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International Bugatti Meeting USA 2018

18 Bugatti T35B (1929) s_n 6710 – Leslie Murray

18 Bugatti T35B (1929) s_n 6710 – Leslie Murray


Saratoga Springs, 3rd - 9th of September, 2018 

Last week we reported on the Bugatti Meeting both in the races and the Concours in the park at Lime Rock for the Lime Rock Historic Festival around Labor Day. As mentioned back then this was just the prelude for the International Bugatti Meeting to take place the following week in the New York area. Every year one of the numerous national Bugatti clubs is entrusted to host the International Meeting and after several editions in Europe it was finally time again to head overseas. As the last USA tour being held on the west coast this year the transition period between summer and fall was chosen for the meeting in Saratoga Springs located in the middle-east of the state New York. Saratoga Springs became famous for its horse races established in the mid-19th century and to the present day equestrian sports and breeding are some of the main attraction and incomes of the region. So Saratoga Springs was the natural choice considering Ettore’s interest in breeding of thoroughbreds (french “pur sang”) that should serve as name for his cars in combination with the famous horse shoe shaped radiator.

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So after leaving the Lime Rock race track about 75 cars from all over the world made their way either under own power or on trailer to arrive in the evening at the Marriott hotel that should serve as base for the following days. The mix of cars was ranging from one of the oldest running cars, a 1913 Type 13 Brescia to the last attempts of bringing up the name Bugatti after WW2 with the Type 101. Every tour of the last years had its own characteristic as one would expect from the different locations and with the open country roads this meeting we equally suitable for the smaller GP cars as well as the larger touring cars so the mixtures span a good portion of the entire Bugatti range.

Whereas only few American Bugatti owners made their way over to Europe in the previous editions it was very interesting to see that many Europeans took the time and money to make their way to New York as many of their cars were shipped earlier this summer to make it there in time. With the opportunity to have the car in the US anyway ever a group of them decided to add a coast to coast journey to the 6 days to make the most out of their trip showing the confidence most of the owners have in their cars once they are properly serviced and sorted.

One of the favorite days is always the evening of the arrival as it really shows that the international Bugatti community is far more than a club, the owners easily can be considered old friends and one can see the familiar atmosphere from the first evening with a lot of laughing and cheering as soon as one of the participants entered the dinner room. With an open bar some enjoyed the welcome a little bit longer than others after a hot day in Lime Rock and on the road taking its toll at the next morning at an early departure for the first day of driving.

The first day of driving led south-east to the border of Vermont and Massachusetts to the Clark Art Institute for the first lunch stop. The drive was very characteristic for what to expect in the following days as most of the roads led through the forest or some open fields and with fall not really in yet the dominating color should be lush green in the landscape contrasting the Mediterranean charm of the last meeting in Sardinia. Only the drive through the campus of the Williams College in Williamstown near the institute made the location obvious due to the typical colonial style. The institute contrasted with its modern style and a reflection pool that should be repeatedly be a theme of the rally. As the summer was still in full swing with lasting temperatures well in the 90s the few spots in the shadow were highly sought after during every stop. Many hoods were open to give the engine the same cool down that the owners were seeking in the air-conditioned museum. What became already obvious at the first morning of the rally was that the cars were spread out more than in recent years and whereas the lunch stop was intended for more than two hours the first cars were already leaving while the last ones just arrived. Some of them due to the usual minor problems at the beginning of the tour, some because a sleep over after the longer opening night at the bar. After the drive back including several of the typical wooden bridges all the cars arrived back at the hotel before the participants left by bus to the local car museum. As Saratoga Springs was also the place of the food & wine festival that should play a bigger role later that week some of the star cars from the Mullin Collection as well as the very first design of Ettore Bugatti, the Prinetti and Stucchi tricycle were on display.


Day two was dedicated to the history along the Hudson River that should be seen throughout the day. Although the road book was very detailed many of the streets were pretty much unnamed making it difficult for those driving with a proper odometer to make their way and at some crossings one could hear the cars blasting by for miles until making their way back to look for the way. This and the fact that the cars were spread out again made it very difficult to keep track of the cars and once arriving at the lunch stop at the Frederic Church´s historic home the first of the cars were off again way before the intended time leaving just a quick look in the car park at the bottom but the red barn buildings made a great background for the vintage cars giving especially the more patinated GP cars a certain barn find look. On the way back the hot temperatures led to the first shower of the week and whereas the first cars made it back to the hotel dry the last ones had to drive through the rain resulting in a nice rainbow over the Saratoga Lake. And with showers in the evening one could be certain to have a great sunset at the Saratoga National Golf Course where the cocktails and dinner was served in the evening. With the sweltry temperatures at the end of the day some unnamed members of a European Bugatti Club decided that cooling off in the fountain of the Golf Club would be a good idea and needless to say there were swim trunks on hand. Apparently the staff of the club was less amused and so they were requested politely but decisive to leave both the pool and the premises much to their amusement.


The third day saw the change of the weather as the following days should become more overcast with much milder temperatures and unlike the first days a jacket was more than welcome driving an open car. This time the journey led north-east to the Blue Mountain Lake and the stop at the Adirondack Experience Museum giving an overview of the live over the last century in the region. With a lovely setting of original houses and the time of the development of the railroad in the area this was the educational part about the location that served as the backdrop of the tour. Unfortunately the way back saw again a few showers but latest at the bar of the Hall of Springs for the cocktail reception and the dinner this was forgotten.


Friday saw the earliest departure of the week as breakfast was not served in the hotel this day but at the nearby stud farm, the home of War Dancer, a high priced former racer and now stallion. With a demonstration of the facilities and their residents the morning was spend in the stable and the spacious areal of the farm. After leaving the quadrupeds the day was again dedicated to the passion of the four-wheeled with the drive to the Phaeton Motors Automotive Museum in the west at Utica. This private museum of one of the rally´s organizers featured a great selection of cars ranging from a straight-eight supercharged Mercedes 500 K over American Metal from the 1930s and 1950s to Italian machinery like the Fiat 8V, all set up in a superb setting including American Diner, a lot of Automobilia as well as a sculptural scrapyard. After lunch the way led through the field towards Saratoga for what was expected to be one of the highlights of the week, the grill competition at the Saratoga Food & Wine festival. Under the motto “fire it up” a selection of chefs challenged at the BBQ. Unfortunately the evening did not really work out as planned as the stylish “event” was not really the cup of tea for most of the entrants and long lines at the food stations and at the bar did not help to cheer up. With loud music and exotic fire-eater this evening was more for the society than the Bugatti drivers and so a lot of them left early.


The second to last day was a short drive to Lake George in the morning before the cars headed back to Saratoga Springs for the lunch at the Hall of Springs where the cars were displayed around the Reflection Pool. Known from the evening before not many of the drivers were too happy at this point and not few just parked the car and left to the nearby Auto Museum or to a more quit lunch in the town while the cars were admired by the visitors of the Festival. One of the highlights of this year Bugatti Rally was without doubt the first meeting of the two remaining Bugatti T57 SC Atlantic since their last reunion in Pebble Beach 2003 when the light blue metallic car won Best of Show in the hands of Dr. Williamson. Today it is owned by the Mullin Automotive Museum and after bringing his Aravis earlier this week to Lime Rock this day Ralph Lauren brought the other example of the “Mona Lisa” of the car world to Saratoga. Both cars were displayed at the reflection pool joined by a modern Chiron and a T59. Despite all the skepticism of the Bugatti owners the day became the absolute highlight of the week nevertheless with the parade through the center of Saratoga Springs. What certainly most of them did not expect after the afternoon at the post festival were the masses of spectators along main street when the cars made their way back to the hotel. Escorted by the police on the closed off streets the short way was crowded with people and speaking to some of them made clear that several of them drove up to 3 hours one way just to witness the this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see 80 Bugatti coming down the road lead by the two remaining Atlantics. Later that evening the two cars were joined by another of the former Williamson cars, the T57 SC Atalante in front of the Canfield Casino that should serve as the location for the gala dinner that Saturday evening. The three T57 SC joined by the T59 made an epic view during the cocktail reception before the cars were separated for most likely another decade.


After the gala dinner the night before the tour itself faded away on Sunday with a short drive to another owner’s private collection. By that time the number of cars participating was already down to about half of the cars starting six days before, be it because of mechanical trouble or the owners not able to make it through the entire week away from work.

In the afternoon the parking at the hotel was busy loading and several participants already made their way home but those staying had their farewell dinner at the hotel with the last joint beers at the hotel bar to recap the week. Some might meet before but certainly most of them will be back together next year when the International Bugatti Meeting will be held by the British Bugatti Club, this time in Ireland. Once again one can look forward to a completely different experience with a different landscape and a different organization team, what stays is the familiar camaraderie sharing the same passion for the cars with the horseshoe radiator.

Until then: vive la marque


Report & images ... Peter Singhof

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