words and shots by Robert Turner
notice the name...
We knew we were getting close. You would think it was the vibe, like some sort of red Ferrari mojo or the full on shriek of a V-12 drifting around the Fiorano test track. No, it was the street signs saying “Museo Ferrari 500M” ahead. The factory and museum are located in what is for the most part a large industrial area. Nothing special, just lots of warehouses and freight trucks lined up for their shipments.
Then all of the sudden a blood red 458 sticks its nose out from an intersection and quickly turns and accelerates away. I had a change to glance at the driver, some young punk with a bad haircut and a huge diamond earring. Great I thought, some Italian rap star getting a chance to drive his new ride around Maranello before he took it home. Then we turned the corner and I realized it was not a young Italian rap star, just a punk. On either side of the road were a number of businesses that catered to tourists visiting Ferrari. With names like Test Drive, Stop and Go, Push Start and Floor IT, these businesses offered an all too brief opportunity to drive a Ferrari in and around Maranello. There was one after another, it seemed to be a whole cottage industry devoted to giving “everyman” the chance to drive the blood red car of their dreams.
At least the Tifosi have their priorities in line...
You cannot walk five feet without one of their operatives assaulting you to come to their business and drive your favorite Ferrari. Prices started at 80 Euro and went up. That 80 Euro was for a 10 minute drive around the streets in front of the Factory. You could maybe get up to 60KPH before you would have to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a tourist with a star-struck look on their face crossing the street. I noticed a lot of what I will term the “Ferrari Gaze”; car geeks just happy to be on such hallowed ground. I think I may have been one of them, but I am not sure. You will have to ask my wife.
"As an instructor for several driving schools I get to drive these cars on actual race tracks."
Several of the operatives approached me, tempting me with colorful brochures with a lot of Red and photos of demon fast Ferraris, they spoke about the honor and prestige of getting to drive an actual Ferrari around the streets of Maranello. They sang their siren song of the Tifosi. I saw a red mist descend over my eyes. My wife told me to snap out of it. Hmmm, I’ll have to pass, but thanks for asking I said to more than one operative. As an instructor for several driving schools I get to drive these cars on actual race tracks. Still I did think about it for a few seconds.
2006 F1 car
The Museum itself is very beautiful. Well it is Ferrari, they just cannot help themselves. You are treated to some very special cars. There are three world beating Ferrari 250’s present – a GTO, SWB and TDF and I have to say, these are three of my favorite cars ever and they were parked right next to each other. The Museum also had displays on some forward thinking technology like their first attempt at All-Wheel drive and their first paddle shift transmission. It was cool to see how they were thinking about these kinds of things decades ago. But since Ferrari is synonymous with Formula One, there is a lot to be seen. Here they do not disappoint. There were several race cars from the 50’s and 60’s and one each of Schumacher’s string of five back to back championships.
Ferrari The Ferrrari...want badly too...
Standing among giants
There was a sound booth where you could hear four different F1 engine configurations go through a series of driving behaviors that gave you a sense of how the race car sounded under different condition at a very high JBL induced volume. I taped one of them…of course. There were several F1 steering wheels on display, it was interesting to see how they went from very simple to very complex devices over a period of time. They had the first paddle shift car that Nigel Mansell drove in 1990 and it had one red button on the hub and two tiny paddles…that it. Then you look at the current wheel. But it hard to call it a steering wheel, there are some aircraft that are not this complicated. There are even buttons to recover data if the driver screws up on the race track. I bet that one never gets pushed. It took about an hour to go through the Museo Ferrari and it was worth every penny…er…Euro we spent.
And on that exhaust note, see you next time.Robert Turner is the author of The Driver, a series of six novels your editor in chief finds intoxicatingly engaging and superbly written; Book I— Decision and Book II— Training are currently available here. He also has a blog entitled My Life with Porsches. Robert can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.