July 21, 2011 | Talk of the Town
Nathanial Christian and Barbara Constantin at this year's Hamptons Rally for Ferrari
Anyone meandering around Water Mill this past weekend probably noticed at least one of the 100 sexy Italians streaking loudly through town—especially considering many had their tops off. The third annual Hamptons Rally for Ferrari was in town, courtesy of commercial real-estate developer Nathanial Christian. Christian, who owns four Ferraris—a 2010 458 Italia, a 2010 599 GTB, a 2002 575 Maranello and a 1992 512TR Testarossa—foots the bill for the afternoon of exotic imports, Champagne, hors d’oeuvres and polo match.
“This rally’s not about speed,” he shouted over the deafening roar of a 2011 California convertible as we, ironically, sped down a tree-lined street. “It’s more about the camaraderie of the group.” As he explained it, while perfectly cornering the $200,000-plus ride, after buying his first supercar from the manufacturer the dealer left something to be desired in terms of events and special functions. “Each retailer only has about twenty clients, so a party with twenty people wouldn’t be much fun,” he says. “I thought we should do something bigger.”
Taking the Wheel
So he orchestrated a last-minute event a few years back at Georgica. “50 Ferraris showed up, and I realized we had to do something even larger,” Christian said, pulling off the road. “Okay, your turn.” This writer—who’s had more than his share of speeding tickets in years past—slipped behind the Formula One-inspired wheel and took control of the 450 horses under the hood.
As we took off down the road, my foot fought the urge to instinctively mash the pedal into the floorboards. The speed limit here is 30. Christian continued, relaying the rally’s true raison d’être. “It’s really a gift to all my friends. In a year or two I’ll probably bring in a charity, but I want to make sure the alignment is perfect for that.” When I remark that it’s a rather large gift to his chums, Christian laughed. “It’s fun, but expensive. Expensive fun,” he surmised. That phrase could double as a tag line for any Ferrari ad. “You should really punch it here,” he instructs. And so, a mere second or two later, we’re flying down a curvy stretch of road at close to 70 miles an hour. The force of the torque slammed our heads into the seats, but it couldn’t push the wide smile off my face.
Rallying the Troops
Back at the private estate that hosted the event more than 100 Ferraris new and vintage alike lined up—some worth more than $25 million each. Owners talked shop with one another. “That was the second clutch I burned out, and you know those can be, like, $6,000 each.” (Those of us who had arrived in Hondas and Fords took note.) The rally, a 35-mile jaunt through Water Mill, Noyack, and Sag Harbor, was but minutes away when we all lined up at the edge of the road.
The sight of 100-plus supercars is enough to awe anyone, but the sound of each of these cars taking off in rapid succession induces goose bumps. It is three straight minutes of purring engines and the occasional howl of delight from a passenger as the brightly colored cars scream by us.
Two hours later they arrived back and it was time to start the polo match on the regulation-size field just behind the cooling Ferraris. As they climbed out of their rides, the drivers shouted to one another. “Did you see the guy in front with the hot chick? It’s amazing what you can get with a [Ferrari] Enzo,” one yelled a bit too loudly. Another approaches Christian with an inquiry as to what would happen if an errant polo ball comes flying off the field. “My Testarossa is literally right behind the goal!” “We’ll get you moved,” comes the reply.
The best overheard of the day came during the polo match from the announcer. “Look at that horse go!” a man with a heavy accent began over the loudspeakers, referring to one rider tearing down field. “How many horses does a Ferrari have? I dunno. But I’m sure it’s a lot.”
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL RASMUS/BFANYC.COM/COPYRIGHT BILLY FARRELL AGENCY (BFA) (FERRARI); GETTYIMAGES.COM (CHRISTIAN)
BY SEAN EVANS