Photo by Mark Kennedy / Youth judges at the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival earlier this month inspect a Chevy Corvette race car.

There's nothing like a perfect fit, that sweet spot where guest and host come together magically, like hand in glove.

Chattanooga is on a roll attracting "perfect fit" events. In fact, taken together, these emerging events may be the among city's most important achievements of the 21st century.

No one who has ever witnessed the majestic Head of the Hooch regatta on a crisp November weekend here can dispute that Chattanooga's riverfront looks made to order for the event, which attracts college rowing teams from around the country.

The annual Moon River Music Festival on the North Shore in early September is similarly well-suited for Coolidge Park. Framed against the backdrop of the downtown bridges, the Tennessee Aquarium and the Hunter Museum of American Art, the event nestles into one of the most picturesque concert venues in America. It also sells out quickly, which means it is likely here to stay.

Too, the city has become a regular stop for the Ironman triathlon series in large part because we offer the one-two punch of breathtaking natural beauty and Southern hospitality.

(VIDEOS: Chattanooga MotorCar Festival welcomes young and old to ogle, enjoy automobiles)

After last weekend, I'm ready to add another event to this "perfect fit" pantheon — the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. Full disclosure: I'm a car guy, so any high-end collection of vintage and modern classics is enough to make me hyperventilate.

But I feel like the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival has the right formula and venue to become one of the city's iconic events, appealing to a wide range of car enthusiasts, from affluent collectors to people like me who just go for the feel-good vibes.

My 12-year-old son and I attended the festival as paying customers last Saturday and came away hyped. In a bit of happenstance, we were studying a site map when a representative of Hagerty, the nation's biggest collector-car insurance company, wandered over to offer help.

"Are you one of the youth judges?" he asked my son.

"Maybe," my son answered, cutting his eyes at me to see if I would play along.

Within minutes, he had been recruited to join a pack of kids who were given hats, T-shirts and score sheets and invited to inspect and crawl through several classic Porsches, a couple of race cars and a multimillion-dollar 2019 Ford GT. Yowza!

My son took his duties seriously. He squatted to inspect the paint on a Popsicle-red Porsche and asked about the horsepower on a custom Camaro.

Along the way, he got his picture made with Wayne Carini, the host of "Chasing Classic Cars" on the MotorTrend cable network, and got to meet NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, a.k.a. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.

(2019 Chattanooga MotorCar Festival event results announced)

Later, down by the Tennessee River, we witnessed several exhibition time trials, including a spectacular burnout by professional drift-car racer Tanner Foust, who spun a souped-up canary-yellow Volkswagen Jetta into a squalling vortex of tire smoke and, in the process, sent the crowd into a frenzy.

I was struck, not just by the energy of the crowd at the Motorcar Festival, which was palpable, but by the near-perfect proportions of the venue. The area around the Westin hotel in downtown Chattanooga, which has come to be called the West Village, is an ideal layout for a car exhibition and concours d'elegance, a juried car show bracketed by prewar classics and modern supercars. Plus, the promoters of the festival are clearly committed to making this a first-class event.

Of course, nothing is perfect. An accident by the riverfront time trials that injured two festival workers was a chilling reminder that safety is paramount when you put fast cars in close proximity to people.

But all things considered, the 2019 Motorcar Festival set a foundation for an event that could well become a cherished yearly happening.

A little-noticed detail of the festival was that children under 15 were admitted free with a ticketed adult. That smart marketing decision is how a tradition is born. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the inaugural Chattanooga Motorcar Festival will be the first of many.

some text
Mark Kennedy

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.