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Had a great time at an annual Ferrari-Maserati track day hosted by one of the great dealerships in our area. Attached are some pics showing some of the action.

A couple thoughts on the Maserati's performance:

1) I am an intermediate to expert driver. Only an expert driver in a 355 could keep up with me, and eventually passed me. The Maserati held it's own with 355's and equally talented drivers. I was able to pull 355's in the corners, but lost ground on long straights.

2) Again, it's was driver talent which separated the 360's from the 355's and the Maser's. With the right driver, the 360's were very fast.. I had no hope of keeping up. Luckily many 360's had less aggressive pilots than I.

3) Substantial body roll on the Maser. You may be able to tell from one of the corner pics. If not, I have a short Mpeg I'm finishing up which shows video footage of a 355, 360, and me on the last turn at Waterford, and you can see how flat the Ferrari's are compared to my Maser (I had skyhook on in sport mode). Consider though that with the body roll, heated seats, and headlight washers I was still able to keep up with all but 2 355's and a few 360's that were in very capable hands.

4) I found the traction control a bit too aggressive for the track on dry pavement, but it did save some morning trouble when my early desire for fast lap times exceeded my understanding of the track. Had traction control off most of the day. Interesting epiphony (sp?) I had in the car with traction control on. I was going way too fast into a corner and was standing on the brakes, then I went quickly to full throttle coming out of the tight right turn. Let's play this out in any of my old cars, and for this example let's assume it's the Viper:

In my Viper, you would have heard tires screaming, smelled the red hot brakes, saw the car shudder from left to right on rapid deceleration and likely witnessed tire smoke from me locking up the inside front. Then you would have seen me over correct for sliding sideways due to too much throttle input at corner exit, eventually letting off the throttle to allow the car to straighten up, then hit the throttle again and make up all my time on the straight with brutal power. Typical for any aggressive track session in a Viper. What I didn't mention was the sweat on my brow from really driving on the edge, and the muscle it takes to wield around the Viper.

Same scenerio in the Maserati: In the car hitting the brakes way too late, I saw the ABS light flash, a few clicks, a tire chirp, the traction control light flicker wildly, a whirring sound, some gas pedal pressure, and I was through the corner. Didn't break a sweat, and felt like I could have eaten an ice-cream cone while negotiating that corner. I was blown away at how well the car could make the driver look. I was blown away at the technology and how well it worked (Remember, first car ever with ABS and traction control for me). I was embarrassed to confide in any of my close friends that I had traction control on at all, and decided to keep it my dirty little secret. Later in the day, I ran back to back laps with traction control on vs. off. Conclusion in all this diatribe? I could go faster with traction control off but it took serious concentration. I felt like with traction control on, I'd be a bit slower, but I wouldn't break a sweat doing it.

5) The Enzo was cool. Way cool. Very quiet, very mechanical. Too expensive to really have fun for all but a few individuals. More like Ferrari art... my opinion. Perhaps that's the way it should be.
 

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Here is my 2 cents on the event INCLUDING TEST DRIVING COUPE AND SPIDER CAMBIO CORSA:

1. OVERALL-I absolutely loved it. The crowds were just about right, you never felt you were fighting the crowds even in the pits. Friday's crowd was about 500 people and Saturday seemed about double or triple that, you never really had to struggle to get close to the action in the pits or if you wanted to grab an open space on the infield. Weather perfect. Its one of those events that seems like a nice private event put on just for you. It was my first trip to Lime Rock, I was worried at first that my 8 hour drive to get there wasn't a good move, but I was more than pleased and would do it again.

2. FERRARI-2 yellow Enzo's, 1 red Enzo. 2 of which were owned by one guy, I forget his name but he's in his 70's. Must have quite a Ferrari history to get "invited" to buy 2 Enzo's. At least 6 or7 Challenge Stradales in the two red shades, silver and black. Of the older stuff there were quite a collection, two much to mention but it was nice to see an original Testarossa, GTO's, 333sp and old GP cars like the 250F Maser Fangio champion car. About 50 plus Ferrari's were on the infield from varying eras (too long to go through all the list).

3. FERRARI PRESIDENT/CEO AND VP OF MARKETING-Mauritzio Parlato and Marco Mattiachi (sp?) arrived in a Quattroporte and 575 and it was like the sea parted, the main Ferrari Challenge semi and its crew came to attention when they arrived. The end of the pits was where the FNA pit display was, there were lighned up a 275GTB, Stradale, Enzo, 575 and Quattroporte. Certainly worth snapping a few shots.

4. MASERATI TEST DRIVE-I was hoping it was on the track, but it wasn't. They were set up just oustide the end of the front straight, they had about 7 or 8 cars there. A mix of coupes, spiders, 6 speed and cambiocorsas. You first got a marketing spin speech about the cars from a young marketing rep from Maserati, nice guy and willing to answer any question you have. We then were moved to the cars where you were explained how to use cambiocorsa. We picked a car and drove through the hilly streets of that area. It was probably a 10 to 15 minute jaunt in the cars and while it wasn't on the track, you definately had opportunties to test the cars abilities. Lets just say, the country roads were perfect for really opening it up and using the cambiocorsa to its fullest with plenty of upshift and downshifts in and out of turns through this beautiful town. I ended up going 2 times because I wanted to experience both coupe and spider.

5. MY IMPRESSIONS OF MASERATI COUPE AND SPIDER: I'm sold on Maserati, no doubt about it. I've driven the new Benz SL, Lexus SC430 and the 911 cabrio, so those experiences I used as my benchmark. I have to say I like the Maserati the best. Maybe I'd change my mind if I ever drive an SL55, but the Maserati truly is 2 different cars in one. Driving around town its docile and quiet with just a touch of mechancal bliss, but once you smash the throttle its a totally different car, the sound heightens from the exhaust and engine, the handling is there, the shifts are smoother the faster you go. The engine has torque no matter what the revs, when I needed power it was there, I didn't have to go searching for it. The torque was impressive. The handling was suprisingly good, there was one stretch where we drove over a bridge to a sharp uphill right hander. I gave it some serious juice to the point I felt I was at the limit or at least I thought until the car handled the turn with complete confidence, it didn't feel squirrly at all. The only negatives and they were few was the shifting at low speeds, a little clunky but not as bad as I thought it was going to be based on reading reviews on the car. In addition, the spiders rigidity can't match an SL, but again it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. If I wasn't focused on it being an issue, you wouldn't have noticed it. I truly love the coupe, but the Spider is very tempting with the top down. The sounds and sensations you get with the spider are a blast. The bottom line is drive this car. I was there with a friend who owns a Stradale and he too had the initial impression of it not being a great car, but after coming back from the test drive, he's sold too, much better than he ever thought. Drive it out to dinner or drive it at the track, its a car for both purposes. By the way, I didn't feel the body roll during my test drive, it doesn't feel sloppy at all. I did notice it too on the track visually when a few cars were lapping with other cars. The car did hold its own though considering the competition it was driving with (355, 360's). Considering these cars in low mileage used condition are changing hands in the high $50's, its a steal.

Phil
8) [/b]
 

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I forgot to add, the "sport" mode does make a difference and if I had one, I can't imagine it not being in "sport" mode at all times. The only thing I regret not asking after the test drive is whether the coupe and spider I drove had the "skyhook" suspension. Both cars felt great so I was curious if driving one with and without skyhook was that noticeable.

Phil
8)
 

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Sounds like the two of you had some fun. Did you meet each other and or even know you were there?
 

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Shifter,

I see that there were convertibles on the track. Road America does not allow them without special roll bars. What are the exact rules for that track?

Sounds like it was a great time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Illinois Spyder,
The roll hoops are considered structural, so a hard top wasn't an issue. However, they also let other convertibles run with tops down, so I think the rules were a bit relaxed for this event. We didn't even have to wear a fireproof suit. More casual than competitive.
 
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