By Eddie LePine
I have just returned from one of my favorite automotive events of the yea: the Amelia Island Concours. Bill Warner’s outstanding event was held for the 26th time on the lovely grounds of the Ritz Carlton hotel on Amelia Island.
The event was moved from its traditional date to May, due to Covid concerns back in March, but I am pleased to say that things are looking much better now, and what seemed like a record crowd again showed up to celebrate automobiles and the people connected with them.
This year’s honoree was none other than Lyn St. James, the legendary and trailblazing driver who put together quite a racing career and paved the way for many female drivers who have followed in her footsteps.
I caught up with Lyn at the Ritz and had a chance to have a conversation with her. First, her feelings about Amelia Island Concours and being selected as this year’s honoree. “I’ve been here a number of times. I’ve been here as a judge and as a spectator. I’ve always admired this event and have always admired how it always selects a racing person as honoree. This (being selected) is just a blessing, a gift, to be honored by my peers. I know Bill Warner nominates the honoree, but the choice still has to be voted on by the committee.”
Lyn has had an incredible racing career, amassing over 100 races in both SCCA, Trans Am and IMSA competition. She won her class at the 24 Hours of Daytona twice, and once at the 12 Hours of Sebring. In addition, she raced in the Indianapolis 500 seven times, being chosen ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 1992.
She has certainly not forgotten the ones who helped her along the way. As she told me, there are way too many to name, and she appreciates every one of them. However, one that does stand out to her is her old Indy Car owner, Dick Simon, who made it possible for her to race in the Indy 500.
“I would like to thank all the people who have helped me along the way – the ones that helped me achieve what I achieved on the racetrack. There would have been no Indy 500 for me if it hadn’t been for Dick Simon. To have him here to be a part of this, it is really big for me.”
In addition to being the Amelia Island Concours honoree in 2021, Lyn received another honor as well – The Spirit of Ford Award. It was presented by Ford CEO Jim Farley at the event.
“Today she is channeling the same drive she had in breaking barriers in her racing career to become a tireless promoter of opportunities for women and minorities in the racing world…and the sport and industry is better for it.” said Farley.
Lyn St. James joins a very exclusive club as a recipient of the ‘Spirit of Ford Award’. Previous honorees include AJ Foyt, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti and Stirling Moss, among other legends.
Once again, an outstanding event put on by the truly legendary Bill Warner (who introduced his new racing photography book at the event – ‘The Other Side of The Fence” – look for the review soon.
Congratulations to Lyn St. James, an excellent choice as honoree this year.