Last month the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press held its annual Rocky Mountain Driving Experience with driving routes in and around Red Rocks Park in Morrison, Colorado. And the views did not disappoint. More importantly, the opportunity for representatives of car manufacturers to connect in person with dozens of auto journalists in real life became, well, a reality.

While there have a been some in-person driving events over the last couple of years, they have been few and far between. The on-again, off-again scheduling of events during the height of the COVID pandemic left many journalists sitting in front of a cell phone or computer screen for online reveals. Presenters from the manufacturers pulled out as many virtual bells and whistles as they could using online platforms to pique the interest of journalists as they explained what was special about new models.

David Taylor, who attended the driving event on behalf of his blog GoFatherhood, compared the mode of communication by noting the difference between an artist performing in a studio versus in front of an  audience. They both work, but it is just not the same. Amy Delcamp of Stellantis, who brought out the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4XE for the event, relays that it’s nice to be back in person because it allows the journalists to feel, touch and smell the new cars. “There’s only so much story to tell virtually.”

Anyone buying a new vehicle understands there’s nothing like the smell of the inside of a new vehicle.
Being able to sit behind the steering wheel, place your finger on the start button, feel the vehicle come
alive and place your foot on the gas is a whole other level of reality. With auto representatives along for
the ride it’s also fun for journalists to tap into their 2-year-old selves and touch or point at something
and say, “What’s that?”

The re-connection with friends and colleagues is key for Eric Goetz of DriveShop, a company that connects automotive brands with their audiences. Now with more and more events on the calendar professionals in the industry are able to travel more to see people that they haven’t seen in a long time. “The hardest thing about COVID was feeling isolated,” he says. “There’s nothing like learning about cars with the physical example right in front of you,” says Matthew Pilgrim, president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, who coordinated the event with the support of DriveShop and Automotive Media Solutions. “Seeing how much this event brings joy to people is hard to convey on the internet.”

Ryota Yonekura with Nissan gives a walk-around presentation of the 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek.