NASCAR great Jeff Gordon roars into the Amelia Concours d’Elegance

Florida’s largest and longest running classic car concours d’elegance comes to life on Friday when the 28th edition of The Amelia comes to the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and adjacent golf fairways.

As thousands of fans view classic cars throughout the three-day event, the honoree will be multiple NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and a collection of the steel horses he guided to those victories.

Amelia Weekend begins Friday with a classic car tour of Amelia Island and ends on Center Street in Fernandina Beach with a lunchtime public demonstration. There are seminars, a car auction and more. It culminates with a massive Sunday exhibition of 250 rolling sculptures made of steel, aluminum, carbon fiber and wood on the fairways of the Amelia Island Golf Club next to the hotel.

A Showcorner Sunday will feature race cars celebrating Gordon’s career, a day after he attended a ‘Jeff Gordon: The Hendrick Motorsports Years’ seminar and a dinner interview led by longtime crew chief Ray Evernham.

For Gordon, mingling with fans and his past racers at an event known as the Racer Concours will also see him tread the ground that has honored other famous racers over the past 27 years. These include honorees such as NASCAR racers Richard Petty and Parnelli Jones, Indy 500 winners Bobby and Al Unser, sports and Formula 1 racers Stirling Moss and Phil Hill, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske.

Gordon said he was looking forward to coming. Evernham urged him to come for years.

“He’s always raving about what a great event it is and the car culture and all the spectacular things to see and do, so I’ve been trying to get there for a number of years,” Gordon said. “Little did I know that my first experience would be as an award winner. And it’s incredible to join this list of previous award winners, so I’m really excited. My family is looking forward to it and I can’t wait to spend some quality time with a lot of people down there, see some great cars and show off some cars from my past.”

Founded in 1996 by Jacksonville businessman, car collector and magazine photographer Bill Warner, the automotive charity event is always held at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and the 10th and 18th fairways of the Golf Club of Amelia Island. Warner remains Chairman Emeritus after The Hagerty Group acquired the Concours rights in mid-2021. The event continues to annually honor a famous racer and his cars, showcasing classic makes, antiques and muscle cars in front of more than 25,000 spectators.

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McKeel Hagerty speaks in front of the restored DeLorean Back to the Future movie car at a recent Amelia Concours.

McKeel Hagerty, whose automotive lifestyle and classic car insurance companies own The Amelia, says they will be celebrating many milestones from American, German, Italian and European car brands and racers.

“At Hagerty we see ourselves as stewards of this event and our goal as a company, as an organization, is to save driving and promote car culture for future generations,” he said. “I love great cars… but it’s the people and the combination of events and experiences around the automotive world that make this so special. It was the cars that got me into the world, but it’s the people that make me stay. That’s why we think Amelia is a very special gathering in the automotive world.”

32 classes of vehicles will be on display at this year’s Concours on Sunday, ranging from those honoring the 100th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours race in France to Board Track Motorcycles. The concours also celebrates the 120th anniversary of Buick, as well as Porsche Fiberglass Racing Spyders, Ferrari (GT Berlinettas), LeMans Corvettes, the Porsche 959, 1950s Historic Customs, pre-war European Custom Coachwork and Fiberglass Dreams – forgotten sports cars by the 1950s and 1960s.

Dear on octane

A native of California, he started racing BMX as a 4-year-old, then progressed to quarter-dwarf racers and won two championships by the age of 10 in 1990.

Winston Cup Rookie of the Year in 1993, he won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994. And with Evernham as his crew chief, handed over his No. 24 Chevrolet by DuPont Gordon won his first series championship in 1995.

Gordon retired from racing in 2016 after winning four Cup Series championships, 93 races and 81 pole positions. He is now Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports.

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NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon, honoree at this weekend’s Amelia Concours d’Elegance.

Among Gordon’s racers at The Amelia is his 1989 USAC Sprint Car, which was driven to eight victories, and the 1994 Chevrolet Lumina, which he drove to victory at that first Brickyard 400; and the 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which won the 2005 Daytona 500.

The Brickyard 400 car has many memories of a race that “changed my life,” Gordon said.

“Ray and I and the entire Hendrick’s Motorsports team have been working to get us to that elite level and compete with Mark Martin and the guys who are winning races,” said Gordon.
“It seemed like the whole sport and our careers and our team and NASCAR — in that moment and that day, it all seemed to come together.”

Gordon’s past will also be part of Friday’s Broad Arrow Auction at the Ritz-Carlton with a 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo which he drove to three consecutive top five finishes in the Budweiser Shootout. The auction starts on Friday at 10:30 am after a two-day preview. The digital catalog is here.

Classic cars featured at The Amelia’s Concours on Sundays also participate in a Friday street tour ending with a free midday show on Fernandina Beach’s Center Street. Concours Schedule HighlightsFriday at 7am – Eight Flags Road Tour of Amelia Island featuring Concours Classic Cars, beginning at the Ritz-Carlton and ending at lunchtime. Cars will be parked on Center Street in Fernandina Beach for free public viewing. Friday 3pm – The “Corvette at Le Mans Seminar” as the people who brought Corvette to Le Mans hold court. Tickets are $35 per person. The seminar will take place in the hotel’s Talbot Ballroom. Friday 7:00pm – A special screening of ‘The Quest’ at the Talbot Ballroom, debuting Corvette’s racing at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans. It takes place at the Talbot Ballroom. Cars & Community on Saturday – a 9am-1pm car event that includes the Cars & Caffeine Cruise-In, with 350 vehicles from across the country on the same field as Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance. Nearby is the RADwood exhibition of exotics and sports cars from the 1980s and 1990s, and the tongue-in-cheek Concours d’Lemons, filled with oddball vehicles. Families can visit the Future Drivers Club with activities for children and young people. Tickets are $35 per adult, $15 for 13-22 year olds and free for younger ones. The annual Amelia Concours Cars & Caffeine event takes place on the Saturday before the classic car event. Saturday 10:30am – The seminar entitled ‘Jeff Gordon: The Hendrick Motorsports Years’ where Evernham will host a panel in celebration of Gordon. Evernham, also a concours judge, said Gordon was “the perfect prizewinner for many reasons”. “Jeff has been very special in my life, like a little brother to me at times,” Evernham said. “To know what Amelia means to the auto community and that she has seen so many great awards in the past that Jeff was invited this year is special to me for that reason first of all, but Jeff is one of the biggest and most well-known American racer, not just for NASCAR, but because he broke so many barriers.” Tickets to the event at the hotel’s Talbot Ballroom are also $35 per person. This 1975 DeKon Monza racer with a giant rear wing was just one of 250 Classics, race cars and special interest vehicles on display at the 2021 Amelia Concours.

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The 28th Annual Amelia Concours d’Elegance takes place on Sunday from 9:30am to 4:30pm at the Amelia Island Golf Club. Tickets are $195 for adults, $85 for active duty military members, and $75 for 13-22 year olds. Children under 12 have free entry. Previous award winners have driven onto the show field in one of their race cars shortly after the gates opened. Best in Show/Concours d’Elegance and Best in Show/Concours de Sport will be awarded at the end of the show on Sunday.

Organizers said the event had an economic impact of nearly $30 million in Northeast Florida, with more than $4 million donated to charities. Concours proceeds benefit Community Hospice and Palliative Care, Spina Bifida of Jacksonville and Nassau County Shop With Cops.

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