The 15th annual Concorso Ferrari & Friends was held on June 28, 2015 in West Hartford Center.
By Ronni Newton
More than 100 high-powered Italian sports cars were parked in West Hartford Center on Sunday morning, and despite a cold drizzle, thousands of spectators were on hand to witness the spectacle and were even able to get a close-up view of many rare vehicles, some worth well over $1 million.
The cars and their owners were on LaSalle Road in West Hartford for the 2015 Concorso Ferrari & Friends. The 15th anniversary event, which is hosted by the Ferrari Club of America/New England Region, made its fourth appearance in West Hartford.
Before settling into parking spaces on LaSalle Road, 40 of the vehicles and their drivers participated in a “Parade of Kids” that picked up patients from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Farmington and treated them to a high-horsepowered ride down Farmington Avenue into the Center where they were greeted by waving spectators and named “honorary citizens of Italy.”
Those kids play a pivotal role in the Concorso – which is more than just a display of impressive and expensive vehicles. It’s a major fundraiser for children’s charities that has netted more than a million dollars since it began, and this year will support the new Connecticut Children’s Medical Center state-of-the-art Center for Procedural Excellence.
Organizers estimate that this year’s event will raise about $100,000 through entry fees as well as memorabila sales and a silent auction.
“This is all about giving a child a great, great experience,” said committee member Charlie Vest to the drivers before the parade began, urging them not to scare the kids with the powerful engines.
The kids were much more awed than scared, as they met their drivers and wriggled into the “co-pilot” seats of the low-slung sports cars.
David Newman, 14, of West Hartford was thrilled to be riding in the parade for the second year. Newman has been a patient at Connecticut Children’s for both craniofacial treatment for cleft lip and for the blood disorder Von Willebrand disease, and on Sunday rode with Harold Kirstein in his Ferrari 458 Spider.
Kirstein, a retired owner of a family-owned recyling company who is originally from Avon, now spends most of his time in Florida and that’s where he keeps his Ferrari. He said he had it shipped to Connecticut – by FedEx. He’s proud to be a part of the event, because of the smiles it brings to the kids faces as well as because it’s a successful fundraiser. “This is a greater day for us than for the kids,” Kirstein said.
“We’re all a family, trying to do the best things for the kids,” said committee member Tim Prete, a Conard graduate who now lives in Avon. “Of all the things we do this is the best, seeing the smiles on the families, too,” said Prete.
The spirit of the Ferrari Club is about more than just the expensive cars, Prete said. Giving back to the community is a large part of its mission. Prete said that extends to his own family, as well as families of the other club members who were volunteering Sunday morning.
Anthony Capozzi of New Britain, whose business is servicing and repairing fine automobiles, had a Ferrari custom-wrapped with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center decals in honor of the event, and he plans to use it for other charitbale causes.
Every car that participated in the Concorso was special, but some were even more distinctive than others. Those included a bright yellow limited-production Ferrari “LaFerrari” which has a 789 horsepower V12 engine, can reach top speeds of 217 mph, and is the most powerful production Ferrari built. The yellow “Enzo” Ferrari on display is one of only 400 ever built. Both are valued at approximately $2 million.
The highest-valued vehicle at the Concorso was also the oldest and rarest – a 1957 “Ferrari 335 Sport” race car, one of only four ever built. Its current owner, who has a total of five Ferrari’s, said he has personally raced the rare automobile at speeds in exceess of 175 mph.
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