Pocono & Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA, 16 – 22 October 2000
The annual Prancing Horse Farm Ferrari gathering celebrated its silver
anniversary in the first year of the new millennium, with a week long gathering
amidst the splendid autumn colours of Pennsylvania.
The event actually started at Ron Spangler’s Prancing Horse Farm in Maryland
on Monday 16 October, with a ”Kickoff” party, before moving on to the Pocono
Manor hotel in Pennsylvania, close to the Pocono International Raceway, which
was the centre of activity on the Wednesday and Thursday.
The highlight of the social activities was a dinner at the hotel on Tuesday
evening, with guest of honour Sergio Pininfarina accompanied by his wife. Also
in attendance at the dinner was Luigi Chinetti Jnr, with both men giving after
dinner speeches to the appreciative audience. Sergio Pininfarina recounted how
his father Battista Pininfarina reached agreement with Enzo Ferrari on them
producing Ferrari bodies at a meeting in Tortona, as neither would go to the
others premises, thus they agreed to meet in a restaurant halfway. On their way
back to Turin his father told him that now the contract was signed it was his
responsibility to look after it, quite a challenge for a young man in the early days
of his career. He recalled that his fathers decision to put a ”young boy” in charge
of the contract displeased Enzo Ferrari enormously, and it took at least six
years of hard work before he was accepted by him as being capable of doing the
job. History shows how the relationship developed into the close alliance the
companies enjoy today.
However beautiful autumn foliage may be, it is also indicative of an unpredictable
season weather wise, and this was the case with the first day of track activity.
Almost continuous overnight rain continued through the Wednesday morning,
making the flat landscape of the Pocono International Raceway a dispiriting
place to be. It didn’t deter some hardy souls from taking to the track, although
the more exotic machinery like the pair of 333 SPs and the four 512 BB/LMs at
the circuit nestled snugly in their transporters waiting for the weather to clear.
The rain ceased during the afternoon to leave leaden skies and a damp track,
allowing more spirited driving, but they would have to wait for Thursday for a
completely dry circuit. With the low pressure belt moving north east, Thursday
was a bright sunny day, warm in the sun but chilly out of it with a stiff breeze. It
did allow the more exotic machinery to exercise their lungs, and participants
were able to compare the shrill note of the 333 SPs to the deeper sound of the
512 BB/LMs, as they circulated together.
On Friday the entourage headed south west to Hershey where the headquarters
for the remainder of the event was Hershey Lodge. On Friday morning they
gathered at Hershey Stadium for a public showing of the cars, driving around the
perimeter track for the benefit of the television cameras and the viewing public.
In the afternoon the cars gathered in an enormous conference hall at the lodge,
in preparation for the indoor concours on Saturday. Their were some new arrivals
for the concours section of the event, that included the 500 TRC and 250 GT
LWB California Spider of John Marriott, plus the purple Dino 206 GT of General
Marsh. Saturday afternoon concluded with a memorabilia and car auction, with
the majority of the former selling for reasonable sums, but with no takers on the
car front. A USA specification 308 GTSi was bid up to only $20,000, but had a
reserve of $24,000 so stayed with its current owner. A gala dinner was held in
the evening, with dancing into the early hours to a live orchestra.
The Icing On The Cake
For those without Speedvision to watch the final Grand Prix of the season in
Malaysia, it had been taped during the night for the participants to watch during
a Sunday morning brunch. With nobody in attendance knowing the result, or not
letting on if they did, it made a nice finale to the event, particularly with Michael
Schumacher taking his ninth victory of the season to give Ferrari the
Constructors’ title for the second year in succession.