While the world was still in the early stages of making decisions as to how to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and despite concerns about losing attendees to these concerns, the 2020 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance successfully took place on March 6-8 at the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton hotel and its surrounds.
Thanks to the forward thinking of event maestro and RRDC member, Bill Warner, who made the decision to avoid competing with a golf tournament on the usual Concours weekend, the Concours was held a week earlier than in the past. This turned out to be a fortuitous choice, as it allowed everyone to enjoy a magical weekend before other car and racing activities around the country (and world) were just beginning to be postponed and cancelled.
It was a magnificent occasion, joining two worlds in one venue – global motorsports with the glamorous world of collector cars. Renowned racing team owner (and RRDC member) Roger Penske was this year’s honoree. And, that was a tough get for Bill Warner, as the peripatetic Mr. Penske, known as “The Captain” to those who raced and worked for him, often turned down invitations to be honored. But, finally, the persistent Mr. Warner landed that elusive commitment. And, I personally believe that Penske did not regret any of the accolades he received during this 25th anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Past honorees were recognized, and they included current and deceased RRDC members Phil Hill, Brian Redman, Hurley Haywood, Carroll Shelby, John Surtees, Derek Bell, David Hobbs, Jochen Mass, Emerson Fittipaldi, Johnny Rutherford, Jacky Ickx, Sam Posey, Bobby Rahal, Hans Stuck, Jim Hall, Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney and Vic Elford.
Those in attendance were Redman, Haywood, Bell, Hobbs, Mass, Rutherford, Ickx and Rahal.
The weekend schedule was packed with fun doings for both fans and participants alike. The cars of Roger Penske and Team Penske were celebrated, along with the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows, the cars of Harley Earl, Porsche Firsts, the mid-engine Corvette Prototypes and the C8, as well as the cars of Scagliatti. Book signings, test drives in various manufacturer vehicles, the Sotheby’s auctions, a variety of exhibits, a silent auction, and other events helped raise funds for a number of charities, including Community Hospice and Palliative Care, Spina Bifida Association of Jacksonville, Shop with Cops, and the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.
For the racing fans, two seminars were held, focusing on the history of Roger Penske himself and the winning teams he fielded in just about every racing series that ever existed in the “modern” era. At Friday’s “Penske Perfect: Effort Equals Results” seminar, RRDC members George Follmer, Rick Mears and John Mecom joined Penske, M.C. Ray Evernham and Rusty Wallace to discuss working with, for and against The Captain during his long and storied career. RRDC member Jim Hall did not make the seminar, but called in with his own tales of competing with and against the honoree.
On Saturday, the “Team Penske: The Early Years” seminar included Penske Racing team members from the past, covering Trans-Am, Can-Am, IndyCar, USAC, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and other races won, lost and/or dominated by the iconic Penske Racing (changed to Team Penske in recent years). Evernham was again the M.C., expertly interviewing (he does his homework) RRDC members Walt Czarnecki, Jay Signore and Judy Stropus, along with former team members Chuck Cantwell, Don Cox, Karl Kainhofer and John “Woody” Woodard. There was not enough time for all the stories to be told, but the ones related were memorable.
In other happenings during the weekend, RRDC member David Hobbs interviewed Penske at the McLaren Dinner of Champions, and Bill Warner did the same during the Mercedes-Benz gala dinner. Penske never ran out of stories to tell and was clearly in a festive mood as he revealed some never-before-told, behind-the-scene accounts of his life as a driver and team owner.
Did I mention it was magical?
Sunday’s Concours was a mind-blower. Just about every car raced by Penske Racing/Team Penske was on the field and the array of historic, charismatic and dynamic Concours cars on display was unsurpassed. Penske even drove up on the field in the Porsche 550 Spyder, his first Porsche race car, which he raced in the late ‘50s.
Information on the Concours winners and cars can be found at ameliaislandconcours.org.
Congratulations to Bill Warner and his entire staff of 640 volunteers for this outstanding event. – Judy Stropus and Aaron Murray
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For a gallery of photos we took, go to https://www.murraymediaandmarketing.com/2020-amelia-island-concours-delegance. For media: you are welcome to any of these photos for editorial use only. Please credit as indicated.
The RRDC was well represented at Amelia Island. Besides the obvious Bill Warner and Roger Penske, we came across the following folks in no particular order; if we missed you, we apologize:
Roger Bailey, Roger Penske, Rick Mears, Bruce Meyer, Tom McIntyre, Derek Bell, Hurley Haywood, Lyn St. James, Brian Redman, Bobby Rahal, David Hobbs, Peter Brock, Jim Busby, George Follmer, Jay Signore, Harley Cluxton, Murray Smith, Johnny Rutherford, Derek Daly, Tom Cotter, John Mecom, Bob Leitzinger, Luigi Chinetti Jr., John Gorsline, Bob Bailey, Walt Czarnecki, Pat Ryan, Mark Raffauf, Scott Pruett, Charlie Kemp, John Higgins, Pete Halsmer, Townsend Bell, Ross Bremer,Bruce Canepa, Miles Collier, Dave Cowart, Charles Mendez, Peter Cunningham, John Doonan, Rob Dyson, Jochen Mass, Alwin Springer, Jacky Ickx, Gerard Larrousse, Vic Skirmants and Judy Stropus