MMR Blog

Amelia Primer:
Win a Denise McCluggage Picture!

Posted on February 27, 2014 Comments (0)

Here are a few bullet points for those among you who will be at Amelia next weekend.

  • Amelia Island is in Northern Florida very near the Georgia border. It can be cool there in March. Bring warm clothing.
  • Please remember that Bike Week begins March 7, just down the road, at Daytona. Bikes and trailers will be all over the highways that weekend.
  • View the Events Schedule here.
  • By now you have purchased your tickets. Don’t forget the seminars. They separate Amelia from every other similar event.
  • Most of the official (read sanctioned) events are either held at or emanate from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Amelia Island.
  • The Gooding & Co. Auction will be held at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation.
  • Fernandina Beach is the nearest town and it is a nice space with excellent restaurants and bars.
  • Check out the Passport Transport Eight Flags Road Tour to Fernandina Beach’s main street. It is a great opportunity to see and photograph the rare cars on the street.
  • Sunday morning: you cannot get on the field until 9:30AM and the line will start forming way before that. By 10:00AM everyone will be on the field and you will be able to walk right in.
  • The Ritz is great and there are a number of restaurants on the property. There simply aren’t enough on Sunday from 11:30AM to 2:30PM. Carry water and an energy bar with you. Then you can eat at your convenience.
  • If you want to take pictures you will need to be patient. Very patient.
  • Have a great time!
  • Send us your three favorite pictures and we will choose the one we like best and send the winner a signed Denise McCluggage picture of a Ferrari Transport taken in 1958.


Seminars at Amelia

Posted on March 19, 2013 Comments (0)

Part of the Amelia joy has to be the multiple seminars. This year’s Corvette, Porsche, and the feature GT40 seminars were all outstanding.

The Corvette seminar celebrated the 50th ground breaking design of the 63 Corvette Split-Window Stingray. In context, before its advent, the 61/62 Jaguar XKE had taken all the air out of the room. Corvette’s exciting new design offered new technical and design features that got Corvette back in the game. Members of the original design team dominated the panel and happily described the evolution of the new model. On the field, significant iterations of it were also celebrated.

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at the Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Ed Welburn, International Director of Design at GM introduced the C7 and shared the thinking behind the design. The significant question from the audience related to its most controversial aspect, the seeming design steal from the Camaro back end. Welburn explained that this was Corvette’s response to the fact that its sales were dropping, as its base was aging, and that it needed to find a way of appealing to a younger demographic. In surveys, the new Corvette’s edgier design was apparently very popular with younger buyers. (See our article on the C7 Corvette for our take on the new car and GM’s dilemma.)

The Porsche seminar was another genuflection to the brilliance of the 911 by the people most closely identified with its success. This rear view tribute to a long in the tooth design ignores the elephant in the room. More and more, the street is saying the Cayman is a far better car.

The Porsche Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40 seminar was billed as the top event and it didn’t disappoint. The beloved native hero, Dan Gurney was the unquestionable crowd favorite. Age and his recent accident made his accession to the speaker’s platform painful to watch. Once in place however, his cogent observations and pithy comments put lie to the thought that Dan Gurney is mentally less than he ever was.

GT40s at Amelia 2013

To me, one of the more interesting interchanges was cleverly engineered by moderator Tim Considine. After several less than positive comments about absent fellow driver Jacky Ickx, the moderator asked Gulf/ Wyer Team Manager and Engineer, John Horsman, who he believed was the best driver he ever managed and Horsman replied, without hesitation, Jacky Ickx. Putting point to his comment he cited the numbers at the end of the first lap of a rainy GT race at Spa when Ickx established a 38-second lead on the second place car. An incredible feat! When you think of that in terms of distance it is unbelievable.

The GT40 Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40, like all success stories had many fathers. Primarily, Wyer, Shelby and Holman-Moody.

Representatives from each team were on the podium and their stories of corporate infighting, conflicting instructions and the struggle at the highest levels of Ford management made for fascinating listening. If you haven’t yet, you must read John Horsman’s Racing in the Rain, recently reprinted by Bull Publishing with a new soft cover, it is not available on Amazon and sells for $29.95 from Bull Publishing. It is the GT40 book to own! Read about it in our Racemaker Book Reviews.


The New Number Three Concorso?

Posted on July 5, 2012 Comments (1)

In the past ten years, no portion of the motorsport experience has grown more rapidly than car shows. Across this country, no moderately attractive public spot of grass or asphalt is spared the indignity of being invaded regularly by some species of motorized conveyance close to the hearts of the focused fanatics that harbor them.

Santa Fe Concorso at La Mesita Equestrian Ranch

Hot rods, classic car and truck, brass era, vintage racing, European and Italian or British—each have an avid following. We now know that no sector—no matter how inexpensive, poorly designed, or offensive to the eye, ear and nose—is inconsequential enough to be ignored. History will forget them; car nuts never do.

But Nature does have a plan. With time, each metal and plastic conglomeration will seek its own level. At the bottom will be the mostly pointless “Shows”, often an assembly of odd cars having nothing more in common than a shared area code. At the top will be mighty “Concours”. With their well honed organizations, paid staffs, classes, rules and judges.  They above all others, bestow recognition and value.

But Man, also has a plan. It is in our nature to ever deem one thing better than the rest. And, if there is the “best” concours, then there must be a second best, and so on.

Concours is the French word for contest and d’elegance speaks for itself. Huge sums are spent organizing good Concours d’Elegance gatherings and larger sums are spent trying to win them. The three such displays generally recognized as being the best in the world are, in alphabetical order, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The Villa d’Este event makes the grade because of its beautiful  (and expensive) setting and the exclusivity of the offering. This year they hosted 52 exceptional cars. On a certain Saturday night in Monterey you can see that many interesting cars at a traffic light!

Until very recently, Pebble Beach was Number One. After this year’s Amelia Island event, at least one major publication thought Amelia was now at the top. Our view of both was written several years ago and hasn’t changed. Our question to you is—who is the next Number Three?

The Meadowbrook, a Detroit area event, until recently held down that spot with ease. But in the past several years they have changed. They have become The Concours d’Elegance of America and they have moved. According to the people I met on my recent trip through the Mid-West, they can no longer claim that honor.

If that is so, the field is wide open, because there never was an acknowledged Number Four.

In 2010 a group of well respected automotive people, several of whom had migrated from careers in the Detroit area, organized the first Santa Fe Concorso at La Mesita Equestrian Ranch. Now in their third year and located at The Club at Las Companos, they are poised to make a strong bid to be Number Three.

Simply by dint of their location, they will never be the equal of Monterey or Amelia in size. Then again, this event is hardly as expensive to fly to or find decent accommodation as these others have become. And the small city of Santa Fe and environs is easily a match for any other setting in the world. In its short lifetime the event has attracted vehicles from noteworthy collection and high profile members of the motorsports community. Sir Stirling Moss and Lady Susie and award winning restorer Paul Russell have attended previous events are expected to attend again this year. The organizers are crafting a gem that in the not too distant future people will draw considerably more visitors to this late summer event.  This year’s Concorso is being held on September 30th. Visit their site and begin planning your trip now.


Driving a Ferrari 308 to Amelia

Posted on March 29, 2011 Comments (0)

For the past several years I have taken a week in March to attend the annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Located just below the Georgia border, Amelia Island quietly manages to accommodate the quaint little working class town of Fernandina Beach, the expensive Ritz hotel and condo apartment complex and a variety of developments and golf courses in between.

Driving a 308 to Amelia

But for one weekend in March, it kicks off the North American Concours season and is inundated by enthusiasts in search of fond memories at a reasonable price.

My company, MMRsite.com, is a website catering to the needs of motorsports enthusiasts, and this is an opportunity to meet our website suppliers and our customer base. My goal is to take a lot of still pictures, and, if possible, shoot video interviews with car owners and motorsports celebrities for our MMRsite on YouTube.

What makes Amelia really special for me is that I drive there and back in my 1978 Ferrari 308. For those not familiar enough with Ferraris to distinguish one from another, this is the Magnum PI TV model. However, mine is black, not red. And it is not driven by Tom Selleck, much to the apparent disappointment of the myriads of drivers who scoot up to its trunk in traffic and then risk their lives and mine to pass it and see if Tom really is driving. Their visible disappointment is matched by mine. For different reasons, we both wish I were Tom Selleck.

As mentioned, I normally spend a week on the 2,500 mile trip and that generally includes a nice three-day period, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, during which I attend the Concours and do little driving.

This year things were different. On the Monday before the Wednesday I was scheduled to leave, I pulled a muscle in my back, a not uncommon occurrence from which I generally recover within one week.

Driving a 308 to Amelia

Day 1: Thursday

Heavily laden with Advil, inside and out, I departed Thursday at mid-morning, in trifling rain, to meet friends for dinner in Baltimore, just 400 or so miles down I-95.

A quick note here about 33-year old Ferrari 308’s. They are 3-liter, 8-cylinder (hence 3.0-8) “sports cars” designed to deliver short bursts of noisy adrenalin to driver and passenger alike. Ferrari also built 12-cylinder models that are iconic “touring cars.” These were designed for comfortable and stylish long distance travel, generally with “madame.” It didn’t take “madame” long to discern the difference, and thus I travel solo.

Fifty miles down the road the rain intensified. Rain poses three problems, the first is that while some new cars with removable “Targa” type roof panels may leak, old cars with such tops ALL leak. At speeds under 50 MPH, intermittent spitting emanates from where the window meets the aforementioned removable top and the windshield frame. That is just several inches above eye level and, with uncanny accuracy, this spray manages to consistently hit me in the face. Next, the windshield wiper mechanism works whimsically at best and sometimes not at all. And then the windshield sometimes fogs up. In the rain, in heavy thruway traffic, this is all quite thrilling and one easily maintains a state of heightened awareness.

I arrived in Baltimore sodden, partially deafened by the exhaust noise and only one hour late. After a highly pleasurable dinner with gracious and entertaining friends, I hit the pillow well contented and relieved that a difficult first day was done. The gentling properties of red wine in quantity should never be underestimated.

Day 1 notes: Rain; 22 MPG; Gas in MA: $3.71; Gas in NY: $4.07. Total gas cost: $70.79. Road food consumption: 4 Advil; 3 Nature Valley bars; 2 Diet Cokes; 1 decaf coffee.

Day 2: Friday

Friday dawned bright and clear, two more Advil, a Nature Valley bar, and I was on the road by 7:00 AM well prepared for a feisty 800 mile drive. I encountered no problems leaving the Baltimore area and heartily endorse the Maryland rest stops. They are recipients of this the 2011 BBI95 Award. Best Bathrooms on I-95 award. Trust me, while judging process is daunting, the competition is hardly fierce.

Soon came Washington, our nation’s capital. If you think the Congress is gridlocked, just step outside. Construction and accidents caused a forty-mile stretch to take well over two hours to traverse. In one case, a bread van crashed into a cement highway divider. How often do you see that?! A CRASHED BREAD VAN!?

I-95 through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina is purgatory. Local radio is simply depressing. Fortunately I have a stack of CD’s and an aftermarket radio/CD player that can drown out road and engine noise. At the cost of your hearing of course. There are no state-sponsored rest stops here and some roadside service vendors see hygiene as an option sacrificed to the Recession Gods. Stops for food, fuel and personal relief become adventures; some more pleasant than others. Over time I have learned to eat Nature Valley bars and drink some form of bottled caffeine. Having said all that about the highway institutions, let me also say that driving the Ferrari off the highway introduces one to the very nicest of local people. They are curious and polite and really seem to get a kick out of seeing a Ferrari. It is almost embarrassing. A lesson learned: Never judge locals by their radio stations or their nearby public restrooms.

The highway speed limits are at times as high as 70 MPH, and, as best I can judge from the information supplied by timing roadside mileage markers, we are averaging about 75 MPH. My Italian Ferrari speedometer indicates we are doing 90 MPH. Ah those Italians! So optimistic!

By the time I hit Georgia it has been dark for a while, and the highway is poorly lit. I keep remembering that song, “A Rainy Night in Georgia.”  I don’t remember the words, but I do remember that it isn’t a song people sing at birthday parties.  And, even though I finally found the Chocolate & Oats versions, I am fed up with Nature Valley bars!

Eight hundred plus miles in a noisy sports car singing along to Peter, Paul and Mary can make a man think strange thoughts. At 9:30 PM, PP&M, strange thoughts and I have all arrived at Amelia Island.

As I turn off the pop-up headlights, I notice that one doesn’t go all the way down. That has been happening for some time now, and I must attend to it. At some point in the night, it closes all the way down. Always does. BTW, no more back pain. Only slightly deaf. Seems a fair trade.

Checking in at the Days Inn: $149.95 per night. This is probably three times the normal rate. Pity.

I drive in to Fernandina Beach for dinner at a little Italian restaurant where I have eaten on previous trips. Once again, they surprise me with the quality and pricing of their food and wine. On the way back to the hotel I stop by a coin car wash and put a half-pound of quarters into the machine. The Ferrari looks much better clean. We both drift off to a well-earned rest.

Day’s total: 843 miles; 8 Nature Valley bars. Total gas cost: $159.38.

Driving a 308 to Amelia

Days 3 and 4: Saturday and Sunday

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is anchored at The Ritz Hotel. It’s a huge complex built on a beach and a golf course with a number of beach-front, 20-stories high condo apartments, some of which can be rented for the week. It is a lovely setting and well suited to the event activities. Saturday is given over to auctions and Concours sponsored lectures in various hotel ballrooms.  Outside, manufacturers of all the high -end cars have their wares on display and are allowing prospective customers to try them out. Driving the Ferrari 308 in this crowd is like showing up at Prince William’s wedding with a blow-up doll. No one wants to look you in the eye. Makes you long for the folks of rural Georgia where a Ferrari means something. Once away from the site of the Concours, the Ferrari again is something special. People stop to look closely at it wherever it is parked, and everyone has questions about it.

Driving a 308 to Amelia

Sunday is the day of the Concours. I am on the field at 6:30 AM to catch the early morning light on the arriving cars. As for the Concours, once again I am amazed at how “right” the judges are. The two winning Duesenbergs are truly deserving. See our report elsewhere on the Concours.

It has been a long, busy and very satisfying day. I finish shooting the winners by 5:30 PM and am on the road by 6:00. Dinner will be by Nature Valley and caffeinated liquid. Once on I-95, I realize that the end of the Amelia Concours coincides with the end of Bike Week in Daytona, which is about 90 miles further down I-95. The Concours traffic is swelled by bikers towing their Harley-laden trailers back up north. Oh joy! They travel at a quicker pace and while the forward part of their rigs appear stable, the back end of the trailer is often swaying back and forth a good 15 inches. Negotiating a pass in a small black car can be daunting. We are all travelling at over 80 MPH (100 MPH on the Ferrari speedometer) and there is no need for caffeine here.

In Georgia I pull off for gas at an exit that promises a BP station. The BP is closed, and the one across the road has no indentifying oil company signs. I have no choice. One look and you know that you wouldn’t want to ask for the bathroom here. The pump cuts off at $50. Trusting souls. That is just over 13 gallons and good enough for me. The Ferrari only holds 18 gallons.  I am good to go. “A Rainy Night in Georgia.”

At midnight I stop in Fayetteville, North Carolina and the odometer says I have gone another 300 miles since I left Amelia Island.

Summary: A full and satisfying day. Note to self: The Ferrari headlights need adjustment. I have been meaning to do that since I bought the car 16 years ago.

Driving a 308 to Amelia

Day 5: Monday

As I am checking the engine oil level, I break the rear deck lift mechanism. My fault. In some ways this car is so tough and in some ways it is so fragile. There is one constant in owning a Ferrari—it never is boring. My black horse and I leave Fayetteville, North Carolina at 9:00 AM, and we are in NYC at 6:00 PM for dinner. It was a relatively fast and light traffic drive. Sometimes you just get lucky.

Somewhere between the entrance to the Holland Tunnel to New York City and home I am in for two more surprises. First, on exiting the Tunnel, I look for the exit that will take me to West Street and the West Side Highway. The 150 yards from the Tunnel exit and the side street is a virtual minefield of unavoidable of deep potholes and hump-back mounds. The car bottoms twice, and a front wheel hits a hole so hard I am convinced it will be torn off. The misery I wished on the Commissioner of Roads for the City of New York cannot be printed. At best he can’t have children.

Driving a 308 to Amelia

After a two-hour respite for dinner in Manhattan, I happily climb back into the Ferrari for the final drive to Boston. Gas in the City is difficult to find, and I make it to the first Connecticut service area on I-95. As I am fueling the car, I spot the pricing. My hand involuntarily releases the filler nozzle—$4.27 per gallon! That is my second surprise! I put enough in to get us home and do just that. I arrive at 11:00 PM having driven over 800 miles again. I am tired, and the ringing in my ears will stay with me for several days, but, none-the-less, I am well pleased. My back has healed, I know all the words to “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and the 33-year old Ferrari with well over 120K on the clock has once again delivered fun, reliability and relative comfort. Not to mention Ferrari style.

Total (Ferrari Speedo) mileage: 2,508 miles Fuel costs: $492.84 Nature Valley bars: 18.

The Compleat Man's Kit:

  • 1 1978 Ferrari 308. Well used.
  • 1 Video camera and tripod.
  • 1 Digital still camera—still better than its operator.
  • 1 Wine cooler bag: 4 reds, 2 whites, all excellent (within their price range).
  • 1 Personal luggage and French leather tuxedo carrier: prepare for anything—expect the best.
  • 1 Backpack containing: Computer, 18 Nature Valley bars and 6 cokes. Breakfast of Champions!

Day 5: Monday (image # 037)

 

As I am checking the engine oil level, I break the rear deck lift mechanism. My fault. In some ways this car is so tough and in some ways it is so fragile. There is one constant in owning a Ferrari--it never is boring.  My black horse and I leave Fayetteville, North Carolina at 9:00 AM, and we are in NYC at 6:00 PM for dinner. It was a relatively fast and light traffic drive. Sometimes you just get lucky.

 

Somewhere between the entrance to the Holland Tunnel to New York City and home I am in for two more surprises. First, on exiting the Tunnel, I look for the exit that will take me to West Street and the West Side Highway. The 150 yards from the Tunnel exit and the side street is a virtual minefield of unavoidable of deep potholes and hump-back mounds. The car bottoms twice, and a front wheel hits a hole so hard I am convinced it will be torn off. The misery I wished on the Commissioner of Roads for the City of New York cannot be printed. At best he can’t have children.

 

After a two-hour respite for dinner in Manhattan, I happily climb back into the Ferrari for the final drive to Boston. Gas in the City is difficult to find, and I make it to the first Connecticut service area on I-95. As I am fueling the car, I spot the pricing. My hand involuntarily releases the filler nozzle--$4.27 per gallon! That is my second surprise! I put enough in to get us home and do just that. I arrive at 11:00 PM having driven over 800 miles again. I am tired, and the ringing in my ears will stay with me for several days, but, none-the-less, I am well pleased. My back has healed, I know all the words to “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and the 33-year old Ferrari with well over 120K on the clock has once again has delivered fun, reliability and relative comfort. Not to mention Ferrari style.

 

Total (Ferrari Speedo) mileage: 2,508 miles; Fuel costs: $492.84; Nature Valley bars: 18.   (IMAGE 6026)


Duesy’s Dominate Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Posted on March 25, 2011 Comments (0)

Duesenberg, the featured marque, turned up in numbers and walked away with both top honors at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance at which over forty Duesenberg road and race cars were on display.

Duesy’s Dominate Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Duesy’s Dominate Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Duesenberg, the featured marque, turned up in numbers and walked away with both the top honors at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance at which over forty Duesenberg road and race cars were on display.

All signs were positive as Sunday marked the kickoff to the 2011 Concours season. Amelia’s Auctions, seminars and show simply get better every year. Pricing at the RM and Goodings auctions were strong as were the sales rates. These factors bode well for the coming auction and show season and set a positive tone to the weekend. Domestic manufacturer Cadillac was a leading sponsor and had a huge presence on the field and throughout the weekend.

The Nethercutt Collection’s Arlington Torpedo SJ Supercharged Sedan, won the Concours d’Elegance; the portion of the concours reserved for vintage sedans, coupes and convertibles. Dubbed the “Twenty Grand” for its original selling price, the silver beauty is a “one of” car built by the Duesenberg brothers for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

Duesy’s Dominate Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

The Concours de Sport prize went to the Duesenberg SJ “Mormon Meteor” which held 24 and 48 Hour speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the hands of David Abbott (Ab) Jenkins. The aerodynamic design and specially built Duesenberg supercharged engine competed against world class competitors, and in 1936 averaged 153.8 MPH for 24 hours. Jenkins and this car became world famous in the day for their accomplishments and so great was his reputation that he was elected mayor of Salt Lake City without ever campaigning. Incidentally, the powerful and low slung single light served to illuminate the black line painted on the white salt which determined the 10 mile oval race course which he marked out in the sand and was illuminated with smudge pots at night.

Duesy’s Dominate Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

It was also a good weekend for New England collector and racer Joe Freeman who won First in Class among Duesenberg Racing Cars with his unrestored 1915 racer. The car finished 2nd at the Indianapolis 500 in 1916.

Joe’s company, Racemaker Press, also held a book signing for their latest release about racing in Cuba in the late fifties and early sixties entitled Caribbean Capers. Sir Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney and author Joel Finn happily signed purchasers' copies and the event was a great success.