It was a marvelous weekend at the Hockenheimring, the world-famous Grand Prix Circuit in Germany for the 2013 Ferrari Racing Days with HARMAN. Imagine an inconceivable field of Ferrari sports cars on display from 1,200 VIP Ferrari owners for the exclusive spectacle. It was a time where men could be boys as some showcased their love affair with the Italian legend from Maranello with special racing variants while others put their passion directly behind the wheel and took to the track to showcase their mettle in the cockpit. HARMAN, an audio partner for Ferrari, was on deck with the JBL Professional Sound System integrated in the Black FF on display in the VIP lounge.
Of course, Enzo Ferrari built road cars to help finance the company’s motorsports endeavors. Today, racing is still a substantial component of Ferrari business and continues to spearhead their efforts in breakthrough technologies and innovations. Ferrari Racing Days is an exhilarating and entertaining combination of special customer focused Ferrari race programs, including F1 Clienti, where those with means can purchase Ferrari Formula 1 race cars at the end of their Ferrari race team life cycles; Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli, where teams compete on Europe’s top race courses; and XX Programms.
The idea for Ferrari Racing Days was initiated by gentlemen drivers more than 20 years ago who began bringing their Prancing Horses to the track. But they wanted more in the form of a non-professional racing series honored by the Italian manufacturer. After persistent solicitation, Ferrari listened and the rest is history. Now Ferrari Racing Days is one of the most successful events in the world and continues to grow annually. In fact, many drivers became so good that they move on to the GT2 and GT3 race series where Ferrari also competes religiously.
Behind the scenes, HARMAN set up a media session with former Formula 1 test driver Marc Gene, who joined Ferrari in 2005. He works with the F1 Clienti division where the idea is to help owners become better F1 drivers on race weekends. For example, he drives the circuit with them for specificity, track recognition, gearing, telemetry, etc. Some are very fast and can come within seconds of Gene’s lap times and some are not so fortunate. At Hockenheimring Gene’s time was in the low 20s, but after a day of training most of the seven drivers improved their times by two seconds. Safety is always a top priority and ironically Marc has never witnessed an accident, and if so the cost is passed on to the owner. A typical F1 vehicle may cost 1 million to 3 million euro (after Ferrari has completed its life cycle) while weekend race packages are roughly 100,000 euro which includes travel, vehicle shipping, tire replacements, and more. The newer F1 cars are bigger than the older cars and come into play depending on the prospective owners’ size. Marc says 2004 was the quickest F1 car because of the V10 engine and all of its electronics. One engine and one gearbox rebuild should be expected every race year or eight racing weekends. Ferrari must also keep replacement parts from prior model years.
A couple of teams in the Ferrari Challenge included the DEXTRA GROUP with father and son combo Rupert and Alex Marten piloting a black and a yellow 458 Italia Challenge. “The enjoyment and excitement I get from racing in the Ferrari Challenge is amazing. A few years ago I would never have believed I would have the opportunity to experience competing in a thoroughbred Ferrari racing car at circuits like Le Mans, Monza and so many other brilliant tacks across Europe,” said Daniel Mancinelli and Motor Piacenza who came in on a natural high after a first and second place at Portimao and are in second place in the Trofeo Pirelli standings.
As I toured the pits, interviewing drivers and crews, and snapping photos of the extreme environment I couldn’t help but inherit the euphoria from each owner. The sounds of thunder rumbled throughout the day and left no impression that Ferrari Race Days was less than a big time affair. HARMAN also established positions for us in their VIP showcasing of the Ferrari FF, an all-wheel drive, five-door Gran Turismo. It is outfitted with HARMAN’s JBL Professional audio system with 15 earth-shaking speakers and a 1,280-watt subwoofer. The system is bespoke to the needs of the FF with speakers placed in opportune areas such as the B-pillar and C-pillar to create authentic, concert quality sounds. It is also engineered with exotic materials to maintain quality and assure there is no distortion or rattling as volume is increased. At only 25% it feels maximized to any audiophile’s desires. This is due to HARMAN’s pioneering QuantumLogic Sound Surround which pulls individual audio streams and brings them to life like 3D. The optional JBL Professional can also be ordered with the F12 Berlinetta, 458 Spider, 458 Italia, and the California.
HARMAN surely enough made a great investment when it decided to partner with Ferrari in 2008. Opportunities will only continue to expand for both brands. A job well done!