FIAT FreakOut 2013, the 30th annual convention of FIAT Club America, is in the “history books.” We saw cars from the US and Canada and fans from the US, Canada and Germany. We even had a guest speaker from the FIAT Design Center in Turin, Italy.
As we say elsewhere on this site, the FreakOut is a time to talk FIAT, eat, drive FIAT, talk FIAT, hang out, relax, talk FIAT, drive FIAT, meet new friends and old, talk FIAT, have big parking lot parties late into the night, again talking FIAT. FIAT FreakOut is an unforgettable weekend enjoying your car, your company of friends and family.
And so it was this July on Long Island. The parking lot at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Long Island began filling with Italian machinery late Wednesday and early Thursday. In a parking area just for the FIAT club, the jelly bean colors of our automotive toys shone in the summer sun. FIAT. Lancia, Alfa Romeo and more. Two seater sports cars, family cars, old and new, concours and daily driver, side by side. Forty year old cars driven hundreds of miles. Museum quality autos trailered in. All there with owners who share a similar passion: Cars, and Italian ones to boot.
By Thursday afternoon, our vendor sales/ registration area was up and running. “Goodie bags” supplied by Bridgestone, Hagerty, FIAT and Autoricambi were filled with programs and favors for attendees.
Out first event was Thursday morning. Leaving the hotel and heading east, we took a route to Long Island’s North Fork. This is a bucolic east end. More farms and wineries than the glitz and glamour of “The Hamptons.”
A caravan of FIATS and Alfas enjoyed traffic free highways and scenic back roads to Pindar Vineyards, in Peconic. After sampling (in moderation) their fine wines, it was off to do some more driving before returning to the hotel.
Friday brought a day of relaxation, local drives and our main kickoff event: The Friday night welcome party. Hyatt hosted us in their beautiful Terrace room. We enjoyed food, drink and each other’s company while we listened to a live band. Announcements were made pertaining to the biggest day, Saturday.
Bright and early on Saturday, we caravanned to Old Westbury Gardens. This historic site served as a beautiful backdrop to our annual concorso. Over 150 cars, from Ferrari to FIAT and almost every other Italian marque was on hand. A catered Italian picnic lunch was judged to be award winning by the crowd. The summer heat was moderated by ice cold Pellegrino.
The afternoon was a time to relax before the Saturday night banquet at the Hyatt Regency. The program included a taped statement to the club from Jason Stoicevich, Head of Fiat Brand N.A. at Chrysler Group LLC. In person was Nicole Longhini-McElroy, Fiat N.A. Brand Manager, to tell us of news from FIAT.
Keynote speaker was Fabrizio Vacca, part of the FIAT design team, in Turin. He discussed the evolution of the new FIAT 500L, and its roots in the vintage cars we love.
The 30th Annual FIAT FreakOut on Long Island was a great success. But, FIAT Club America strives to make each subsequent FreakOut the best ever. And we do it all with volunteers, right in our own club.
It was announced that the 2014 FreakOut will be hosted by our Chicago chapter, July 10-13, 2014 in St. Charles, IL. Please check back soon for the latest information on FFO 2014. It’s never too early to start planning ahead. As good as the 30th FreakOut was, we are planning for the 31st to be even better.
Every year, FIAT FreakOut Bobb Rayner founder quotes the late, great automotive journalist, David E Davis Jr:
The Germans invented the automobile
The Japanese made it affordable
The Americans made it a disposable item
but, the ITALIANS taught it to dance & sing!
FIAT FreakOut proves it’s true.
Hope to see you in Chicago in 2014.