Saturday, the 15th, broke with the promise of great weather at Silverstone for the Ferrari Racing Days, and the hope was that both the racing and the cars would be of equally high standard. While the racing remained to be seen, the cars were always going to be the stars of the day, that is the cars both on the track and in the parking areas. If the few cars seen on Friday were anything to go by, then we were certainly going to be in for a good day’s racing, but with the manufacturer’s attempt at setting the Guinness World Record for the highest number of Ferraris on the track at any one time (hoped to be more than 1000 cars), the promise of some rather delicious road cars was extremely high.
The Formula 1 practice session (09h45-10h30) was rather disappointing as just three cars took to the track at first until one dropped out which brought the session to a temporary halt, and so the others took the opportunity to dive into the pits. When the session restarted it was just with two cars then one of those dropped out when he spun at The Loop, again a 15-minute halt resulted. When things got going once again there was a brief flurry of four cars although there were at least eight to ten F1 cars in the pit garage.
This was followed by the practice session for the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli cars, effectively 458 Italia cars. These cars are pretty lively and they gave it a full go. These were then followed by the XX Programme cars, basically the 599XX (5.9-litre V12) and FXX (6.0-litre V12, 820bhp) cars that are used for testing innovations. These cars need to be driven by drivers who know what they are doing because they are extremely powerful.
As the morning’s racing activities got underway, a steady stream of Ferrari road cars began entering the parking area at Stowe, and by midday the number of cars was approaching 500, and with 1200 cars already registered the event looked like being a knock-out, as more Ferrari owners were showing up at the circuit entrance who had not registered, so the numbers are likely to be even higher. The lone 166 Barchetta received, very deservedly, an inordinate amount of attention from old and young alike, as it is an extremely rare car. The atmosphere was charged up and most folk were anticipating a really excellent turn out for the record run. However, one unfortunate driver pitched up in a Porsche 911 and tried to gain access to the road leading to the Stowe parking, but he was firmly stopped by the good folk from GS4, who promptly put an orange cone in front of the car and directed him to turn around, which he promptly did rather loudly, leaving in a cloud of dust.
Returning from a quick lunch I found my desk swamped by journos, snappers and TV crew who were in the middle of a media briefing for those lucky media who were selected to drive a handful of Ferrari UK cars in the world record parade. Settling down in my chair, which just happened to be in the middle of the pack of attentive journos, I found myself privy to what was going on and how the parade was to be run.
Ferrari road cars ranging from the oldest on the day, a 166 Barchetta, to the most current FF and 458 Italia, and just about everything in between, was on display for visitors and spectators to view. In the parade too was an awesome Enzo, a one-off special 550, as well as the stunning 500 TR – it was truly mouth-watering!
While the record run was set for an 18h15-ish start, the cars needed to start gathering at the two track entry points by 17h30 in order to all get on the track together. The cars were to enter the track at the start of the Hangar Straight and also near The Loop with the idea that when the lead cars on the start line began their run, the organisers would need to have the whole field moving before the front cars reach the back of the static field. The expected speed would be a pedestrian 15-20mph, which is rather unheard of for Ferraris, but this was not to be a quick track day run, it was a world record attempt.
The start of the run was broadcast on Radio Silverstone and with everything in place, the organizer notified the radio broadcaster who in turn relayed a message over the radio to all drivers to start their engines (they had been switched off until this time to avoid batteries running flat or engines overheating).
Eventually all the cars were in place and the order was given to start engines, and from around the track came the sound of thousands of horsepower as six-cylinder, eight-cylinder and twelve-cylinder all came to life, collectively…it was thunderous! Slowly the snake of cars made its way around the circuit and for the record to be recognized, each and every car had to counted onto the track, then monitored as it passed under the gantry on the main start/finish straight, complete one full lap without stopping (so the entire field of cars had to be moving as one), and then counted off again. While the odd Ferrari expired with overheating or electrical problems during the parade, a whopping 964 cars did complete the record run, smashing the previous record of 490 cars set at the Suzuka circuit in Japan in 2008.
Huge congratulations must therefore go to Ferrari UK and the Ferrari Owners Club who spent countless hours organising the event, and getting everybody to cooperate on the day. The Guinness World Record has in the meantime been confirmed and it just shows the Brits love their Ferraris! Put this day into your diaries for next year!