The Lighter Side of Owning a Ferrari

by john babos


The Test


A few days ago my wife Crystal and I had the opportunity to take a test of sorts. We took the test with other couples and like them, we knew it would strain every fiber of our being. The day dawned bright and clear as we met for breakfast. As the meal ended and test time approached the flashback of memories hit me like a ton a bricks. The feelings I had in the pit of my stomach when taking college boards, the third retest to graduate from eighth grade, and the hand grenade throwing exercise at the end of army basic training, (a true pass/fail exam) had all returned. Of course the test Iím referring to was a test of our marriage as we participated in the Ferrari Club of America Ė MYSTERY RALLY. The FCARMR puts together a Rally not based upon speed or time, but upon keen observational skills, navigational abilities, local area knowledge, in depth automobile trivia and most importantly, compatibility with your partner.

The first part of the test occurred before we got in the car. I told Crystal that I was to drive and she was to navigate. "After all," I said, "How many famous women drivers are there?" Immediately she began spouting off a list of famous women drivers. Shirley Muldowney, racing top fuel dragsters; Sarah Fisher, racing again in the Indy 500; Lyn St. James racing Indy and Prototype LeMans series and Giovanna Amati. Turns out Amati was the last woman that attempted to qualify Formula 1 in an underpowered Brabham BT60B in 1992. How was I to know? Thinking quickly, I suggested paper, rock, scissors. I won. With a turn of the key our little Ferrari sprang to life and we embarked to the plains and small towns of eastern Colorado. Following Crystalís instructions things were looking good. Then the first question; when was Enzo Ferrari born? I should have known but I forgot. Did Enzo ever race a Ferrari? Yes? Wrong, I made another mistake. I tried to explain to Crystal that all of the Ferrari books and magazines are purchased for the pictures, not the articles: ostensibly the opposite from the Playboy magazines. Her body language was unmistakable as she looked out onto the barren plains of Colorado. It was going to be a long drive.

Minutes later we turned into Bennett, Colorado and began looking for the school mascot. I tried to convince her that I knew the answer and it had to be a cow. After finding the school celebrating their mascots, the Bulldogs, I realized I screwed up again. As we progressed through the rally, our conversations degenerated to phases and then to single words. As warm as it was that day, the atmosphere in the car was so cold I turned off the air conditioner. I wondered how the other couples were doing. How many of them would leave a spouse stranded on the side of a back country road near Strasburg or Agate, to be rescued when the next passing tractor goes by in one or two years? Or even worse, to be used as a question on the next Mystery Rally. What Ferrari club member was thrown out of a 328GTS and has his remains buried at mile marker 339, 340, and 341?

As we pulled into Strasburg many of the rally drivers were out of their cars reading a sign about the Strasburg version of the transcontinental railroad legend. Crystal assured me there were no rally questions about the sign. I got out and read it anyway. After all, something must have been interesting for all those folks to abandon their Ferraris in downtown Strasburg.

Then there were questions about Ferrariís in movies. Ferris Buellerís Day Off had the 250 California Spider. Nicolas Cage drove a 550 Maranello in The Family Man. I knew the answers to these questions. Things were looking up; I was actually contributing. We began finding the clues and solving the puzzles. Questions about the Strasburg sign were asked and because I read it we got more points. Not saying anything to Crystal about "no questions about the sign" Ėpriceless! The rally was turning into a lot of fun!

We arrived at our destination in Limon and were greeted by the Colorado State Police. The indigenous population was complaining about red sports cars traveling at high rates of speed. We assured the officer that it must have been a Vette or a Porche or something because Ferrari drivers donít speed. He agreed and wished us luck. As he drove off we began scoring our test. Not only did Crystal and I do well on the test but also on our marriage. Once we realized that I always have the last words, (which are "yes dear") things were great. At the picnic Crystal and I noticed that many of the couples were still speaking, just not to each other. Obviously they didnít agree on who was in charge.

As we drove back home we talked about how much fun we had and the sights we saw. As many times as I have driven I70, it never occurred to me to stop and drive through towns like Byers, Deer Trail and Strasburg, to name a few. This was our third Mystery rally that we participated in and like the other two it got us off the beaten path for a really good time. Our thanks to Bill Orth for organizing and sponsoring the rally.

A few days later Crystal and I were reminiscing about the rally as we watched the Austrian Grand Prix. She then surprised me with a new Ferrari watch. Itís really great, the second hand slows down so that the hour hand can pass it. (Thatís a Formula 1 joke I just had to work into the story).



--john babos--