Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

2018 Chairman's Update

As it was in 2017 weather was the highest hurdle for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2018.

Again our staff and volunteers made it happen like it was all part of the original plan. If there was any grumbling I didn’t hear it . . . although it should have been directed at me. The buck does indeed stop here even though my ability to influence the weather (through prayer) seems to diminish every year.

The RM Sotheby’s auction, the seminars and the popular ride-and-drives came off seamlessly while the 23rd annual Amelia Concours occupied the main field.

Likewise, Cars & Coffee at the Concours hardly suffered when Concours Sunday became Concours Saturday. Best reports say 450 cars and a dozen clubs showed up even though Cars & Coffee had to change location again. For the second year in a row I had to miss C&C to attend to the more than 140 awards and our famous 2018 Honoree Emerson Fittipaldi, the two-time Indy 500 winner and double Formula 1 World Champion.

Others have won both the Indy “500” and the World Championship but Emerson --- “Emmo” to his millions of fans -- is the only racer to accomplish this lofty feat twice. The best part was when Emerson drove his McLaren M23 onto the field. This was the very car he drove to his final World Championship F1 victory; the 1975 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. That’s one of those details that separate The Amelia from a calendar packed with exceptional concours and car shows. And it’s probably another reason people call The Amelia “the racers’ concours”. Guilty as charged.

I love racing and that was the driving force behind the creation of two Amelia Best of Show awards in 2005: the traditional Concours d’Elegance and the addition of Concours De Sport. This year Harry Yeaggy’s 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ Convertible took the Concours d’Elegance trophy.

The 1963 Ferrari 250/275P from the JSL Motorsports Collection won Concours De Sport and The Spirit of Sebring Award: appropriate for the winner of the 1964 Sebring 12 Hour Grand Prix of Endurance. A strong provenance is something I’ve always believed to be an important part of a racing car’s concours presence and something that should be -- and was -- rewarded.

We were again able to accomplish all our charitable giving targets and, something that’s a source of quiet pride here, remain the largest single contributor to each one of them.

This year our guests really got into the spirit of the NART (North American Racing Team) class voting Les Wexner’s elegant 1959 Ferrari Dino 196S -- that the Rodriguez brothers raced at Sebring in 1960 -- as the duPont Registry’s People Choice Award Winner. In a top drawer field like the 2018 Amelia winning People’s Choice is a huge honor.

This year’s Hagerty Youth Award winners would make great characters in the next Pixar Cars movie. The winning 1910 Packard 30 Limo from Amtra Garage, Howard Turner’s 1959 Lister Knobbly and John Campion’s brutal Lancia Delta S4 World Rally monster are star cars already, but I’d love to see the folks at Pixar turn them into movie stars as well. The kids on the Amelia’s concours field showed us again that there’s genuine hope for the future of our hobby.

Our seminars are always a highpoint for me. Since many of my “car heroes” are designers I was flattered and more than a little impressed by the panel of Friday’s electric car design seminar. Talk about marquee power. In spite of my fears, moving the IMSA GTP seminar to Sunday morning did absolutely nothing to diminish “the gate”. New faces on the panel didn’t hurt either. In addition to our longtime favorite panelists, IMSA GTP Porsche 962 entrant and racer Rob Dyson was joined by IMSA’s man-on-the-inside Mark Raffauf to offer unique and genuine behind-the-scenes-and-the-headlines views of the popular IMSA GTP era.

With an audience full of people who lived through the era Sunday morning in the Ritz-Carlton’s Talbot Ballroom was very lively. Again the line for autographs after the seminar was long. Good news, both Rob and Mark will be back for 2019’s Porsche 962 Dynasty seminar on Saturday March 9, 2019.

We’ll break with tradition in 2019 and feature honoree Jacky Ickx on the 962 seminar panel along with many of the racers who share his six Le Mans victories. Opportunities like this don’t come often and I couldn’t resist asking Jacky to join the panel. As ever, he was gracious and generous.

The complexity of The Amelia can seem overwhelming but our small staff and our magnificent army of volunteers -- all 450 of them -- have banished nearly every concern I have aside from the weather.

We moved our annual Volunteer Party from the heat of summer to the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2018. It’s simply an attempt to make things more comfortable for everyone and lure more of our volunteers to Amelia Concours HQ to say “Thanks”.

People continue to be the most important component of The Amelia. They’re all “Car Guys” of one stripe or another. They’re the reason people tell me that The Amelia is still, in our 24th year, the “Racers’ Concours” or “The Fun Concours” These days, even with the rain, I still think it’s both.

Sincerely,
Bill Warner
Founder & Chairman