One afternoon, we went shopping in downtown San Fernando. A traffic jam forced us to jump out of the car and walk to our favourite store, while my brother found a park. As Mom and I weaved along the crowded street, we encountered a group of people who seemed rooted in place. Cars had slowed almost to a crawl. Everyone was staring at what was parked on Pointe-a-Pierre Road. Then I saw it. “Now way,” I uttered but the prancing pony emblem on its bonnet was confirmation to all and sundry. The atmosphere was hushed around this immaculate Ferrari 308. Bright red with a tan interior, it was beautiful. Never had I ever seen anything hold such a cross-section of society’s attention as intently as that car. Nay, that work of art, and although I had to move along, it was an amazing moment that solidified my petrol head status. This past Saturday, that incredible moment was surpassed.
It was my first visit to the Celebration Exotic Car Festival 2012. It’s not like when one of them drives past you on the street. At this Concours of Exotic Cars, they were prepped for a display competition and our wonderment. A Porsche, a Cobra, a Viper, a Jaguar…my camera was busy and my eyes were like saucers. Then I saw the first Lamborghini of many. Shamelessly, I must admit that I gently stroked a Murcielago with my finger and a wicked grin. At the intersection of Celebration’s closed-off streets, the full impact of what I was in for took hold. There were exotic cars everywhere. I almost didn’t know where to start!
The rain threatened so there was a stop for lunch and shelter, but not before a good look at the brand new McLaren, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, Fisker and Alfa Romeo models. Fuelled up, our little group split up and headed off in opposite directions. There were racing cars, movie cars and even novelty cars. Motorcycles got in on the action too, as Magic City Cycle had new Ducati models on display. The Orlando Premier Collection was represented in force with shiny, new models of all their brands. Oddly enough, I had been in their Infiniti showroom earlier that day. There were celebrities somewhere in the crowds and I intended to say hello to Patrick Warburton. However, there was such a crowd that he could have stood right beside me and I wouldn’t have known.
Not only were there brand new models but 1960’s-era Shelby muscle cars from Gulf Coast Motorworks, privately owned classic Corvettes, Cadillacs and Bentleys. There was even a 1930 Duesenberg. Whether for sale, recently purchased or restored: all were in mint condition with their owners standing proudly nearby. I chatted with a few of them, despite the notion that some may have been the incarnation of Cameron’s Dad. This was a great day for them to show off their babies. At one point, a car’s alarm was triggered. Up and down the street, owners’ heads popped up like gazelles on the Serengeti. Even onlookers gasped to imagine someone was boldfaced enough, to mess with any of the vehicles.
As I moseyed along and soaked it all in, I soon realised that while there were bulls aplenty, this concours was dominated by ponies, Italian ponies. There were Ferraris everywhere, in addition to their (some actual Italian) enthusiasts who were decked out in original Ferrari threads. Some of the cars were stripped down for racing, while others looked like they’ve been held in suspended animation since their births in Maranello. True, there were no Bugattis or Paganis in sight; but, how often do you see that many pristine Ferraris all together?
It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The skies were overcast which gave downtown Celebration an indoor feel. More than just a car show, this was definitely a festival in every sense of the word, for owners and fans alike. Just like the gorgeous Ferrari captured imaginations in downtown San Fernando, all those years ago. Once again, I saw people from all walks of life come together to experience a mutual appreciation for automotive excellence and superlative design. Mind you, it’s not just about hot cars on parade.
The festival takes place over a four-day period with two track days at the Daytona International Speedway, well-catered dinner parties at night, a car rally and all culminates with an awards luncheon. I’ve had confirmation that you don’t have to be an exotic car owner to attend and tickets can be purchased online. You can like their Facebook page for updates and see media from past years. Photos and videos from my visit are up on this blog’s Facebook page. The dates for next year’s festival have been set as April 11th to 14th 2013. I encourage anyone with even a slight interest to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
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