Of all the marques in the world, perhaps none can surpass Ferrari in the passion it inspires in fans and owners alike. Producing amazing creations with an unrivaled back catalogue of motorsport successes, peerless cars, and famous racing drivers – and unlike many other manufacturers who dwell in glory long past – Ferrari has remained at the top for more than half a century.
At the very soul of Ferrari is its racing arm, Scuderia Ferrari, founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929. Originally racing Alfa Romeos, they began producing their own cars in 1947 and as the saying goes, the rest is history. Remarkably, Enzo originally had no intention of producing road-going variants of his racecars – he began only as a means to fund his ever-growing motorsport campaigns. Today, Ferrari’s domination is unparalleled at the apex of motorsport: Formula 1, with over 200 races won and 16 constructors’ championship titles and its road-going examples are revered around the world.
Ferrari owners following Enzo’s hallowed tracks have long participated in all manner of competition, and in 1993 the Ferrari Challenge was created to bring them together. A one-make series, gentleman racers and professionals drive in identical cars to truly explore the outer limits of their driving talent. Now in its nineteenth year and spanning regional divisions in North America, Europe, Italy, and Asia Pacific, it attracts participants of all nationalities and experience levels to a no holds barred expression of their passion for racing.
The series evolves with each iteration of Ferrari’s mid-engine offering – from the 348 to the 458. A Challenge car, while based on its street-legal brethren and similar in mechanical composition, is quite a different beast. The series’ strict rules bar any modifications to the drivetrain and engine, which remain identical to the base model. In the interest of weight savings, all creature comforts are gone; radio, leather, carpets, and insulation have all been binned. Inside there’s a full array of safety equipment – racing seats, 6-point belts, rollcage, fire suppression system—a race ready challenge car and compliment of spare parts will cost nearly half a million dollars before the expense of actually racing, so prospective Tifosi will require a pocketbook as deep as their passion; but as the ever growing number of participants around the world will tell you, it is worth every penny.
To see the Challenge series is to witness regular men stand on the shoulders of legends, if only for the several race weekends in the season before returning to their day jobs. Walking the paddock, the acrid smell of spent rubber and gasoline infuses the air, gets under your skin, and the thunderous roar of full-throttle engines can be deafening at times – truly heaven for any car enthusiast. Brightly colored trailers adorned in sponsor logos and prancing horse cavallinos, truckloads of spare parts, and endless rows of spare tires neatly line the perimeter. Mechanics and engineers meticulously comb over every component of the cars as the anxious drivers look on. It’s an incredible sight to behold, a symphony of people moving about, cars in various states of assembly. Throughout, an undeniable aura of excitement permeated by the tension and nervousness begot by the competition and the danger intrinsic to motorsport.
The fans arrive early and stay late, their thirst for racing seemingly unquenchable. Local Ferrari owners clubs often make the pilgrimage to Challenge races to show their support and dominate the forecourts with a display of automobilia to rival any world-class concours – an event unto itself.
The hospitality tents and grandstands are full of doting supporters, many of whom are friends and family of the racers, and whilst it may not have the grandeur or pomp of a Formula 1 race, one can feel something very special is happening. The drivers and their sponsors are a diverse lot from all walks of life with one thing in common, their passion for racing and their love for driving Ferraris to the limits of mechanical adhesion and personal courage – and beyond. To walk amongst these individuals is to be inspired and awestruck; it is truly wonderful to see dedicated and passionate people doing exactly what Enzo Ferrari intended when he first began building cars.
Ferrari has always nurtured its clients’ passion both in the cars they manufacture and in after-sales care. Particular attention and support has always been given to customers interested in racing their cars; over the years, privateers campaigning Ferraris have participated in countless events. In 2001 this longstanding service matured into a full-featured division called Corse Clienti. Supporting both the modern and historic Challenge series, Corse Clienti is also a bespoke service that can attend to any motorsport needs a Ferrari owner could possibly imagine, anything from providing racing logistics and trackside support at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to technical assistance in owning and operating a historic Formula 1 car that has passed into private ownership.
Perhaps the greatest expression of the bond between the factory and its clientele is the high degree to which customers can be involved in the development of future models. The FXX and 599XX programs exemplify this beyond anything another manufacturer has yet to conjure. Based on the Enzo and 599 respectively, these specialty models are at the heart of a program that gathers data to be directly integrated into the development of future models. This is surely an idea that would stir the soul of anyone who has ever dreamed of being involved in the creation of a new Ferrari.
The FXX and 599XX are fully race spec and feature a significant power boost over the standard models: the FXX boasts 789 hp versus the Enzo’s 651 hp and the 599XX features a 720 hp motor versus the standard 599’s 611 hp. The events in which they are run are fully coordinated and managed by Ferrari and held at many famous tracks in Europe, Asia, and North America. Participants enjoy the technical expertise of a full complement of factory engineers and professional drivers providing invaluable assistance and support.
For the “owner/test-drivers” of these spectacular machines participating in this revolutionary development program, their on-track telemetry and feedback will be painstakingly documented and evaluated by Ferrari engineers. Data from 38 on-board telemetry computers are uploaded to engineers who work closely with the drivers in a symbiotic quest for improving all components of the car. After each session there is a lengthy debrief, feedback is taken, and adjustments are made to the cars for the next outing.
These sessions not only represent a tremendous learning experience for the drivers, but they are also enormously enlightening for engineers who seek to improve efficiency and component durability. Ferrari has a strong history of technological trickle down from their racing endeavors. New ideas and technology subjected to the ultimate test that is motorsport have been tirelessly honed and readied to eventually benefit more ordinary models.
To date the FXX program has proven to be an amazing outlet for clients seeking involvement, and, for Ferrari, has contributed invaluable data that directly augmented the development of the 430 Scuderia, an award-winning model designed for hardcore enthusiasts.
The close relationship between Ferrari and its clients has guaranteed a bright future indeed. Ferrari has committed to an exciting lineup of road-going cars with a selection of four different models being available at any given time.
A new product will debut every 6 months and face-lifted variants will be introduced every four years. With the constant expansion and improvement in all facets of operation, one can only pause for breath as the next magnificent innovation is revealed from the factory of dreams.