Concours in the Hills drives world-class care for Phoenix Children’s
It’s what Peter Volny — the “engine” behind the Scuderia Southwest Concours in the Hills, the anticipated annual exotic car show in stunning and serene Fountain Hills – likes most about sports cars. “I like going fast,” he confesses. He’s at an ideal place in life where he can play, and judging by his track record, he’s still highly driven.
Building an advertising agency promoting the auto industry in Canada gave birth to Volny’s true passion –sports cars. “They’re pieces of art to me – you can spend millions on a painting and stick it on the wall, or you can look at a beautiful car and also get the pleasure of driving it, too.”
After logging all those quarters in the corporate scene, Volny and his wife of 40 years, Linda, migrated south for sunny skies to retire. It doesn’t hurt he says, that he doesn’t have to worry much about rain here, so the open roads call. Arizona he says, is a mecca for car collectors that flock to Concours every year.
“I’ve got a few of these cars myself and I love driving them. And about 360 days a year I never worry about rain.”
While Volny no longer needs to earn an income to live well, he figured out two things: first, the car shows held across the Valley in crowded parking lots left him wanting more; and second, it was time to give back.
His passion for vintage and collector cars became the vehicle for both.
World-class cars for world-class care for kids
Volny says he and his wife, Linda are best friends who rarely argue. While they don’t have children of their own, each has a big heart for sick kids. Just one visit to Phoenix Children’s Hospital changed their lives, and in the process, helped make life better for so many patients and families.
The couple joined close friends for a dedication ceremony they’d supported at Phoenix Children’s, and Volny says he was touched by the children they met there that day. He wanted to contribute to making sure they got the kind of care they deserved, and Linda agreed. He made a significant alliance with the Hospital, pledging half of the couple’s estate, and also, designating Phoenix Children’s as beneficiary of the car show he also built from the grass up.
“We don’t have kids of our own, so I wanted to leave my money to an organization I believe in,” said Volny. “I don’t know anything about running a hospital so I don’t dictate how they invest the money; I just want them to continue to do good work.”
Talk with Volny and you get the idea formality is decidedly not his thing. The car show in his mind was certainly elevated from those held in cramped parking lots, but also, accessible to families. Much less a white-glove affair with high-stakes competitions, and more a chance for community and connection around a shared passion for cars, food and outdoor entertainment. Collectors, exotic and vintage enthusiasts and casual admirers are welcome – all for a good cause, and 100% of the proceeds generated from entry fees for those showing cars benefit Phoenix Children’s.
“I thought it would be nice to do a car show on grass, because the cars would show better,” Volny says. And his instincts were spot on.
Free, family-friendly and full of Ferraris
The Scuderia Southwest Concours in the Hills was launched in 2014, and Volny’s knack for breaking his own records continues. Attendance has grown steadily over the years, and the 2020 event promises to outshine them all.
The free event to the community started with 220 cars and 5,000 guests, and by 2018 featured 941 cars and some 25,000 guests. Those pieces of art include a Jaguar D type, a pure racecar made in limited number in the 1950s. The last one sold a year or two year ago for $21 million. Many of the cars he says, are valued in the millions. This year the one and only Shelby Lone Star Cobra III prototype will showcase its priceless value. While slick Ferraris and muscular Corvettes are always popular stops, a broad variety of cars is welcome.
The show’s high voltage energy doesn’t just come from firing the engines of the cars that come from across the Southwest — Nevada, California, New Mexico and Colorado — but also from a military component Volny discovered spectators loved. Their presence also helped him solve the problem around giving everyone prime real estate at the show.
Three years ago as the show began to gain popularity, some of the car owners on the outer edges of the park didn’t like being so far away from the middle of the pack where the foot traffic was heavier. So Volny connected with the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation in Mesa and asked them to fly in the military attack helicopter, coincidentally named Cobra to land right beside the fleet of Cobras located at the edge of the show.
“People loved it, and the outer section became the busiest spot in the show,” says Volny. His idea worked so well he contacted the Marine Corps, who agreed to fly in their Viper helicopter as well – all the way from San Diego. They’ll be returning in 2020, and the Viper Car club is on board to park nearby, offering fans brawn and beauty in both the cars and the helicopters. Now he’s in talks with the Army and National Guard to participate, and plans to start the festivities with a fly pass of World War II aircraft from the Commemorative Air Force.
Several decorated racecar drivers attend the event to rev up the engines at the start of the show. Lyn St. James will return this year; she was the first woman to be named Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500. Others include Paul Tracy, Derek Daly, Arie Luyendyk and Didier Theys.
With all the tricked out changes Volny’s lined up, it still comes down to a family-friendly day outside in beautiful Fountain Hills with its towering fountain and pristine backdrop. With food trucks, music and more, a charitable and family-friendly vibe still takes center stage. “Phoenix Children’s has offered support and professionalism, and I’m very much committed to the Hospital,” says Volny.
“We welcome kids; there is a big social aspect to the show, too. It’s really mostly like-minded people admiring each other’s cars, talking about them and making new friends,” Peter says. It’s just a great show on a warm Saturday for a great cause.
For more about the event, visit concoursinthehills.org