This year was the 10th Anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours, an event held on the golf course of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. This event is considered by some as one of the top-five Concours in the United States. Some of the ingredients for the shows popularities have been the wide assortment of rare and prestigious vehicles, maintaining a warm personal feeling, and making the personalities and cars accessible. This year, there were over 250 rare classics from seldom-seen private collections nationwide on display ranging from European rarities to NASCAR and racing legends.
The show focused on GM small block V-8s, the career of Bobby Allison, and the featured marque Alfa Romeo. While there are differences between these features, there are similarities in their racing heritage, accomplishments and advancements in the automotive arena. Also on hand were antique and classic luxury automobiles from all walks-of-life.
The vehicles were judged according to their class. This year there were over 30 classes ranging from Woodies, classic American vintage, European coachwork, and an extensive array and variety of racing. New this year was that sport and sports racing cars competed for their own Best In Show award - the "Concours de Sport." It joins the "Concours d'Elegance" award as the show's two top honors. Since style, beauty, presentation and accuracy are cornerstones of a traditional concours; one of the classic marques such as Delage, Duesenberg or Bugatti usually takes home a show's top overall award. However, the Amelia Island Concours is unique because it focuses heavily on racing. The addition of the Concours de Sport award continues the show's reputation for innovation by honoring the one sport or sports racing car that exhibits the best overall aesthetics and presentation.
According to Bill Warner, founder and chairman, "Picking the best of the best classics is always a tough task because there are so many great entries and this is just as true for the race cars. Amelia has one of the best judging corps around and it's an unenviable task for them to compare a Duesenberg or Delahaye with a Ferrari GTO or a Porsche 917, so we decided to do something unique and honor the sports racers with their own best in show."
Judging criteria for the Concours de Sport include the vehicle's provenance, presentation and contribution to advancing automotive technology. Many of today's advances in automotive engineering were introduced and tested on the racetrack before making it to the showroom floor. Pete Brock, designer of the famous Cobra Daytona Coupes for Carroll Shelby, will be the lead judge for this award.
From the late 1930s through the 1970s, Alfa Romeo produced some of motoring's most exciting street and competition cars and their racing heritage, in particular, was unrivaled at famous circuits like LeMans, the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, and Sebring. Many of the great drivers of their respective eras piloted the Milan, Italy built cars, including the legendary Tazio Nuvolari, five-time F1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio, Mario Andretti, and American Peter Revson.
For the first time in over 40 years, the stunning Alfa Romeo 'Superflow' concept vehicle made a rare U.S. appearance at the Amelia Concours. Not seen in this country since 1960, the car's many iterations make it one of the most enduring concept designs ever built.
NASCAR great Bobby Allison was the honoree for the 2005 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. This 3-time Daytona 500 Winner was Amelia's first stock car racing honoree. The Winston Cup Series Champion in 1983, Allison's 84 NASCAR victories tie him for third on the all-time list with Darrell Waltrip.
'This is a wonderful opportunity for the Amelia Island Concours,' says Bill Warner, founder and chairman. 'Over the years, we have honored a diverse group of individuals who were highly successful in all forms of racing and Bobby's addition completes the circle. He was one of stock car racing's very best and we are honored that he agreed to be with us for the week.' Allison drove and won in nine makes and models including AMC, Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Mercury, Plymouth, Pontiac, and the Ford Mustang.
One of the original 'Alabama Gang,' Allison's achievements spans a diverse career of over 40 years. In addition to his '83 Winston Cup Championship, he is a three-time winner of NASCAR's 'crown jewel' – the Daytona 500, a six-time winner of
NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award, the 1980 IROC Series champion, and was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He also has over 600 short track victories and has been inducted into the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the
Living Legends of Auto Racing, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the International
Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. Allison had nearly $8 million in career earnings.
<B>Chevy Small Block V-8</b>
"The small block V-8 broke new ground a half century ago and still holds a special place in the history books and among owners," says Warner. "We are really paying homage here to both ends of the automotive spectrum with next year's show and that's what separates the Amelia Island Concours from others." The Amelia Island Concours held a seminar with an expert panel devoted entirely to discussing the history, design, and development of the engine.
<B>Hospice of Northeast Florida</b>
Since 1996, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance Foundation, Inc. has annually donated a portion of the event's proceeds to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc., which provides assistance to terminally ill individuals and their families regardless of their ability to pay. Nearly $1.3 million has been donated since the show began.
This was my first visit to Amelia Island and to the Councours; it was truly amazing in all respect. Having driven down on Saturday from a very snowy and cold Pennsylvania, the sunny state of Florida was very much a welcome sight. (Although I began my drive back to PA after the show on Sunday). Besides the vehicles and racing legends, the features I enjoyed most about the show were how well it was organized and the detail provided for each vehicle. The vehicles were aligned according to their class and segregated from other classes. This made viewing and enjoying the vehicles very relaxing. There were plaques beside each vehicle that described its history, importance, and other relevant information pertaining to the vehicle.
The over-280 vehicles that were assembled gave me an overwhelming feeling; like a child in a candy store. To add to the excitement, there were historical parades. Certain cars and motorcycles were driven with the drivers and passengers adorned in clothing of that era. Throughout the day, interviews could be heard on the speakers. These interviews were with the judges, drivers, and other important personnel.
As the day progressed, the crowds became larger and larger. This is a very popular event and for good reason. To see this many rare, classic, and prestigious vehicles in one setting is truly a spectacle.
Many thanks to the organizers, sponsors, car enthusiasts, the Ritz Carlton, and everyone who makes this event happen. The 30-hour of driving (round-trip) in three days was well worth it.