Road to Amelia Part 3: Sunday at Amelia

Sunday came early this year at Amelia. Changing the clocks meant losing an hour’s sleep and being at the Concours by 6:30 in the pitch dark made for a long day. While the thought was daunting, the excitement of being on that 17th fairway as the cars either came down a small hill onto the field or were uncovered and prepped by owners and helpers was rather exhilarating. I get the same feeling walking on to the field at Pebble Beach on Sunday morning.

Some cars have been left out uncovered all night and have either a heavy dew or frost on them. Photographers are there to catch the early rays of the sun but the field is meanwhile lit by huge movie set lights meant to discourage unauthorized folks from borrowing or damaging the priceless cars. My early shots of frost covered cars are taken in this eerie light.

Once the sun was up, the field came alive with cars streaming down the hill from the hotel garage onto the wet grass to be directed to their pre-destined positions. The sounds, the smells of burnt fuel, ocean, and grass; the colors, the simple purposefulness of the whole enterprise is really quite awe inspiring.

Things hardly seemed settled, and the sun not fully risen when the Judges began swarming the vehicles, poking about in seldom seen nooks and crevices and prodding owners to recall this and that about the provenance of their pets. Good humored stress and palpable relief all ‘round as the judges move on to their next assignment.

The crowds have by now been given access to the field and it becomes more difficult to get a clear shot of the whole car and a good angle. The unveiling of the new Lamborghini Huracana and a crowd gathers to watch. We somehow get a magical clear shot, and then realizing that few more will be forthcoming, we stand back and look hard at the car. It is a silver grey and looks smaller than I anticipated. It appears taught and quite pleasing. It is the first new Lamborghini in memory that I find quite desirable. Different, but not second in any way to the 458 Ferrari. It is easy to believe that this was the purpose of the designers of the Huracana, a viable alternative. 

This is a good time to focus on arty shots of radiator mascots and vehicle details. Patience here is not a virtue, it is a necessity. With time we do get a few full car shots that we like.

The area, I call the Magic Island is reserved every year for special cars and this year the cars designed or modified by Zagato occupy this special space. The crowd of course around these cars reflects the excitement Zagatos generate and getting a clear shoot of a whole car is impossible. 

One black Maserati has been around all weekend and though not beautiful from every angle the front half of this car is gorgeous. I feel the same way about the Alfa TZ 1.

By now it is prize awarding time. My favorite race car, the 1967 Ferrari 330 P4, is the car that Chris Amon drove to a win at Daytona with Lorenzo Bandini; it was designed by Mauro Forghieri. I have a 1/18 model of that car on the desk beside me as I write this. I bought it well over 20 years ago and I believe it is the most beautiful race car ever made. The car belongs today to Jim Glickenhaus who has a collection of significant race cars, including an updated version of this car which he had build several years ago. But, today his 330 P4 doesn’t win a prize.

The winning cars are Lance Reventlow’s beautiful and important 1958 Scarab in the sports class and the 1937 Horch 853. The Scarab was important because it was the first American designed and made sports car to compete successfully against the Italian and German race cars of the day. The 1937 Horch has a commanding presence and already has a Pebble Beach win in its past. Both were worthy winners.

At this point, my day, my weekend at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is over. It is time for me to pack up WASRED and head for home.