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Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance Weekend

Story by Judy and Pete Lech

 

 

 

On March 7-10, 2019 under beautiful skies on Amelia Island, Florida, the Concours d’Elegance event returned for its twenty-fourth edition. After 2 weeks of threatening rain, the weather was perfect. This charity event, which gives millions of dollars to local charities, is held at the Ritz-Carlton on the beautiful fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island. It is regarded as one of the finest displays of rare and vintage automobiles in the world. This year’s Honoree was Belgian racing legend Jacky Ickx, 6-time winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans with 8 Formula One wins.


So, let’s go back to the beginning. A truly awesome event without the immense crowds and exorbitant cost of Pebble Beach. We arrived in Jacksonville, FL on Tuesday, March 5th to a cool 39-degree evening. Glad we packed heavier clothes for our trip up the East Coast after the event! Now, isn’t Florida supposed to be the vacation warm spot for snow birds? On Friday, we met up with our OCR friends and neighbors Herb & Rose Wysard and their son Jeff and daughter-inlaw Kelly. Herb had invited us to the Bonhams auction at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club where he had their beautiful 1952 Alfa Romeo shipped for the auction. This was the first time we had been on the inside of one of these auctions. The Bonhams Auction was one of several automobile auctions going on that week, taking advantage of the clientele gathering on the Island. As we walked through the many cars of various vintages and kinds, each one more beautiful and exotic than the last, we were in awe.

 

Friday saw warming temperatures, and was the day for the PorschePlatz display of approximately 500 Porsches. Judy met Manny Alban, Past President of PCA for a photo op. Now, we see a lot of Porsches in So. Cal and let me share that this display of every color and make and model was unbelievable. This event gave so many enthusiasts a chance to bring their car to Northern Florida to take part in this historic event. As we walked amongst the cars, not only did the cars get our attention, but also the license plates. Clever folks out there.

 

Saturday saw a gigantic Cars and Coffee on several fairways, where many car clubs put their exotic and more common marques on display and were enjoying the bright sunshine and visiting with friends. It was an amazing display.

 

Sunday was the big event in and around the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton and the golf course. Temperatures were now in the low 80’s with a fair amount of humidity. We went in when the gates opened at 10:00 a.m., and enjoyed walking the field. Crowds continued to increase, but were manageable. Porsche and Mercedes had the largest displays on the field. We watched as driver honoree Jacky Ickx drove his Le Mans winning Porsche 962 from the central grandstand area to the center of the special Porsche 962 Class display area. There were 10 other 962s as well – an awesome display! In addition to the awesome display of historically significant automobiles, other unique classes included Rock-Star Cars, Heads of State Cars, VW Custom Coachwork, and a display of innovative Indy Cars through the years; including a Novi, the first Lotus rear-engine car, and several Cummins diesels participants. There are always large collections of significant racing cars on display.


If you have never been to Amelia Island, we highly recommend setting aside some time for the week’s events, culminating with the Concours on the second Sunday of March. There’s a lot of exploring to do in this historic area on northern Florida, including Saint Augustine and Jacksonville itself. Book early if you want to stay on the Island, or Jacksonville hotels and airport are only 30 minutes to the south.


Enjoy – You’ll have a terrific, memorable time!

 

This story and photos can be found in the June 2019 Pando on pages 26-27

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