Willow Springs Track Event

Presented by Ferrari North America and Ferrari of Beverly Hills

By: Tex Otto, Photos: Marshal Leib

The teaser of the Ferrari Formula One cars on Rodeo Drive only hinted of what was to come later that weekend. Nearly every significant tipo of Scudera GP cars were presented at blustery Willow Springs on March 5,6 & 7. Flat-twelves, V-twelves, turbo-sixes and the added highlight of seeing, hearing (and cerebrally feeling) M. Schumacher?s V-ten 1998 car were but a few of the highlights of a great weekend. Other race activities included the F355 Challenge Races as well as the Vintage Challenge series.

Saturday was a bright and sunny day, although the customary wintery desert breeze kept the not so brave searching for shelter from the crisp wind. Among the colorful roster of race prepared F355 are Steven Earle and Tommy Hilfiger. The Challenge cars practiced and then ran their race, which was won by Matthew Drendel.

As noontime arrived, the vintage Ferraris made laps around the challenging course. The sights and sounds of a competition 206, 312P, 512, 308LM, 250 TDF, 550 GT1 and a Daytona among others around Willow inspired us all. Many realized the significance of this gathering of cars and all cherished the opportunity to experience the weekend for themselves.

A few people in the paddock area (yours truly included) had an interesting and temporarily mind-altering moment while Schumacher?s V-10 was being warmed up . The warm up procedure is quite extensive on exotic racing machinery. Everything needs to at operating temperature so that designed specifications are met during the operation of the engine and transmission. Those people that thrive on the sound of sophisticated machinery received a ear and brainful of perhaps the most intense man-made sound and feeling at the end of this warmup.

Minutes go by while the engine builds heat in the drive train. A group of enthusiasts listened to the V-10?s constant rev idle. Then unexpectedly, the technician takes the engine from the loud but sadistically comfortable scream of 6-8000 rpm, to a few of instantious quick blips of the throttle of cranium jelling intensity. The engine revs up and back to idle so rapidly, so fluidly, that by the time you know you are hurting you can?t move. Speaking for myself, it felt a little like a needle point drill going in one side of my head and not quite out the other side. Definitely cleans out the ol? sinus cavities. It was great though:) Just what the doctor ordered.

We thank all of the teams who participate in the F355 Challenge series for carrying on the Ferrari torch in North America, the many people involved who brought their Formula One cars from long distances to show our U.S. Grand Prix deprived members what the top level of international motorsports competition and its machinery are all about. Thanks also to the dedicated groups of vintage racers, many who are friends of the FCA-SW Region that honor the heritage and passion of Ferrari.