We’ve all been asked if we have a perfect car. It’s usually something exotic and fast and one that makes us tingle in all the right places. We spout off names like Ferrari and Lamborghini in the hopes that maybe one day we’ll actually open our garages and see one sitting in there, but alas, for most of us, this will never happen. The real question however shouldn’t be what is the perfect car, but what would you do with it if you could use it to create your perfect automotive day.
If you’ve been reading along over the last week then you’ll know that I was in Monterey, California attending the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Monterey Historics at Leguna Seca Raceway. For any car guy or gal, attending those two events can often be the highlight of the season as you are literally surrounded by the best cars that the world has to offer. That doesn’t necessarily mean however that it will turn out to be a great experience. Don’t get me wrong, walking around Carmel-by-the-Sea whilst being surrounded by millions and millions of dollars worth of automobile is a true sight to behold, but truth be told, my perfect car day didn’t come until all the festivities had ended.
You see this past Monday I had a very rare opportunity to partake in a very special event at Leguna Seca Raceway as a good buddy of mine had invited me to participate in an all Ferrari track day. Now before I go further you should know a couple of things. First off is that Leguna Seca has been a track that I’ve dreamed of driving on since I was a little kid. I would sit in front of the TV and watch all manner of race car and motorcycle rip down the front straight, into the turns, and then into one of the most famous pieces of road course tarmac the world has to offer – the corkscrew. The second part of this equation is that aside from muscle cars, I simply LOVE Ferrari’s. This should come as no surprise since after all I am Italian and I think Ferrari produces some of the best performing and sexiest automobiles on the planet earth, so having the chance to drive one on my dream track was well… the experience of a lifetime.
Ferrari owners as a whole are a curious bunch as they generally fall into two categories. There are those who just pose with their cars and try to look pretty, and then there are the hardcore guys. The hardcore guys are the ones that buy their Ferrari’s and flog the piss out of them every chance they get. They know exactly what they were built for and use them to the best of their ability. These were the guys I was hoping to see and thankfully, I was not disappointed. When we arrived at Leguna Seca it was almost completely fogged in. Race teams that participated in the weekends past events were still packing up as the paddock area was still full of vintage race cars and trailers. We looked around and surveyed the cars that would be out on the track with us. There were multiple F430’s and F430 Scuderia’s, 360’s and Challenge Stradale’s, a few 550 and 575 Maranello’s, a few California’s, some 355’s, 2 F40’s (that’s right, I said F40’s) and one brave sole with an Enzo that was just stunning.
Today we’d be driving a 2005 Ferrari F430. A car that was purchased new and since that time has logged just under 20,000 beat it to death racetrack and road rally miles. My buddy Todd drives the shit out of this thing and so far the car has been pretty bulletproof and today would prove to be no exception. To drive an F430 on the street is one thing, but bringing it to its natural environment at the raceway is something completely different. You see the F430 simply LOVES the racetrack. From the superb handling, to the amazing carbon ceramic brakes, to that exhaust note that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, the F430 was a true joy and privilege to drive.
Todd took me out for session one where he showed me the track lines while chasing down the aforementioned Enzo. Keep in mind that he also knows this track like the back of his hand so when I began freaking out he politely told me not to worry and pushed his foot to the floor… he’s a good friend I tell ya’, a good friend. Like I said the F430 is an amazing car that is very difficult to get out of shape, so if you stack one of these things it means you really f*cked up. I then went out and after a couple of sessions got my lines down and really began to have some fun.
We ran from about 9am to around 4pm and truth be told, by the end of the day we were crushed. We’d both had A LOT of track time so calling it a day wasn’t a difficult decision, especially since we now had to go pick-up my ’68 Charger and drive back to the San Francisco area. Most of you know that my ’68 Charger is like part of my family and I simply love it. It’s given me some of the best times of my life and gotten me through some of the toughest. It’s my rock and at times my therapist, and even though I just came off a full day at the racetrack, I was very much looking forward to the 100 mile drive back up the coast.
You couldn’t have two cars more different than the Charger and the Ferrari. They’re two cars from different era’s that provide two completely different types of driving experiences. The Ferrari had done its part for the day. It was a warhorse on the racetrack and never once did it disappoint or lose its ground around one of the most demanding circuits in the world. Now however, it was time for the Charger to do its part.
I manually rolled down all the windows, turned the key and proceeded to crank the big 440 cu. inch engine to life. Ladies and gentlemen I’m going to say this once… there is NOTHING like the sound of a big block Chrysler breathing through a set of 3-inch pipes, it’s simply magic. With the windows rolled down and the engine purring there was only one thing left to do before I pulled in behind the Ferrari to hit the road – The Rolling Stones. I popped in a CD, cranked up You Can’t Always Get What You Want to eleven and proceeded to have 100 miles of pure driving nirvana, it was beautiful.
We got back to Todd’s, dropped the cars off and I proceeded to head back to the hotel by the airport so as to catch some shut eye before our 5 hour flight back to NYC in the morning. There was however one last thing we needed to do before the day would be truly complete… it was time for IN-n-OUT Burger and a Double-Double with cheese animal style.
As we sat and dined I thought to myself that that was literally one of the best car days I’ve ever had. I was surrounded by dear friends and family, I drove all day at one of my dream tracks in a beautiful Ferrari, listened to the Rolling Stones on eleven while cruising in my ’68 Charger up the coast in California, and to top it off I had just had my last bite of a Double-Double with cheese. People, it just doesn’t get any better than that…