It was that time of year to pack the shorts and sunscreen and fly down to Florida with my entourage of car comrades. I get to Logan Airport around 8am where I run into the group at the terminal. We start talking about what we will be seeing at the show and it is clear that everyone is excited and ready to go! Once we boarded, we relaxed. I got myself into focus mode and started going over the details of my trip again.
Prints and Digital Copies can be found here: Amelia Concours Prints/Digital
Once we landed, it was a 45 minute drive from Jacksonville to Amelia Island. Before going to the condo that we had rented, we stopped at Bonhams to catch the end of the auction. The 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Sports Tourer sold for an outstanding $9,735,000 as people were reaching for the sky to get their bid in on this spectacular automobile.
Paul Wuori and I drove to the Ritz to pick up my press credentials. I wanted to go to every location to pick them up in case I ran into any complications. I would rather deal with any issues before the event. On the back lawn at the Ritz-Carlton, RM Auctions had a display of an array of elegant machinery. They sat on the lawn, taking pride as they were shown off and adorned.
The next day was going to be the busiest day of the weekend. It started out with Paul signing up at the McLaren booth to drive the McLaren 570S. We hopped in and took them for a spin. Driving Paul’s McLaren MP4-12C, designed by Frank Stephenson, gave me some expectations for the 570s. With a 0-60 time of 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 204, this car comes with a goodie bag fill of thrills for an entry fee of $184,900. Everything else from the carbon package to special paint is up to you. There are two knobs that control the modes on each suspension and acceleration: Normal, Sport, and Track. Normal was perfect for just cruising on the streets accelerating like you are on a jet floating down the runway. The McLaren specialist then told me to switch it to track mode and then tells me “It’s your ticket, not mine, so whatever speed you choose to go is your destiny”. I gave some room between the other car, as no one was behind me and then put the pedal to the floor. The car kicked out a tad and took off like a bat out of hell and shot me to 80 miles per hour in just a few seconds. When I arrived back at the booth there was a smile that would take some elbow grease to switch around.
Paul and I jumped into the rental car and proceeded to go to the Gooding and Company area to pick up our passes and view the cars going for auction the next day. Jerry Seinfeld’s Porsches were the highlight of this event. I ran into Andrew Newton who works as a writer for Hagerty Insurance. He travels the United States keeping tabs at all of the auctions to see what cars are valued at. We used to work together at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. It was great to see him.
That evening Dupont Registry was throwing a party for clients, and hired me to photograph the event. From gorgeous automobiles and private jets to tasteful food and great people. With the trance music and women pouring champagne hanging upside down from chandeliers, this sure made for a great evening. Before heading back to the condo, I decided to stop onto the show field to see what vehicles were out there for Saturday’s Cars and Coffee event. Chris Brewer and Malcolm Hogan from automotiveaddicts.com put on a spectacle of an event! Cars come in from all over and some of the people that have cars for the Concours on Sunday bring an extra one vehicle specifically for this event. There were only 6 BMW GTRs with the M5 V10 motor strapped in made and only 3 left in existence. Here I was able to do a quick light painting with one of them! Security came up to me instantly and started questioning me. They take their job seriously, which is exactly what they should be doing due to the millions these cars are worth. With my persuasion and honesty about what I was trying to accomplish, they let me continue my work.
At around 2:30 on Saturday I made my way over to the ceremony area where Bill Warner was organizing Hans Stuck’s racecars into a formation for a photograph with the honoree of this year’s event. The owners of the vehicles loved this part as Hans told them about each one. A BIG thanks to Nathan Deremer for getting me up on the ladder as the fourth photographer to capture this truly breath taking shot. The shadow from the grandstand was inching its way closer to the cars and I wanted to get in on this shot since seeing it with Stirling Moss last year. Mission accomplished.
This year was nonstop and when Sunday arrived I could take it easy. The evening before I gathered some photographs of the cars loading in. This weekend Chris Brewer let me borrow his 14-24mm 2.8 lens. It was a fun lens to play around with and practice some different angles. Great for the interior shots! He even took me for a ride in his turbocharged Datsun 240Z. I was joking about him drifting the rotary near Sliders and he kicked it sideways. We couldn’t stop laughing! What a great friend!
It had been five years since the last time I visited my grandparents in Sarasota. I decided to rent a car from Jacksonville and drive down to Sarasota. I had to stop at Daytona Speedway because it was right off of the highway. Seemed necessary almost! I snuck my car in front, down a side path to grab a quick photograph. In photography it is never ask for permission until you are caught. Usually when you ask someone the answer is no and you miss out on the opportunity to capture what you were looking for. When I do get questioned, I show them the image I was able to capture and more often than not, they tell me to send it to them.
I arrived at my grandparent’s place, noticing that I had not seen one single police officer. At all. On the whole trip. Very different than Massachusetts!
During my stay with them, I had planned a few car events to attend, like a luncheon at Beckham’s with the Sarasota Café Racers. I wrote a quick email to Martyn Schorr to see if they had anything going on that week, as I knew three people that were part of the club. What a fabulous turnout with some interesting cars like the Kaiser Darin, Dodge Viper RT/10, and a couple Shelby Cobras.
Malcolm Hogan set me up at Heffner Performance where they heavily modify cars to get the most power possible with their turbo systems. Jason Heffner gave me a tour of the facility and when I first stepped in the garage it was like getting the golden ticket at Willy Wonka’s Choclate Factory. Blue, green, pink, and red: the color of the Lamborghinis spread around the shop. And with numbers that would make your jaw hit the floor. Two of them had 2,500HP! I thought 1500HP was insane but the Lamborghini platform really pushes the edge of the envelope.
The next day I drove 2 hours south to Naples, Florida where Chris Brewer set up an appointment for me with Scott George, Vice President of the Revs Institute. The facility is marvelous and the cars that were in there were some of the rarest with race history. I saw a few in there that were at the Amelia Concours, including the 1958 Scarab Sports-Racer that won Best in Sport. Scott was very kind but also very busy. When I arrived, the McLaren F1 was not in the showroom so he had Jim Wood give me a tour of the workshop where they were doing some maintenance on it. It had a custom Sage green paint scheme that Mr. Collier wanted.
After enjoying my time there, I had to head back to Sarasota for dinner. As I was stopped at a traffic light I saw Black Horse Motors across the way and decided to stop in. Boy I am glad I did! Smack dab in the middle of the showroom stood a 1995 Lamborghini Diablo VT Coupe. It wasn’t just an ordinary one to me as it was dark blue with tan interior. This was the first 1:18 model in my collection I have had since I was a kid! When I was young my parents bought me it at a car model place at Disney World for $30 and the real one now is going for $299,900. Kyle Smith who runs Black Horse Motors had me take a few photos of 2 cars in front of his shop.
After an amazing day, I settled back with my grandparents for the rest of my time in Florida. Before long, I would be back on a plane to Massachusetts to see my very-much-missed wife and dog. The pleasure of the trip was met with the pleasure of seeing both of them and being home.