The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has taken its place as one of the world’s great concours events, a result of Florida’s balmy winter weather, a gorgeous venue and an always-spectacular selection of 300 vintage and exotic automobiles.
As well as showcasing the array of rare cars on Sunday, March 9, on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, the 2014 edition will be highlighted by a number of special features during the two days leading up to the main event.
Two motorsports seminars will include some of the greatest names in racing giving participants a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the team efforts that went into the victories.
The Great Offy Drivers Seminar is an insider’s look at a storied period in American championship racing.”
– Bill Warner[/pullquote]
The Great Offy Drivers Seminar features a celebration of Offenhauser-powered race cars Friday, March 7, at 3 p.m., with an all-star panel of Johnny Rutherford, Parnelli Jones, and Al and Bobby Unser. Each of the drivers raced cars powered by the legendary Offenhauser engines, and they drove them to a combined five Indianapolis 500 victories as well as to 35 additional racing victories.
They will be joined by sometimes Offy racer David Hobbs and Louis “Sonny” Meyer Jr., the son of the co-founder of Meyer & Drake Engineering where Offenhauser racing engines were built after World War II. As well as powering Indy and champ car racers, Offy engines provided the competitive edge in midget racers, racing powerboats and sports cars, winning 33 American national championships across 41 seasons of competition.
“The Great Offy Drivers Seminar is an insider’s look at a storied period in American championship racing from depression-era American track racing through the end of the seventies,” said Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
The Merchants of Speed seminar, which will be offered Saturday, March 8, starting at 10:30 a.m., explores the hidden world of motorsports management and the raw business end of racing and features some of the men who helped forge American motorsports as we know it today.
“The Merchants of Speed will be a fast-paced, 90-minute ‘MBA-quality’ seminar about the inside business of motorsport, something that has not been offered to the public until now,” Warner said.
The Merchants of Speed seminar features:
- Ray Evernham, who will explain the creation and operation of a championship NASCAR team;
- Alwin Springer, who managed Porsche Motorsport North America from the days of the mighty Porsche 917/10 and 917/30 Can-Am turbos in the 1970s;
- John Mecom, who ran Corvette’s racing program while General Motors disavowed any motorsport involvement;
- Bobby Rahal, the Indy 500 winner and team owner, who will speak on the challenges of managing his son’s Indy career while running two racing teams;
- Tyler Alexander, who will discuss McLaren Cars, the sole marque to win the Formula 1 World Championship, the Indy 500, the Can-Am championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans;
- Group 44’s Bob Tullius, who will explore the complex mission of transforming a championship-winning national club-racing program into an international championship sports car racing team.
Both seminars will be held in the Talbot Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton. Admission is $30 for each event. To order tickets, visit www.ameliaconcours.org.
Other events happening during the Amelia Island weekend include a concours vehicle road tour Friday morning, automotive art shows, manufacturer test drives, vendors and receptions.
Two major collector-car auctions will be held prior to the concours: Gooding & Company on March 7 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, and RM Auctions, which has its sale March 8 in the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Resort. For auction information and the lists of cars being offered, see www.goodingco.com and www.rmauctions.com.