Meet Portia Pray: One of the women shattering perceptions in concours

Photograph Courtesy Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance and Motoring Festival

Many think concours events are confined to stodgy old men, but the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival seeks to change that through its Women Driving America program. One of those women shattering that perception includes 23-year-old Portia Pray, pictured with her mom, HHI honorary judge Lilly Pray.

Portia has been around classic cars her whole life, often sitting in a 1937 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Torpedo Roadster owned by her grandfather.

I got involved in the HHI Concours through my lovely, awesome mom,” Portia told HHI Concours. “She has taken me to car shows since I was very small and started judging at HHI when I was about 2. I used to crawl around inside the tent while she was out on the field judging, sitting in front of the heaters on cold days, laying out ribbons on the awards table and coloring in coloring books at the judges’ tables.

I remember napping with Brook Hyman in one of her dad’s cars in the sun one day while people looked at the car on the showfield and sitting in the front seat while my grandfather drove up to accept awards and waving to people.

I didn’t always love cars and took going to this amazing concours when I was young for granted, but as I got older, the car shows became more to me than ribbons and sparkly colors, they were history and unique stories and expensive tales of extended restorations. Growing up on the Hilton Head showfield, I began to see the pride people took in their cars, the nervousness they felt when being judged, and the excitement when their car received an award.

I began to love the sound a car makes and when it sounds so interesting, it draws you in from across the field and found appreciation for the cars that weren’t sparkly and restored but instead left as is with a story attached.

The HHI Concours helped me appreciate cars and is a major part of what shaped me into the car girl I am today.”

Portia followed her mother’s footsteps, starting with junior judging at age nine. Portia has since then progressed to judging numerous concours, including Carmel-By-The-Sea Concours on the Avenue, Greenwich Concours d’Elegance and Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance.

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