This year’s 23rd annual Concours was scheduled for Sunday March 11 and with rain in the forecast, the event was moved to Saturday the 10th. Even with changing the event date (as it was last year) close to 300 cars were on display. This year’s honoree was two-time Formula 1 and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi. His race cars were featured as well as the Ferrari “Daytona”, the Martini & Rossi Racing Team cars, and the creative vehicles of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth.
The weekend started on Friday March 9th with the Porsche Club of America (PCA) Werks Reunion. This free event drew 600 Porsches from over 20 states. Of the 600 attendees, 165 Porsches were broken down into 18 judged classes. In addition to several food and beverage stations, Andre Losthuizen, VP of Marketing Porsche North America gave an interesting overview of Porsche. The PCA was founded in 1955 as a club for owners to exchange technical information. Today, it provides much more to over 180,000 members worldwide.
Also on Friday was the Gooding & Company auction featuring 88 cars for sale. There was a wide selection of cars ranging from a 1967 Datsun 1600 to a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Martini Racer (which didn’t sell-last bid $5.4M). This was a car show in itself as you could walk among the cars before they drove across the auction stage.
What I found most interesting at this year’s Concours were the cars of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth. Standing 6’ 4”- 240LBS and the father of five boys, he earned his nickname honestly. He is best known for creating the 1960’s ‘Rat Fink’ character and selling millions of Revell plastic model kits of his cars. Ed was born and raised in LA and with the booming post war car culture his pinstriping business quickly took off. He began customizing cars as a way to get invited to car shows which he viewed as a venue to sell his T-shirts. His car designs were definitely products of the 1960’s counter culture and remain unparalleled. At his company’s peak he was selling 800 T-shirts a day. Today, his cars are highly sought after with most surviving in private collections and even the Peterson Museum.
The Italian beverage company Martini & Rossi began sponsoring race cars and racing teams in 1968. Alcoholic beverage sponsorship has always been a big part of car racing. The company has sponsored successful Formula 1, Le Mans and World Rally Championship Teams and from 1975 through 1989 winning over 20 World Sports Car and Endurance Championships.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance continues to impress every year. Complementing events now fill the weekend starting Friday with the PCA Werks Reunion, Saturday’s Festival of Speed and car auctions both Friday and Saturday. Concours ticket prices remain reasonable making this weekend a must attend event for any car enthusiast.