The Champagne British Car Festival | History
Written by Rick Ingram & Dave Hauman
The Champagne British Car Festival had its beginnings as an informal all-British car show held in the spring of 1991 at a community college in Springfield, Illinois. It moved to the Champaign-Urbana the following year.
Co-hosted by the Central Illinois Triumph Owners Association (CITOA) and the Prairie Octagon MG Club (POMGC), the 1992 Festival was hosted at the Best Western Motor Lodge in Urbana while the public show was held at Frasca Field, a private airstrip just north of Urbana and home of Rudy Frasca's Air Museum.
The Festival remained at this location until 1997, when Jumer's Castle Lodge in downtown Urbana was named the host hotel in the mid-2000s. The car display was staged in the parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana.
During that period, Festival organizers created a weekend long schedule of activities, beginning on Friday evening (usually with a theme dinner) and continuing through Sunday with the popular vote car display. Activities throughout the run in Champaign included funkanas, pub crawls, double-decker buses, high teas, picnics, a breakfast run "dawn patrol" and more. Through the years, CBCF was host to regional and national shows of Morris Minor Register, the MGV8 Register, as well as the Triumph Spitfire Registry. Yearly themes have ranged from "Monty Python and the Holy Grille" and "Bond for Glory" (a James Bond theme) and "Pieces of Eight" (a pirate theme).
In 2010 CBCF moved to Bloomington, Illinois using Clover Lawn at the David Davis Mansion (an Illinois State Historic Site) as its public show field culminating a weekend of activities. The current Festival is sponsored by the Flat Lander British Car Club. Owners drive to Bloomington from throughout Illinois and several adjoining states (Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri), providing them with an opportunity to talk with the general public about their cars as well as exchange stories and experiences with fellow owners.
In addition to the above, the CBCF organizing committee (currently 22 in all coming from Bloomington, Normal, Peoria, Pekin, Decatur and Champaign) has always striven to make the occasion a community wide event by involving a number of community organizations. Past Festivals have benefited or involved several organization, including: the David Davis Foundation, Troop 20 Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Club, Westminster Village, Luther Oaks Retirement Village and the Community Cancer Society. In 2016, CBCF was listed as one of the "158 must attend events" by Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car magazine.