Palm Beach Cavallino Classic 26—DAY 2
Day 2 of the Cavallino Classic 26 was practice time for the Cavallino Classic Historic Competition at the Palm Beach International Raceway, about a 30-minute drive (or in a Ferrari, slightly less than that) from West Palm Beach. No matter how much we talked about the exquisite and valuable nature of these Ferraris, lest not forget that the heritage of Ferrari has always been how they can find their solace when taken onto a track. From V6s to V8s and V12s, turbo-charged or non-aspirated, there is a hidden DNA of a racer in every Ferrari. Thus the Cavallino Classic was not just a “park & show” event but it included a way of remembering the very reason why we are enamoured with these cars in the first place. A Ferrari may look extremely nice anywhere where it is parked. But it looks a whole lot better when it is at speed. They were meant to be driven. Hard.
Entering the main paddock area, the array of vintage and contemporary Ferraris getting prepared and ready for their respective practice sessions all at once can jar one’s senses. You looked to your left and be mesmerised by the Ferrari 250 GT ‘Tour de France’, the ex-Ecurie Francochamps s/n 1321 GT 1959 Le Mans Class Winner, as it stood side-by-side with a silver 365 GTB/4 Competizione. Out of the corner of your eye on the right you noticed the two 250 GT Berlinetta SWBs both getting ready to hit the track. Walking further down you would have seen a ‘barn find’ 275 GTS Spider. Not here to race but looking for a new home. Also for sale was a cute 250 GT California Spider toy car that would be perfect for a child in all of us—with a US$19,500 price tag. While in front of you stood an F40 getting attended—before you realised that there was a 512 BB/LM in NART colours that crept up on you from behind after a heavy work out on the Palm Beach circuit.
Tucked behind the recently released F12 Berlinetta TdF, I managed to catch a glimpse of the Dino 206 SP that once raced under the Swiss Scuderia Filipinetti team getting its service. This tiny racer (like a scaled down version of one of my favorite Ferrari racing cars, the 330 P4) has a pretty well-documented history. I saw it once before, more than twenty years ago at Nurburgring when I went to see the launch of the 550 Maranello. All in all if this was the Devil’s Playground, then take me to hell! The assortment of cars filled the different types of categories that the organiser had set for several years now. Some of the modern road cars were there not to race but for owners to drive around the track when it is opened for GT and Cruise class. The Cavallino Classic Competition was in fact arranged into three types of vintage racing: the Pre-War Race, the Drum Brake Race and the Disc Brake Race for later classic Ferraris.
For me, what stood out laid further down into the paddock area when I came across the ex-Ulf Norinder 250 GTO s/n 3445GT with its iconic Swedish blue with yellow racing colours. Now belonging to Christopher Cox, I had met the car before several years ago in Epernay. But this timeI was rubbing my hands with greater anticipation knowing that shortly, the owner will be taking the car at full throttle for me to see—and hear. Next to it was also a rarity that I always wanted to look at in person, which was Chris’ other racer, the 412 S s/n 0744 MI from 1958. A one-off ex-John Von Neumann race car fitted with the then massive Tipo 141 4.0L engine had a colorful racing history. Why these would have been enough for me, I cannot help but walked over toward a pair of 1956 250 GT Boano that were parked next door. One in Grey and the other was in rich dark Blue with Silver roof that caught my fancy—maybe because those are the Grand Touring corporate colours. I found out later that this is an all-alloy “Low Roof” example whose present owner is Jack Thomas. All these historical Ferraris then took to the track well into the late afternoon as I found my position as close as I could to the main straight. To hear the sound of these classic V12s passing me by one-by-one, bellowing and reaching their crescendos at full speed up to its top gear before downshifting as they approached the first corner was simply magnificent. It was important to understand the significance of the moment when you became aware that these vintage machines can still take it to the limit. They left me in utter amazement.
As the practice sessions were finally completed and the track day drew to a close, I came across an opportunity that I was not prepared to miss when a gentleman by the name of Arthur Taxman offered to give me a lift back to West Palm Beach. Arthur was an extremely amiable chap who I met during lunch that day and we had a terrific conversation over Ferraris, including the one that he brought with him—a 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE. A California car that he picked up in Chino Hills (a place that is eerily familiar to me) has been under his custodian for many years. While I was more than pleased to have stood all day listening to vintage Ferraris passing me by in full chat, little did I know during lunch that I was about to find out for myself what it would sound like from the inside! As we left the speedway, the route that we took back was nearly as straight as it could possibly be. I got to watch Art up close as he went through the gears. Each time I took in the pitch of the V12 wailing while I also felt the enormous torque as Art flick the overdrive when the traffic was clean. Although I was familiar with all of its mechanical, analogue sound having driven a Daytona before, I was still amazed with how much this 56-year-old grand tourer of a car still remained as taut and as precise as ever. So as it turned out, some may have enjoyed themselves on the Palm Beach International Speedway. But thanks to Art, I got to have my own track day afterward!