Andrew has so kindly asked me to do a guest blog on my recent experience at the Ferrari Mondiali 2016 event down at Daytona Beach, FL held December 1st through the 4th. This was the first time the event was held in the United States and it was an event Belinda and I felt we shouldn’t miss. I must say it was worth every minute we were there.
The Ferrari Mondiali is put on every year by Ferrari at the close of the F1 season and hosts the Ferrari Challenge Race finals worldwide. They bring the XX program cars, the FXX, the 599XX and the spectacular FXXK cars. Also, there were 14 Ferrari Formula 1 cars dating back to Nigel Mansel’s car and multiple Schumacher cars. There was a Concours event, an honors banquet, a Ferrari world record attempt, and the Sunday demonstration by the Ferrari F1 pilots Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Plus, the experience of the Daytona Speedway.
The challenge racing schedule included 10 races throughout the four days, including the final rounds of the three series and the two races for World Champion. Titles were awarded at the World Finals to Carlos Kauffmann, of team Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale in the Pirelli Trophy, Sam Smeeth (Stratstone Ferrari) in the Pirelli Pro Trophy and Thomas Loefflad in the Shell Cup (StileF Squadra Corse). Ferrari of San Francisco was there and were very competitive on track.
On Friday, we got to see the XX program and F1 Clienti run on the Daytona track. This was absolutely thrilling to see so many of the single-seaters that sound like Formula 1 cars should sound, as well as the powerful FXX K machines, boasting more than 1,000 horsepower and hybrid technology derived from Formula 1. This was the first-time modern Ferrari F1 race cars lapped Daytona Speedway. The Drivers were initially cautious, but they became quite comfortable with the high-speed curves and 31-degree banks. The best part was hearing the Formula 1 engines being pushed to the limit filling the speedway as the single-seaters raced along one of the international temples of automobile racing. You could hear these beautiful cars anywhere on the circuit and it made you stop and enjoy the moment.
One very special event that took place was 50 club members got to experience this fun track. It was quite an experience to run on the track at speed and the feeling is indescribable going in to that 31-degree banking for the first time. But after several laps you feel more and more comfortable and it is an experience of a life time. The FCA International Meet is at Daytona in April next year and you will have the chance to experience that wonderful banking.
Saturday was more racing and more F1, XX and 333 cars. Much of the late afternoon and early evening at Daytona involved an attempt to set a Guinness world record for the most Ferraris in a parade lap. They needed 965 cars, which would be one more than the record set at Silverstone in 2012 during Ferrari Racing Days. Hundreds of Ferraris assembled in the infield then emerged on the track through a back gate. The whole process took more than two hours as Ferrari officials lined the field up two-by-two on the 3.56-mile road course. Ferrari used the Speedway's private FM radio signal (107.9) to communicate with those in the parade.
The bulk of the Ferraris were street models. Several Ferrari Challenge cars, which are street legal, joined in for the final count. There was a long delay, apparently awaiting the arrival of the Guinness guy, and then the mass of Ferraris, side by side, began the first of the required two laps, at a speed of 4 mph. Through the generosity of a dear friend, Belinda got to experience this parade in a new Ferrari TDF, she said 4 mph was just fine for her and she got to see first-hand the steepness of the Daytona banking.
This slow speed caused more than one, as in maybe two or three dozen, Ferraris to pull out of line due to overheating, battery issues or clutch problems. At least nobody ran into anybody else. Unfortunately they fell short of the record by 155 cars but this was the most Ferraris on track in North America and it was a fun experience to see that many Ferraris on track. At the start finish line were all the Ferrari executives and Sergio Marchione was waving at the cars and he WASN’T wearing a sweater!
After the parade a celebration dinner was held honoring the Challenge winners, Concours winners and featured the Scuderia Formula One drivers and many of the Ferrari Executive Management. It was fun to talk with Enrico Galliera (Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer), Flavio Manzoni (Head of Design), Edwin Fenech (President and CEO of Ferrari NA) and Vettel. Ferrari introduced their new 488 challenge car and then they auctioned off the last LaFerrari to be built. he car was sold for the record amount of 7 million USD that will be used for a reconstruction project in central Italy struck by the earthquake. Also, two driving suits from the Ferrari F1 pilots were auctioned off for the cause.
Ferrari also staged the inaugural Ferrari Classiche Concours during the Finali Mondiali over the weekend. There were 73 of cars entered into the Classiche Concours, the standards were high under IAC/PFA guidelines, with many rare and special cars on display. The ‘Ferrari Classiche Enzo Ferrari’ award for the overall Best in Show went to long-time Ferrari collectors, Brian and Kimberley Ross for their 166 MM Touring Barchetta of 1947, chassis 006, while a 330 P4 Drogo Spider won the award for ‘Most Historically Significant Ferrari’.
The award for the ‘Most Elegant Classiche Certified Ferrari’ went to a 1957 250 GT Cabriolet Pinin Farina Spider Series 1, while the award for ‘Best of Show Ferrari Classiche Preservation Award’ went to a 1972 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Two different Ferrari 400 Superamericas each won an award — a 1961 Pinin Farina Cabriolet won the ‘Best of Show Ferrari Classiche Road Ferrari’ and a Pinin Farina Aerodinamico only
On Sunday Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, ended the four-day event with a spectacular exhibition at the legendary circuit. The morning started with a short press conference which gave us the chance to be up close again with these exceptional drivers.
The Sunday demonstrations started with a tribute to Ferrari’s other achievement at Daytona in 1998 when the F333 SP was the first to cross the finish line. Seven of these cars paraded on the track to the excitement of the fans who saw them win so many races in the mid-nineties.
Raikkonen and Vettel provided a show behind the wheel of the two Ferrari F60 Formula 1 machines, demonstrating runs around the track, lightning fast pit stops along with the Scuderia mechanics and of course the traditional burnouts. Before returning to pit lane, the two-drove side-by-side over the finish line in a tribute to the famous parade finish of the three Ferraris at the 24 hours of Daytona in 1967.
In closing all I can say is what a weekend to spend with Ferrari, WOW, WOW, WOW!