Remembering Daniel Sexton Gurney
Tuesday January 23, 2018
When Ford Heacock stood at the top of the Terrace Hotel during its restoration in the summer of 1999, he looked down to see a newly refinished and restored Lake Mirror Promenade, with its wide sidewalks and 1920’s grandeur. An idea formed that day which grew into the event we know today as the Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival.
In the summer of 1998, our founder, Ford Heacock, attended the former San Bernardino Route 66 Rendezvous in California. At its peak, this event drew over 1,800 vehicles and 500,000 spectators to the San Bernardino area. Ford dreamed of creating an event like this in the Lakeland, FL area. In the summer of 1999, he sent out a mailer to 100 friends inviting them to participate in a car show to be held around Lake Mirror. It was never meant to be a recurring event, but the next year many participants called and asked “Where’s the show?” It was clear that there was a demand in the area for a classic auto festival. In the summer of 2001, plans began for the 2nd annual Lake Mirror Classic, and 14 years later our event has become larger than we ever imagined, including almost 700 vehicles and 35,000 spectators.
While Ford started the event, it’s been a labor of love for everyone involved. Heacock Insurance Group, the parent company of Heacock Classic, has been a major sponsor of the Festival from its inception. As a collector car insurance provider, we love classic cars. This event has been a great way to show it throughout the years, and we’re glad to continue that tradition in 2013. The Downtown Lakeland area is perfect for this event, and we’ve been lucky to be able to support this event for so many years.
The cars that appear at Lake Mirror on the third weekend of October are some of the best rides you’ll see anywhere. We’ve had priceless racecars like Brian Redman’s Porsche 910, The Dali Museum’s Rainy Rolls, Dan Gurney’s 1967 Eagle F1, a rare Delage D-8, Lucille Ball’s Rolls-Royce, the Cadillac Sixteen concept, and this list goes on. We’ve been lucky to have many of motorsport’s greatest personalities chair our events each year, such as most recently Wayne Cherry, Sir Stirling Moss, Bob Tullius, Brock Yates, and Don Garlitz. We also have many rare vintage motorcycles and beautifully restored wooden boats in the show, and every year it seems there’s something new.
In addition to the cars, the Lake Mirror Classic is also a philanthropic organization, and has raised money for many different non-profit organizations in the Lakeland, FL area, such as Junior Achievement and the Lakeland Regional Cancer Center. A new addition this year is the Friends of Lake Mirror Fund, dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Lake Mirror’s historic Promenade. We’ve raised over $135,000 towards our initial funding goal of $150,000.
If you’d like more information on the Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival, please visit their website at www.lakemirrorclassic.com.