MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: Great Friends and Great Cars ... The Amelia Island Concours Car Week

Posted on March 19, 2015 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Taking final bows, Best in Show Concours de Sport (L), David Sydorick’s 1932 Alfa Romeo 8-c 2300 Zagato Spider and Concours d’Elegance winner from the Ed and Judy Schoenthaler Collection, the 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster.

Heading into a repeat event, I am always a bit anxious, wondering what on earth am I going to discover that is new to write about. This year I tried to stay calm, knowing that something would eventually hit me and make the weekend simply magical … and it did!

There is no other way for me to describe the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend than ... precious. Even after 20 years, it sparkles and is one of those events where, no matter who you are, you feel welcomed and a part of the excitement.

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sir Stirling Moss, OBE was this years Concours honoree.

1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

It was a thrill watching Andreas Mohringer from Salzburg, Austria take Best in Class, Race Cars (1960-1990), with his 1965 Ferrari Dino 166P/206P, recently restored by Paul Russell and Company.

Last year, at 9:30 Sunday morning, I blinked my eyes and a mass of spectators ascended onto the show field. It was all over for me. I couldn’t even take pictures. This year was another story; even with over 32,000 spectators mingling among 315 show cars and motorcycles. The entire weekend seemed to stretch, giving everyone in attendance more time, more space and even more events to really get into everything auto!

When I head to Amelia, I’m Buddy Palumbo on the open road. I leave Clearwater before sunrise, driving north, top down and wind blowing in my face. For those flying into Jacksonville, it’s a very convenient airport to maneuver. My first year of lodging at Amelia was at the Day’s Inn. I graduated up from there and thanks to VRBO return annually to a fabulous villa within walking distance to the Ritz, joined by equally fabulous housemates… for less than the current Day’s Inn rate. It’s all about planning ahead!

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The ex-Marlene Dietrich, multiple best in show winner, the 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Transformal Phaeton (L) brought a final $742,500 at Bonhams.

1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Selling for a final $1,738,000 at Bonhams, I remembered this 1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster on the 2014 Amelia show field.

1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

With impeccable provenance, this 1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat, a featured marque at this year’s Amelia Concours, brought a final $1,012,000 at the Bonhams auction.

As part of the stretchy weekend, Bonhams debuted their Amelia auction, with previews on Wednesday and the auction Thursday midday - the reason to arrive on Wednesday. I managed to work my way through a crowd gathering around Wayne Carini to speak with a woman who for some reason looked familiar. We started to chat about the Austin-Healey she was selling ... then bingo, it hit me. I had seen the episode on Chasing Classic Cars when Wayne visited her home. I felt like I knew her! The coveted 1956 Austin-Healey 100M BN2 Le Mans belonged to her late husband, shown in pristine preservation condition with only 37,000 miles from new. The car brought a final price of $206,800, as part of $13.95M in total sales for Bonhams.

For my own continuing education, I find auction previews an excellent opportunity to learn. As hard as it is, I keep my mouth shut and just lean in, snapping images of what’s wrong ... and what’s right ... especially of my own marque, Jaguar. At the RM auction in London last fall, I slipped and made a comment about the reflectors on a Jag. The gentleman who overheard me sparked up a conversation — he was the long-time owner of the Ecurie Ecosse transporter, which had recently sold! I was ecstatic since I had marveled over the transporter at Goodwood and also at the Mille Miglia! So sure enough at Bonhams, a gentleman asked me why I was taking so many pictures. We chatted, exchanged business cards and bingo ... my magical weekend was clicking into gear! This very low-key gentleman was none other than Formula 1 legend Howden Ganley. With strong ties to Bruce McLaren and 41 F1 Championship Grand Prix starts to his credit, I was thrilled to have the privilege of meeting him. Ganley was one of the featured authors during the weekend, autographing his new autobiography, The Road to Monaco, My Life in Motor Racing.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Sitting pretty, this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet brought a premium sale of $2,090,000 at the Gooding auction.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A $10,862,500 picture! In front, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff sold for $2,337,500. On its pedestal in the rear, the stunning 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pinin Farina brought $6,380,000 and barely in sight is the Jaguar XJR-9.

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

Davy Jones reminiscing in the Jaguar XJR-9

Auction sales were strong this year with RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction breaking records, garnering $60,328,550 in sales. Although catalogue estimates were aggressive, hammer prices reflected the market. Gooding & Company brought in $26,967,150 in sales, bringing the weekend take for all three major auction houses to over $101M!

Enjoying another thrill, I watched friend and racing legend Davy Jones slip into the familiar seat of the TWR Castrol Jaguar XJR-9 #388. Along with fellow drivers Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers, Jones took this winning race car to an overall first place win at the 1990, 24 hours of Daytona. With an aggressive catalogue estimate of $3-5,000,000, the hammer price on the Jaguar XJR-9 came in half the estimated range, at $1,950,000.

Along with celebrating my fifth Amelia Concours weekend came a comfort level with what’s what and where to find everything. Even though most of the off-site events can be reached by complimentary shuttles from the Ritz, having a car lets you venture into Fernandina Beach and over towards the Amelia Island Plantation to enjoy local restaurants ... Ciao Italian Bistro on Center Street and Plae at the Plantation are favorites.

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The entertainment and cars are mesmerizing at duPont REGISTRY LIVE.

A unique sanctioned Amelia Concours event, the duPont REGISTRY LIVE Aeroport Party Friday evening is a must, especially if you have never attended a hangar party. Graciously hosted by Tom and Ruth duPont, admission supports the Amelia Concours charities. Guests meander among classic and exotic cars in several airport hangars, while enjoying live music, unique entertainment and excellent food, orchestrated by Tim Webber and The Coordinator event company. It is my favorite evening of the weekend!

Youngest junior judge takes a break in the 1968 Lamborghini Miura, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

This year’s youngest junior judge takes a break in the Hagerty Children’s Award winner, the 1968 Lamborghini Miura.

The Amelia Island Cars and Coffee is definitely a family affair, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

The Amelia Island Cars & Coffee is definitely a family affair!

The beauty of this Amelia Concours weekend is the ability to see it all. Auction preview times are generous, affording time to incorporate Friday’s Porsche Drive Experience, Saturday’s Cars & Coffee, test drives, and seminars with automobilia exhibits in between. The new MotorXpo offered a nice diversion on Sunday, stretching the crowds across a second venue. I was thrilled to see Tommy Kendall moderate the Car Guys of Television Seminar on Saturday. MMR readers followed his adventures as he drove the Viper at Le Mans in 2013. I had a chance to catch up with Tommy right after Sunday’s awards. I think we will be seeing more of him on television than on the track!

The most important rule for attending motorsports events and the one I consistently break is ... read the program first ... not on the ride home. The program should be your bible, when it comes to attending the concours.

What can I say, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

What can I say?

The Cars of the Cowboys seemed to be everywhere! What on earth were they thinking? Apparently, living their television screen lives through their daily drivers!

1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A class of their own, Forgotten Fiberglass, Best in Class went to the 1954 Woodill Wildfire Series II (R) with the red 1964 LaDawri Daytona receiving the 2015 Amelia Award.

This year’s concours program featured articles written by individuals I know! Just over the pond from me in Tampa, Geoff Hacker is tenaciously resurrecting history along with Forgotten Fiberglass enthusiasts. The connections he has made with people and cars are fascinating.

1932 Ford Highboy Roadster, by Sandy Cotterman, Amelia Island Concours

A winner on the show field, Bruce Meyer’s 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster is featured on the Hot Rod commemorative U.S Postal Service stamp, marking the 20th anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

The more classic cars I see, the more I wonder what was going on in my life to have totally missed the automobiles’ contributions to history! I poured over the article written by Ken Gross about the origin of the hot rods, on the ride home. Hot rodding, as we know it, started on the West Coast in the early 1930s, most likely by mechanically minded servicemen looking for a way to combine their talents with their love of automobiles.

So what made this weekend magical? It was a weekend of admiring great cars and attending great auctions, but, most importantly, connecting with great friends! Friends all brought together, through a car connection.

There is nothing in the world like car friends!


An Interview with David Hobbs

Posted on September 17, 2014 Comments (0)

By Adrianne Ross, Editor, PCA-NER The Nor’Easter Magazine

David Hobbs

I was so honored to meet David Hobbs. I’ve been a fan for a few years now, and enjoy his commentary on racing and racers.

David was born in June 1939 in Royal Leamington Spa, England. In 1969 he was included in the FIA list of graded drivers—an élite group of 27 drivers who, by their achievements, were rated the best in the world—and he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2009. Originally employed as a commentator for the Speed Channel, he currently works as a commentator for NBC and NBC Sports Network.

David Hobbs

David currently lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Margaret. They “putter” around the garden in their spare time, and enjoy winter in Florida. David has two sons, Gregory and Guy. His youngest son, Guy, worked for Speed as a pit reporter on their sports car coverage.

David was kind and patient with me, even though he had been running a bit behind, and had the Hockenheim race the next day. I dragged him into the basement of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, and what follows is our conversation. I’ve left it largely unedited, so that you can get a sense of the man himself.

AR: Take me from 0 to your first race.

DH: My dad was always into cars, but at the beginning of WWII petrol was heavily rationed. He was from Australia and the English government asked him to stay to develop his transmissions, and help with technical innovations in the automotive business.

I wasn't good at school so I went to Jaguar cars as an apprentice. They had a great system; a great apprenticeship scheme in England. It was a full-scale apprenticeship, where you essentially earned a technical degree.

David Hobbs

While there, I got keen on cars and there was a Jaguar apprentice’s motor club which I joined. I would take my Mum’s car, a Morris Oxford, and would rally cross and the like. But I drove like a mad man on the road and so I decided I should race. Back then it was cheap to get a license. You would join a motor club, any car club, and then pay the entry fees; the whole thing would have been about £15.
It was my Mum’s car with my dad's automatic gearbox. I raced a few times and then I finally won a sprint in it. The following year I convinced my dad to let me race his Jaguar XK140, it also had his gearbox (David’s father designed transmissions and automotive technology). Unfortunately I rolled it in the very first race, and did a little damage. (David smiled broadly at this, indicating that he’d damaged the car quite badly.)

He said I had to fix it, so it didn't get fixed very well. Then he got a big injection of capital from BSA, and we decided that a good form of advertising would be for me to race in a proper car. We bought a Lotus Elite, which I campaigned in 1961 very successfully. Won 14 out of 18 starts at the small tracks, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, the ‘Ring.

AR: Who inspired you?

Sir Stirling Moss

DH: My hero was Sir Stirling Moss. But it wasn't like it is today with videos and TV. You had to go to races, read the papers and magazines to keep up, or follow a driver.

I did go to the very first Grand Prix, the British Grand Prix with my mom and dad, and my brother. But even then it wasn't like a bolt of lightning, you know, it was not what I wanted to do. But I did drive fast on the road. I did like going fast and I was good at it.

AR: What do you drive now?

DH: I don't have any exotic cars, I don't have any car at all, and I never seem to have enough cash to get one (laughing).

AR: And when you're not racing, what does a typical day look like for David Hobbs?

David Hobbs Honda Dealership

DH: I go to the dealership most days, although my son Greg really runs it now. We have quite a few customers who don't believe I really come in every day.

AR: What do you do for fun?

DH: We like to putter around the garden and we have a house in Florida, because I don't like the winter. We go back to England two to three times a year. But not in the summer because it's racing season. I like soccer and tennis. I used to play when I was a kid, until I discovered Motorsport.

AR: You’ve had 20 Le Mans starts, what are the best and worst parts of that race?

DH: The worst is the rain, and night can be tricky. It's a long circuit, eight miles. It's not like Daytona, when you're there for hours running around a fishbowl. In my day, there weren't all those chicanes, which is very hard on the car, and hard on the drivers. In my day we did the race with just two drivers. Now they use three or sometimes four.

AR: …about [your] grandson, and his working his way into a racing career…

DH: It's so expensive to start racing unless you find a fairy godfather. Four or five of the F1 drivers pay to be there. In my day there was a lot of stepping into a dead man’s shoes. That seems grizzly, but it was really how it worked.

But I've never raced anywhere when I didn't get paid for it. Even NASCAR.

AR: How was NASCAR?

DH: It's harder than it looks. Massively talented drivers come into NASCAR and they can't do it. Juan Pablo was a good example of that.

AR: What do you think of Senna, and RUSH (the movies)?

DH: I thought Senna was very good. Well put together. To be a world champion you have to be selfish, and greedy, and solely, solely concerned with yourself. He was the epitome of that for sure. RUSH was a good story of human conflict. But the drama and partying was a bit overblown. Grand Prix and Le Mans are my favorites. They did a great job considering the time and standards.

AR: Who's the funniest person in F1 ever?

DH: I wouldn't say anyone in F1 is really funny; it’s not a funny place, the paddock of Formula 1. Everyone is just focused on the race and the cars but Graham Hill was an amazing storyteller. Very good at making jokes at other peoples expense but not good when the shoe was on the other foot. Jackie and Jimmy Clark were not particularly jokey guys. The guy that's really pretty funny, and probably pretty good fun to be with is Daniel Ricciardo. He likes to sort of dance in front of his mechanics.

AR: What’s your favorite track?

DH: The ‘Ring, the Glen, Road America, Phillipston; I've never found a track I don't like, really.

DAvid Hobbs at Indy