Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

Chairman's Update

We are proud to report that The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance topped $2.5 million in charitable giving in 2014. We donated record amounts to Community Hospice, Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and the Nassau County and Fernandina Beach Shop With Cops Christmas programs. In 2014 we added Micah’s Place Domestic Violence Center, a shelter for the victims of domestic abuse, to our roster of local charities.

On Friday and Saturday a pair of sold-out seminars preceded the 19th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “The Great Offy Drivers” seminar starred Indy 500 winners Parnelli Jones, Al and Bobby Unser plus David Hobbs. Our 2013 honoree Sam Posey graciously stood in for three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford who organized this tribute to the Offy stars.  Unfortunately, “Lone Star JR” was compelled to attend to family responsibilities at the last moment. The Offy panel gained some serious luster with the inclusion of Sonny Meyer, son of three-time Indy 500 winner and co-founder of Meyer-Drake Engineering Louis Meyer. Father and son kept the Offy legend alive, well, powerful and fast into the 1980s.

The “Merchants of Speed” seminar turned into a 90-minute MBA about the complex business of running a successful racing operation. The legendary John Mecom,  Group 44 founder Bob Tullius, Indy 500 winner, Indy car and IMSA team owner Bobby Rahal, arch privateer (and sometimes-Porsche factory racer) David Piper and Porsche Motorsport North America’s CEO Alwin Springer told  some secrets and dispelled some motorsport myths, pulling back the curtain on a side of motorsport that fans never see. The autograph sessions following both seminars were well attended.

Saturday’s Cars and Coffee at the Concours drew 267 cars.  The spectator count, even though there is no admission charge for Saturday’s show, showed an increase over the inaugural Cars and Coffee of 2013. We noticed a lot of families and parents with kids and cameras; a good sign for the future of the car collecting hobby.

Le Mans and Formula 1 winner Jochen Mass was our 2014 honoree and seemed to be everywhere at once . . . especially when one of his racers crossed the lawn on Sunday. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of Jochen’s victory in the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans -- Jochen drove nearly half of the 1989 24 Hours!  --  in his Mercedes-Benz-powered Sauber C9 that became the centerpiece of “The Cars of Jochen Mass” exhibit. Watching his reunion with old friends gave a lot of life to Sunday’s awards ceremony; especially when he jumped into the cockpit of one of his old racers.

We celebrated the 100th anniversary of Maserati with a class showcasing the remarkable versatility of the Italian exotic car maker that won such diverse races as the Targa Florio, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Indy 500 (twice!) and the Formula 1 World Championship. Our Beach Cars class was a very popular feature that sometimes seemed to summon more photographic interest than many of the million dollar-plus classics. It seems that sort of diversity is an important part of Amelia in March.

It’s the people of Amelia that are the true soul and the cornerstone of the concours. Thanks to all the individuals and organizations who make the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance the award winning  international success it is: the staff, our dedicated sponsors, our extraordinary and selfless volunteers, the entrants, our exceptional judges -- now led by Chief Judge and Lincoln sage David Schultz -- the City of Fernandina Beach, the County Council of Nassau County and, most of all, our patrons who travel to this beautiful corner of north Florida every March to enjoy the excitement of “Amelia”. 

Next year will mark the 20th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. To celebrate in the appropriate style Sir Stirling Moss will reprise his role as honoree of the first Amelia in 1996. Mercedes-Benz has graciously committed his Mille Miglia-winning 300SLR and the W196 Formula 1 racer that took him to his first World Championship Formula 1 victory. The Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum will bring the last Mercedes-Benz F1 car Sir Stirling raced, his 1955 Italian Grand prix W196 streamliner. An unprecedented class of at least 20 of Sir Stirling’s racers will be on the field to celebrate the 20th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and Mercedes-Benz’s double World Championships of 1955.

Our goal will always be to put on a world class automotive event that honors our heroes, the cars they raced and to contribute to worthy charities of North Florida.   We hope that Amelia will continue to exceed your expectations.

 

BILL WARNER

Founder & Chairman