It’s the sound of racing engines that makes the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance distinct from many other such events. Founder and chairman Bill Warner’s background, contacts, and circles of friends all orbit the world of motorsports, and so has his event, which for each of its 25 outings has named an “honoree,” all of them racers.
This year, that person was Roger Penske, and there was a reunion, of sorts, for many of the past honorees. In only a few minutes, we’d spotted Derek Bell, Hurley Haywood, Brian Redman, and David Hobbs.
The Penske-centric classes (three — for cars he’d driven, cars his team has owned, and for some of his cars that won the Indy 500) were all made up of race cars, of course, and there were classes for other racers from before WW1, between the world wars, and several to cover the eras since WW2.
Racing heritage was also evident in the classes for Duesenbergs, Loziers, and a group of called Porsche Firsts to mark the 50th anniversary of that firm’s first victory at Le Mans.
It’s not that the show is just about racing, it’s just that it tilts more strongly in that direction than do, say, the concours at Pebble Beach, St. John’s near Detroit, or Hilton Head. And that makes it sound awesome when the cars fire up and pass in review to collect their awards, crackling and spitting and snorting like thoroughbreds.
The field also had a large display centered around the new Corvette C8, a class of cars designed by Sergio Scaglietti to recognize the 100th anniversary of his birth, and another of cars designed by GM Design chief Harley Earl.
There was a class for tiny cars called “That’s Cute” and another for American cars wearing bodywork from Europe, ensuring plenty of variety for the crowd.
Speaking of the crowd, attendees were advised to take precautions in light of the Covid-19 coronavirus, but organizers decided to go ahead with not only the main event but all the ancillary activities such as auctions, seminars, and a Saturday Cars and Coffee show on the main field. It all looked well-attended and the crowd was packed in pretty tightly inside on Saturday and outdoors on Sunday.
It may have been the last such automotive gathering in Florida for a while, as prominent activities as soon as the following weekend were being closed to spectators or postponed until later dates.
If you wanted to fill your ears with the sounds of live racing engines and the sight of real racing heroes in Florida, it seems, Amelia Island was your best bet this March.