Picture this: a sea of red machines zooming past at breakneck speeds, with engines roaring to herald their quick entry and, in the blink of an eye, their exit. No, we weren’t at a Formula One racetrack, but in the quaint town of Maranello, located about a three-hour drive from Milan in northern Italy, and also where Enzo Ferrari chose to set up his Ferrari factory, after he had cut ties with Alfa Romeo.
Seventy years since the fateful day Mr Ferrari fired up the 125 S—the first car bearing his name—the Italian marque has gone on to make history, scooping up accolades and titles at international races such as the F1 world championship. As a testament to its decades of innovation and history, Ferrari decided to celebrate its 70th anniversary the only way it knew how—in style.
Of the 70 celebrations planned worldwide—this included a record-breaking gathering of 157 Ferraris, which embarked on an iconic 70km drive around Singapore in August past landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands and the Padang—the most highly anticipated party was, without a doubt, the one held in the Italian brand’s hometown.
So, how does one go about commemorating a platinum anniversary? Over a weekend in September, after flag-offs in Rome, Frankfurt, Prague and other European cities, at least 500 Ferraris made their pilgrimage to the Fiorano circuit in Maranello. Spanning 2.9km, Fiorano has been the testing ground for every road and race car created by Ferrari, including F1 models. On a regular day, one can imagine the sort of test drives to be had on this racetrack, which features a variety of corner types to mimic tricky Grand Prix tracks from around the world. But this was no normal day, as the entire grounds had been transformed to host hundreds of Ferrari owners and fans for the celebrations.
On one side of the field, over 120 different Ferrari models were lined up in order, ready to be judged in the Concorso d’Eleganza, an elegance competition for classic cars which included never-seen-before masterpieces, as well as those that were created in 1947 and were as old as the marque itself.
At the other end, one could hear the telltale “going once, going twice… sold!”, signalling RM Sotheby’s single-marque auction in progress. Car enthusiasts were in for a treat, as the auction bore witness to the sale of Ferrari cars, memorabilia and timepieces. Highlights included the Ferrari California 250 GT SWB that went for €7.9m, and a unique aluminium-bodied 1969 365 GTB/4 that had been found in a Japanese barn, for €1.8m.
But it was the special edition, not-yet-constructed LaFerrari Aperta that ultimately emerged as the star of the show, after commanding a price of €8.3m. Created specially to mark the Prancing Horse’s 70th anniversary, this is the final addition to the original 209 units produced. All proceeds from the sale went to Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation which provides relief and support to children in need. This auction supersedes the marque’s last record for the sale of another new Aperta for US$7m, which was also for a good cause and raised funds for earthquake victims in Italy last year.
As night fell, guests made their way to the 4,000-seater arena, where Ferrari chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne greeted the crowd and made his opening address. Though the skies were heavy and it poured while the Italian flag was being raised during the national anthem, spirits were high as the Italians sang with pride and gusto.
The musical extravaganza that followed outlined the early years of Mr Ferrari, who as a young boy had always dreamt of becoming a race car driver. It also featured Ferrari’s creations over the years, including sought-after cars such as the 250 GTO, 512 Boxer and LaFerrari. As Ferrari fan and Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham delivered a moving monologue about passion, F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen made their appearance onstage. A touching tribute was also paid to the marque’s F1 history, and emotions were high when images of Michael Schumacher winning one of his world titles was flashed on screen.
After an impressive fireworks display, the final surprise of the night was unveiled to be British pop‑rock band Jamiroquai, who got the crowd grooving to infectious tunes such as Virtual Insanity and Little L.
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