A new name and some big changes are coming to this weekend’s 27th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, as one of the nation’s top classic car events launches its future under new corporate ownership.
Along with honoring the legacy of winning race car team owner Chip Ganassi with a Sunday display of his race cars among many other classics, what is now simply called The Amelia expands its Saturday Cars & Community event with a kids zone and more.
The Amelia was founded in 1996 by local businessman Bill Warner, who led the event for 26 years and remains chairman emeritus after The Hagerty Group acquired the rights in June. The Thursday-to-Sunday concours is in and around the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.
Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty’s automotive lifestyle brand and insurance company also own other major classic car events, including the Concours d’Elegance of America and the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. He said he bought them and The Amelia after seeing that many great classic car events were “run on a shoestring,” and acquiring them could help “save driving.”
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“We need to throw our horsepower behind some of these events and really steward them forward,” Hagerty said. “… Our approach to all of this is not change what these events are, but honor their long history.”
For Ganassi, a Motorsports Hall of Fame member who fields teams in IndyCar, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Extreme E, being named as this year’s honoree left him “flabbergasted.”
“I mean, I was floored,” he said. “I remember meeting Bill Warner years ago, and him getting Amelia Island started, then having McKeel Hagerty take over the stewardship of that event is a great thing that the motorsport world needed dearly. I’m somebody who races cars.”
Wheeling out all the classics
The Amelia Concours was started by Warner to bring an automotive destination event to Northeast Florida, each year honoring famous race car drivers like Hurley Haywood, Sir Stirling Moss and Bobby Allison. Upward of 300 volunteers annually help run the event, which also features RM Sotheby’s classic car auction, racing seminars and more for about 30,000 fans annually.
Twenty-two classes of classic, exotic and racing machinery will be represented on Sunday’s show field by 225-plus cars, “when the best of the best come out; that’s when the celebrities come out,” Hagerty said.
Some classes include 75 years of Ferrari, the 90th anniversary of the 1932 Ford and American Classics like a 1930 Packard 7-45 Convertible with coachwork by Waterhouse.
Featured classes include race cars from the 70th anniversary of Sebring 12 Hour race in Central Florida and the 60th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Daytona race.
“We will take the magic that Bill did and evolve it, keep the best parts but evolve some of the things he dreamed of doing that we see are needed for the next generations,” Hagerty said. “… What makes The Amelia special is that this is the racer’s concours. It features a large amount of motorsports in it as well as so many other great categories of cars.”
Six of the surviving 12 “bizarre, awesome” three-wheeled 1947 to 1949 Davis Divan cars will be there, Hagerty said.
Ganassi racing history at show
Ganassi admits he had a “fossil fuel-fired youth” with a passion for motor racing that has not ebbed as an active racing team owner, making history one year by winning the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 and the 24 Hours of Daytona. He will drive onto the show field in one of his race cars shortly after the concours starts at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
Ganassi said many of his important past race cars are kept “close to the family.” Sunday’s exhibit will include the 1994 Reynard IndyCar that won its first race with Michael Andretti at the helm.
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“That was our first win as a team in 1994, so it is a very significant car for me,” Ganassi said. “… It was a world-beater.”
The 2000 G-Force IndyCar that won the Indianapolis 500 with Juan Pablo Montoya driving, as well as NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray’s winning 2010 Daytona 500 Chevrolet stock car are also on display.
Many classic cars set for Sunday display embark at 8:30 a.m. Friday on the annual Reliable Carriers Eight Flags Road Tour around Amelia Island, ending with a free display on Centre Street in Fernandina Beach.
Casual day for community Saturday
Saturday’s new Cars & Community Presented by Griot’s Garage is a more casual day, Hagerty said, for “people who might be interested in cars that might not be concours—ready or —worthy,” are still worth honoring.
It starts at 8:30 a.m. on the same fairways where Sunday’s classics will be shown. That includes the annual Cars & Caffeine display of 300-plus classics, exotics and hot rods from local owners and car clubs and the RADwood display of exotic and sports cars from the 1980s and 1990s.
The Kids Zone features slot car racing, four racing simulators and interactive drawing events to make the collector car world “more kid-friendly,” Hagerty said.
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“We want to inspire them for the years to come,” he said. “They will be the owners of these cars some day and we want to make sure they had a good experience.”
Hagerty also secured the rights to the Concours d’Lemons, set for 8:30 a.m. on the golf club’s first fairway, Hagerty saying it celebrates the oddball and awful offerings from the automotive world.
Hagerty is offering visitors a chance to drive real classic cars at a Friday and Saturday Ride and Drive event for free, including a 1960 Plymouth Fury, 1967 Pontiac GTO and 1972 Citroen 2CV. Hagerty owns some of them, and asks that folks “drive carefully, that’s all I ask.”
The concours is hosting its annual silent auction to benefit Spina Bifida of Jacksonville with items on display at the Ritz-Carlton. The concours has donated about $4 million to area charities such Spina Bifida, Shop with Cops and its founding charity, Community Hospice and Palliative Care.
The event also has funneled millions of dollars into the Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach economies as thousands rent hotel rooms and visit area restaurants and stores, tourism officials said.
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The Amelia tickets
The Amelia’s Sunday concours d’Elegance is 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at 4700 Amelia Island Parkway. Tickets: $175 for adults; $85 for military and first responders; $75 for those ages 13 to 22; and free for those 12 and under.
Lot A on Bailey Road near the airport: $10 on Saturday, and $20 on Sunday, with shuttle to and from the show.
Lots B and Lot C: $40, fairways of the Golf Club of Amelia Island. Signage is posted off Fletcher Ave. and Amelia Island Parkway.
For full schedule of events, seminars and more: ameliaconcours.com