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Amelia Islander

Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

Mar 13, 2014 12:01PM
Now in its second decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “The Amelia” draws nearly 250 rare vehicles from collections all over the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. The annual event will be held March 7 – 9 on the 10th and 18th fairways at the Golf Club, replacing golf carts and caddies with high-style race cars and their enthusiastic owners.

Bill Warner, founder and co-chairman of the Concours, was an antique car collector and a writer/photographer at Road and Track Magazine, who, with Patti Hendrix of The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, produced the first Amelia Island Concours. The event has grown dramatically over the years, attracting thousands of people to the island. Along with the public display of automobiles, the Concours offers various seminars, social events, and auctions, rounding out a fabulous weekend of exceptional autos, their owners, and car enthusiasts from all over the world. Warner’s passion for autos grows with each coming year. “We won the International Historic Motoring Best Event Award in London this year,” said Warner. “When they handed me the trophy, all I could think of was our people, especially the 700 local volunteers, who worked so hard to make that happen. That sort of thing is very humbling.”

The show’s foundation has donated over $2.2 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc., and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996. In 2013, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance won Octane Magazine’s EFG International Historic Motoring Event of the Year award.

[preformated]View more images from this year's Concours[/preformated]

[heading style="subheader"]Jochen Mass is Honoree at 2014 Amelia Concours [/heading]

Jochen Richard Mass is a former race car driver from Germany, and he is this year’s Honoree of “The Amelia.” Mass participated in 114 Formula One World Championship Grand Prix races, debuting on July 14, 1973 at the British Grand Prix. He won one Grand Prix race, secured no pole positions, achieved 8 podiums, and scored a total of 71 championship points. “Jochen Mass is our 2014 honoree, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Mercedes-Benz,” said Warner. “He is that extraordinarily rare breed of racer who has won both Le Mans and Formula One.”

Three years after retiring from Formula One, Mass won the 1985 German Racing Championship. In 1987, he joined Indy 500 champion and 2011 Amelia Island honoree Bobby Rahal to win the 12 Hours of Sebring in a Porsche 962. Mass’ resume lists 32 World Sports Car Championship victories and 14 pole positions at the top level of international world championship sports car racing. He has won more Group C races than any other driver.

Now retired, Mass is entrusted to drive historic sports cars and grand prix cars for Mercedes-Benz, including Fangio’s World Championship winning W196 Grand Prix car and Stirling Moss’ record setting 1955 Mille Miglia winner. In 2004, Mass raced the Mille Miglia’s 1000 mile route in Moss’ 1955 winning 300SLR to raise money for charity.

[heading style="subheader"]The World’s First Sports Car[/heading]

This year, the Concours d’Elegance will feature the forgotten car that started an automotive revolution. The car that many experts consider “the first sports car” will finally have its day on Amelia’s Concours field. That car is the Underslung automobile, and, more than a century ago, its designer saw the future in sports cars. Engineer Fred Tone drew the radical lines that became the Underslung. It was more than a car, it was a concept, and one that looked far into the future with remarkable clarity.

Tone arrived at the American Motor Co. as Harry C. Stutz, his more famous counterpart, left the Indianapolis-based company to join Tone’s former employer, the Marion Motor Car Company. It was a small but historically potent coincidence.

The Underslung got its name by wearing its frame below the axles. In 1904, the design was akin to engineering heresy. The topline of the Underslung’s hood was the same height as the fenders that covered huge 36 inch wheels. The Underslung sat low and looked fast. Tone’s inspired design corrected the inherent instability of tipsy, top heavy orthodox designs that had high centers of gravity. It was a simple and elegant solution that still managed to provide more than adequate ground clearance for safe travel on America’s rustic and rural roads.

Harry C. Stutz left the Marion car company and went on to create his famous Bearcat in 1914. The glamorous Stutz roadster is often remembered as America’s first sports car. But Fred Tone’s practical and capable Underslung can truly lay claim to the title “the world’s first sports car.”

[heading style="subheader"]Mercedes-Benz’s Silver Arrow comes to “The Amelia”[/heading]

The Amelia welcomes the Silver Arrow will be on the field to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Honoree Jochen Mass’ Le Mans victory in 1989. Mass’ Sauber C9 was built to win the most important, prestigious and commercially valuable motor race on earth – the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Le Mans’ rules were shaped by a complex formula of fuel mileage and engine systems efficiency. The 1980’s was a decade when the world’s major car builders coveted victory in the 24-hour French endurance classic. Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Nissan, and Toyota all spent cubic money for the Le Mans victory. Few were rewarded, many disappointed: most were denied.

When Mercedes unloaded their three-car Le Mans team for the 1989 24 Hours, the clean silver coupes sporting their iconic three-pointed star were devoid of the usual clutter of subordinate advertising labels. The message was clear: Mercedes-Benz’s Silver Arrows were back. By Sunday morning June 11, the Silver Arrows were leading Le Mans. At 4 p.m. and the checkered flag, Mercedes C9 Silver Arrows had finished first, second, and fifth. It was Mercedes first Le Mans triumph since 1952, when the Silver Arrows had also finished first and second. “Jochen’s C9 is the ultimate Le Mans Group C car,” said Warmer. “For 2014, we’ve got an example of the fastest car in the 90-year history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And we’ve got Jochen.”

[heading style="subheader"]The Amelia Celebrates Fifty Years of McClaren[/heading]

McClaren’s 50 year birthday brings a display of rare and significant racers from five decades of competition. McClaren’s were not only victorious in the world’s richest and most prestigious races, the company changed motorsport through a relentless pursuit of perfection and brought a strictly professional approach to a sport that had been more of a glamorous hobby than a true business. Today, McClaren is still the only marquee to win the Formula One Constructors’ Championship, the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Can-Am Championship.

McClaren’s racing history includes a list of landmark victories, which are a testament to the company’s groundbreaking performance. Bruce McClaren Motor Racing Ltd. was created in 1963 by Bruce McClaren after he drove for Cooper Cars, winning the 1959 and 1960 Formula One Constructors’ Championship and the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix. Since the first McClaren raced in Formula One at the 1966 Grand Prix of Monaco, the team has logged over 730 Formula One races with 182 F1 Grand Prix victories, eight World Constructors’ titles, and twelve Driver’s Championships.

“McClaren’s unblinking quest to improve on what many called ‘perfection’ is what made them the most successful racing team in history,” said Warner. “No one can match their successes across such a broad range of racing team in history. No one can match their successes across such a broad range of racing disciplines. Only Ferrari has won more Formula One titles than McClaren, but they had a 17-year head start.”

McClaren Automotive North America will again be a participating sponsor of the Amelia Island Concours for the third consecutive year. McClaren will host event guests at its brand display pavilion on Saturday and Sunday where several special vehicles will be shown. “McClaren’s racing record is without equal,” states Warner. “The company is about quality and excellence in every component of the car, their execution, preparation, and presentation.”

Many more cars will be featured at The Amelia, including a select group of Maseratis. “This year is Maserati’s 100th anniversary. They’re the only Italian car to win the Indy 500, and they did that twice,” said Warner. “Maserati also won Sebring and the Grand Prix World Championship. We’ll have the genuine Indy 500 and Sebring winners on the field to celebrate.”

There are numerous events and seminars going on throughout the weekend, which include a Guardians of Porsche Wine Maker’s Dinner, Concours Silent Auction, Passport Transport Eight Flags Road Tour, Hasselblad Automotive Photography Exhibit, and much more. Information about times and prices are all available on the show’s web site.

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is held at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, and The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach, on the 10th and 18th fairways, on Sunday, March 9th. Tickets may be purchased on line at www.ameliaconcours.org. For more information about all the weekend events, you may call the Concours office at (904) 636-0027. The Concours staff will be on site at the Ritz-Carlton beginning Wednesday prior to the show day. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is located at 4750 Amelia Island Parkway, Amelia Island, FL 32034. Their phone number is (904) 277-1100.

Warner has seen the Concours grow into an international event, joining giants such as The Quail, Motorclassica Essen, and Pebble Beach. “Our European counterparts call our Concours simply ‘Amelia’,” states Warner. “When people who live 5000 miles away do that, it makes you feel that we’ve really arrived, globally.”