This weekend I had the pleasure of going on an exciting drive with Kenny Lombino of the Ferrari Club of America. It was an In Your Area drive that Kenny hosts on a monthly basis. I first met Kenny a year or so ago when he came to one of our Elysée Wednesday gatherings. We ran into each other again at the unveiling of the Ferrari FF in Beverly Hills. Kenny extended an invitation to me to be his ride-along in one of the monthly runs, which I gladly accepted. He cautioned me by saying cryptically, "It may be a different Ferrari." I knew Kenny drove an F430 spider and I responded by saying, "One's as good as another."
Sometimes, one is better than another. Kenny's new ride is a black 16M Scuderia spider--one of 499 built. The 16M is Ferrari's commemoration of having won 16 constructor's championships in Formula 1. With about 500 horsepower, a dry weight of 2954 lbs., electronic controls for stability and traction and a top speed of 196, it is a stunning package. This would be Kenny's first run with the car. I was honored to be along for the shakedown cruise.
We were joined by a number of fine people in their Ferraris--a couple of Maranellos, a couple of F430 spiders, an F430 Berlinetta, a 360 spider and a 308 GTS all of which looked and sounded like brand new cars. We were going to lunch in Wrightwood and took a meandering route through the desert hills and forested mountains to get there. The roads meandered. We did not.
Ferrari engines have always had a signature sound. The engines that powered the cars I owned--the GTO, Lusso, PF coupe, etc.--were very distinctive with their twelve cylinder cadence and timing chains. The new generation of V8 Ferraris are just as recognizable and distinct from other performance cars. To hear one passing in traffic is exciting. To hear its throaty song just over your shoulder is a thrill. When the throttle is opened, the sound transforms into something I can't describe in words but, by itself, justifies the price of the car.
Let me say that I am usually a bad passenger. I have driven high performance cars all my life. I attended the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School and know how a car should be handled at speed. It requires understanding of the physics involved and finesse with regard to the tendencies of the car one is driving. Within minutes, I can become very ill-at-ease when someone else is driving. As John Fitch told me, "A driver is always an optimist and a passenger is always a pessimist." Truer words were never spoken!
As we hit the first series of tight, decreasing radius turns leading up a fairly steep hill, I broke out in laughter. Kenny was hitting it hard and really putting it to the road. Late braking, early acceleration out of each turn and making the suspension accept the G-forces as it was designed to do, Kenny handled the car exactly as I would have done. He knew what he was doing and my only worry was trying to keep the hand-held camera as steady as possible under the circumstances. Kenny's last-minute braking reminded me of Richard Mitchell's description 'Stops on a dime and gives you nine cents change'!
The 16M never put a foot wrong and rewarded Kenny's skillful hand at the wheel. As I wrote in an earlier post, I feel that attendance at a performance driving should be mandatory for anyone seeking a driver's license. When the type of cars that were with us on the drive are in the hands of people who care enough to take this kind of instruction, it brings a level of competence and responsibility to which everyone on the road should aspire.
great story about what was , i'm sure, a great day. i still remember seeing my first 16m at the swap shop. i think it was white. and he was driving it on the street with slicks. looked and sounded bad ass.