Ferrari Challenge 2015: TIFOSIMEGAOVERLOADTOTHEMAX(x2)
It's a little difficult to describe the events of the past weekend. We don't mean to be crude, but here at The Loud Pedal, we pride ourselves on being honest with our readers. We don't candy coat and we don't make apologies.
The honest truth it that most of what we did for the better part of two days at the Ferrari Challenge (FC) at Sonoma Raceway was make a series of guttural and semi-erotic noises whilst aimlessly wandering around a couple of acres of sun-kissed tarmac. The two of us and TLP security specialist (and the glacially paced photographic semi-genius) Kelly Lane experienced what is no less than almost every gearhead's concept of Italian heaven. It was quite simply.....gobsmacking!
If we had to boil the FC down into a strict and antiseptic dictionary definition, we would likely call it a Ferrari based spec series featuring Ferrari's standard bearer, the 458. See, one sentence, and dictionary accurate.
But where the dictionary fails the English language is also where it fails to accurately and fully describe the rest of the story of the FC...the rest of this story that gets better and better every year. Yes, the FC is a factory supported spec series. But also "Yes" is the fact that the FC is also a audio/visual bombardment of your senses by the magicians of Maranello. The dictionary definition doesn't say anything about what the factory might bring to northern CA to show off...nor does it talk about the paddock and parking lot. And what it really doesn't tell you is about what the local Ferrari dealership, the teams and the fans will bring to display for all to see.
And see we did. All the Fs were there: F1, F40, F50, FF. And there were even several Es...that's E for Enzo....and La Ferraris....more than one...hell, more than 3! And Daytonas and Dinos and 2 very early 250 GTOs, OH My! And there were enough newly minted 458 Speciales present to beg the question, "how "Speciale" could this variant be if there are so damn many in this one parking lot?" But honestly, we didn't care. We were more than happy to wander blissfully among some of the most fantastic cars in the world (and yes we're biased...and we make no excuses).
So you may be asking yourself, "yourself, what type of elite mega celebrity do you have to be to get into this Italophile Bohemian Grove?" The answer, 20 bucks, some gas and some love for the House that Enzo built. The good news for us and you is that we have all 3.
This wasn't just a weekend for California's Ferrari owners to gather in one place. It was to be record setting as it was the first time in North America that the LaFerrari had been on a racetrack. Yes, just down the road in the wine country, Sonoma Raceway hosted the first track time for the most advanced and fastest Ferrari ever built.
The main event for the weekend was the Ferrari Challenge, celebrating its 10th year visiting Sonoma Raceway. The FC is a single make series of using the Ferrari 458 Challenge. The 458 Challenge uses the same engine of the street version a 570hp V8 engine but has a special tuned racing exhaust and different gear ratios.
This year the field was one of the largest in history with 30 cars taking the grid for both Saturday and Sunday races. With identical cars and full grid the racing was frenetic and close leaving one wondering how anyone avoids leaving bits of carbon fiber strewn about the track.
Ferrari of Houston driver Ricardo Perez owned the track all weekend with a 2nd place finish on Saturday separated by only 1.8 seconds from the leader. Sunday he would find the extra time and take home the victory.
It is fair to say that the Ferrari Challenge would be a great introduction to racing for the new race fan or other first time visitor to Sonoma Raceway. Finally, having attended several other FCs over the years the event at Sonoma is gets better every year with more cars and great weather.
A special thank you to the organizers of the Ferrari Challenge, Ferrari of San Francisco and Sonoma Raceway.