Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ferrari Myth No. 2

Driving fast is an example of a component of Ferrari ownership where the Ferrari fantasy and the Ferrari reality are inconsistent. I speak only for myself. My Ferrari fantasy included faster than light travel. Speeds that bent reality like a fish eye lense. I would be Ascari, Hill, and Schumacher all rolled into. The car would slide gracefully, efficiently through corners. Not tire squealing Top Gear drifting but fast, smooth transitions from turn to turn never missing an apex, never placing a tire poorly. I would do all this while tearing down Humphrey at four times the speed limit. Hmmm. Something amiss there. What will the neighbors think?
Last summer, when returning from a bike ride, I rode by a Carrera GT being washed about 6 blocks from my house. I had seen the car a few times but did not know here it lived. I turned around to chat with the owner. He was a long time Porsche enthusiast. In addition to the CGT he had a 997 GT3 in the garage. He mentioned that both cars were so fast and so competent that the only place you could safely push them was on the track. Humphrey was not an appropriate place to stretch the legs of either car. In the public road environment his older Porsches were more entertaining. Bet you did not like to hear that.
For me and I guess for many people the thrill of driving has little to do with absolute speed. The thrill comes from pushing your car or your talent up to its edge. I am not yet able to extract the performance my 911 has to offer. The Ferrari yawns when I drive it. This is a perfect scenario. My perception of risk keeps me from exceeding my abilities and my cars potential is greater than I can unlock these factors combine to keep me relatively safe.
The result. I seldom go any faster in the Ferrari or Porsche than I do in my truck. Often, I will be quite happy driving on a twisty country back road, feeling I am going as fast as I should while being tail gated by a minivan. For me Ferrari ownership did not wrap up and immediately bestow a new ability to drive fast. But, it does not matter. Like I said earlier the thrill comes from pushing the boundaries of either your skill or the cars ability. So I can still have a great amount of fun in the Ferrari and not exceed the speed limit by an amount that will land me in jail or the hospital. Further, driving the Ferrari, at any speed, on almost any road, with no one around is fun. Why? I don’t know exactly but I think it is a mix of the sound, the steering feel, the view out over the dash and hood, the feeling coming through the seat, years of expectation and anticipation, and a bunch of subconscious other stuff.

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