As you’ll read on the Vintage Roadcar side of the magazine this month, I recently had a very interesting and enjoyable conversation with Amelia Island Concours founder, Bill Warner. While Bill is probably most widely known for having created one of the country’s top concours events, it may come as a surprise to some that Bill is a long time, dyed-in-the-Nomex racer. While the concepts of “concours” and “racing” may seem like completely different ends of the automotive spectrum, Bill has managed to bridge the two by creating a concours event that, at its core, honors and showcases racing history. As such, Amelia Island is truly unique in the concours world, and its success is a testament to Bill’s vision and hopeless dedication to racing and its history.
While I was interested to learn more about the “Roadcar” side of Bill’s life, I did have to laugh when we briefly got off on the topic of historic racing. Bill was lamenting the fact that it is getting harder and harder to find significant racecars, like original GT40s, at historic races now that their values have so skyrocketed. To his way of looking at it, this has fundamentally changed the shape of the sport. As an example he added, “I’ve got two, what I consider historically significant cars—and a lot of other people may not—but I don’t want to share the track with some guy who doesn’t have anything invested. He’s got a Corvette he pulled out of a junkyard and put a 700-horsepower engine in it. The only thing he’s got to lose is a junkyard Corvette; I’ve got a two-time National Championship car with a lot of good history. I really think that there should be vintage racing and there should be historic racing, and may never the twain should meet.” Hearing Bill’s perspective on this, I was overwhelmed by a sense of deja vú. His point was a valid one—and shared by many, many historic racers—but what jumped out at me was the surprising shift in “historic” goal posts, over the span of the past 10-15 years.
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