Amelia Island or Bust Hagerty Rally

I drove my Porsche 911 to Maryland from NY to kick off a road trip with Hagerty. The “Amelia Island or Bust” rally started 5 years ago to bring Hagerty Insurance policy holders a reason to drive their cars to Florida with like minded Auto enthusiasts, and I’ve been on this rally for the last three years as mechanical support. My role is not necessarily to replace a ball joint on the side of the road, but to offer advice and direction whether a car can be fixed to continue on the rally or if it needed to go home on a flatbed. Hagerty policy holders also have roadside assistance, so with my help, and a network of tow trucks across the country, we were pretty well covered.

Brad Phillips, the brain child of this rally was bringing a familiar car to the rally, his 1987 Porsche 911. Dave Hord, our rally master, and tour specialist, would be piloting this car.

A new addition to Brad’s fleet is this Saab 9000 Aero that he was very excited about, despite 200K miles and peeling clear coat! Despite these deficiencies or because of them, it was the perfect Concours D’Lemons car for the Amelia Island Weekend! We just had to get it there.

Before the rally began, the Hagerty crew and I had to pick up two more Ride Share cars for people joining the rally, A 1984 911 Targa and a Mercedes 380SL.

Our first meeting spot and rally registration was at a private collection hidden in Maryland horse country. The collection was spectacular and the owner was a fellow Ferrari owner I’ve known back from my Spring Car Show at Radcliffe Motorcars. With Richard Garre’s retirement, the closing of the shop, and the Pandemic, it was nice to see this owner again in the Mid-Atlantic region.

I cannot express the joy I had in seeing all the participants pulling in for the start of the rally. Amelia Island 2020 was the last time we saw the majority of these people, and the world shut down the week after we returned! It was a trying year, and with most everyone vaccinated and Amelia Island rescheduled 2 months later, we felt this rally was the first sign that we’re were back on the path to normalcy. It was the first time in over a year I hugged someone outside my immediate family, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed human contact!

Although Hagerty limited the entrants to this Rally to respect Covid protocols, we had a few new additions. A Delorean, Back to the Future tribute car, joined us to spread the word on Parkinsons Disease and raise money for the Michael J Fox Foundation. Oliver and Terry immediately joined the Hagerty Tour Fold!

With credentials, mask, and my corporate shirt, I was ready to wave the Hagerty flag!

This picture shows the variety of cars that attended this tour. We had Tom B’s 32 Ford roadster, Brad’s Saab Aero, and the Holler’s Deloran. Other rallies are more focused and sometime exclusive, but this rally is far more inclusive!

I always say the cars just make up part of the recipe for a fun time, the other half is the the people. Drew G is one of the characters that makes for a fun time. He purchased this Ford Focus RS two days before the rally, put racing stripes on the car, changed the tires that were more appropriate for the roads, and even brought his own trophy!

When you’re talking about Characters, you can’t forget our leader, creator of AIOB, and good friend Brad Phillips of Hagerty. He’s the blond on the left, pictured here with Alison, the brains, coordinator, troubleshooter, and all around home office anchor to this tour. I was so glad Alison joined us to see all her hard work come together on this rally!

The accommodations and meals were included in the rally, and we never knew what to expect when we rolled into town, but we were never disappointed.

I was only disappointed when there was a nice amenity at a particular night, and there just wasn’t enough time to enjoy the stay. Dave Hord, our rally master, was a slave driver in making sure he scheduled every twisty back road for the participants to enjoy, but some days, I felt it would have been nice to soak in the pool!

If driving is what you love, there was no shortage of miles to cover. This year we were all introduced to a new App for our phones called “Rallista.” This was a game changing app, because it functioned just like a turn-by-turn GPS system, but loaded the route of the rally. Not only did it allow solo drivers the confidence to go without a co-pilot, it also allowed all of us to see other drivers in our group on the road ahead and behind! Look for this app being implemented in many rallies in the future!

Each night we stopped in a new hotel and sat down at a meal in a private room, and the conversations was usually about cars! Having been away from people for over a year, we were all relishing the human contact!

Parking was often arranged at each hotel, so we could all stick together.

Lunches tended to be more casual, but one nice thing about car people is they’re generally easy to please!

As we were driving through Georgia, the landscape flattened out, so the driving was a little boring, but at least there were some good picture opportunities!

I was driving the 84 Targa when we decided to leave the top off, but I could feel the hot Georgia sun beating down on my forehead. Even with sunscreen, I soon put a hat on to protect my head. Heading into Amelia Island, the last thing I wanted was to start the weekend with a sunburn!

As if a worldwide pandemic wasn’t enough to dampen our return to rallying, four days before our trip, a major pipeline was shut down by computer hackers on the East Coast. Fuel shortages were reported so Brad decided to take matters into his own hands. He purchased a 15 gallon tank and hoarded the fuel in the back of the support SUV. I wasn’t exactly sure how we were going to save 25 cars from running out of fuel, but I drove for four days with this extra fuel sloshing in the back! By the time we got to Georgia, things had basically returned to normal, and fuel was readily available. Since I was driving the last leg of the trip in the 911, I ran her down to empty so I could use up the spare fuel. Finally, we could stop hauling all this fuel around!

We finished up another AIOB with Brad Phillips, Dave Hord, and Me. Thanks for making it another memorable year!

I delivered the red 911 to the Omni on Fernandina Beach, and headed over to the rental house I was staying with some friends. After 5 days of driving, the events of Amelia Island was still to come! As I always say, “Sleep when you get home!”