Photos by Jerry Charlup, Ivy Cowles, Deremer Studios and Pam Kelley
My annual trip to the Amelia Island Concours had some new experiences. As my 1957 Carrera Speedster was invited to participate on the Sunday concours field, my event schedule was quite different this year.
For those not familiar with the Amelia Island Concours event schedules, auction previews start on Wednesday of the event week. Auctions are held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For the second year, the PCA Werks reunion was held on Friday, conveniently located across the street from the Gooding Auction, which starts later. Friday morning is also the Eight Flags Road Tour for invited Concours Cars. (more details on this later) Saturday morning is the annual Cars & Coffee event for car clubs that occupy the Concours field as well as adjacent fairways with hundreds of cars and motorcycles of all ages and makes. All of this is a prelude to the Sunday main event.
The Amelia Island Concours continues to grow in stature and quality of the Concours cars. Each year the Concours honors a race legend. This year’s 24th annual event honored famed driver Jacky Ickx. The Concours included a special display of his many victorious cars including the Porsche 936 and 962. There was a display of 11 significant Porsche 962 races cars this year. The Russo and Steele auction joined the event for the first time for a total of 4 major auctions. I’ll leave the detailed auction results to the others, but, as in the past, all the auctions had many Porsche lots available. I sure you will see many detailed auction articles including a comprehensive article in Sports Car Market by CVR Historian Prescott Kelly.
I was fortunate to be able to store and prepare the Speedster at the home of North Country Region friends, Ivy and Hank Cowles. Their home is just a ½ mile away from the concours site at the Ritz Carlton.
Upon arrival, we made a quick stop at the Bonham’s auction tent to see what Porsches would be on the block. A 1956 356A Speedster was available but it was an auction “no sale” at $270,000. We proceeded to pick up our Speedster and take it to its temporary home.
Thursday was a day to prepare the Speedster for the Friday Tour and get our Concours credentials.
Thursday evening is the not-to-be-missed Guardians of Porsche Wine Maker’s Dinner. The evening is a chance to meet Porsche Owners, Racers and Executives, enjoy a great wine-paired dinner and then hear a lively panel discussion moderated by Concours Chair Bill Warner. The panel included Honoree Jacky Ickx, Hurley Haywood and Juergen Barth and discussed their 1977 LeMans race in the Porsche 936. This was a special race as it was the first time a 3-driver car took first overall instead of a 2-driver car. This happened as the team moved Jacky to the Haywood/Barth car when Jacky’s car failed. Jacky helped bring that car from 41st to victory overnight. The discussion included many funny antidotes about the LeMans race, Porsche racing in general and driver comradery.
Friday morning was the annual Eight Flags Road Tour for concours cars. I participated as the only Porsche in the group of 54 cars ranging from a 1913 Stevens-Duryea C8 Touring to a 1974 Ferrari 365 GT4BB. The tour covers about 60 miles driving south on A1A from the Ritz to Huguenot Memorial Park, our first stop. This peninsula park has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the St. John River on the other. Across the St. Johns is the Mayport Naval Base.
The next stop was back up A1A to Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach north of the Ritz. The Fort and the 1,400-acre park have both Civil War history and natural beauty. The Park is the northern most ocean front location in the State of Florida just across the entrance of the Cumberland Sound from Georgia. After time to explore the Fort and park, we were off to Downtown Fernandina Beach a few of miles away.
In Downtown Fernandina Beach, the Tour cars arrive on Atlantic Ave., the main street, to large crowds anxiously awaiting the arrival of the annual tour. The cars are placed, and the crowds now have several hours to view the cars as a preview of the Sunday concours. This was the first time I had seen the large and excited crowds that gather at the Tours end each year.
Saturday brings the Cars & Coffee event on the main fairway for car clubs. As usual, a large group of Porsches are organized in front of the Porsche display that included CVR Member Robert Rathe’s 1960 356B Carrera GT Coupe.
Having prepped the Speedster for the Concours Friday afternoon, it was time to stage the car on Saturday afternoon to avoid the Sunday morning rush before daybreak.
At 7am Sunday morning and before the sun rises over the ocean front building to bask the Concours field in bright sunlight, the cars are covered in dew that stays until they are fully bathed in warm sunlight. Wiping down the cars is completely futile until then.
My Class of 1955-59 Sports and GT Cars included only one other Porsche. The beautiful 1955 Continental Coupe from the Ingram Collection. (Of note, this car was not in the main Ingram Collection building which was destroyed April 10 by a gas explosion next door, destroying and damaging many collection cars.) All of the cars in this class were fantastic and I knew I had tough competition. I anxiously awaited my turn with the 3 class judges. You have about 10 minutes to give your 3-minute pitch and answer questions about its history and provenance questions while they inspect the car. With judging over I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day and the event.
Later famed Porsche racing legend Juergen Barth came over and did a second “judging”. I later found out that he was reviewing candidates for The Porsche Trophy for the Most Historically Significant Production Porsche. Juergen asked very specific questions and was interested in originality. Given that my Speedster is a driver, I knew I had only a limited chance against the other Porsche’s on the field but know it does have significant attributes. However, the chance to meet Juergen and have him review the Speedster was fulfilling.
In the end, I was not awarded either the Porsche Trophy or a Concours award. As I always say, its always an honor to have your car invited to a prestigious event like Amelia or Greenwich Concours. In addition, its very satisfying to see how spectators appreciate the car and how many are very knowledgeable about the 4-cam motor that began Porsche long racing history.
March in Florida at the Amelia Island Concours is a must as a winter break from CT.