Amelia Island Concours week is one of the greatest car events in the world. One of the best features of Amelia, in contrast to Monterey and others, is that everything is pretty close, rarely do you need to drive more than five minutes to anything as many of the activities take place at the Ritz Carlton.
However, that being said there is a laid-back way to enjoy the Concours and a full-bore method.
First let’s cover the more laid-back approach: You arrive Wednesday night or Thursday morning and head to the Bonhams auction around 11 a.m., stay for a few hours, possibly buying a car, and then drop by the Gooding & Co. auction for its preview. From there you head to your hotel and go out to dinner.
Friday you have a nice breakfast and then head to the RM Sotheby’s preview around 11 a.m. You might have lunch at the Ritz and check out some of the amazing old and new cars on display in front of the resort for a hour with friends and then go out to dinner.
Saturday you start your day around 9 a.m. at the Heacock Insurance Cars and Coffee on the show field and check out some great cars that are not quite Sunday concours cars, but are still neat. At around noon you head for the RM Sotheby’s auction and either watch or bid on a car or two. After that you might bid on some silent auction items and check out some of the many vendors and buy a few books and a die-cast car or two.
By then it is time for dinner and you head out somewhere for a nice meal, being sure to get to bed early so you are ready for the concours.
Sunday you have breakfast and head to the Concours by say 10 a.m. and after a nice day at the event you head to the airport and go home having enjoyed a great weekend.
And then there is the way I do Amelia Island, which I will call the hard-core method. This was my itinerary this year:
On Wednesday you take an early flight, 8:00 a.m., and get to Amelia by 2 in the afternoon. You race from Jacksonville airport to the Bonhams preview and are at the preview examining the cars on offer in detail until 8 p.m. Then you head to dinner with friends and after dinner you reread the Bonhams catalog to find out more information on the cars.
You are up at 6 a.m. Thursday and after a quick breakfast you head over to Bonhams and again take a look at the cars before the start of the auction. At 9:30 you head over to the RM Sotheby’s auction preview and attend a ClassicCars.com auction tour at 10 a.m.
You then drop by the lobby bar at the Ritz and meet a few friends and grab a quick bite to eat with them.
From there you head back to Bonhams for the auction and bid on a few cars, ending up with no winning bids. At 4 p.m. you realize that you have to get back to your hotel to change and get ready for the Guardians of Porsche wine maker’s dinner. You get to the Ritz by 4:45 and take a test drive in the Jaguar F-type coupe and get a free hat from the nice people at Jaguar.
You go to the Porsche dinner have a great meal and get to hear a nice interview with the legendary Porsche race car driver Hurley Haywood.
After dinner you head to the lobby bar with friends and are somehow stay there until about 1:30, which is when you realize you need to be up again at 6:30 a.m. so you had better go to sleep.
Friday you are again up early so you can get to the Gooding & Co. auction breakfast at 8 a.m. and take a look at the cars before the start of the sale. You are at the sale until around 1 o’clock and then head back to the Ritz for more time at the RM Sotheby’s sale, taking a close look at a few cars in which you have particular interest.
After this you bid n some silent auction items, buy way too much stuff from the great vendors and realize it has somehow gotten to be 5 p.m. and so you head to your hotel so you can change clothes for the BMW Legends of Motorsport dinner.
At 6:30 you are at the BMW dinner where you have a nice meal and get to see a presentation with the entire 1975 BMW racing team. You hang out after the dinner for the once in a lifetime opportunity to get your BMW Sports and GT Racing book you bought from a vendor at the concours autographed by Sam Posey, Hans Stuck and every other member of the team, and then again find yourself in the lobby bar again, this time with many of the team members. The next time you look at your watch it is somehow again 1:30 a.m. and you realize that sleep is a great idea.
On Saturday you are up at 6:30 so you can get to the show field by 7:30 to check out the Heacock Cars and Coffee event. Being there early allows you to see the cars before the crowds of people arrive, which makes seeing the cars possible.
At 9:30 you head over to the RM Sotheby’s auction and take a final look at the cars before the start of the sale. You bid on a few cars and hopefully end up with the car you have always wanted. The sale is a long one so you take a break and attend the Car Design seminar. After the seminar you return to the auction until it ends which is when you realize you need to change into black tie for the Mercedes-Benz Amelia Island gala dinner ,so you race back to your hotel and quickly change and head to dinner.
The gala is an event not to be missed and this year includes a great interview with Sir Stirling Moss. After dinner you have Sir Stirling autograph your special 20th Anniversary Amelia Island hat.
Somehow you again find yourself with friends at the lobby bar but completely lose track of time due to the great stories and conversations that seem to happen there. You finally get to your hotel room by 3 a.m.
Three hours later you are up and quickly dress and get to the Amelia show field for “dawn patrol.” This way you can take pictures of all the cars before the crowds get there. You spend the whole day at the concours and see who wins the best of show awards.
From there you head to dinner with friends and again after dinner find yourself in the hotel bar, but decide to make it an early night and actually are in your hotel room by 1 a.m.
Monday you get up way too early and meet a friend whom you ride back to the airport.
Now both of these methods for Amelia Island Concours attendance have their merits. The former allows you to relax and enjoy the concours and the other events around it. The hard core method allows you to do everything.
With it you also tend to have more of an opportunity to meet famous race car driver, designers, company executives and other personalities around the classic car hobby. You have a lot of fun and leave with scores of great stories from the event.
Whichever method you choose, I urge you to attend the Amelia Island Concours as it is possibly the best classic car event in the United States, and if you choose the hard-core method there is a good chance of finding me in the lobby bar after dinner.