Veterans Green was a vintage car enthusiast's paradise Sunday as 40 classic vehicles, fresh from completing a charity tour of lower Fairfield County, were showcased for a good cause.
The cars and their drivers had participated in the Nutmeg Tour, which supports the Drive to Treat Autism Fund for St. Vincent's Behavioral Health Services. The tour is essentially the replacement for the Concours d'Elegance, the show of classic cars that for years took place at the Fairfield County Hunt Club.
Visitors inspected row upon row of rare and vintage automobiles and chatted with the their owners, while enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.
St. Vincent's CEO Susan Davis and Automotive Restorations' Kent Bain were presented "Sharing the Passion" Awards for helping to organize the charitable event. Citations -- Best Porsche 911, Best Jaguar and a Kids' Choice Coolest Car Award -- also were presented to owners Richard Strahota, Paul Sedlak and Terry Brannigan, respectively.
Ann Sheffer, wife of Concours co-founder Bill Scheffler, monitored the day's changeable weather. "We always assume it's going to be nice, though my husband is in an open car (1953 Jaguar XK 120), so it better be nice.
"This particular weekend in September is usually good," she added. "The forecast said skies would clear by 10 a.m., and they did. Now it's really gorgeous."
The Concours d'Elegance, Sheffer said, "became too successful to be held at the Fairfield County Hunt Club, creating traffic and logistics problems ... We did not hold it last year or this year either, but still wanted to support St. Vincent's, which we have for five of seven years. The Nutmeg Tour has become its successor."
Nutmeg Tour participants started the day at Hallbrook, the Westport campus for St. Vincent's Behavioral Health Services. The parade of vintage vehicles then traveled to the Alden Sherman Classic Car Show, coordinated by the Weston Senior Center. "Alden (a Weston car collector) is 96 and still fixes and drives his own cars," said Sheffer. "He has a Bugatti and three Ferraris, all mid-1920s."
From Weston, the tour headed to Danbury Porsche-Audi. "This year is the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911," said Concours director Frank Taylor. "There are ten 911ss in the tour and they judged them to choose the best."
Bill Scheffler participates in several auto rallies and tours around the U.S. every year. He is often joined by Kim Cooper, who stands in for Ann Sheffer as "The Rally Wife." About that role, Cooper said, "We share driving and navigating, and sometimes it becomes harrowing. This May, while doing a New England Vintage Rally, we were in farm country on major curvy roads. I was driving and came around a corner to find a manure truck blocking the way. I had to swerve to avoid it or we would have found ourselves in a ton of sh**. The rallies are a blast and we meet a lot of interesting people. We have very generous mates that allow us to do that."
Lucy McKinney of Fairfield had her own close call in Sunday's Nutmeg Tour. She was riding in a 1956 Arnolt-Bristol touring car and, rounding a sharp turn, her door flew open. "I never fell out, and had great seatbelts," she said, "though it was still a shock."