Emerson Fittipaldi cruises into KB Car Week in the Spirit of Miami, inspiring fans with his affable accessibility and a compelling talk at Crossbridge Church

The inaugural Key Biscayne Car Week was held on May 24-26 with events offered at several locations around the island.

The driving force behind the event was island resident, Emerson Fitttipaldi. He is from Brazil and is two time champion in Formula One and two time Indianapolis 500 winner.

“I am excited to help with this event,” said Fittipaldi.

“Everyone from young children to great grandparents love to see classic cars. It’s an event for the whole family.”

Key Biscayne Car Week was organized by H. Francis Reaves and Mary Tague of Toy Town. Attendance to show events was complimentary and included: classic cars, Formula One and NASCAR Race Cars on display, test drives of two high performance MacLaren cars, and a go cart track.

Funds generated from the gala at the Ritz-Carlton will be donated to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and The Buoniconti Fund, and Eternity and Grace; a not for profit organization that assists children in disadvantaged areas of Africa and Brazil by building schools.

On Saturday morning an estimated 50 classic cars arrived on the Village Green and were carefully choreographed into position. There was a wide assortment of styles including vintage Jaguars, Corvettes, Thunderbirds, Formula One, and Nascar Race Cars.

Diane von Furstenberg had a fashion apparel tent, and there was also a manned booth featuring vintage guitars.

Local organizer Bill Goldstein of Walter Grace Vintage assisted by securing the participation of vintage car owners over the weekend.

“It’s about presenting the culture and history of vintage cars,” said Goldstein.

Several island residents came to show their pride and joy rides. Javier Lentino brought in his 1961 VW Beetle purchased while living in Argentina.

“When I moved to Key Biscayne in 2002 I brought the car because it was already part of the family,” said Lentino.

The crowd cheered when Emerson Fittipaldi drove in off Crandon Boulevard into the Monaco Reflecting Pools in his Spirit of Miami from the 1984 Miami Grand Prix around mid-day Saturday.

Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey offered an official welcome and Thomas Abreu, the Honorary Council of the Principality of Monaco, was there with a personal greeting from Prince Albert II.

When asked what advice he would give to young aspiring race car drivers he said, “The same advice my father gave to me.”

“To succeed in any sport, you have to have passion, dedication, motivation, and the dream to do it. Hope is important too.”

The weekend event capped with a Sunday morning inspirational talk by Fittipaldi at Crossbridge Church.

He spoke about the joys of racing but also the difficulties he overcame like two horrific crashes and many months spent in slow recovery.

“You have to be able to face adversity and fight your way back,” he said.

At times he said he doubted whether he would ever walk again.

“To win is great, but you have to learn how to lose too.

You can be the richest person in the world with great success and still have a miserable and empty life.

It is important to be considerate of others and have love in your heart. Maybe you do not feel this way now, but it is possible for anyone to begin a new way of living and develop the riches found in relationships with people.”