Amelia Island Bound

Every year my trip to the Amelia Island Concours for the first week in March changes. Different customers have different needs, and I have to change my plans to help them achieve what they want. This year, the plan was to drive down in my ’03 Porsche 911, but I had to make an overnight stop in Maryland area to inspect a car.

I’ve been advising a customer of mine about buying a Testarossa. It’s been a childhood dream of getting this car for him, and I felt if the car was going into a collection, a first generation car with the single mirror would be the one to buy. There are more powerful versions, and the later two mirror versions offer better visibility, but the icon of the model line is the single mirror of “Monospecchio” Testarossa!

This car was being offered at a reasonable price, but I wanted to take a closer look. It had some cosmetic issues, but looked like an honest low mileage car that needed some work. I made sure this car didn’t suffer from the major issues Testarossas can suffer, and told my client about this diamond in the rough, but I think he’s looking for something ready to go. If you’re looking for one of these, let me know and I can put you in touch with the seller.

From Maryland, I jumped in my Porsche and headed south. I had to catch another group of old friends and car people heading south at the same time for Amelia Island.

If you’ve been following my blog, you would have seen my previous posts about rallying down to Amelia Island with a group of like minded car people for a few years. It was the brain child of my friends Brad Phillips and Pete Engel. It started out as a couple of friends who wanted to caravan to Amelia Island to arrive in time for the Concours. Being friends with Brad, I joined the group in its second year as technical support as the group grew and with Brad’s affiliation with Hagerty Insurance and the Amelia Island or Bust Rally reached an even broader audience. Each year, the group of participants grew and the bonds with past alumni and new members grew stronger. The synergy between the rally members and the Hagerty ideal seemed perfect. We even survived the Pandemic as the year we arrived at Amelia Island in 2020 was the last car show before the world closed down.

Fast forward to 2023, the the group was looking forward to driving to Amelia Island again, and waited for Hagerty to reach out. Things had changed in a couple of years. Brad had left Hagerty for another job, and Hagerty became a public company. I’m not sure if any or both of these factors had anything to do with the change in attitude towards this little rally, but there was little to no interest from Hagerty supporting this group of car people willing to go.

Pete Engel was still involved and decided on his own volition to organize the rally himself and reached out to former rally members and future members on Facebook. The same amount of attendees came as years past with a wide variety of cars to join the 6 day trip to Amelia Island. There was a track day at VIR, museum tours, and great dinners in the evening. It was basically the same event, without Coprorate Support.

My schedule was pretty busy, but I made it a priority to meet up with Pete and his band of rally members that I’ve known for years. I’ve made life-long bonds with these people that I may not have otherwise met, and wouldn’t have missed it to show my support. I drove from Maryland to the North Carolina Coast to catch the ferry and meet the gang.

The local antique auto club hosted a cruise night that welcomed the Amelia Island or Bust crew, and as expected, my Porsche stuck out like a sore thumb, but it was well received and a good time was had by all.

I met some of the newbie AIOB members, and caught up with some of the Alum, but the biggest shout out was to Peter Engel (center with plaid shirt), he deserved all the credit for keeping the AIOB spirit alive.

When I pulled into the parking lot of the Cruise In, two men came up to me, immediately saw the NY plates on my car, and asked where in New York I was from. To outsiders, there are only two regions in NY, New York City, and Upstate New York, and where I currently live, it’s in between the two areas. Most people would assume I was from NYC, but even though I was born in the Bronx, I now live in the Hudson Valley, but most people have not heard of my town. Trying to explain to these strangers where I was from, I told them the largest town near me to make it easier on them, but the older man said he grew up not far from that town! As we started to get specific, it turned out these two random strangers lived 4 miles from my house! They moved away 20 years ago, and now we were standing in a parking lot in Moorehead City, NC swapping stories about people we know in my town in NY. Crazy!

Matt Hagen and his wife Jennifer, AIOB Alum brought us to their local fish fry for dinner that night in Moorhead City. We all keep in touch as friends on Facebook, but it was fun to eat at one of Matt’s favorite local fish joints!

My thanks to Heather for sharing her pictures she took while rallying down with her husband Rick in their FIAT Abarth. The enthusiasm Heather has is inexhaustible, and I would hire her for the position of Social Director for any event I would hold!

Nothing passes Heather for noticing the guys coming back from the local bar next to the hotel in NC for a quick adult beverage!

There was two more days of rallying for the AIOB gang, but I had to leave at dawn to meet a client at Amelia Island for an auction preview. My visit with AIOB was brief, but so worth the extra miles and time to meet up with everyone. I’ll see everyone next year!