Friday, March 2, 2012

Mercedes-Benz Club At the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

For many of us in the Mercedes-Benz Club, Spring starts its engine with the Amelia Island Concours!

Here, a well-vetted display of automotive design, engineering and history as well as rarely seen one-of-a-kind automobiles are presented. But that is just on Sunday. If you miss Friday and Saturday, you are missing a weekend full of events!

High-end lifestyle events run all weekend long! On Friday, the Gooding and Co. Auction is held at the nearby Omni Plantation Resort. Saturday, the RM Auction runs at the Ritz-Carlton, where you will also find seminars, an extensive vendor area, cigar and wine tasting and the Mercedes-Benz black tie dinner.

Saturday is a great chance to see the latest from AMG, Maybach and Mercedes-Benz, as well as Jaguar, Porsche, Bentley and others. A couple of years ago Hyundai chose to release the Genesis, showing that their upscale line could compete directly with the well-known luxury marques. Displays often include drive opportunities and talks with the manufacturers.

For MBCA members, the social highlight of the weekend is the MBCA|Peachtree Section Dinner on Saturday night at the Crab Shack in nearby Fernandina Beach. A casual meal with a chance to catch up with and enjoy the company of MBCA members from around the country.

Sunday morning the judging is well underway by the time the field opens to the public. By mid-afternoon, the show field is teeming with people inspecting the amazing variety of cars. Throughout the day, famous drivers and automotive luminaries can be found autographing posters and books. Mid-afternoon is when the award ceremony starts with the winning vehicles being driven to the podium to receive their honors.

Various auto manufacturers have tents and displays around the field, with Mercedes-Benz being one of the most prominent with a by-invitation only Star Lounge, complete with reviewing stand overlooking the award ceremony.

Travel Hints for attending the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

This year’s weekend is March 9 - 11. Amelia Island FL is located just south of the Georgia/Florida border, about 20 miles north of Jacksonville. It’s an eleven-hour drive down I-95 from Washington DC.

If you are flying, Jacksonville (JAX) is the closet airport, about 30 minutes to the south. Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island has an airport for private planes and small corporate jets, if you choose to arrive that way.

Hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts on Amelia Island are expensive, if you can find one that has not been booked months in advance. Hotels in nearby Yulee FL, Kingsland or St. Mary’s GA or along I-95 into Jacksonville can be found at affordable prices. No matter where you stay, you will still have to drive and pay to park at the Concours events each day you attend.

There are numerous parking lots at the Concours, charging about $20 per day with regular shuttles running to and from the show grounds.

General admission to the Concours can be purchased before the event at a discount on the website for $50 per person. On the day of the event the gate event the price is $60. There is no charge for admission on Friday or Saturday, though if you want to attend the auction you do need to purchase a bidder’s pass. Otherwise you are free to walk around the staging area and vendor area at will.

The MBCA | Peachtree dinner is held early on Saturday evening at the Crab Shack in Fernandina Beach, and is open to all MBCA members. Space is limited, so register early. Contact the Peachtree Section to assure a reservation This year’s cost is $35 per person.

The Black Tie Mercedes-Benz dinner held at the Ritz-Carlton is often sold out, though if you have connections with sponsoring dealers you may be able to score an invite to the $250+ per seat dinner featuring famous personalities as keynote speakers and guests.

The Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge on the field the day of the show is by-invitation-only! It is not open to the general public or MBCA members who have not been invited. Top customers of Mercedes-Benz dealers tend to be able to get on the list without a problem.

The weather can be cool and wet, or sunny and warm, often on the same day! Dress in layers as the mornings are cold and the afternoons become sunny and hot. The crowd is well turned out in most fashionable attire. Dressing in Mercedes-Benz chic or MBCA attire is always a great way to be recognized by your fellow MBCA members!

Other 2012 Concours where MBCA members will this season are: The Concours of America at St. Johns in Michigan (previously known as Meadowbrook) on July 29, and Pebble Beach in Monterey CA August 19 All of these are events to be experienced and shared with fellow MBCA members.