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Celebration Exotic Car Festival 2021

Jim Weed

Volume 46 Issue 9

Apr 24, 2021

Having fun in Celebration Florida with the Exotic Car Festival and all for a good cause.

    How fitting is it the first car event I went to in 2021 is called Celebration Exotic Car Festival? What a celebration it was.


    Jeff and Jim Ippoliti are the driving force behind this event, now in its 18th year. Proceeds are donated to several charities including Make-A-Wish, Special Olympics and the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. To date over $3 million has been donated.


    Due to COVID the event was not held in 2020, another casualty of car events during that difficult year. Even with Florida lifting restrictions there had to be some apprehension as to how well this year’s event would be attended.


    I made plans to drive down from Atlanta to Orlando and see firsthand if things would be back to normal, or as normal as possible. Due to our printing schedule, time would be limited to enjoying the Friday night dinner and Saturday’s concours displays.


    If I could have stayed, I would have enjoyed Saturday night dinner at the Disney World Four Seasons Resort. Taittinger Champagne hosts the reception and ZD Wines provides wonderful pairings with the gourmet dinner. This year comedy and magic was the entertainment with Henry Cho and David Magee.


    I have attended the dinner several times and the food, wine and entertainment are always first class.


    The Sunday rally is open to all cars participating in the concours, proving not all exotics are pampered for show. The police escort allows for much spirited driving though Florida back roads. What a great way to knock the cobwebs off both car and driver before a couple of days at Daytona International Raceway.


    Two days of track time are available at Daytona filling up Monday and Tuesday before heading home. I wish I could have enjoyed it all.


    As it was, I was able to arrive Friday afternoon in downtown Celebration. A quaint, planned city, by Disney, the houses and buildings harken back to a simpler time when life moved slower and a bicycle was the quickest method of transportation, at least in town.


    Cars were already starting to be placed along the closed streets. Dazzling morsels of what tomorrow would present. Tonight, we would enjoy dinner and rides at Disney Hollywood Studios.


    Busses arrive in downtown Celebration and we board for the short ride to the Disney complex. Police motorcycles lead our procession and block off traffic along our route. Once rolling, the bus doesn’t stop for lights or traffic. Having the police hopscotching ahead is an experience that never gets old.


    Once at Disney we head toward entrances while the rest of the public is heading home. We have the park to ourselves. Dinner is set up along one of the thoroughfares but first there are rides to enjoy.


    I start with the Millennium Falcon. As we board the spaceship, I settle behind the pilot position. Flying a real airplane is fun and I have always made it to landing with all the parts still attached. I can not say the same for the Millennium Falcon. We survived the trip, and they say the craft can be used again. If I flew like that, I would need a new airplane for each flight!


    The next ride was the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. This coaster was fast and twisty. Upside down and around. All contained in a dark room with lights and shadows it was a wild ride. I love a good coaster but I was glad I had not eaten first.


    The last ride was the Tower of Terror and I’ll admit I didn’t ride that one. It was fun not having to stand in line for an hour to ride and I enjoyed the two I went on, but food was calling.


    At one of the tables I met Jim and Chris. They didn’t bring a car, but they tried to. They began their trip in upstate New York in a 1959 Bentley. Their Bentley made it to Maryland whereupon something fatal brought it to a stop. Needless to say, it was an adventure, and they will do it again.


    There is a lesson in there; nothing ventured, nothing gained. We love our cars and in the end it’s the stories of our adventures and places we’ve been that make the best memories. Ferraris are meant to be driven!


    Saturday dawned clear, bright and warm. Ferraris and other exotics lined the streets.


    I start at the non-Ferrari end. There are GTOs, not that kind, but Pontiac; and a 429 Mustang. Clearly these owners take the same pride as Ferrari owners in their cars.


    I stop and talk to Michael Grinder. He is a former subscriber but sold his Ferrari a while back. Today he has brought a Bricklin. Not only is his Bricklin there but a total of three have shown up. When was the last time you’ve seen one, much less three!


    I also pass a Pantera and a group of Lotuses (Loti?). The McLaren area is filled with several examples along with a few Lamborghinis.


    As I come around the corner there is a GTO, yes one of those, but I recognize it immediately as Tefft Smith’s replica. While I know, and Smith does not hide the origins, most of the onlookers do not. Standing and listening to the comments is interesting.


    Smith occasionally fires up the engine and the crowd surges over to hear the sweet sound of 12-cylinders. Afterward, he opens the door and invites children to sit in the GTO. There is no better smile on a child’s face when they realize he is not kidding. I bet many in the crowd wish they were ten again to have the same opportunity.


    Next to the GTO was a gold 330 GT 2+2 with red interior. I talked to the owner, David Micciulla. He had the car restored in Italy and it is incredibly nice. Gold with red is unusual but it is an original color combination. I personally think this was the best Ferrari present but there were also several other contenders.


    The rest of the Ferraris are what I would consider modern Ferraris. There were Testarossas in all three variants; TR, 512 TR and F512 M. 348s, 360s and F430s were also well represented.


    Bill Scott has a 308 GTS QV he has owned a long time. He mentioned he might be looking for something else.  We had a lengthy discussion on the good points of this model. He drives it often and likes the analog feel of the car. In the end, I think he is going to keep it and continue to enjoy the car another ten years or so.


    Among a group of 550 Maranellos and a 575 M Maranello was a silver FF with a bronze stripe across the front fenders and bronze wheels. It looked so good I had to do a double take to realize it was an FF.


    Around the next corner was a black Lamborghini 5000 Quatrovalvole. The engine cover was up and there was no fuel injection to be seen. Six carburetors graced the inside of the vee, just as God intended. 


    Across the street was a selection from Ferrari of Central Florida. Among several 812 GTS and F8 Spiders was a Roma in red.


    The Ferrari that had the largest crowd around it was a Monza SP1. This special car looks interesting in person. Clearly a one-person go-kart. If fun has an icon, it must be an emoji of a Monza.


    The highlight of the show is a special car corral in show center. For a donation you can go behind the barriers and get a chance for a photograph with a celebrity or special car. There was an Enzo and a LaFerrari available along with several other supercars, like a Pagani Huayra and Zonda.


    Of all the events I go to, Celebration Exotic Car Festival is one of the fun ones. Everybody is there to see friends and enjoy the cars. There are many interesting cars, not just Ferraris, but movie cars, exotics and American muscle. The dinners are a wonderful way to meet new people and it all goes to a good cause.


    Did I mention Jeff and Jim Ippoliti have raised over $3 million for charity? If you haven’t been, it should go onto your calendar next year. The children are worth it.


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