New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


New Additions Adds Enthusiasm to Klingberg Vintage Motorcar Festival

Excitement is building at the Klingberg Family Centers as the 22nd car festival is bringing more notoriety.

National Geographic will be coming to video a portion for one of their programs.

“National Geographic will film a 2 hour special called ‘Driving America’ and they are coming here and are even doing preliminary things before the event,” said Mark Johnson, vice president of Klingberg last week.

New this year, Amy Kirby of the New Britain Historical Society is arranging for a group of four actors to perform in full costume. They will portray Colonel Albert Pope, Philip Corbin and others.

Lynette Macaruso, who will portray Florence Lincoln, said she is excited to play a role in the show.

“It is interesting to portray someone who had a personal connection with automotive history,” said Macaruso. “Florence Lincoln is the first female to have a driver’s license and drove in a classy car made in New Britain.”

Gene Coppa said his character, Col. Pope, was a manufacturer of bicycles, but when sales slumped he went into the automobile business and made the first electric car.

“At one point he made 400 electric cars and 40 gas engine cars,” said Copa. “He has great tales about Theodore Roosevelt to tell.”

“You have to keep changing it and drama is the new thing we are adding this year,” said Johnson. “It just fits. The cars can sit there, but we are now demonstrating the history and without it, we are missing an opportunity.”

Stories will include such topics as Connecticut had the first posted speed limit in the country at 12 miles per hour and police officers were fast enough to catch the cars for violating it on bicycles.

This year’s festival will have 6 Rolls Royce’s from the 1920s, 25 cars made earlier than 1920 and the most unusual car will be an 1895 Armstrong made in Bridgeport.

“It is a gas electric and an engineering marvel,” said Johnson. “It has been languishing in a shack for over a century. It is coming up from New Jersey.”

This year there will be a new supercar display as well as a gathering of Ferrari’s and Maaserati’s.

“We are having the artist of the show coming in Bill Bravo,” Johnson added. “A tent with his auto illustrations will also be on display.”

Cars will be coming from many states and 10 different Connecticut made cars will be on display.

“So many people don’t know we were the center of automobile manufacturing,” said Johnson.

The show will take place on the agency’s 40 acre hilltop campus to support their programs serving children and families across Connecticut.

A special emphasis will be on recognizing dads on the Father’s Day weekend.

Wayne Carini of Velocity’s “Chasing Classic Cars” and his dad Bob Carini will serve as Grand Marshals of the festivities.

Professional DJ and announcer Dave Salonia will provide a selection of vintage music and older favorites for the crowd. Dancers from the Fred Astaire Studio in West Hartford and the Stardust Dancers will light up the ballroom with a selection of ballroom and vintage dance numbers. A photo booth where snapshots can be taken will also be available. There will be an expanded number of children’s activities and entertainment.

Admission is $10; seniors over 65 pay $8 and children under 12 are free.

All spectators parking is at the Rock Cats Stadium at Willow Brook Park. No dogs or alcohol is allowed.

For more information call 860-832-5526 or visit