January has become synonymous with Ferraris and rain for me. This is the 3rd year in a row it’s rained on Cavallino Classic track day at Palm Beach International Raceway. I actually don’t mind it. The lighting stays perfectly diffused all day and it doesn’t get too hot especially when the day started out at 55 and evened out around 78 towards the end of the day. Thankfully all of the rain happened over night and by the time I reached the track it was just puddles to deal with.
I arrived super early as usual, so much so that I was the only media there for a solid hour. I caught up with Brian Meserlian, event coordinator, at the gate. It’s been a little over a year since I’ve seen him so it was nice to converse in person. Brian showed me the best spot to park and off I went to avoid any major puddles, I’m so glad I own a truck!
There weren’t a lot of cars out in the elements at 7am so I made do with the handful of cars available. The Excell Auto Group provided this years pace car and VIP area. Catching the raindrops on cars is always nice.
While I was walking around the other two cars I noticed the red F430’s car cover had moved up quite a bit on the driver’s side. Upon closer inspection there was about a pint of water pooling on the cover in the car! Thankfully nothing leaked in.
An hour passed and things started getting lively. The MPI tent opened up to reveal two beauties, a Ferrari 330 GTC and a Ferrari 250 Boano. The 250 would be seeing some serious track time today. While all of this was unfolding, people were trickling in. One of those people was my friend Bill Adam. We spoke briefly as he was just getting in and had to tend to his track duties. He said he’d be back in a bit.
Just as the MPI tent was getting swarmed by the increasing crowd Bill grabbed me and motioned towards the other tent across the pit area. There were no signs of action over there but it turns out that the side of the tent was open and of course Bill knows everybody so we walked in.
It turns out that this was Tom Price’s tent and as usual it was loaded with some fantastic machines. Bill was instantly in love with the Jaguar C-Type while I was eyeing the ancient Alfa Romeo 8C.
The biggest surprise was the Gulf McLaren Senna GTR just sitting in wait. This would be the 4th Senna I’ve seen in person and the second GTR version. The car is just incredible in so many ways. There is carbon fiber everywhere! The other tidbit I learned about the GTR was that it’s accompanied by an engineer! You can see him, Zach, in the back of the GTR in the first pic. His job is to make sure that the car is running in top shape and troubleshoot any issues that arise, not a bad gig!
With all the cars getting ready for track time I was able to observe what it takes to get the Alfa Romeo 8C going. One of the steps was adding oil. I kept seeing one of the techs take a bottle cap to the bay. So naturally I started asking questions and then I saw the placement of the oil spout and everything made sense. You can see from the second picture that there is very little room to get much of anything towards that opening. Apparently it only needs a few cap fulls to top it off so a steady hand and some patience will get the job done.
Zach had been busy prepping the GTR for it’s first outing of the day while I was learning about the ancient oil change techniques. Tom was in the car and ready to go.
One of the other things I learned about the GTR is that it comes with full data logging capabilities. Zach would later show me that the car records everything even video from two cameras inside the cockpit. He was able to show me every nuance of each lap, where throttle was fully open and released, steering, braking and so on. It was a data wonderland!
After Tom’s first outing in the GTR he came back and he took Zach for a ride in the 8C. I could see the smile on Zach’s face through his helmet. I watched as Zach tried to find the non-existing seat belts as Tom and him got situated in the car.
Watching that 8C fly around the track is something else. This is a car from the 1930s that was the pinnacle of racing back then and it still performs like a rocket. It was pretty amazing to see Tom go from a vehicle that looks like a spaceship to another that looks like a WWI bomber.
With Tom and Zach in the pits I headed over to the other end of the paddock to check out this beautiful Porsche 911 that was sitting all by itself. A small group of onlookers gathered as I was getting some detail shots. The owner was standing with the group on the far left. He told me that he drives this car all the time, it’s one of his favorites. I can see why. I asked him if he was going to take it on the track today but he was only stopping by. I would have loved to see it go up against some of the Ferraris on the track.
After lunch things got busy. Everyone was out on the track hitting it hard. I started off at the straight near the start/finish line and then worked my way down to turn 8 so I could watch the cars come out of the chicane and then blast up the back straight. The GTR sound like a jet engine as it blasted towards the hairpin on the other end.
After a few hours of pan shots the track was winding down. I hopped in my truck and headed back to the main paddock area to say my goodbyes to everyone. After making my rounds, I headed back to my truck and I saw a car that stood out to me. It looked Italian but I wasn’t sure what it was. After a little research I had found that it was an Iso Rivolta GT300. I had seen another Iso the Grifo and the ever popular Isetta but this Rivolta has become an instant favorite.
So until next year Cavallino, I’ll have to get my fill of vintage Ferraris and the like elsewhere until then.
Check out the full photo gallery on flickr.