Through the eyes of a judge

Hobbs ‘humbled’ to be named Auto Show’s head judge


Have you ever thought about what judges at car shows look for when listing their top cars?

Well according to Sidney Hobbs, owner of the Classic Car Museum of St. Augustine, there are many things a judge must consider, and it is usually based off a certain criterion the show provides.

Hobbs will be the head judge at the 2022 Ponte Vedra Auto Show, which is scheduled for Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Nocatee Town Center Field.

“Every show is different with a different criterion involved,” Hobbs said. “The cars are the stars.”

According to Hobbs, a common approach is a points system that can grade a car up to 100 points, based on aspects such as its paint, engine compartment and creativity or originality.

He has been a judge at various auto shows over the years, but this will be the first time he will be one at the Ponte Vedra Auto Show.

“I’ve brought cars to the show as a participant, but never been a judge,” Hobbs said. “It’s always an honor and very humbling to get asked, because there are a lot of really great car guys and gals out there.”

One of the things that separates a judge from the average person or car lover walking around the show is the lack of subjectivity that plays into a judge’s final decision.

“You have to remove yourself and your personal preferences out of the equation,” Hobbs said. “I’ve judged a lot of my friends’ cars and not given them awards.”

However, with that being said, he also believes that the human element when choosing between cars cannot fully be taken out of the process.

Hobbs has run into the scenario where in a large show there could be about 60 cars that could have what it takes to be named “best in show,” the one that stands out and has the “wow factor” is likely to get the final vote and go home with the trophy.

Anything from the paint job to the detail of the car can go into creating that “wow factor.”

A challenge that exists at every show, but especially one like the Ponte Vedra Auto Show, is trying to judge a multitude of categories with automobiles that vary in both age and in some cases the purpose they were built for.

An example Hobbs used was that a car in built between 1950 and 1960 cannot be judged in the same way as a car post-2000.

“I think a judge also has to sit back and consider the hours of restoration that went into a car,” Hobbs said. “It’s not even always about the trophy, but it’s about rewarding someone for all the sweat equity that they’ve put into their car over the years.”

Hobbs has always been fascinated by cars ever since he was a young child growing up in South Georgia as the son of a rural mail carrier and working on a farm.

After first moving down to St. Augustine in 1989 and moving back and forth from the area, he finally settled down in the city and two years ago opened the Classic Car Museum of St. Augustine.

“This area is very passionate about cars,” Hobbs said. “It has a little of both higher-end exotics and classic cars, which makes it so unique. We cover a broad spectrum of car lovers. It’s more about the purists and people that truly love cars.”

Despite having had many cars over the years, he still has the red 1961 Corvette he bought from his brother’s friend right out of college.

It took him 10 years to restore, but he eventually finished, and it will always have a special place in his heart.

“Cars connect with people almost better than anything other than songs and family,” Hobbs said. “I’ll never take it for granted, because I was that kid growing up that would do anything just to sit inside a classic car, much less drive one, one day.”