When Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (architect of the Futurist movement) wrote, “We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed,” he may have imagined a place where Italian super cars produced feverish, delirious speeds, the kind of speed where all cares in the world vanish in the rear view mirror—the kind of automobile such as the Ferrari 458 Challenge Evoluzione.
Spawned from the wicked and curvilinear Ferrari 458 Italia, the Challenge Evoluzione takes corners at 120 miles per hour and breezes down the straightaway at speeds well over 200 miles per hour. At least, that’s what we saw when we peeked at the speedometer during an exhilarating 3.4-mile lap at Watkins Glen International with professional driver Anthony Lazzaro. For Lazzaro (who took us for the ride between qualifying sessions and the finals of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli), this kind of performance is part of a day’s work: he races a Ferrari 458 in the SCCA World Challenge and has a long, winning history in NASCAR, GT racing and open-wheel racing.
Lazzaro peels away, taking no mercy on the apexes of the corners as we observe his quick maneuvers from our snug position in the two-seater. The engine really sings as he revved the throttle. “I hope you enjoyed it,” he says as he nonchalantly pulls over. Lazzaro makes racecar driving look easy, but it’s not. Raw talent, instant reflexes and hours of practice are required to maneuver a racecar in clean lines and graceful turns.
That’s what the Ferrari Challenge is about for the amateurs that participate. The Ferrari Challenge was founded in 1993 as a real world racing experience for customers who buy Ferraris in order to use them as they were intended: to go very, very fast. The series is divided into three regions—North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, culminating in the Finali Mondiali in Abu Dhabi scheduled in December. Aspiring drivers come together to hone their skills and exercise their competitive edge There were 25 competitors at Watkins Glen, the seventh race of the season before the final North American race in Austin next month.
There’s a sense of being alive when it all comes together, when you find that success. When you come out of a racecar, it’s the same sensation.
Drivers invest considerable training to vie for pole position. Ross Garber (a rookie in the Ferrari Challenge) seemed slightly dazed, but happy on Saturday evening. He walked away with a top podium finish and the fastest lap time in his Coppa Shell class. He describes himself as “an accidental driver” who stumbled upon Formula One racing several years ago. He compares racecar driving to the high of launching a successful tech company—which he did in the 1990s in Austin, Texas. He co-founded the start-up Vignette, one of the dotcom boom’s most fruitful IPOs, which he says has afforded him the privilege of racing Ferraris for fun. “There’s a sense of being alive when it all comes together, when you find that success. When you come out of a racecar, it’s the same sensation,” he tells CH.
This sensation is what propels the competition—it’s also a sensation felt when listening to “Never Catch Me” produced and written by Flying Lotus and featuring the percussive flow of lyricist Kendrick Lamar. A great-nephew of Alice and John Coltrane, FlyLo’s (aka Steve Ellison) musical pedigree and left-field productions dazzle and stun in a cacophony of beats. “Never Catch Me” is found on his new album You’re Dead set for release 7 October on Warp Records. We suggest tuning in and daydreaming about driving a Ferrari to victory as the lyrics fly by:
“I got mind control when I’m here / you gon’ hate me when I’m gone / Ain’t no blood pumpin’ no fear/I got hope inside of my bones…”
“Say you will never ever catch me, no, no, no.”
Song of the Car matches music with automobiles, old and new. Appearing fortnightly on Cool Hunting, each feature takes a look at a car’s distinct personality and pairs it with a suitable song.
Second image by Jessica Diaz, all others courtesy of Ferarri