Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

Bill Warner

Bill Warner

William (Bill) C. Warner
Born May 30, 1943
Education: BS Electrical Engineer, The Citadel, 1966
Hometown; Jacksonville, Florida
Occupation: CEO, H.C. Warner, Inc.
      Major (retired), Florida Air National Guard
      Contributing Editor, Road & Track Magazine
      Founder and Chairman, The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Bill Warner has been around automobiles his whole life.  As a teenager he worked at the local Volkswagen and imported car dealership in the parts department and driving the delivery truck.  On weekends, he worked as a “gopher” for the dealership racing team and became enthralled with motor racing.  Upon earning his degree in Electrical Engineering, he entered the family filter business and started work on the side for Sports Car Graphic Magazine.  In 1971, he began his relationship with Road & Track Magazine which continues today.  His photographs and writing have appeared in Road & Track, Car and Driver, Autoweek, The Atlantic Monthly, Automobile, Automotor und Sport, Classic & Sportscar, Porsche Panorama, and Forza to mention a few.   His photography has won awards from The Los Angeles Art Directors, the Creative Arts Yearbook, and the Sports Car Club of America (Photographer of the Year 1970).  His photos have been featured in the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles as part of the 50th Anniversary of Ferrari and at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

In 1975, he teamed with Tom Nehl in a Porsche 911 to finish 14th in the third running of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (AKA The Cannonball run) and with English racing great, Innes Ireland; Can Am racer, George Drolsom; and sedan racer, Dick Starita, to finish 26th in the inaugural running of the Cannonball One Lap of America.  The One Lap was run in a Hertz-Unlimited Mileage Lincoln Town Car.  Warner started racing in 1978 in a Brabham BT-8 and later in the SCCA in an ex-Bob Sharp Racing Datsun B210.  He finished 5th in the American Road Racing Amateur Championships at Road Atlanta in 1982 in Class GT-3 (having started in 22nd place). His drive earned him a nomination for the Mark Donohue Award.  In 1984 he entered the International Motorsports Association Firehawk Series in a Camaro and had top ten finishes at St. Louis and Sebring, top five finishes at Watkins Glen (twice), a 3rd at Road America, a 2nd at Lime Rock, Ct., and a win in the Escort Series at Mid Ohio, all in Camaros.  Warner won the IMSA Media Challenge (for racing journalists) in 1984, 1985, and 1986.   He participated as a driver in the SAAB World Speed Record Run at Talladega, Alabama in 1986.  Warner has driven factory sponsored racer cars for Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Mercury, and Ford.  He currently races the ex-Bob Tullius, Group 44 TR-8 Trans Am/IMSA car in vintage racing. He has been awarded the Skip Barber Cup (Lime Rock) and the John Kelly Trophy (Mid Ohio) for driving. 

In addition to racing, he restores and collects interesting cars.  Currently in his collection are a 1957 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz, a 1958 Cadillac El Dorado Brougham, a 1972 Ferrari 365GTB/4 “Daytona”, a 1952 Muntz Road Jet, a 1971 Porsche 911T (owned since new), a 1979 Mercedes Benz 450SL (Jane’s car), a 1928 Simplex Piston Ring Special,  1985 IROC Firehawk Camaro (one he drove to a 5th overall in the 24 Hours of Watkins Glen), a 1990 Pontiac 1LE Firebird (ex-Firehawk/Players car),1978 Bill Mitchell Special Vehicles Development Oldsmobile Omega,  a 2005 Ford GT, and the previously mentioned Triumph race car.  The centerpiece of his collection was Edsel Ford’s 1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster which he sold in 2008.  Over the years he has restored a Brabham BT-8 (ex-Denny Hulme, Tourist Trophy winner), an Elva Mk 5, a Lotus 11 LeMans (ex-Innes Ireland), the Lang Cooper (nee Shelby King Cobra), a 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta (now in the General Motors Heritage Collection), a 1970 Maserati Ghibli Spyder,  a 1954 Corvette, a 1955 Corvette,  and a BMW M-1.

In 1996, he founded The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance near his home of Jacksonville, Florida.  In the twenty-four year history of the show, it has raised over $ 3.25 million dollars for Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and the Shop with Cops Program of F3ernandina Beach and Nassau County (FL).  For his charitable work, he was recognized by The Rotary Club of South Jacksonville with the Frank Sherman Award;  The WTLV Channel 12, Twelve Who Care Award;  The National Philanthropic Award as Volunteer of the Year (1998)and the American Institute for Public Service, Jefferson Award.

In 2002, he was recognized by a panel of automotive writers and journalists with the Meguiar’s Automobile Hobby Person of the Year.  The ceremony was held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, California, and was nationally televised.  Other recipients of the Meguiar’s Award have been Jay Leno, the late Chip Miller of Carlisle Productions, and Steve Earle of the Monterey Historic Races.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Road Racing Driver’s Club by British Racing Champion, Brian Redman and Indianapolis 500 winner,  Bobby Rahal.

In September of 2005, Warner was named to the Steering Committee of the LeMay Automotive Museum, Tacoma, Washington.

In February 2006, The Federacion de Automovilismo de Puerto Rico recognized Bill and Jane for their contribution to the preservation of antique and classic cars.

In July of 2008, Bill was named one of the “Top 50 Players in the Classic Car World” by Octane Magazine (UK) joining such automotive luminaries at Sir Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, Jay Leno, American Formula 1 World Champion, Phil Hill and The Duke of Richmond.

In October of 2008, Bill was awarded the Lee Iococca Award given as recognition for “Dedication to Excellence in Perpetuating an American Automotive Tradition”. 

In August of 2009, Bill was appointed to the Governing Committee of the Monterey Historic Races, Monterey, California.

In 2011 he was asked to serve on the advisory board of the Friends of Harry Miller.

In November of 2013, The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was awarded “Motoring Event of the Year” by Octane Magazine in ceremonies held at the Saint Pancras Hotel in London.   This award represented world wide recognition of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance as “Best of the Best”.

In June of 2014, Hospice of North East Florida named their new care facility The Jane and Bill Warner Center for Caring, in Fernandina Beach, FL.

In August of 2014, Bill was presented the President’s Cup for the Car of Most Historical Significance to Laguna Seca at the 2014 Rolex Monterey Historic Races.

In November 2014, The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was once again nominated for the “Motoring Event of the Year” by Octane Magazine in London.

On January 21, 2015,  Bill was awarded the “Bob Akin Memorial Motorsports Award” from the Road Racing Driver’s Club.  The award is presented by the late Bob Akin’s son, Bobby, to the individual who best mirrors the character of his father, including passion for motorsports and automobiles, a high level of sportsmanship and fair play, and who has contributed to the sport of motor racing.

In May of 2015, Bill teamed with Frank Campanale of Detroit to compete in the 2015 Mille Miglia (in a Studebaker Golden Hawk).  He has raced continuously in SCCA, IMSA, and various vintage events from coast-to-coast for 41 years.

He co-authored with Tom Cotter the book, Cuba’s Car Culture, that was released on September 15, 2016.  The book was awarded a  silver medal by the International Automotive Media Competition and is in its third printing. He is currently working on his second book, The Other Side of the Fence, 50 years of Motorsport Photography.

In 2016 he was awarded the Veterans of Influence Award by the Jacksonville Business Journal.  The award recognizes veterans who have contributed to the Jacksonville community.

The Antique Automobile Club of America awarded Bill the Winters Racing Award in ceremonies in Philadelphia.

In 2017, he teamed with Paul Gould of New York City in Paul’s 1933 Alfa Romeo 1750 to compete once gain in the Mille Miglia (1000 miles of Italy).

On September 8, 2018, he  received the Nicola Bulgari Award for contributions to automotive history.  The ceremony was held at America’s Car Museum, Tacoma, Washington.

On September 27-30, he served as Honorary Co-Chairman of Porsche’s Rennsport Reunion along with Dr. Wolfgang Porsche at the WeatherTech  Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, California.

In July of  2019, he will receive the  Automobile Enthusiast of the Year Award at the Concours of America at St. Johns in Plymouth, Michigan.

He has served as the Honorary Chief Judge at the Thousand Oaks Concours d’Elegance, Thousand Oaks, California, and Honorary Chairman of the EyesOn Design, Detroit, Michigan (2010), Honorary Chairman, The Elegance of Hershey (2017), Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Honorary Chairman , The Greenwich Concours, Greenwich, Connecticut (2017).  He has served on judging teams at the Glenmoor Gathering (Ohio); The Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance; the Concours of  America at St. Johns; The Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance;  the Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance (Philadelphia); The Hilton Head Concours; The Louis Vuitton Concours, New York City; Salon Privé (Blenheim Palace, UK) and the Keels and Wheels Concours d’Elegance (Seabrook, Texas).

Bill is recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Florida Service ribbon and served 30 years in the Florida Air National Guard, retiring at the rank of Major.

His wife of fifty-two years, Jane, has patiently put up with his automotive mania with an understanding beyond reasonable expectations, as have his three children, son, Clay, and twin daughters, Demery Webber and Dana Shewmaker, and granddaughters, Lindsey Jane Webber, Mildred Huxley Warner, and Ruby Meeks Warner.