The Lighter Side of Owning a Ferrari


Another Ferrari Podium Finish   by john babos


A short time ago, one of the executive managers at work thought that running a ‘Pinewood Derby’ would help lift moral. (It’s the same pinewood derby in which cub scout packs participate throughout the country).    The executive managers provided  pinewood kits to 100 engineers, physicist, mathematicians and one finance clerk. Initially, as a spectator I thought,  “yeah, why not?”  Then finding that there weren’t enough engineering managers represented  I was drafted as a participant.  I was in the cub scouts but never built a pinewood derby car.  I would take my pinewood derby kit back to the orphanage and empty the contents onto the cafeteria table. My little buddy’s and I  would take the nails/axles and use them to hammer cardboard, (usually the packaging), over holes in the roof.  The block of wood was used in the stove for heat.  The wheels would be hung on the Christmas Log as decorations (all of the Christmas Trees in those days had gone extinct due to the coke and iron blast furnaces of the steel mills in Pittsburgh, leaving only an occasional pine log).


The derby was scheduled to be run two months after we each got the kit. As the months turned to weeks and weeks turned to days I decided  that I had to put off my procrastinating.  So the night before the big race I emptied the contents of the kit onto my workshop table.  It was just how I remembered it.  A block of wood, four nails/axles and four plastic wheels.  For a second I flashed back and looked for a stove to throw the wood into but reality snapped back to the present day. 


            I must have looked at the contents for about 20 minutes before I realized I needed some liquid inspiration.  Next to my workshop were a few bottles of  fizz and a vintage Veuve Clicquot screaming to be opened.  As I finished my first glass of Champagne the formula 1 race car began taking shape.  As I drank from the second glass I decided on a white color scheme, my favorite car color.  I began examining the form of the car and noticed red paint was somehow splotched all over the thing.  As I continued to inspect the car and more red splotches appeared on the wood  I realized I had cut myself. So it was time for a color change and it would have to be red, and if its red, its gotta be a Ferrari.   After sticking 4 bandaids on and  finishing the third glass of champagne I rummaged through my junk box and found an old Snoopy head to use as the driver.  On the fourth glass of fizz I started cutting emblems and placards out of old Ferrari catalogs and gluing them on the car.  Its incredible how much additional damage an exacto knife can do to your fingers after that much wine, so I decided that I would have my fifth and final glass and call it quits.  I was guessing by this time I had lost close to a pint of blood. The car was almost covered in crimson and it wasn’t paint.


            The next day with six bandaids on my fingers I took my car to work and went through the official weigh in and measuring.  It was then taken away from me and put on display with all of the other cars until the race at the end of the day.  Seeing that some of the other cars had months of work in them I felt somewhat intimidated.  The other cars were measured to fractions of an ounce and finished with coats of lacquer and polish. 




In all honesty, it was easy to tell my three-hour effort from the others.  Some of the guys and gals told me they spent days just getting the wheels to track precisely.


“Tracking, what’s tracking?” I thought.


            The time of the race was on me and I proceeded to what we call the Food simulation lab, (the company calls it a cafeteria).  There in front of me and bunches of people was a fifty food aluminum six channel race track with light activation and place finishing displayed on a large sixty-inch computer screen.  “Wow cub scouts was never like this!” I thought, “rocket factories are great!”  There were to be six races for each car, so that each car had a run in each lane. The lowest total time wins.  With knots in my stomach I watched my little Ferrari in the first race take a 2nd . I guess I somehow got the tracking right.  A 2nd  in the second  race was followed by a 1st  in the third race.  Then it happened; as my little pinewood Ferrari won the fourth race the axle popped out.  Sometime while trying to stop the bleeding the night before, I guess I forgot to glue the axles in.  On the fifth race the axle popped again giving me a 3rd.  


The race officials agreed that I could look at my car but any mechanical repairs were strictly prohibited.   I pushed the wheel and axle in as hard as I dare and turned it over to fate.  With the start of the sixth and final race the little Ferrari flew away from the start, gliding past all of the other cars arriving at the bottom of the ramp in the lead with only the long  run-out remaining.  About 30 feet from the finish the wheel began to loosen.  It began to wobble and move away from the body of the car.  20 feet to go and it lost two places.  If the axle and wheel came out a DNF would take the little Ferrari off of the podium.  The wheel slipped off just as it crossed the finish line giving it a 3rd for the race and  more importantly, a second over all in the speed  category for the little 3 hour Ferrari marvel.  Yep, a second place and another podium finish for Ferrari.


            So all in all everyone had a really good time and I guess the executive managers were right, moral was a little higher.  In addition to taking second,  I just received certified mail from the Ferrari SpA legal department.  I think its from Piero Ferrari or Luca di Montezemolo congratulating me on representing Ferrari so well.  Crystal thinks it legal action against me for violating trademark and licensing agreements with all of the unauthorized  Ferrari decals I used on the car.  But after all what does she know? She’s a girl.



By the way, the finance clerk finished first.  Go figure.



john babos