tells me this car is one of only 14 Twin Turbo road-cars built,” Kenzie said. “This black beauty is in beyond-perfect condition and has just 400 miles on it.”

Price? It’s probably like they used to say about the Rolls Royce; if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Little known fact about Steve Saleen: he finished 12th in the 1989 Molson Indy Toronto.

David Elsner said the show tomorrow is hoping to raise $10,000. And next year, when – fingers crossed – things are somewhat back to normal and the show has returned to the ‘Mink Mile’ between Bay Street and Avenue Road, they hope a big walkup crowd will raise a whole lot more.

“Hopefully,” he said, “next year, people will be looking for any excuse to get out of the house, so there will be this pent-up demand to go somewhere, and we hope they’ll plan to take in the Exotic Car Show ’22.”

END OF STORY TAG: Norris McDonald, a retired Star editor, continues to write under contract for Wheels. He reviews the weekend’s auto racing on Monday at wheels.ca

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