We recently paid a visit to Bill Warner, founder of the international award-winning

Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

What anchors you to the First Coast?

This is one of the nicest areas to live in the United States; it provides a wonderful lifestyle and great opportunities. It has a touch of Georgia, a beautiful river and a wonderful beach. We have both the oak trees and the palm trees. One of the reasons we’re doing the Concours is that I always had a dream of bringing an event like this to North Florida because we have such an active automotive community. There are a lot of great people who collect cars and enjoy cars.

Tell us a story about you and one of your cars.

I have a 1971 Porsche that I drove in the original Cannonball Run from New York to Los Angeles in 1975. Eighteen of us met at the Red Ball Garage on 31st Street in New York. The one who got to the Portofino Inn in Redondo, California first was the winner. A lot of people who saw the movie just think I’m blowing smoke. They say “there was never such a thing,” but there was!

What do you want readers to know about the 19th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance?

One thing I don’t think people realize is that it is a charitable event. We are the largest single contributor to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society of Mayport, Spina Bifida of Jacksonville and the Shop with Cops program in Fernandina Beach.

What makes the Concours special?

It is a unique automotive event that celebrates not only our automotive heritage, but the people of the automotive culture. We are very proud to have been named by Octane magazine of the United Kingdom as the Best Motoring Event for 2013 worldwide. My wife Jane and I received the award on behalf of the Foundation in London in November and my racing hero, Sir Stirling Moss and his lovely wife, Lady Moss, were present for the awards.  After 70 years of this automotive passion, it was wonderful recognition for our Concours team of employees and volunteers and great recognition for North Florida.

Bill Warner as Racecar Driver
By Sarah Clarke Stuart

Bill Warner began racing cars early in life. As a teenager, he started as a “go-fer” for a team, which inspired him to start racing. He went on to compete in numerous races including two Cannonball Runs. For three consecutive years he won the IMSA Media Challenge driving a Chevrolet Camaro in the Firestone Firehawk series. For the past two decades, he has raced the ex-Group 44/Paul Newman Triumph TR-6 in vintage events. He won both the 1997 Skip Barber Cup and the 1999 John Kelley Memorial Cup. In 2001, Warner was voted into the Road Racing Drivers’ Club, one of road racing’s highest honors.