My first ride in a Ferrari was in May of 1999. It was my little
sister's confirmation, and lots of friends of my parents were at our home
for a reception. At some point, my brother comes up to me and says:
"there's a Ferrari standing on the driveway." My initial reaction
was, "get out of here" When I went to see though, there was indeed
this beautiful F355 Berlinetta, rosso corsa on black leather, standing
there. I immediately understood whose it was. A friend of my
father's, who was obviously at the reception, is quite the car fanattic.
Having worked as an engineer at Porsche, he knew what fast cars were.
He wanted something that had a little more soul, some more character, hence
Ferrari. This was around the time that the 360 Modena's were coming
out, but, preferring the look and heritage that the 355 carries with it,
he opted for one of the last 355's available. As he told me, when
he heared that the 355 production had ceased to give way to the 360's,
he immediately went over to garage Francorchamps to see if they had any
355's left. There were 3, 2 GTS's, both with F1 transmission, and
1 Berlinetta, with a manual gear box. Preferring the directness of
a manual gear box and the rigidity of a Berlinetta, he chose that one.
When the caterers needed to move their truck on the driveway, and he thus
had to move his car, I seized my chance when he said 'might as well go
for a spin around the block.' Unfortunately though, it had been raining,
so he didn't push the car very hard. But even driving it 'slowly'
it still gives you quite a push in the back. Driving around the block,
we came to an intersection where a street comes in from the right.
Here in Belgium, people coming from the right have the right of way (no
stop signs littered all over). Someone did indeed come out of that
street, and thus the Ferrari would have had to yield. I indicated
this, a statement which was followed by my being pushed into my seat, and
'only if he can get in front of me.' I don't know when the grin left
A little less than a year later, while reading 'auto motor und sport,' a german car magazine, I noticed that it was Ferrari days at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack the upcoming weekend. I immediately got on the phone with my father's friend, and asked him wether he was planning on going (silly question….). He said he was, and that I could go along on one of the 3 days he was going……EXCELLENT. The ride there was nice, although it rained on the way. Driving up on the highway, we were greeted by 2 german F-40's which came cruising at a comfortable 180 Km/h (111mph). Not wanting to be outdone, we joined up.
Although tagging along for a ride on the racetrack itself was nice, it did not allow for the car to go all out, because there were pace cars that kept the 'inexperienced amateur drivers' from pushing their cars further that they could handle. What I will never forget, however, was what happened on the way back. While cruising along at 160 Kmh (100mph) over the rolling hills of the ardennes on the way back, a Renault R5 started tailgating us. A Renault R5 is one of those small French cars from the 70's and 80's. Keeping himself calm for a little bit, the owner waited until we reached the foot of the next hill. There, the R5 still following us, he shifted back from 6th to 4th, and floored it. The car started shaking and shimmying, and rocketed forward up the hill, leaving the R5 behind. At the end of his acceleration, and at the top of the hill, he said 'that ought to teach him'…..lovely.
Dirk Van Roost
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