Bumping ,shaking, and stomach straining as we come to an abrupt decline in speed as the wheels hit the tarmac. I was confident as I got into my rental car heading to the event that holds my heart and best photos. It was my favorite event of the year: The Amelia Concours d’Elegance. Every March I leave the frigid miserable winter weather in Boston, where every car has about 2 inches of salt built up destroying it’s soul and make my way to the south where it is warm. This year I am planning on moving to Florida for the winter and head back to Massachusetts in the summer, so this trip will be more familiar over the years.
Upon arrival in Florida, I made my way to the Ritz Carlton to check in with people that run the show and get myself settled in. This is a big year for me: I was hired to be one of the official photographers for the event. My hard work and style has paid off! Yes! 2017 is my year I can feel it.
The guys that live in the area that are part of media met up to to Catalina Louie’s for dinner. Nathan Deremer, Nick Williams and Chris Brewer shared a few laughs and were able to plan who was going to cover what during the event. I had certain sections I needed to cover and different events on and off the site. What could be off site you ask? Well let me tell you, it was an unforgettable experience that I wish I had more time for. All I know is that when I go back this winter I will be stopping in to say hello and hopefully they will give me the behind the scenes tour they were offering, and possibly that cute intern will still be there. You will hear more about this spectacular event later on in this article, just hold tight!
Ugh, My sleeping arrangements were dismantled after arriving. Every year I make my way down to the event with the wonderful people that run The Boston Cup (prestigious car show on Boston Common in Sept.) and we stay about a mile down the road from the event. Well this year, about a month before the event, the condo we stayed in had changed owners and the deal was off. We were not able to find a place close to the event without spending copious amounts of money. We decided to stay close to the airport, about 40 minutes away from the Mecca of automobiles. As many of my tasks were scheduled for early morning, I had to make a change and find somewhere to stay that was closer. This trip had a budget that I was trying to maintain, which obviously resulted in some frustrations. Ed Owen, who owns European Auto Solutions in Waltham MA, invited me to have some drinks at the Ritz poolside. Chit Chatting about each other’s business we came across the subject of where I was staying. I told him about my situation and he offered a room at his place which was about 3 miles from the event and I happily obliged. The stress that was building has finally diminished and there was no more worrying about where I was going to lay my head for the night.
The big day was Saturday and Sunday for spectators but the real fun begins on Thursday when random cars are roaming the streets, being unloaded from trucks or testing them out before they go sit on the fairways and soak up all of the sun. It was a quiet day and I hoped it stayed that way. Nathan and I did the early bird special and looked through our viewfinders to capture some stellar photos of the automobiles going for auction at RM. They were spread all over the back lawn at the Ritz Carlton. We had the privilege as official photographers to be invited up to the clubhouse on the top floor to capture the cars in the courtyard. Laughter came from my mouth for the gentleman that was uncovering the cars was taking his sweet time and I told Nathan that we should get his attention so he knows we are waiting for that specific shot. The laughter was because I told Nate “Watch him not uncover one of the cars” and sure enough that is exactly what happened. He packed up the covers and got in his Gator and drove around the corner. In the photo in this article I photoshopped the car out as it made for an unpleasing image if it was left in the photograph.
Two things changed this 2017 Concours forever. As we sat on the balcony, we both get a text from Nina Snopkova(Media Coordinator). Sadly, she informed us that heavy rain was scheduled for Sunday and we had to move the show to Saturday. My schedule just became compacted and now the work was twice as hard as I had more to cover in such little time and it showed. My pedometer read 28,351 steps on Saturday! The second thing that changed was that there was a McLaren F1 LM roaming around, which I had seen on Andrew McCartney’s Instagram feed. My heart sank as this is the pinnacle of all automobiles for me. I had to find it! Still trying to focus on my normal tasks, I decided to head over to Gooding and Company to pick up my credentials and grab a few shots of the cars. Andrew and I met for the first time in the lobby and we talked about the possibilities of where the McLaren could have went. We pressed on to go look at another spectacular piece of machinery, the Porsche GT1 (20 built), which is a racecar for the streets. While chatting we turned the corner and instantaneously not another peep came out of either of our mouths. This was very much like the reaction I had the first time I saw a McLaren F1 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston many years ago. That feeling of euphoria and peacefulness engulfed me completely and then came the giggles of amazement and excitement that this masterpiece is sitting right in front of me! A good friend of mine David Geisinger drove his 911 Porsche in the Amelia or Bust 2017 road tour, which began in New England and ended at the event. Dave was interested in a photo shoot so we drove around looking for a location and found that downtown Fernindina was a great place to photograph this beautiful gulf livery vehicle.
The next morning, I went to the Fernandina airport for the Porsche Driving experience. This was one of those off site events that I needed to cover. Our ride was a Mercedes S600 and we were in a caravan of cars heading to the Mayport Naval Base where people attending can drive new Porsches around an autocross track and/or get a ride in a GT3RS down the runway at 160mph. I captured what I needed and proceeded with Jonathan Brownfield to the Jacksonville Zoo for a magnificent opportunity. Barrett Jackson sponsored a road tour of Jaguar vehicles which included 4 D-types and XKSS and a few others. As they strolled in and parked in the courtyard, I was doing what I do best and just snapped away. Unfortunately, when I got to the courtyard they had already parked and got out which did not leave a desirable setup for a photograph. Feeling defeated as they were running on short time I thought it was a bust and I was really bummed out. They then said that we will be taking photos of the cars in front of a fenced in elephant. In my surprise, they were able to take down part of the fence so that I could position the cars with the elephant in the background with no obstruction. Fun fact: the elephant was Michael Jackson’s at Neverland Ranch.
Jon and I then proceeded to head back to the Ritz to cover the Japanese Racing Seminar, where we listened to legendary drivers such as Peter Brock, Sam Posey, Chip Robinson, John Morton and Tommy Kendall which was hosted by Adam Carolla. As time was of the essence to capture everything in two days, I had to leave early from the seminar and head over to Paul Teutul Jr. where he was setting his bikes up for display and to meet a few fans. I was fortunate to be able to get my lens up and close with the bikes and have a few words with him.
The big day was here! Saturday was when we had the Cars and Coffee at the Concours, an event run with help from the Automotive Addicts team led by Malcolm Hogan, on two fairways and the official Concours d’Elegance held on the other two. What an incredible turnout! It was fantastic to work with such an amazing media crew. Everyone’s photos were on point and I am really looking forward to being on the team next year.
What can I bring to the table that I didn’t bring this year? I guess you will have to wait and see. The final winners don’t exist in my album as I was too busy light painting the McLaren F1 LM before it set off into the night.