There are concours and then there is the Amelia. Every year Bill Warner and his team take on the responsibility of organizing the most publicized, least pretentious, yet highest quality concours in the world.
This year was no different as an international array of spectators flocked together for an extended weekend of automotive marvel, beginning with the various auctions (the Amelia now attracts 5 top auction houses), a spectacular cars and coffee on Saturday and the lauded Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on Sunday.
After two years of clouded forecasts, the 2019 edition could not have been more spectacular. Under a perfect Florida sun, the entire weekend was picture perfect from start to finish, with thousands of spectators enjoying both Saturday and Sunday events.
Every year the Amelia selects a celebrated racer to be the honoree. This year’s privilege went to Belgian racing legend Jacky Ickx.
Known as ‘Monsieur Le Mans’ in reference to his 6-times Le Mans winning streak that he held until the early 2000’s, Ickx also achieved eight wins in Formula One, won the Can-Am Championship in 1979 and is a Paris-Dakar Rally winner, making his career one of the world’s most diverse in racing history.
Bill Warner was able to reunite Ickx with no less than 12 of his former race cars, including a 1968 Ford GT40, a 1981 Porsche 936, a 1968 Ferrari 312 F1 and a 1975 Alfa Romeo T33/TT/12. Warner noted that “there is something heroic about Jacky Ickx. When things are at their worst, Ickx is at his best. Grace under pressure doesn’t begin to describe him. He’s a racer whose abilities, reputation and record stand with the greatest of all time.”
Bill Warner’s Amelia is a concours without equals. It not only offers a wide spectrum of classic cars and motorcycles, but the annual concours never fails to impress with class and style, while at the same time remaining the most pleasurable concours to attend. For the first-time attendee to the seasoned professional, the Amelia has it all.
From one-of-a-kind prototypes to horseless carriages such as a perfectly restored 1911 Stanley 72 - the sole surviver of the 72 model and the oldest known aluminium bolide Stanley in existance - Amelia is a delight for all.
Racing buffs were thrilled to see cars such as a 1954 OSCA MT4 1500 Spider, built in Bologna, Italy by the Maserati Brothers or the impressive 1934 Duesenberg Cummins Diesel, one of only two built. Driven by Bill Cummings, it set the diesel land speed record at Daytona Beach of 137,195 mph.
Classic motorcycle fans enjoyed seeing the Best in Class winning 1932 Henderson KJ or a 1950 Vincent Black Shadow, while in the Sports and GT cars class, heads were turned by such classics as a 1953 Aston Martin DB2 DHC (one of 25 built with the Vantage engine), a 1955 Fiat 8V Vignale or a 1966 Lamborghihi 400 GT 2+2.
With so much history present, the Best in Class and Best of Show winners were equally as impressive. Top honors for the Concours de Sport went to a 1957 Ferrari 335 S, while the Concours d’Elegance trophy was awarded to a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn-Kurier.
Equally as remarkable were the Gainesville Raceway 50thanniversary display of classic National Hot Rod Association dragsters, capable of accelerating from zero-to-100mph in less than 1 second, and loudly announcing their presence during a spectacular cacklefest; as they simultaneously revved their nitro engines, shaking the crowds across the fairways.
And this year’s twist? A spectacular collection of classic ‘cars of the rock stars’ such as Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porsche 356C, a 1959 Chevrolet Stingray Racer driven by Elvis Presley and even John Oates Porsche Diesel AP 18 ‘Pink Pig’ Tractor lined up next to custom made guitars curated by John Oates of the famous rock band Hall & Oates. Classic cars and guitars surely made a unique repertoire at the 2019 Amelia.
In 2020 the Amelia will celebrate its 25th anniversary and having seen the past quarter century, we know that Bill Warner and his team will have something special in mind to celebrate the next 25 years!