I guess it was around 1952 in my home town of New Orleans, when I first learned the word Ferrari, and it wasn't long after that I got caught up in the mystique that surrounds the marque. You see I read car books as a teenager: Speed Age, Sports Cars Illustrated, Hot Rod, and Road & Track. I became the practicing "car nut" I continue to be today. Practically every autograph in my high school year book makes some reference to cars. And my favorite pastime was standing around and shootin? the shit about cars I had read about, like it was all first hand experience. I also hung around Knots Auto Service because the owner, Knot Farrington had the fastest car in the city of New Orleans. It was a 1939 Ford coupe with a 3/8 X 3/8 flathead with all the other goodies: Edelbrock heads and manifold, Stromberg carburetors, and an Isky 400 Jr. cam. God! it sounded good. He used to let me fire it up and move it around the shop; and I actually got high from the experience. It wasn't so much the driving or the feel of the car, but the sound that stoned me. Like so many other kids of my generation, I developed a tuned ear for something that has a powerful sound. Listening to the rump rump of a stout flathead V8, the crack of a 6 cylinder Chevy with a split manifold, a P51 Mustang as it bored through the air, the spitting rumble of a 40 inch Triumph Twin motorcycle and the smooth purr of a Lincoln V-12 really grabbed me.. My pal Jack Lagarde had a friend who used to come over to his house driving a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr coupe, complete with a flat-head V-12 and a set of straight pipes. "Straights," as they were known are exhaust pipes with no mufflers at all, They were loud. Louder than a Chevy 6 with 10" True Tones. I would hear that Zephyr coming for blocks and I would even stop in the middle of supper and run over to Jack?s house just so?s I could listen to that V-12 fire up, and drive away. My folks thought I was nuts. But the sound of that engine stirred my soul.
As I said earlier, shootin? the shit about cars was my favorite activity and I would eventually move the conversation toward Ferrari. Now you must understand that none of the guys I hung around with had even heard a Ferrari much less actually seen one, including me. But I read every word that guys like John Christy, Steve Wilder, Griff Borgeson, John Bond, etc. had written about Ferrari and I knew what they sounded like even though I had never actually heard one.
It wasn't until 1956 that I experienced my first real Ferrari. I went to a Delta Region SCCA event, in Shreveport, and there big as life was Roy Cherryholmes and the most beautiful 4.9 roadster imaginable. When it fired, the sound assaulted my consciousness like a five pound framing hammer assaults a sixteen penny finishing nail. All other activity kinda faded away, I was mesmerized. The rampant horse, the wire wheels, the red paint, the sumptuous curves, the egg crate grill, ah yes, the egg crate grill. Sunavabitch-this is where Chevy got the idea for the ?55 Bel Air grill, I thought to myself. And look at all them gawdam carburetors, A small amount of blue oil-smoke emitted from the two huge exhaust pipes and I stood in the cloud. The Castrol "R" Racing Oil fumes engulfed me and the rumble of the idle pounded my chest. I glanced around to see if anyone was watching as though I were shoplifting or something because I felt so elated that it was like getting away with something akin to stealing.
As the giant V-12 clicked and clattered up to operating temperature, I stared. Cherryholmes slowly brought the r's up to about 3000 and then ripped the throttle open --- instant seven grand. "Now that's some kinda throttle response," I thought as there was much ripping and thrashing each time he gassed it. A nod from Cherryholmes and the mechanic closed the hood securing it with the leather strap. As he let the