The Amelia Island Concours salutes The Captain
Roger Penske was the honouree this year at Amelia Island. Bill Warner’s unique concours mixes “bonnets ’n’ bows" Brass Era oldies with the best road and sports-racing cars from the 1950s to today, and truly did justice to the highly successful racing driver, team manager and businessman known simply as The Captain.
Penske-run cars on display included the two mighty turbocharged Can-Am Porsche 917s, several Indy cars and of course the Trans-Am Camaros and Javelin. In typically Bill Warner fashion, not only were several of the race-winning saloons present, a faithful replica of the team’s controversial Big Rig refuelling tower was set up next to the display.
On Concours morning, a brave soul even mounted the tower to pack dry ice round the double-walled fuel churn the way they did it in 1969; dry ice lowers the temperature of the high-octane petrol so more can be loaded into the regulation container. It was a typical Penske ploy, gaining a few seconds on the track by using an ‘unfair advantage’ and annoying the hell out of other teams in the process.
The magnificent Borg-Warner Indianapolis 500 trophy (Penske is the most successful team owner in the race, with 18 victories) formed the centrepiece of the car display. Ralph Lauren’s Ferrari 250 GTO, the car in which Penske won the Nassau Tourist Trophy in December 1962, flanked the Corvette Grand Sport Penske took to third place in the Governor’s Trophy at Nassau the following year.
A magical display, lovingly put together by Warner, the doyen of concours organisers, and judged by a number of former Penske employees including team driver David Hobbs and crew chief John ‘Woody’ Woodard.
Elsewhere, the field was split 50:50 oldies and moderns, with particular emphasis on Warner’s passion for racing cars, many of which have competition history at Florida tracks.
We bring you our memories of a morning spent with like-minded car guys in the Florida sunshine.
Photos by K500