Article by Max Gerson. Photography by Nathan Leach-Proffer, Jace Stout & Jeremy Leinenger.
The Gumball 3000, the Gold Rush Rally, these are exotic car events filled with gold Lamborghini's, uninterrupted hoonage and all the six figure bad behavior that we love to watch take place online. The Snowmass Automobilia Exotica as presented by 3ZERO3 Motorsports represents none of these things.
Dubbed as a three-day exotic car rally the Snowmass Automobilia Exotica takes drivers from Denver to Snowmass Colorado, and features a private track day at Aspen Motorsports Park. In its 4th year of existence what this event lacks in ridiculous behavior it makes up in accessibility, and a hard focus on real driving.
The brainchild of 3ZERO3 Motorsport's Marketing Director Max Gerson, the Snowmass Automobilia Exotica is indeed all about driving. 3ZERO3 has a long standing reputation for being one of the premier VW, Audi, Porsche and BMW shops in Colorado, specializing in not only maintenance and repair, but also high performance tuning and full motorsports support. Its rare to see an independent shop focus on both sides of the industry (IE maintenance/repair and high performance). It's even more rare to see a shop like this host and execute such a high level event. This year's event brought together over 65 vehicles and 110 people complete with motorsport activities, high-end lodging, catered meals and parties galore. This type of organizational effort is more akin to wedding planning than anything that we have seen come from a true workshop.
3ZERO3 has long been a supporter of the enthusiast community at large, and always have believed that a healthy community of gear heads is good for all of us. Four years ago, based on a want to interact with clients and fellow enthusiasts outside of the shop, the Snowmass Automobilia Exotica was born. The event is dedicated to giving everyone an opportunity to enjoy a few days of amazing driving, and sharing the road with true exotics. Over the years the event has continued to grow and 2013 represents this event fully realized.
The rally begins at 3ZERO3 Motorsports facility on Friday morning. As cars arrive logistics partner and event sponsor Trade Show Emporium adorn each vehicle with rally numbers. More than just a number, this is how vehicles are organized, parked, and luggage gets controlled once people arrive at the hotel.
Just watching the vehicles arrive was in itself spectacular. Murcielago's, with temp tags roll onto the scene in grand fashion. Then a trailer arrives with Kansas plates, and from the back of this trailer out comes a bright orange Aventador. Indeed this is the hero car for the 2014 event. With the event logos designed specifically to match this Lamborghini's exterior, the car known to many as none other than "Mad Maxx” rolls off the aluminum trailer. Cones are moved and waters parted to ensure that despite its late arrival Mad Maxx gets positioned at the front of the group.
Not to be outdone, the boys from Ferrari of Denver show up in an enclosed trailer adorned with their logos, and allegedly filled with Maserati demo cars. While the demo cars stayed inside the trailer, Vaughan Grice from Ferrari of Denver arrives in a baby blue Bentley Continental Speed GT. Clearly, there are some serious players here. Scanning the rest of the crowd, we see numerous Gallrado's, supercharged RS4's, Porsche 911's, R8's, an Aston Martin and even a 502 powered 1968 Chevelle joining the crowd. But the event isn't all supercars. Event sponsor Emich Volkswagen arrived en force with a turbocharged R32, a Golf R, and nicely modified bright orange BMW 335 sedan.
Once arrival and check in were complete, the large crowd was fed a catered breakfast courtesy of 5280 Culinary, handed some lovely gift bags, and serenaded by the event coordinator Max Gerson. By 10:30AM they were off en masse, travelling West bound on I 70. Despite construction, and summer traffic keeping the group together was not an altogether difficult task. Drivers were instructed to stay behind the Red Murcielago, which for the most part was not an issue. Though for anyone travelling in the Eisenhower Tunnel while the group went thru at full throttle, you would have been treated to a deafening symphony of horsepower.
Soon after passing the continental divide, they followed the Red Murcielago South along Highway 91 and into Leadville. Rather than cramming everyone into a small restaurant at high elevation, 5280 Culinary was magically on hand and ahead of the group to provide a catered outdoor lunch. Temperatures were in the high 60F's, and the group was able to park together and enjoy views of 14,000ft peaks as bodies and engines cooled off. After lunch the group climbed back in their cars and again took off, this time their next stop would be the 12,095FT Independence Pass. If you have never driven Independence Pass, you should. With shoulder-less curves, switch-backed hairpin corners, and some amazing views, it should be on every Rocky Mountain drivers bucket list.
Once at the top of Independence the group was once again reconnected for the final leg of the rally down the pass and into Snowmass. The West side of the pass can get frighteningly cramped, as the road often tightens from 2 lanes to barely 1.25 lanes. Though despite this fact the rally group was able to stay together as a single group, much to the joy of on lookers who hooted and hollered as a train of amazing machinery passed by. After arriving at their final destination, 3ZERO3 Motorsports and Trade Show Emporium helped get the group parked, and baggage sorted while guests enjoyed a champagne toast outside the Viceroy Hotel. Later that evening everyone got together in Snowmass Village for cocktails and dinner, though drivers were warned to take it easy and not imbibe to heavily as their most important day of driving lay ahead of them.
Again, the crux of this rally is not high speed shenanigans, evading the police, and hooning on public roads. Instead, this is a proper driver's event, and that means a proper track day. After event sponsor M&M Auto Reconditioning hosted a drivers safety meeting inside the Viceroy Hotel the group was off to Aspen Motorsports Park a 1.1 mile circuit nestled in the Aspen Valley.
With motorsports professionals on hand from 3ZEERO3 Motorsports, as well as pro driver Travis Wolcott, the group was treated to an extraordinary track day. Though Aspen Motorsports Park is not as large as other motorsports facilities in the state, the opportunity to share track time with Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Aston Martins is indeed a most exclusive opportunity. Drivers who participated in the track day were also able to place their car in front of the lens of multiple professional photographers, who were able to capture their cars not only on track, but with the peaks of the Maroon Bells Wilderness behind them. Is Aspen Motorsports park the most beautifully placed track in the country? After looking at these images, it could very well be.
After the track day concluded, vehicles and drivers made their way back to the Viceroy hotel where hand washes were executed by Aloha Detail, who made the trip all the way from Colorado Springs to offer their services in support of the event. Later that evening the group reassembled outside the Viceroy pool and enjoyed a festive cocktail hour as DJ Nick Browning of CODE spun a great mix of electro swing, and house music. Once the group was sufficiently lubricated Max was again on hand to host a very light-hearted award ceremony. Awards were handed out to celebrate not the fastest lap times or any official results, rather to celebrate some of the cheeky moments from the weekend.
After a rambunctious night out, everyone slept in, and made the trip back to Denver on their own. With four years of hosting under their belt 3ZERO3 Motorsports has proven that their take on the exotic car road rally highlights an event that is grounded not in exclusivity and ridiculous behavior. Rather the Snowmass Automobilia Exotica proves that this is an event that provides real world access to people that want to enjoy sharing road and track with the finest cars in Colorado.
Didn't see a shot of your car? Be sure to check out the photographer's individual Albums from the event... There are a ton of photos!