Could cars be a way to help thaw the ice between the U.S. and Cuban governments? The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance thinks so. Organizers proudly announced that Ing. Eduardo Mesejo Maestre, director of the Cuban Automotive Museum, will serve as a judge at the 2010 event.
Mesejo’s visit has reportedly been in the works for over a year, and required the approval of the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Interest Section in Havana, and the Cuban government. Concours organizer Bill Warner hopes his visit will help to unite auto aficionados in both countries, creating a “gearhead diplomacy” of sorts.
“Cars are a common language among enthusiasts worldwide,” Warner said in a statement. “The passion that Ing. Mesejo and the Cuban people have for the automobile transcends all geo-political boundaries, and we hope that this is the beginning of great things to come because Cuba has a tremendous automotive racing heritage.”
That heritage will be on display during the Concours, as a special “Cars of the Cuban Races” class will showcase cars that raced in the 1957, 1958, and 1960 Cuban Grand Prix. Such vehicles include Phil Hill’s Ferrari 335S, a Ferrari 410 that was once piloted by Carroll Shelby, and the Maseratis that won the 1957 and 1960 races. Mesejo will judge the class along with racer-turned-journalist Denise McCluggage, and Sir Stirling Moss — who happened to win the Cuban GP in both 1958 and 1960.
“Our goal isn’t to make a political statement, but to simply extend a hand to car guys around the world who share a bond through their love of the automobile,” said Warner. “Ultimately, we hope that hobbyists from America and Cuba will one day be able to enjoy these cars together.”
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 12-14 in Amelia Island, Florida. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org.