The Lighter Side of Owning a Ferrari



Commemoration   by john babos


            On December 17th of 2003, at approximately 8:35 local time (10:35 Eastern Standard Time), Crystal and I lifted off of runway 26 at Front Range Airport in a single engine Cessna to commemorate the 100th anniversary of flight.  Our flight’s distance was much longer than the Wright’s flight of 120 feet and took much more than 12 seconds as we toured the country side and buzzed the house a few times.  As corny as that may seem, it felt good to celebrate such a momentous occasion.  I began thinking other ways to commemorate and participate in, albeit a small way, other historic events.  The first thought that came to mind was to celebrate Ferrari history in some manner.  I regret not thinking of this at Enzo’s 100th birthday, but I was driving a ratted up Jeep at the time and somehow the meaning on Ferrari would have been lost.  Since there’s not much relating directly to Mr. Enzo Ferrari in 1904 (100 years ago), I decided to research a 50th anniversary/historic Ferrari moment in 1954 that Crystal and I could reenact somehow.

            I’m sure many of you remember 1954 as a great year.  That was the year that Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was approved.  The U.S. National Cancer Institute linked tobacco smoking to lung cancer.  America’s first atomic power plant opened in my home town of Pittsburgh Pa.  French troop surrendered at Dien Bien Phu and President Dwight Eisenhower put forth the ‘domino theory’ regarding Asian nations. (I should have paid closer attention to that one, but being a little over a year old, domino’s sounded like fun).  J.R.R Tolkien published the Lord of the Rings.  The 50 millionth American automobile rolled off the assembly line in Flint Michigan, it was a Cheverolet.  Seven out of ten American families now owned cars.  The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was the first car to feature fuel injection.  And Ferrari won La Carrera Panamericana with a 375MM Plus driven by Umberto Maglioli.  This was it!!  What a great event to commemorate.  I began putting the plans together to recreate the 1954 La Carrera Panamericana.  (The course of course, not the race.)  I thought how fitting and serendipitous this would be as I just finished B.S. Levy’s book “Montezuma’s Ferrari”, a fictional story of La Carrera Panamericana.   I felt like I already knew the race route that begins in Mexico at Tuxla Gutierrez, then to Oaxaca to Pueblo to Mexico City to Leon to Chihuahua and finally completes the run at Juarez.  My plan would be simple.  The race was traditionally held in November, so I would plan our run at the same time which gave me months to prepare.  I would make arrangements to get our little Ferrari down to Tuxla.  Then I would plan on the numerous caches of food, tires, belts, and other Ferrari stuff.  Next would be the preparations to take at least a month off from work to drive the route.  I would also have to learn to speak Spanish.  (I had four years of Spanish in high school, unfortunately it was the same first year repeated over four times, but heck I figured I’m motivated now.)  My initial calculations converting from dollars to pesos would make our spending a little tight, so I figured we could tough it by sleeping along the road.  I would mark the map’s numerous streams and lakes that we could bathe and freshen up in.  I also believe that once we arrive in the central highlands of Mexico the insects and reptiles would diminish considerably.  Feeling really proud of myself I passed my concept and detailed planning to Crystal for her approval.  Now don’t get me wrong, I wear the pants in the family but out of courtesy I allow her to vote.  After a long and laborious thought process of maybe two seconds, she cast her vote and decided that we would commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Lord of the Rings instead and see the third and final installment of the movie.  My plans for the commemoration of La Carrera Panamericana died as quickly as a bug hitting the windshield of a speeding Ferrari, and not given a second thought as I was told to fold the laundry. It seems I keep forgetting her vote has veto power.  So, as I prepare to watch a three and a half hour movie I’ll start looking for other Ferrari events in 2005 to commemorate. Come to think of it, I believe Ferrari won Monaco in 1955, but gosh, I won’t ask Crystal, she’ll probably want to see another movie instead.


john babos