While the Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance officially takes place on Sunday. The events surrounding the weekend really kick-off on Thursday night with "The Guardians of Porsche Wine Maker's Dinner". Open to invitees and ticket holders (Porsche fans, who act fast enough once the event is announced, can purchase tickets to the dinner at a cost of $295 per person). The ticket price might sound steep, but the event is like none other and we think you'll find it worth the money.
Hosted by Porsche for the last 4-years, this event is an opportunity for Porsche to recognize those in its community who are strong stewards of the brand and have a lasting impact on the Porsche community as a whole. This year, Porsche invited FLATSIXES.com to attend the event as their guest. It's something we've always wanted to do, but have never been able to secure a ticket (it sells out fast), until now. After attending we can say with much certitude that this is one event that should be on every Porsche fan's bucket list. Here's why.
1. You See Amazing Porsches In An Intimate Setting
Sure the Concours allows you to get real close to the cars on the field but you're sharing them with the thousands and thousands of people in attendance. Even for those of us lucky enough to have a press pass to get on the field before the general public, the field is still crowded. Each year at the dinner, Porsche selects a handful of cars to have on display in the ballroom where dinner takes place. This year there were three cars in the room: Jeff Zwart's Gmünd Coupe (that went on to win best in class on Sunday), Janis Joplin's famously painted 356 Cabriolet and a 2017 991.2 C4S (at the time, these hadn't yet made it into dealers/customers hands).
2.You meet interesting people
Besides the who's who of Porsche luminaries in the room, the guest list is varied and wide. At our table alone we had Bruce Canepa (who needs no introduction to our audience), Ellen Bireley (Director, Hall of Fame Museum - Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation), Bruce Myer (Founding Chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum, Porsche Collector and all around nice guy), Prescott Kelly (Porsche owner and author extraordinaire) and Vu Nguyen (Executive Director of the Porsche Club of America). As if that wasn't enough, Magnus Walker was at the table behind us along with various member of the Ingram family. The table to our side played host to Hurley Haywood, Betty Jo and Leonard Turner, Vic Elford, Porsche's Grant Larson (Director Special Project Style Porsche) and on and on and on.
Of everyone we met that night, the most interesting person had to be Mike Valentine (of Valentine Radar fame). Mike and his wife were both gregarious and approachable. Mike is a long-time Porsche owner, fan and collector. In fact, a number of the cars featured as part of the "Race Cars of Hans Stuck" photograph were Porsches that Mike had either sponsored or owned at one time or another.
3. You Hear Incredible Stories
This year, Jeff Zwart (filmmaker, photographer, race car driver, husband, dad, dog lover and all around nice guy) was recognized for his efforts at "guarding" the Porsche brand. Asked on stage by Concours founder, and our MC for the night, Bill Warner, Jeff proceeded to regal the audience with stories from both his racing and filmmaking career. While I had always know that Jeff directed a number of Porsche commercials, I never knew quite how many. Fortunately, for all of us present, there were two large video screens on each side of the stage. After Jeff answered a few questions regarding history of commercial making the video below was played for us.
4. You'll have bragging rights for life
I've found that most Porsche folks, regardless of their station in life, to be quite approachable. All you need to do is attend a race and speak to Hurley Haywood or go to a Cars & Coffee event and bump into Jeff Zwart and you'll know what I mean. However, I know of no other event where so many Porsche dignitaries are all together in one location. For those of you who like to take pictures with celebrities you'll be in "selfie" heaven. For those of you who just want to chance to talk to a few of these people that magazines and the internet have brought us so much closer to, this is the event for you. If you plan on attending the Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance next year, or in the near future, be sure to buy your ticket early!