Two automotive icons of their respective eras won Best of Show trophies Saturday at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance: a 1929 Duesenberg SJ roadster that was awarded Best of Show d’Elegance and a 1963 Ferrari 250/275P that won Best of Show Sport.
The Duesenberg, with an appropriately elegant coachbuilt body by Bowman and Schwartz, is owned by well-known classic car collector and concours regular Harry Yeaggy of Cincinnati. The two-seat convertible is an Art Deco beauty featuring dramatic sidepipes, a typical Duesenberg feature.
The winning Ferrari is owned by none other than Joe Lacob, the majority owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, who expressed surprise and delight that his Ferrari had been so honored.
“It wasn’t like quite like winning the NBA championship and claiming that trophy, but it’s pretty good,” said Lacob, a San Francisco-area resident. “I had no idea. I was very surprised.
“But I’m actually very happy for the car,” he added. “I’ve owned that car for a decade and I just always felt that it was unappreciated for what it was. It’s really a forerunner of all the mid-engine V12 cars of Ferrari today. I’m excited that it’s getting some due.”
A dazzling and diverse field of more than 300 special cars, trucks and motorcycles included 35 classes at the Florida concours, which had been scheduled for Sunday but, because of weather reports forecasting stormy weather, it was moved up to Saturday. The same thing happened last year.
Motorsports champion Emerson Fittipaldi, a two-time Formula 1 World champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, was the honored guest, and a special class of cars that he raced was displayed, including a 1970 Lotus 72/5, 1974 McLaren M23/5, 1974 Porsche 911 RSR IROC and 1977 Chevrolet IROC Camaro Z28.
Fittipaldi started the concours Saturday morning with some real flair when, during the typical parade lap by an honoree, he hit the gas a number of times in the Marlboro Indy car, spinning its fat tires on the grass to the delight of spectators. The engine blasts sparked the crowd with excitement and spectators rushed over to meet the driving star as he parked the emblematic race car, creating a crush of camera-welding fans.
As ever, the Amelia featured some very creative classes, such as one for elaborate “hunting cars” from a bygone era and another for early electric vehicles. A crowd favorite was the Cars of “Big Daddy” Ed Roth, whose outrageous show cars sparked a trend in custom-car building during the ’60s, as well as bringing the Rat Fink to life.
Those of a certain age stared dreaming eyed at the truly iconic Beatnik Bandit, the bubble-topped custom from 1961 that put Roth on the map. But it also delighted young spectators who couldn’t get enough of the wonderfully unique form, as well as Roth’s other quirky creations that were lined up along the pond at The Golf Club of Amelia Island.