Rizzuto's Ferrari event fuels appetite for Italian auto artistry
Plenty of horsepower made for high-powered fun Sunday at the 4th annual "Mille Ferrari," a gleaming showcase for Italian automotive artistry.
The event was hosted again by Rizzuto's restaurant on Riverside Avenue restaurant, which in addition to Ferraris featured Porsche, Maserati and Fiat models in their lot. Car buffs also could inspect two pace cars from Lime Rock Park race track upstate.
GoKart racing around a mini track, a motorsports racing simulator and a television broadcast of the Canadian Grand Prix all fueled attendees' appetite for all things automotive, while appetites of another sort were satisfied by Rizzuto's grilled sausage-and-pepper sandwiches served up hot and fresh from an outdoor grill and icy cold Pellegrino drinks.
A portion of proceeds benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
John Fontane, owner of Motorsports Simulation Consultants and a co-founder with public relations professional Linda Kavanagh of the Mille Ferrari event, said, "This is a fun family event for a good cause, and the type of event that you see as you're driving by and just stop in."
Paul Bova, president of the state chapter of Ferrari of America, was pleased skies had cleared in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Andrea. "We got a great day, lucking out with the weather, and are hoping to raise a lot of money for Make-A-Wish," he said. "There's a great representation of cars here this year as we opened up the event to other Italian makes of cars and any other exotic or special-interest car."
Bova said the Ferrari brand is one of the most best-known automotive brands in the world. "Even if you don't know the car, you know the name," he said. "It has a sense of awe to it, even to kids. It's invaluable as a brand."
Bova said Ferrari has evolved over time from a racing machine to a luxury ride. "They were high-performance first, then Luigi Chinetti, who had showrooms in New York and Greenwich, convinced Enzo Ferrari in the mid-1960s to build his cars to appeal to a broader market -- the affluent person who wanted to drive one around town. They have become a mainstream luxury car, but still retain a performance element."
Derek Wilkins, representing Lime Rock Park, said, "We have a great association with the brand ... We work with Ferrari North America for our Ferrari Challenge event, scheduled for July 20 this year. It includes a vintage component with cars dating from the 1930s. Ferrari has a great racing heritage. It's a classic motor car company."
Silvana Gulla, of Fiat of Larchmont, N.Y., said her dealership is the only Fiat franchise in the U.S. that was among the original dealers of that here in the 1960s. Her father Alfredo also was one of the first to introduce Alfa Romeo and Maserati to Americans, she said.
"I love Ferrari, and every time I see one, I'm so proud of my country," said Valentina Pani from Sardinia, Italy. "I see them in the richest areas of Sardinia and in the big cities. Michael Schumacher, who used to drive for Ferrari, is my favorite driver."