The year was 1984, and the majority of British auto manufacturers had stopped exporting cars to the U.S. The last MGB was produced in 1980 and the Triumph TR-7/8 followed suit in 1981. Concerned with preserving enthusiasm for British cars, even facing the absence of new British cars coming ashore, Colorado residents Paul Dierschow, Roger Moment, and Gary George created an all-British Car event for the Colorado community; The Colorado English Motoring Conclave The event took place the third full weekend after Labor Day, at Memorial Park in Downtown Arvada. After a successful inaugural event, the Conclave became an annual event, conditioned upon making enough money to host an event in the following year. This is still the model today, and we operate the Conclave on a year-by-year basis. In 2004, Arvada Parks re-sodded and seeded Memorial Park less than a month before the event, and we had to scramble to find another location. Arvada offered up Oak Park off 64th Street, and we have remained there ever since. The 2-day event occurs on the 2nd full weekend after Labor Day and consists of a fun tour through the foothills on Saturday, and a large well-attended car show on Sunday. All British vehicles are invited and encouraged to attend; it doesn’t matter if it’s in Concours condition or a bucket of bolts held together by string and tape!

In 1999, I first attended the event and decided to get further involved around the same time that the event was formalized, incorporated into a nonprofit event and a board of directors was created. In 2002 I took over writing the annual “Ride the Rockies” tour and have done so ever since. The tour has continuously improved over time, in quality and attendance. When I first drove on the tour, we would get 30 to 50 cars participating. With hard work and promotion, we now get between 120 and 150 cars out on the tour. I have studied so many maps of Denver and the foothills that I can probably drive around blindfolded. Each year I try to design a different route and attempt to discover roads I have not yet used. In addition, there are a series of trivia questions on objects found along the drive to answer. Attempting to keep the route under 120 miles, the tour starts on Saturday morning and ends at a pub or restaurant right around lunchtime. The tour has taken on the affectionate nickname of Bob’s long drive just to get a beer? When the cars arrive at the chosen pub, I have a series of “Tie Breaker” questions for them to answer including an infamous Beatles question. Sunday is our car show.

In 2001 the Conclave hosted nearly 600 British cars and bikes on the show field ranging from an original 1923 Austin-7 to brand new Rolls Royces. These days we are averaging around 400 participants a year. Participants are supposed to arrive at the park around 8 am on Sunday morning, but we often get people arriving as early as 6 am! We arrange the show by marque and have booths for local British car and bike vendors along with booths for the various British Car Clubs in Colorado. After 39 years running, one might think the event would run like clockwork; Not so mate! On the tour, annually someone changes/removes one of the objects from the questions after I have printed the directions.

In addition, I generally work with the pub manager to make sure they are prepared for roughly 200 of my closest friends to show up. One year, however, I was working in London, and my surrogate neglected to contact the pub in the week prior, leaving them under-prepared for the onslaught of thirsty British car nuts. We’ve also encountered our fair share of weather, including snow and roads washed out with rain. Of course, 2020 a spanner in the works with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and had to cancel (as did every other event). For this year, I wrote a contact-free tour that year for those that still wanted to enjoy a drive, and close to 150 cars attended.

If you have an interest in British cars and bikes, or just want to attend a fun event, Join us at Oak Park in Arvada, our tour this year is on September 17, and the car show on September 18, and is free for spectators.

Colorado English Motoring Conclave Facebook