Palm Beach, 27 January 2002
Fun In The Sun
The perfect antidote for the European winter blues, jet off to get some Florida sun and
enjoy a raft of beautiful Ferraris at the Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, and luxuriate in
the splendour of The Breakers Hotel. What better way for a Ferrari enthusiast to spend a
few days in the dismal depths of January. Obviously quite a few European fans felt this
way, as there were a number of familiar faces to be seen at the gathering.
The first of many activities after registration on Wednesday 23 January was the Airport
Party - ”La Bella Macchina” in one of the Jet Aviation hangars at Palm Beach International
Airport. With heightened security after 11 September, everybody attending had to reply to
the invitation before the event and carry photo I.D. As I noted last year, it is a surreal
feeling to be able to stand on the tarmac with a glass of Champagne in your hand, with
nothing, apart from a row of Ferraris, between you and the commercial planes taking off
and landing a few hundred yards away! One enthusiast even flew in with his Piaggio
turbo prop carrying the Ferrari emblems on the nose and tail. Apparently Piero Ferrari is a
director of the company and uses the same model himself. To add variety Champion
Cars exhibited an Audi R8 sports prototype within the hangar, not a Ferrari but a stunning
and successful piece of machinery. The very enjoyable and eye opening evening was
hosted by Jet Aviation, together with Dassault Aerospace and Showboats International.
To The Track
Thursday and Friday were laden with track activity at Moroso Motorsports Park, with the
first rounds of the USA Historic Challenge series, and track time for the event participants
run in various groups. For those who wanted a more relaxed style of driving, there was
the Tour di Palm Beach rally circuit through the town on Thursday morning, which proved
very popular with a wide range of both early and late models participating.
The Historic Challenge races were run on Friday afternoon, and the drum brake category
provided a dominant victory for Lawrence Stroll in his 250 Testa Rossa, after being
chased hard by Ed Davies in his 375 MM in the early stages. Peter Giddings was as
spectacular as ever in his Alfa Romeo 8C Monza, to take the final place on the podium,
ahead of a busy Leslie Davies in her 250 GT LWB TdF Berlinetta. Further down the field
the Alfa Romeo P3s Of Jon Shirley and Greg Whitten sandwiched the diminutive
(relatively speaking) Maserati 4CS 1100 of Martin Sucari.
To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the 250 GTO there was a special race for this
model and the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta from which it was developed. Five GTOs took part,
and the race developed into a three way battle between Leslie Davies in 3705GT, Peter
Sachs in 4091GT and Lawrence Stroll in 3451GT. They were never more than a few car
lengths apart, and put on a great high speed show, frequently swopping places in
outbraking manoeuvres, with the gentlemen eventually deferring to the lady, so that Leslie
Davies took the top spot on the podium.
The final race of the afternoon was for the disc brake category, and this was also the
largest field, featuring no less than seven original 512 BB/LMs plus a conversion on
chassis # 22255. These leviathans looked and sounded great, particularly the
magnificent metallic blue and yellow ”European University” liveried example, chassis #
32129, of Chuck Wegner, which brought memories of Le Mans 1980 in the pouring rain
flooding back (no pun intended). Fortunately at Moroso it was only the sun that poured
down on this stunning machine! It was Ed Davies on pole with his 512 M, followed by
Charles Arnott in his 512 S then a bevy of BB/LMs, which is how the race panned out. Ed
Davies eased away at the head of the field and Charles Arnott was chased hard by the
following BB/LMs, particularly those of Tod Morici and Lawrence Stroll, who had a race
long battle to finish in that order behind the 512s. Leslie Davies had her third race in a
busy afternoon, to bring her 512 BB/Lm home in 8th place just behind ”my favourite” – the
gorgeous ”European University” car.
JMB Giesse Fly In
One of the star attractions in the paddock was the JMB Giesse Team display, featuring
one of their Championship winning 360 N-GT cars and a 333 SP, both of which had been
flown over from France specifically for the event. During the course of the track days they
were both demonstrated frequently by Christian Pescatori and Max Papis, much to the
delight of the attendees.
No Bonhams Auction
Although they didn’t stage an auction this year, Bonhams had a select array of cars on
offer in their display at the circuit, including a rare Maserati 5000 GT with Allemano
coachwork, chassis # 103.026, a 500 Mondial PF Spider, chassis # 0408MD which was a
"no sell" a couple of month earlier in the Monterey auction, a 275 GTB/C, chassis #
09057, and the 1976 Geneva Salon Lancia Stratos.
No Concours Clouds
After the torrential rainstorm that drenched the concours field in 2001, all eyes were
skyward on Saturday morning, but there was nothing but clear blue with a glowing sun
bringing unseasonably warm temperatures, even for Florida. The concours entry was full
at the 150 car maximum that can be accommodated, and there was a wide range of
rarely seen early examples to gladden the heart of those whose preference is for that
period. Lovers of the more modern models were also well catered for, with a broad range
of mid-engined road cars in the field.
There were a total of eight 250 GTOs on display, ranging from the second car built,
3387GT, now resplendent in its original metallic blue with white stripe colour scheme, in
which it won the GT class at Sebring in 1962, through the bare aluminium example in mid
restoration, 3987GT, brought by Paul Russell, to the last of the series 5575GT.
Of the earlier cars, the ex-King Leopold 342 America, chassis # 0234AL, was simply
stunning after a superb restoration by Motion Products, making its first post restoration
appearance after Pebble Beach last August. Others that caught the eye were the 212 Inter
Vignale spider, 0090E, the pair of 410 SA coupes, the 400 SA cabriolet with hardtop, #
2331SA, and the 250 GT coupe ”Speciale”, # 0725GT. Mention of these is probably unfair
on the other superb examples that were in attendance, but hopefully provides a flavour for
the range of models on display.
Of the more ”modern” examples, the ex-Ecurie Francorchamps 412 P, # 0850, was
simply beautiful with its voluptuous full curves, the epitome of the classic sports racing
car. The JMB Giesse cars were also on display, as was the unique 348 LM, built by
Simpson Engineering, which looked very smart in its white, orange and green Totip livery.
A Dino F2 and a 312 F1 represented the single seater side of Ferrari production.
All good things must come to an end, after four days of superb cars, great evening
socialising at parties and dinners, it is difficult to come down to earth, so why not finish on
a real social high? The closing venue was the traditional brunch at Donald Trump’s
exclusive Mar-A-Lago Club at the southern end of Palm Beach Shores. Here participants
gathered with their cars on the finely manicured lawns backing onto the pool at the rear of
the premises, for a finale in the sun before heading back to reality. As is usual there is a
”Peoples Choice Award” , voted for by all those in attendance, which this year went to
Greg Whitten’s P3 Alfa Romeo. So it was only left to say farewells, before everybody
dispersed at the end of yet another superb Cavallino Classic.