The Lighter Side of Owning a Ferrari

The life and times of a Ferrari mechanics wife By Kris Helms

 

Let me start off by stating the fact that a “garage” is NOT a place to park your car, but a place where “problem” Ferraris reside while being sorted out, after the normal workday ends.  In the early years of our marriage, there were many long, late evenings spent in the garage at home working on cars that presented problems, which required quiet quality time, away from the hustle bustle of the shop. My apprenticeship started by simply watching and holding a light while the diagnostics were preformed. Eventually my job progressed from light holder, to parts washer (with no increase in pay, as Dave convinced me that this was quality time together!). I was now getting an education in the workings of a Ferrari!  Hands on at last!

This education led to actual employment.  At the time, Dave was the GM of an independent Ferrari repair and restoration shop in Minneapolis.  One must understand the job description of “GM” in a small shop. The duty list was all-inclusive, with everything from janitor to accountant; yet find the time to repair all of the cars in the shop.  He needed help, and who better than his loyal apprentice (read, wife) to fill the position. The promise of a high paid career went completely out the window, and I soon found myself jealous of what our kids were making flipping burgers at the local McDonalds.

 It was several weeks into my new job before I discovered that the large pile of post-it notes in Dave’s office actually had a desk beneath it!  One of his customers worked for 3M, and was the world distributor for post-it notes, and each time his car was in, the trunk was full of a re supply of the darn things. He would carry a full pack in his pocket, and post the things were ever he happened to have an idea worth jotting down, latter asking, “where is that one note that I left on the alignment machine? RIGHT!

Soon I had the daunting task of organizing the office under control, and Dave was actually spending the better part of his day (and nights at times) doing what he does best, fixing Ferraris.

It was about this time that the owner of the shop, Dr. Bob Bodin, thought that I had so much extra time on my hands that he suggested that I organize a summers worth of FCA events, including concours shows, fun rallies and race track events.  Now I too forgot what an 8-hour workday was all about.  Those of you that have organized these events know exactly what I am talking about, as it takes untold hours of work before it comes together.  Surely there had to be a salary raise in site, as I was not yet making enough money to be required to file a tax return!!  Yet the promise of travel to far distant and exotic places kept being dangled in front of me.  I just didn’t realize at the time that Dave and Bob meant racetracks all over the country!  I have now seen them all, and even had the opportunity to drive Ferraris on a number of them.  A very memorable track event was at the Monterey Historic Races held at Laguna Secca back in the mid 80’s.  This time Bob’s wife came with us and the two of us did our best (at the begging of our husbands) to remain conservative on our shopping spree to Carmel.  I don’t think to this day neither Bob nor Dave ever had a clue what kind of dent we put in the checkbook. This event was also memorable as it was the first time that I met Bob and Joan Donner, Peter Sachs, Tony and Lulu Wang and a host of many other wonderful folks. It was times like this that made all of the long hours a little less of a nail biting experience.  BUT, where is my raise?

The Antarctic weather of Minnesota finally drove us to a move to Denver, and led to Dave’s employment at Ferrari of Denver in the mid 90’s.  House shopping in Colorado proved to be the same as all of the houses in Minnesota we had, it was the size of the garage that determined if it was worth taking a look at.  A house in Parker, with a good-sized barn met all of our requirements. BUT, why is it that my first garage that I can actually park a car in is the barn, and it is 100 yards from the house?!

In the end, the trip to Italy (remember the promise of far away and exotic places?) finally came, when Dave had to go to the factory for 360 Modena training.

It has now been 25 years that we have been associated with Ferraris’, and we have made an untold number of good friends that share our interest. Thanks to all of our friends that have made this journey such a wonderful time.