First Timer: Amelia Island Concours

Flatout article

First Timer

Amelia Island Concours

By Alyssa Mammano

Photos by Tom Lyons

As a recent college grad with student loans and bills hanging like a black cloud over my head, I am obviously not the owner of a Porsche, or any other expensive, shiny car for that matter. But I was honored to be invited to a happy hour gathering and knock elbows with racers, instructors, vintage enthusiasts, concourse polishers and buffers who all share a common interest in the beauty of cars.

When I drove up to The Back Nine Grill on East Avenue, the first thing that caught my eye was the shiny red Porsche in the parking lot. I’m embarrassed to say my Honda Pilot just could not compete.

I walked in and was greeted by what seemed like a thousand friendly faces and warm handshakes. I felt as though this group of people, as diverse as they may be, all came together to celebrate a mutual respect for their cars and for each other. The conversation quickly engaged, and it was thrilling to speak with people who have such worldly knowledge and business savvy minds. It is my belief that if you own a Porsche or the like, you must have done something right.

I received congratulations on my recent graduation, and advice about future job hunting. I learned about the economy, politics and what it takes to be successful in the “real world.” I gladly accepted any counsel I was offered, and appreciated that these people took a sincere interest in my opinions as well. As intimidating as this experience could have been, I was put at ease right away.

The atmosphere was relaxed, with cocktails being enjoyed at the bar and chicken wings and other snacks generously offered. Before long time became a nonissue, as everyone was enjoying them- selves and the company of one another. The conversation flowed from loud laughing to serious topics, and back to laughter as easily as their expensive Porsches hug the turns of the Watkins Glen racetrack.

It was an experience I genuinely appreciated and gained a lot from. I respected their passion for cars and knowledge to do what it takes to own and maintain one. But most of all, I respected their ability to adapt to any genre of company and to make anyone feel welcome in their presence. It was a rewarding occurrence, and one I look forward to repeating in the near future.