Day one on Amelia Island

Amelia Island - Day 1 The festivities surrounding the 12th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance kicked off Friday in and around The Ritz-Carlton. The brainchild - or perhaps the love-child - of Jacksonville's Bill Warner, the event...


Amelia Island - Day 1

The festivities surrounding the 12th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance kicked off Friday in and around The Ritz-Carlton.

The brainchild - or perhaps the love-child - of Jacksonville's Bill Warner, the event primarily benefits Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, which has received more than $1.5m over the years.

"Twelve years ago, we had a dream," says Warner. "That dream was to bring to North Florida an event that would not only celebrate the contributions the automobile has made to the world of design, engineering and the freedom of mobility, but a celebration of the people and heroes that played a part in the 100-year history of motorized travel, and racing in particular."

From humble beginnings, the Amelia Island Concours has evolved into three days of motoring sensory overload. This is truly an event for people who love cars - "elegant without being arrogant," says author Burt Levy. It is truly accessible to the paying customer.

Friday's revelries kicked off with road tours of the coastal area around Jacksonville and St. Augustine with a road rally, a gymkhana and what was billed as "The Porsche Driving Experience" where neophytes and enthusiasts alike got to sit right seat as Vic Elford put a Brumos Porsche 911 Turbo through its paces on the main runway of the Naval Air Station.

Meanwhile back at the Ritz, a preview of Saturday's RM Auctions' Vintage Motor Car Auction featuring Cords to "Woodies" was running on the dunes overlooking the Atlantic. Inside a silent auction kicked off including the Boss Hog custom bike Tony Stewart was presented as the winner of the 2006 Brickyard 400 at Indy - minimum bid $125k. The Coachcraft seminar celebrated a West Coast artform.

Along the corridors of the meeting area were book and poster signings by this year's special honoree, Derek Bell, and lots of authors and artists including Dennis Brown, John Fitch, Burt Levy and Tom Cotter. Everywhere you turned, automotive art was on display with a special exhibition of motorsports photography by Hal Crocker.

Many of these events will continue Saturday including the DuPont Registry Live in the main hangar of the Fernandina Beach Airport, with the big agenda item being the GM-sponsored legends of road racing seminar moderated by Sam Posey and David Hobbs. Special honoree Derek Bell will swap tales Sir Stirling Moss, John Surtees MBE, Brian Redman, Vick Elford, John Fitch and Hershel McGriff the legendary west coast stock car ace who won the inaugural Carrera Panamericana.

Sunday, the 12th Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will unfold on The Ritz- Carlton's golf links with some 300 vehicles presented for judging in 31 categories.

The distinguished panel of judges - led by William Jeanes - is a virtual Who's Who of designers, writers, artists, engineers, racers and collectors: Dennis Adler, Bill Alley, Richard Baron, George Barris, Pete Biro, Peter Brock, Dave Brownell, Thos. L. Bryant, Richard Carpenter, Wayne Cherry, Nobby Clark, Tim Considine, Tom Cotter, Keith Crain, the Davis boys - Bill, Dan, Darrell and David E. Jr. - Alain de Cadenet, John Dianna, Keith Duly, John Duss, Gus Ehrman, Mike Fairbanks, Tom Gale, Ken Gross, John Herlitz, Edward Herrmann, David Hobbs, Jeff Huber, Paul Ianuario, Mickey Kapp, Harm Lagaaij, Leo Levine, Keith Martin, John Mayston-Taylor, Denise McCluggage, Barry Meguiar, Michael Mereness, Richard Merritt, Dale Miller, Maggie Newman, Gene Parrill, Steven Pasteiner, Joe Pendergast, Donald Peterson, Christian Philippsen, Sam Posey, Chuck Queener, Brian Redman, Gerald Roush, Johnny Rutherford, Dr. Paul Sable, Roger Sanders, Dave Schultz, Weldon Scrogham, Matt Short, Roy Sjoberg, Larry Smith, Dick Smothers, Don Sommer, Wilhelm Sproerle, Matt Stone, Martin Swig, Rich Taylor, Jack Telnack, Michael Tillson III, Bob Tullius, Bobby Unser, Mike Walsh, Edward Welburn and Brock Yates.

--Special to Motorsport.com by Bill King

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Series AUTOMOTIVE , VINTAGE