When philanthropist and car collector Peter Volny moved to Fountain Hills from Toronto, he found one thing missing: a proper car show.
He founded Concours in the Hills, a high-end car show benefiting Phoenix Children’s Hospital, set for Saturday, February 9 in Fountain Hills, because he didn’t like what he was seeing.
“I bought a couple cars and started going to various car shows all in parking lots,” says the Australian-born Volny.
“You’re in there and the cars are jammed together. If someone left their car overnight, you’ll have a Ferrari next to a GMC Suburban. This city was large enough that it deserved to have a proper car show, something more prestigious.”
Volny sought an area that was equally as upscale: Fountain Park in Fountain Hills.
“It has a beautiful backdrop and access,” he says. “I asked the mayor if I could start a car show in the park for charity and she said it would be good for the town as well.
“She asked me how many cars I was expecting. She was nervous about parking cars on the grass. I said I was hoping for 100. We wound up with 200.”
The show has grown each year, increasing the funds raised for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. This year, Volny is expecting more than 700 cars, each of which pays a minimum $60 entry fee. Admission is free. The money donated to PCH goes toward a playroom for children in the oncology unit.
“Last February was our fifth show and we had 749 cars and 20,000 people,” he says. “We had 79 sponsors who were a variety of auto dealers, companies who sell tires and wheels. Different things for the automobile industry.
“We raised $117,000 for PCH. There are no paid people working on the show, except those working for PCH. The rest of us are volunteers.”
Awards will be presented to the best domestic and import cars, as well as best car club display and best of show.
“Almost every car club in the state comes in,” he says. “Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Camaro, Viper, Jaguar. We had over 50 Ferraris last year. There aren’t too many places to see 50 Ferraris at the same time.”
The show also boasted a rare, vintage racing Jaguar. A similar one sold at auction for $21 million.
“The one we had may not be worth $21 million, but it’s certainly worth over $10 million,” he says. “This time, we’re expanding and having a dedicated racing car section. We have a really, really neat car. Mario Andretti raced it.”
Volny says the Cobra Car club will be joined by Cobra military attack helicopters, thanks to the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation.
“We worked with the town and the FAA and jumped through a lot of hoops to get this,” Volny says. “We flew this Cobra attack helicopter into the park and had 31 Cobras around the Cobra helicopter. That was a huge attraction.
“I found Viper helicopters that could join Viper sports cars. We persuaded them to fly a viper from San Diego just for the show. The Viper will be coming back. The pilot and co-pilot said they’ve attended shows all over the place and they’ve never been busier than this show. They were bombarded with questions.”
Food trucks will keep the crowd fed, selling lunch and dinner, coffee and frozen yogurt.
Cars are nothing new to Volny. He’s been involved in the auto industry most of his life. In Australia, he says he “attempted” a career as a race car driver, which took him to England.
“I realized I was never going to get well of living hand to mouth, so I somehow wound up in Canada,” he adds. “I started an advertising agency, specializing in the auto area. We became, by far, the biggest automotive agency in Canada.”
He sold his agency and retired 15 years ago. Not enjoying the snow of Toronto, he moved to Arizona shortly thereafter. He also hosts the monthly Cars and Coffee, or Scottsdale Motor Sports Gathering as it’s officially called, in a mall near Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard from 7 to 10 a.m. the first Saturday of the month. It is free to car owners and spectators.
Volny says it was important to donate money to PCH.
“I’m retired. I’m not looking to earn an income,” he says, “I’ve been lucky. Life has worked out for me. It’s nice to be able to give back.
“Why PCH? We had friends involved with PCH who invited us down once. I thought I was a tough car guy and been around quite a bit. I walked in and within 5 minutes, I had tears in my eyes. Seeing what those kids go through, gosh. For adults to be sick and have problems is one thing. Kids don’t understand and they deserve better.”
Concours in the Hills, Fountain Park, 12925 N. Saguaro Boulevard, Fountain Hills, concoursinthehills.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, February 9, free admission.