Sandy on Assignment: Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

March 27, 2013 Comments (1)

Where the people are Best in Show

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Heading off for my third year at Amelia, I was hoping to finally click with this event, since it is one of the top Concours in the whole wide world. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what the weekend would bring.

The beauty of Amelia is also it’s downside—everything in close proximity and easily accessible. It can become a blur. I mapped out my adventures beforehand embracing what makes Amelia so unique… the people.

My Best in Show, Concours de Sport… A World Class Car Guy

My Best in Show, Concours de Sport… A World Class Car Guy

Yes, it is about the cars, but this year the people were my Best in Show. Behind every car is a story – about a racecar driver, collector, designer, or manufacturer. Someone who had chosen to design it, save it, or restore it. Someone who had used his or her gifts and talent to make that particular car special.

Hagertys’ Junior Judge admires the 1913  Peugeot Boat-tailed ‘skiff.’

Hagertys’ Junior Judge admires the 1913  Peugeot Boat-tailed ‘skiff.’

First off, if you think this Concours is beyond your reach for whatever reason, it’s not. All it takes is pre-planning, which means now, for 2014. Get a group of friends together, go online and find a condo to rent, preferably near the beach, and you’re set. Major hotel chains may already be booked.

When ticket sales open, jump without hesitation. Buy a ticket to every seminar. For $25–30 each, you get to see and hear legends share their fantastic and funny stories. Consider purchasing a coveted Porsche Driving Experience Road Tour ticket for two, which equates to $100 per person, for a full day’s activities, lunch and thrill of a lifetime. Plan to attend the free, duPont Registry Cars and Coffee, Saturday at 9AM, on the same 18th fairway as Sunday’s Concours.

My Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance…The Savvy Car Girl, RM’s youngest bidder

My Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance…The Savvy Car Girl, RM’s youngest bidder

NO SALE  $1.3M bid wasn’t enough to buy the 1970 Porsche 908/3.

NO SALE  $1.3M bid wasn’t enough to buy the 1970 Porsche 908/3.

Rare 1938 H.R.G Airline Coupe Prototype sold for $253,000

Rare 1938 H.R.G Airline Coupe Prototype sold for $253,000

Go to the Ritz and have lunch by the pool and drinks on the veranda. It costs less than you think. Purchase one $75-80 general admission for two, including catalogues to RM and Gooding auctions, but do not raise your hand unless you want to part with your money. Watch the people, especially Max Girardo, RM’s auctioneer—he’s worth the price of admission. I was taken with an adorable little girl and her parents. Minutes later, little Lockland raised her hand to become the days youngest RM bidder and buyer, taking home the 1941 BMW 327 Sport Cabriolet for a mere $247,500. Now that’s a car girl!  

Now for my adventures…

Keep in mind; my mission was to make this weekend click, so I was game to try some new experiences. I had purchased a rather pricey Rolls- Royce Wine Maker’s dinner ticket, month’s prior. Ironically, the RR dinner turned into a dinner honoring the Guardians of Porsche. To know me is to know my dream car is a Porsche. So there I was, about to sit at a table with total strangers, yet beaming because I was in a room filled with Porsche People, all celebrating the 50th birthday of the 911.

I introduced myself and found everyone to be genuinely friendly at our table. On my right, two couples had just completed the four-day tour around Florida as Amelia Island Concours entrants. On my left was an empty seat to this sold out dinner, then an extremely gracious and engaging couple. I was my usual chatty self, asking about their tie into the motorsports world. James, the husband, said he had a race team that raced a hybrid. Something about the fastest Ferrari and Pininfarina and the Nurburgring, a bit much to digest instantly and I couldn’t quite wrap my arms around a hybrid racing. I chatted with all the guests for a few minutes, then like a lightning bolt, it hit me. A race team, that’s very special. I was still hung up on the hybrid concept, since all I could picture was a Toyota Prius. James offered to write down the name of the car so I could look it up later. During dinner his wife Meg and I shared great conversations. Every course seemed to come with dessert—a picture of one of James cars passed to me on his iPhone.

I spied Vic Elford and his lovely wife Anita and went over to say “Hi.” During the PowerPoint presentation, pictures of Porsche legends, all in attendance that evening, were flashed on the screen. Also on the screen was a striking individual I had never heard of before, Magnus Walker from L.A. After dinner, and the four wine-pairings, I mustered up the nerve to walk over and introduce myself to Patrick Long. There was no doubt, Amelia was going to click this year, and it was only Thursday!

1967 GT 40 MkIV, The Automotive Heritage Award Winner

1967 GT 40 MkIV, The Automotive Heritage Award Winner

When I got back to the MMR condo that evening, Peter and I shared what we had done for dinner. I dug up the paper with the name of the owner and car I needed to research. Peter stared at me in disbelief and calmly said, “You had dinner with whom? Do you know who he is?” Thank goodness for Google. One site noted James Glickenhaus as the most interesting car guy in the world! Also, courtesy of Google, I know exactly what the P 4/5 Competizione is and the history behind the 1967 GT40 Mk IV entered in Sunday’s Concours and its tie to Bruce McLaren. And it was still only Thursday, at Amelia!

Friday morning at 7am, in the dark, I was at the Fernandina Beach Airport with 99 other cars ready for the all day Porsche Driving Experience and Road Tour to begin. Due to a snag in logistics, I was without a navigator. Not a good thing to happen for a road tour. An announcement was made and another navigator-less participant surfaced, Chris Nast, whose cute business card read, “Auto Sommeliers.” For the next 7 hours, we had a blast.

First stop, the St. John River Ferry to transport us over the river. On land again, we headed off to the Mayport Naval Station where the Porsche Sports Driving School instructors and new Porsche 911s and Boxsters would test our autocross skills. I was first in line. It all went too quickly. I got back in line for seconds. I hopped in again, buckled up and looked over to the instructor in the passenger’s seat. It was Geoffrey Lowdermilk, my instructor from the Porsche School in Leeds, Alabama. “Show me what I taught you,” was all he had to say and we were off!

Magnus Walker and Karen Caid rode with both drivers for hot laps!

Magnus Walker and Karen Caid rode with both drivers for hot laps!

Chris and Sandy ready for their hot laps!

Chris and Sandy ready for their hot laps!

Back in our car, Chris and I headed to another section of the naval base for hot laps with a racecar driver. We had our pick of two, Hurley Haywood or Patrick Long! Can you feel my excitement? I’ve done hot laps before. The biggest challenge is climbing into the car. We put on helmets and waited in line. We had a plan; Chris would pick Hurley and I, Patrick. Who should be in front of us, Magnus Walker. He was so gracious letting me take his picture and even handing me his business card. Another thank you to Goggle… tells his amazing story.

A spin with Patrick Long!

A spin with Patrick Long!

When we reached our respective cars a little voice inside my head said, “Get into the car gracefully,” and I did. Patrick remembered me, I think, or at least I wanted to believe, and we were off. I asked if he handled these corners like he would at LeMans. “Not as fast”, he replied. My response, “See you at LeMans.”

A conversation starter, the XK140

Another conversation starter, the XK140

Saturday morning was a huge success for the first annual duPont Registry Cars and Coffee sponsored by Hancock Insurance at Amelia. Again, the camaraderie was unbelievable. Standing in front of an XK120 I overhead two men talking about Buddy Polumbo. I couldn’t help but chime in.

Another tip about enjoying Amelia is to reach out and meet new people. Fascinating enthusiasts are everywhere and eager to chat. Peter graciously brought me along to share the company of Denise McCluggage, known to all as the First Lady of sports car racing. Not only are her stories amazing, her sense of humor shines through. Her take on growing old gracefully was priceless. “I’m going for preservation class, not a full restoration”, she joked.

The Chairman’s Choice Award and Most Historically Significant Race Car Driven by Sam Posey, the 1971 Ferrari 512 M

The Chairman’s Choice Award and Most Historically Significant Race Car Driven by Sam Posey,
the 1971 Ferrari 512 M

Everyone who attends a Concours picks his or her own favorites. For me, it’s often the marque or a special owner. Others seek out the unique or nostalgic favorites. My marque is Jaguar so my antennae are always searching for Jags. On Sunday, I spied a beautiful SS100 being awarded the Most Historically Significant Jaguar. A stunning XK120 OTS received the Most Outstanding Jaguar. At the Jaguar pavilion I spotted racecar legend Davey Jones talking up the latest Jaguar models and sharing stories from his racing days.

Prinz Heinrich Benz Racing Touring Cars, the 1908, No.46 and 1911, No. 38

Prinz Heinrich Benz Racing Touring Cars, the 1908, No.46 and 1911, No. 38

You may remember my adventures at Retromobile, where I was taken with one of the Prinz Heinrich racecars, the green number 38. Here it was on display at Amelia, next to its mate, the number 46 white Benz, both newly restored and together for the very first time in public in the United States. Also seen in Paris at the Artcurial auction, was a Messerschmitt. Another and supposedly only one in the United States popped up at Amelia. My comment, “Oh no, not another Messerschmitt!”

American Classic (Pre 1930) awardee, the 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Roadster by Murphy

American Classic (Pre 1930) awardee, the 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Roadster
by Murphy

Hugh Ruthven II was showing his Formula Junior car, a 1959 Bandini, and quite the crowd pleaser. Also on the field was Bob Matteucci, again with an award winning Rolls-Royce, his beautiful yellow 1929 Springfield Phantom I Roadster by Murphy. The Duesenbergs came in a variety of colors. The silver 1936 SJN took top honors, yet Steve Wolf’s red, 1932 Duesenberg really must have been the Duesy of its day.

The covers didn’t even have to come off the cars on the field, for me to get excited over the GT40s! During the Ford GT40 seminar on Saturday morning, I learned how the victory champagne tradition came to be. Started by Dan Gurney spontaneously, after his 1967 win at Le Mans, Sam Posey and Bill Warner kept that tradition alive for Amelia, toasting this year’s Concours winners.

Amelia more than clicked for me this year. I was touched, moved, and inspired. I want to learn more about the cars. I want to keep following my dreams, like the racecar drivers. But most of all, I want to continue to embrace this wonderful world of motorsports because it’s all about the people, and they are precious. 


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Comments (1)

  1. Keith Carlson:
    Mar 30, 2013 at 07:53 AM

    wow!! good for you again, Sandy, a great report of obviously a great time. Very enjoyable to see how enthusiastically you've gotten into your new pursuit, and how much joy you're receiving from it. Well done all around.

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