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Ferrari Day at Kyalami

Broadcast dates : 11th July 2004
15th July 2004

The twenty seventh Ferrari Day was hosted by the Southern Equatorial Ferrari Automobile Club at Kyalami on the first weekend in July.

Over a hundred and thirty road-going Ferraris made their annual pilgrimage to the Midrand Grand Prix circuit for a day of speed, glamour and old-fashioned fun.
Sponsored by Shell, long-time Formula One partner with the famous Grand Prix cars from Maranello, South African Ferrari owners were given a rare opportunity to unleash their horsepower on the track.

Expert tuition was provided by experienced competition drivers for Ferraristi who had never been around the track before.

And the more experienced Ferrari owners had a number of flat-out sessions during the day when they could pit their skills and their machinery against this very technical Grand Prix circuit.

Machinery on display ranged from a 1950 model 166 to the latest F360 Modena coupes and Spiders. And there were many rare and mouthwatering examples from more than half a century of Ferrari production.

The Dino 246 GTB is one of the most unusual road-going Ferraris ever built. For some, the most intriguing aspect of this car is that it is the only Ferrari not to carry the Ferrari badge. Instead it is badged simply as a Dino, named after Enzo Ferrari's son who died tragically as a young man in 1957.

The Dino was built between 1969 and 1975, its V6 engine eventually being replaced by an all-new V8. Many Ferrari fans rate the Dino as the most beautiful design of all. Its V6 engine has a wonderful sound and produced over a hundred and forty kilowatts from its 2,4-litre capacity.

The Dino spawned a whole series of smaller Ferraris, distinct from the big V12 cars, which continues to this day.

These smaller models include the 308, the 328, the 348, the F355, and finally the F360, which is still being produced. These cars all use a transverse-mounted V8 motor, and today the F360 is the most successful Ferrari ever built, in terms of sales and quality of finish.

The 308 is a mid-engined design, with absolutely no electronic driver-aids like ABS braking or paddle-shift gearchanging. Gearshifting is by the rather tall wand-like gear lever peculiar to Ferraris in the 1970s and 1980s, when this 308 was produced.

And being a mid-engined car, the handling is very good for a 20-year-old machine, but when it does break traction it lets go at the rear rather dramatically.

The sight of road-going Ferraris taking to the racetrack will remind older enthusiasts of the days when racing cars were driven to and from the racetrack. This even applied to Formula One machinery, which was garaged nearby to the track.

Old Grand Prix cars were then driven along public roads to the racetrack, usually by one of the most trustworthy mechanics.

The awe-inspiring F40 was built in the late 1980s, and was one of the last Ferraris to use tubular, space-frame chassis construction, and it is perhaps the closest one gets to a road-legal red-blooded racing car.

The exhaust note is simply out of this world, emanating from a set of exhaust pipes which have dispensed with any silencing system.

In effect the only silencing on the F40 is via the twin race specification turbochargers on this example, owned by Andrea Taurino.

Sean Summers, Pick and Pay's CEO, is an avid Ferrari fan, and his car of choice is a very special F360 Stradale, another road-legal competition Ferrari.

Based on the F360, this car features stiffer suspension, bigger brakes and considerably more horsepower than the standard F360, which already well-endowed.

One of the most difficult corners to get right at Kyalami is the shoebox chicane just before the pit entrance. It is tempting to turn into the first corner too early, and then run out of road on the exit, with the left hander need to be negotiated straight away.

The 365 Berlinetta Boxer is also a 12-cylinder model, but this car has its engine mid-mounted behind the driver. The engine is of the flat-12, or Boxer configuration and also dates back to the late 1970s.

Pininfarina styling was at its pin-sharp best in those days, and in its time it was one of the fastest production cars on earth, with a top speed of around two hundred and ninety kilometers per hours.

The fluted air intakes or "cheese-cutter" grilles were very much an eighties styling cue at Pininfarina, Ferrari's favourite design studio. They appeared on the eight-cylinder Mondial and 348 models and later the gloriously-named Testarossa.

The organisers gave away numerous prizes throughout the day and spectators were allowed to mingle with the cars and Formula One replicas during the lunch break.

A highlight of the day for many was the Ferrari mass parade, when all one hundred and thirty cars lined up in front of the pits.

The rarest car in Africa and one of the oldest Ferraris in the world is this Type 166 from 1950. Owned by Rob van Zyl, and treated as an old family pet by his son Gerrie and two young grand-daughters, the 166 features Mille Miglia racing bodywork.

It is powered by a tiny two-litre V12 engine with three twin-choke carburetors, delivering about 100 kilowatts. Thanks to its light weight of about six hundred and fifty kilograms and slippery shape it was very fast, said to be good for over two hundred kilometres per hour back in 1950! By 1950 just over 50 cars in total had been built in Ferrari's three years of existence, which gives some idea of the rarity of this car. 

The mystique of Ferrari has never been fully explained and probably never will be. There are plenty of other exotic sports cars with long racing pedigrees.

Ferraris are fast, they are beautiful and they are Italian, which means they have a fair degree of what is fondly known as "temperament".

And perhaps they fact that most of them are painted in brilliant red has something to do with it.

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