At around 9 p.m. yesterday, race-car driver E.J. Viso popped into a midnight-blue 2011 Lotus Evora IPS, revved up the engine, and steered the car past several hundred guests seated for dinner.
The slow ride made for an exciting moment at the New York International Auto Show gala preview, a fundraiser for East Side House Settlement.
Viso parked near gala co-chairman Christopher LaSusa, portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors LLC, and the podium.
Soon after, Christie’s International auctioneer Lydia Fenet auctioned the car, for $80,000, to Jamie Brown, president of investment bank Canaccord Genuity Inc.
“I bought it for the charity, and I’m looking forward to driving it,” Brown said in an interview after, standing with co-workers next to his firm’s two tables. “This is a terrific event.”
More money was raised when Steven Cho, a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and chairman of the East Side House Settlement scholarship committee, talked about the income gap between those with college educations and those without. His words spurred more than 30 guests to make $1,000 donations, for which they received Lotus baseball caps.
The East Side House Settlement gala preview is an annual event that gives guests the chance to roam the show early, cocktail in hand. Dinner tickets for this year’s event were $1,000 and cocktail tickets were $200.
Lotus signed on as a sponsor of the gala as part of its effort to break into the American market. The European carmaker produces 2,500 cars annually.
“We have an ambition to actually deliver to American customers something like 500 units,” said Lotus’s director of sales, Guillaume Chabin.
The Evora model retails for $64,000 to $75,000.
“A Lotus is all about driving, handling, cornering, having this direct relationship between the road and yourself,” Chabin said. “It’s the closest you can get to a racing experience with a standard road car.”
The New York International Auto Show opens to the public today and runs through Sunday, May 1.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)