Jacky Ickx Reunited With 12 Of His Old Race Cars At The Amelia Island Concours And We Were There To Watch
Photography by Shayan Bokaie
Peter Brock, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Jürgen Barth, Justin Bell, Hurley Haywood, David Hobbs, Alain de Cadenet, Luigi Chinetti Jr., Derek Daly, Jim Busby, John Fitzpatrick, and Sam Posey. These were just some of the racing legends you might have casually bumped into at the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance as they made their way to judge the next car and/or suck down their next aperol spritz (both intoxicating). But even in this crowd of elites, one name stood out and earned the respect, admiration, and applause of not only his former teammates and competitors, but the entire concours as a whole—this was none other than Jacky Ickx.
Now, if you’re not familiar with exactly how much ass he kicked during arguably one of the most diverse racing careers in history, here are some career highlights for context: six-time overall winner at Le Mans, eight wins and 25 podiums in Formula 1, a Formula 2 World Champion, the 1977 Bathurst 1000 winner, the 1983 Paris-Dakar Rally winner, and he’s even an Honorary Citizen of the town of Le Mans. From my perspective, standing next to—let alone hanging out with—a man nicknamed “Monsieur Le Mans” while the Amelia Island organization presented 12 of his previous race cars was pretty much an out of body experience.
Thanks to our dear friends at Chopard, I was able to walk through the field of cars with Jacky and snap some portraits as he looked back at a visual summary of his career laid out on the lawn. Among them: the Paris-Dakar-winning 1983 Mercedes-Benz 280GE, Le Mans-winning 1968 Ford GT40, two Porsche 936s, a Ferrari 312 F1 car and a 312 PB for good measure.
As I was immediately drawn to the Mercedes-Benz 280GE, I asked Jacky, given his experience in endurance racing, what it was like competing and winning the Paris-Dakar rally.
“The Paris-Dakar is maybe the most difficult type or race you can do because of the distance in three weeks, all on special stages in desert and off road. It’s a real challenge because you have to relearn a number of things as a driver and you have to rebuild up your experience.”
“To win in racing, you need to have a huge ego, to be selfish and sometimes at the limit of morality which are not the best qualities to have in life. After racing in the Paris-Dakar, I discovered there are other people on this planet, which brought me down to Earth, to realize the fragility of life and gave me a 180-degree view on people.”
We drifted to his 1968 Ferrari 312 F1 car, glancing at its exposed rear-mounted engine to which he nonchalantly mentioned, “in those days the ear plugs were made from wax, not foam, and the engine was so hot they would melt. We would be deaf for two or three days after the race.” Just legendary stuff.
It didn’t take much to glance at the different shapes, sizes, and configurations of these cars and quickly conclude he could win in pretty much anything – rear engine, front engine, race cars, stock cars, open cars, closed cars, SUVs, you name it. After pacing through the cars together a couple times and the flurry of photographers subsided, I asked him very plainly what it felt like to see all of these memories collected in one place. He paused before he answered, “Sentimentally, it counts because you have driven them, but even more so because you think of all the people who helped run these cars reminding us that racing is about passion. The Amelia Island Organization, and more specifically Bill Warner, did something really special bringing my cars together. You just have to realize it will never it happen again, as a photograph or a moment, it’s really quite unique.”
I think the photo below captures his statement quite well.
Oh, and the Concours itself was incredible too. Here’s a little bonus gallery of some cars of the good stuff.