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Daytona International Speedway

December 6, 2016
Story by James Edmonds,   Photos by Thomas Murray

As if the Classic 12 Hour Sebring event held on Saturday this weekend wasn’t a holiday gift enough, the Ferrari Finali Mondiali at the Daytona International Speedway on Sunday made everyone within earshot of the track widen their eyes and say, “Wow!!”.  I cannot even begin to guess at the number of red cars that were assembled at the World Center of Racing!




The Ferrari Finali Mondiali – or World Finals to the uninitiated – was a weekend long extravaganza of all things Cavallino Rampante (if you don’t know that one, there’s a no ‘ope) held for the first time on this continent. Its main event was the Ferrari Challenge race, whose pilots normally compete in European, American, and Asia Pacific regional series driving the Ferrari 458 Challenge. Next year the Ferrari Challenge series will feature the the new 2017 488 Challenge – another Maranello stunner which was debuted at Daytona in a beautiful emerald green.


The incredible FXX Program vehicles also ran through the weekend. Jaws had to be scooped off the ground as these 1000+ horsepower hybrid engineering marvels screamed past with such velocity, that they literally took your breath away.

Your own particular Ferrari bent would be the deciding factor on where you spent most of your time. Besides the treasure trove of various cars out in the parking areas, there was the collection of classic cars adjacent to the fan zone which housed more thoroughbreds than I’ve ever seen together before. There were the sports racing cars from the 1950s and ’60s right through to the Daytonas and BB’s of the ’70s and ’80s. Then there were the 288GTO’s that were the genesis of the hyper-car era with the F40 and F50 and Enzo leading up to LaFerrari with every road car in between. The Giallo Fly Daytona was a particular favorite of this writer along with perhaps the 246 Dino with curves the envy of any runway super-model.

Saturday night Ferrari attempted to set the Guinness world record for the largest number of Ferraris on a parade lap. The previous record of 964 cars at Silverstone was all set to be broken with over 1100 cars on the sign-in sheet. Unfortunately, the final certified Guinness count fell short at 809 with some owners deciding that spending three hours in their precious piece of rolling art at five mph was too much akin to a traffic jam at rush hour on I-95. 1000_ferrari_lap_attempt_2016_daytonaI imagine that there were a few overheated engines, burnt clutches and frayed nerves despite the nobility of the cause. Either way, Tom Murray had a great time driving his California Spyder courtesy of Ferrari of Palm Beach and recommends Ferrari ownership highly. And cappuccino…


If the Ferrari classic car corral wasn’t your cup of tea, then you could see (and hear!) plenty of on track action! The highlight for me was the parade of 333SP’s and of course the Corse Clienti F1 cars. The Scuderia had also brought a dozen F1 cars to Daytona which ran the circuit in pairs throughout Saturday and Sunday.  All twelve cars were accessible to the fans for photos in the garages and pits.


In the wake of the devastating earthquake affecting the ancient Italian town of Amatrice,  Ferrari rolled out the very last production LaFerrari and put it up for auction with all proceeds going to benefit those affected by the disaster. After the planned production run of 499 cars had been completed, the factory decided to make a 500th especially for this cause replete with special paint color. With help from the National Italian American Foundation and RM Sotheby’s the car made $7m – more than $1.8m higher than the previous record and one which also marks the highest price for any car sold at auction produced in the 21st century. Ferrari certainly knows how to fund-raise in style and it goes to show the connection that the people in Maranello have with their fellow countrymen.

On Sunday morning you could have been forgiven for thinking that F1 champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen were on hand, such were the crowds in the “Fan Zone”. Oh? That’s right! They were there! So too was Giancarlo Fisichella, current F1 boss Maurizio Arrivabenne and Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchione. Also there were past works drivers including Didier Theys. The autograph line was so long that the scheduled press conference was delayed by quite some time, but then again, how can you complain about delays at a Ferrari event?

kimi_raikkonen_ferrari_press_conference_ferrari_mondiali_2016_daytonaAfter Sebastian Vettel answered several F1 questions about this year’s lack of performance; the possibility of a defection to Mercedes (with Rosberg’s seat now open) and other mundane questions, it was quite funny to hear Seb do his best to keep it light while Kimi Raikkonen answered most with his typical mono-syllabic, dry one word retorts. “Would you like to comment Kimi?” was the frequent hand off from the interview host after Seb had fielded a question. “No.” was his usual answer. Quite humorous to be honest!!

The Sunday special for Ferrari Finali Mondiali was of course, watching Seb and Kimi demonstrate their prowess on the banked tri-oval.  Unfortunately, Ferrari had all but closed off the pit lane to the local media and reserved access exclusively for Ferrari’s special guests and their own media team.  We were not to be thwarted from capturing this special moment so we raced out of the circuit and made our way to the NASCAR spotter’s roof atop the main grandstand hovering 146 feet above the track!


This vantage point offered us the best view of the entire facility and afforded a perfect view of the F1 cars on the full lap as well as the pit stops and spectacular crowd-pleasing and tire blistering donuts with enough smoke to choke all in attendance! A fabulous display to match the new world class Daytona International Speedway facility which will be enjoyed by many thousands more at the Rolex 24 just weeks away in January.


ferrari_finali_mondiali_daytona_international_speedway_pitlaneIn 2015 Porsche held their incredible Rennsport at Daytona and now Ferrari has thrown down the gauntlet with their premier factory event. It was a marvel to behold and with the Daytona history firmly ingrained in the DNA of both companies, I wonder how it would be to experience a Rennsport Mondiali event… We can but dream!