Speed Bump For An Icon

There are like-minded people like us across the country.  We love our automobiles…and we’re willing to rise before the sun on Saturdays and Sundays to gather with our fellow enthusiasts.  These gatherings have been tabbed ‘Cars & Coffee’, ‘Coffee & Cars’, ‘Caffeine and Carburetors’ and many other unique iterations.


The communities typically find a home with a coffee shop that has a parking area with sufficient space.  Sometimes, it’s the coffee shop management that takes the reigns and draws the community.  Automobiles and morning beverages are a natural team.  Automotive passions are so deep throughout the country that you’ll find early-morning gatherings popping up in every corner of America, from Boise to Miami and from Orange County, California to Orange County, New York. 


One of the most well-known of these enthusiast communities is Cars & Coffee Irvine.  Its history links back to the 80’s and it’s a focal point for Orange County, California’s car scene.  In 2006, it adopted its current name.  [The Cars & Coffee trademark goes back to 2001 and is registered to Ron Rizzi, the creator of Cars & Coffee in Atlanta.]  Since 2006, the community has been hosted in Irvine by Ford Motor Company’s Regional Headquarters with parking also being offered by Mazda’s USA Headquarters and Taco Bell.  The enthusiasts, the organizers and hosts developed a strong bond over the years.  The community grew.  Long-time friendships were started and extended.  Automotive enthusiasm was being passed to the younger generations. 


410 Saturdays after the community’s arrival at Ford’s HQ, the community will gather at the location for the last time.  Saturday, December 27, 2014 marks the end of an era.  [No worries, the community will survive in a new location.]  Week after week, hundreds of automobiles and more enthusiasts gathered to enjoy the automobiles and the camaraderie.  Behind the scenes, tension grew between the event and the Irvine Company, a private real estate investment company and planner. 


The Irvine Company is overseeing an active residential construction project in the neighborhood and according to internet sources, it’s apparent that they have registered noise complaints.  There also could have been issues with burnouts along the row of photographers that regularly man the exits.  There are also views that Cars & Coffee Irvine outgrew the confines of the gathering site.  Some view the eviction as a power play by the Irvine Company since they saw no financial benefit. 


When an iconic enthusiast community takes a hit, organizers and enthusiasts take notice.  It’s a reality check.  Organizers must have a set of regulations that have safety and respect at the center.  Stand by them and enforce them.  Build strong relationships with the gathering site and all of its extensions, including (as applicable) management, marketing, security, vendors, etc.  Maintain your community’s goals and work within the scope of the property’s goals.  Invite local and state police to be part of the community and regularly meet with them to ensure effective integration.  Set the foundation for participants to contribute to respected causes.  What is great can be made greater.  Set a standard that evokes pride.  [I could go on and on.]


Community members must embrace and abide by community guidelines as well as the laws of the road.  Set the proper example.  Save the burnouts and displays of speed for the track and save the exhaust system concerts for points elsewhere.  Be sure that everyone you invite understands and follows the guidelines.  Also, every automotive community has its differences.  Respect and embrace those differences.  Chevy gathers with Ford.  Audi gathers with BMW.  Lamborghini gathers with Ferrari.  Teens gather with Gen X-ers as well as Baby Boomers.  Maintain an open mind and pay forward your enthusiasm and knowledge.  [I could go on and on.]


We’re a big, diverse family.  We’re having a great time every Saturday morning and we’re setting the proper example.  Let’s stay the course.  The behind-the-scenes matters are receiving the deserved attention.  I will honor you by providing an enjoyable and safe platform to enjoy all-things automotive.  It’s an honor to be traveling this road with you.  I hope to see you – sooner than later – at Hunt Valley Horsepower!