Perhaps the best news we can share with you is that as of now, the 2021 edition of the terrific Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is indeed a go. The grand car event’s 26th running is set for March 4th through 7th at the beachfront Ritz-Carlton in Nassau County, Florida. We will say flatly that for our money, Amelia Island is the greatest car show in the world, because it equally recognizes both road and competition cars of the past. In acknowledging the ongoing pandemic, Amelia Island’s team has planning in place that will allow for distancing of both the concours categories and the individual cars, and is directing distancing-limited seating for the seminars and other events leading up to the concours, at least some of which will be moved outdoors for attendee safety. One thing that won’t be changing is the concours’ inclusion special classes, which for 2021 will include Hispano-Suiza (which ought to delight fans of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), Muscle Cars of 1970, Chevy Thunder, the racing cars of Don Nichols and Shadow (the subject of an authoritative Pete Lyons book reviewed here), the Ferrari 275 GTB and the cars of concours special honoree Lyn St. James, who in 1992 became the second woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Our fave, however, will be the class that honors one of the most outrageous sports racers ever created, the Porsche 935.
The 935 had a similar gestation in international sports car competition to the Funny Car in drag racing. During the 1970s, the regulations for FIA Group 5 were realigned to allow what would be called “silhouette” cars, which, stripped to their basics, essentially mandated that only the race car’s roofline and rear window had to more-or-less match its production counterpart’s. Rules governing other body parts, including the front fenders, were largely open or free. This was pre-Cayenne, so the 911 was still Porsche’s meal ticket in the marketplace, and the 911-inspired 935 was the result of the liberalized FIA formula. With a twin-turbocharged flat-six approaching 800 horsepower and feathery minimum weight, the 935 outperformed an F1 Tyrrell in its initial test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. It won the pole for the Nurburgring 1,000km in its first official race outing. the 935 became the signature endurance racer of the late 1970s and early 1980s, scoring 55 FIA victories including an overall win at Le Mans in 1979, plus 51 IMSA GT triumphs, a run that included a clean sweep of the 14 events that encompassed IMSA’s Camel GT championship in 1980. This photo by Amelia Island founder Bill Warner shows one such 935, owned by Interscope Records founder Ted Field, who here teamed with Porsche specialist Hurley Haywood and a terrifically gifted modern American driver named Danny Ongais at the 24 Hours of Daytona, a race that 935s won six times. Amelia Island is a must-attend event for any serious car enthusiast. It would be smart to make plans early by visiting the concours website, especially given the expected crunch for tickets to the seminars.