After graduating from the Citadel and spending 30 years in the Florida Air National Guard, Bill Warner gained a deep respect and admiration for the military and those who serve. He also has a passion for cars and combined these two elements of his life by creating the Amelia Island Concurs d’Elegance and naming the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society as a beneficiary of the event. The popular luxury car expo and event that Warner created in 1996, the annual Concours d’Elegance, features 300 different cars and attracts cars and fans from all over the world.
“A number of our volunteers with the show are retired Army, Air Force, or Navy,” Warner explained. “As the annual event grew, we wanted to also raise money for charities that contribute to quality of life, and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society was high on our list.”
Warner has been a car enthusiast since high school when he drove a parts truck for a Volkswagen dealer who also owned race cars. “I got quite infatuated with racing,” he recalled. “The first race I went to was in 1959, and I was in the seat of a race car for the past 41 years.”
As for the concours, “I had confidence I could pull it off,” he laughed. “Confidence is the feeling you have when you don’t fully understand a situation.”
In addition to racing Brabhams—a two-liter Sports Racer designed by Ron Tauranac for the Australian World Champion, Jack Brabham, as well Coopers, Camaros, Porsches, and many other makes of cars, Warner has been a contributing writer and photographer for a variety of automotive publications and events earning numerous awards for his work. He also collects and restores cars. “Cars are my passion—my whole life,” he said. “The neurons of my brain are bound up with cars.”
“Bill has been recognized time and time again for his philanthropy and public service in the Jacksonville area,” said NMCRS Mayport Director Bill Kennedy. “Bill Warner and his colleague Ron Davis have been loyal friends of the Navy for over 14 years. Each year following his annual car show, Bill and Ron reach out to the Commanding Officer of Naval Station Mayport and to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society with donated funds to help our Sailors, Marines, and their families in time of need. Bill and his foundation, during this longstanding friendship, have donated $163,500 and exemplify the ethos of great Americans who understand the demanding sacrifices our Sailors and Marines make serving this nation and keeping us free.”
Thank you, Bill, for your generous contributions to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society!
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso