“Stop looking down at the road and look up!!” As the Ferrari V-12 engine howls in the background, my helmet earpiece is filled with a strong Southern twang that makes the demanding sound almost mild. I press the gas and speed up. Focus on the road ahead; three turns out! The place you wish to be is there.
While driving in the desert outside Palm Springs, Calif., I was instructed by an instructor not to look at the road, and that’s exactly what I did. I was going 120 mph.
Ferrari NV’s Corso Pilota coach Anthony Lazzaro has won the Rolex 24 at Daytona twice while racing for Ferrari and once driving for Porsche. He’s also competed in Le Mans, Sebring, and SPA, where he’s finished on the podium each time. On the side, Lazzaro teaches VIP Ferrari owners to forget everything they’ve ever been taught about driving. Learned how to conduct an F12 up to 140mph on the Thermal Club’s 5-mile-long private racetrack under his supervision
For Ferrari, seminars like this are a way to build community among owners (there aren’t really that many of them, in comparison) and help dealers move VIP customers toward new models. A track day with an F12 can make you fall in love with it even if you already possess a weekend vehicle like the $210,000 California T.
Clients frequently have a collection of Ferraris, but they’ve never taken any of them out on a track. Both men and women; doctors, web entrepreneurs, and television executives; hail from cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as New York and Detroit. Everyone has one thing in common, regardless of their age or ethnicity: they all have one thing in common. With his laid-back personality, Lazzaro is frequently connected with clients on the move. “They’re doing well,” he says. “It’s not as if they won the lottery—these are intelligent individuals. “Therefore, there is mutual admiration.”
The Ferrari Challenge series is a global program for the most dedicated owners, and Corso Pilota is the first step toward racing in it. Everyone who wants to compete in the series must buy a car (such as the $330,000 488 Challenge), join an official series team, and employ a professional technician and coach to help them prepare their vehicle for the few races that occur annually.
X-Men actor and Steve Jobs impersonator Michael Fassbender did it last year after accepting an offer from the corporation. At 40, he decided to take a break from acting and explore the racing world; he recently informed me during practice laps at Daytona International Speedway. “Getting this opportunity came from pure luck, and Go-karts were not what I expected.”
Fassbender was the fastest in his class despite having no prior track experience when he completed the course he took in 2016. He didn’t compete for the first time in seven months, but he’s been doing so nearly every month. He’s even made it to the stage. Fassbender describes the experience as “a baptism by fire—very powerful.” There’s a learning curve with the 488’s power. But I just tried to take my time with it. As much as I could, I paid attention to my coach.
For Ferrari, the Corso is a way to hear directly from actual customers about their experiences with the brand. Many cars are discussed at the trackside, and everyone who takes part in the courses will be asked to complete lengthy surveys afterward. Based in Maranello, Italy, the business is considering adding a four-seat “FUV” to its lineup of supercars—a dramatic break from history. Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne has stated that the company’s goal is to treble profits by 2022.