Monday, June 2, 2008

A really long post

Half way through my year with the car and it looks like June with be the most action packed month since I purchased the car. With so much going on I am going to try not to bore you with descriptions of trips the supermarket and moony love letters to the car.

I set some goals for my RTGT track day.

First, shift more. During my Pro Drive day Tony wisely had me leave the car in third for most corners and short straights. Towards the end of the day I was using second in the chicane. After reviewing the tape I think shifting into second for the chicane, and getting up to fourth before turn four. I also think shifting up to fourth before turn seven would help. About 100 feet before the braking point for each turn I run out of gear. Shifting to fourth will add complexity and make it more difficult, for a rookie like me, to have the car balanced before the turn but I think it will be more fun and ultimately faster.

Second, brake better. When braking for turns I start off lightly on the brakes then press harder as the turn approaches. Almost exactly backwards of what I should do. My goal is to brake hard, hopefully the right amount, and get off the brakes quickly. No gradual increase of braking with a gradual decrease.

Third, faster through the turns. I know I left plenty of speed on the table going through the turns. I want to get faster through the turn four to turn seven section of the track.
Fourth, drive more smoothly. I think I am a pretty smooth driver. I don’t bang the car around. I am, relatively, gentle with the gear box and clutch. I want to be better. Shifting more will give me more chances to practice and keep engine speed a bit lower.

During the RTGT day I will have an instructor and having some defined goals will give us something to work on above and beyond just getting around the track.

Different subject

When I first drove the Lamborghini Gallardo I thought it was the most impressive car I had driven. Frankly, it blew me off my feet and was the car I wanted next. Now I find myself changing my mind, focusing on the aspects of the car which are not so stunning. I have become a Ferrari bigot.

I am not so sure this is a good thing. I was a Porsche bigot up to about seven months ago, still am in many ways but I realize the joy of discovering and experiencing other cars. Keep in mind I kept my last car for 12 years so this is new territory for me. Owning the Ferrari has been and I expect will continue to be a fantastic experience. If I had more space and more money I would keep the car and apologize at the end of the book. My hunch is most readers would understand. I don’t have the space and am too thrifty to tie up that much money in cars. I say that much money because I know there are other Ferraris I want to get to know. Driving Kevin’s car this weekend only served to reinforce this goal.

Before deciding to buy the Ferrari I was toying with the idea of getting another Porsche. A coupe, preferably a turbo and probably a 946 Turbo, yes I am a luddite who fears change. Now I have the Ferrari and my focus has shifted to another Ferrari. Why not sell both cars and buy a Lamborghini? Would I become a Lamborghini bigot? The wanna be sophisticated Ferrari owner part of me says no. Lamborghini lacks the racing heritage of Ferrari and Porsche. Their image is too hairy chest and gold chain for me to become wrapped up in the brand. Worst of all they are owned by Audi. Audi, a giant corporation that makes station wagons and SUVs. How can a company making a station wagon also make an exotic car? Truth be told, it would probably take me two or three minutes to become a card carrying member of the Lamborghini tribe. I could borrow a gold necklace from Barb and buy her some tight white jeans. Besides Fiat owns Ferrari and Fiat makes a wagon, good looking and Italian but a wagon.

I have done a great job of convincing myself that Ferrari represents the pinnacle of motoring perfection and now have a difficult time imagining myself owning a sports car not made by Ferrari. I wonder how many Ferrari owners bought a Ferrari then stayed, to steal Kevin’s term “in brand” for the remainder of their sports car purchases? I can see myself doing the same. With few exceptions, Pagani, Koenigsegg, Saleen, I view other marques as inferior to Ferrari.
There are benefits to totally immersing yourself. You stand a better chance of really understanding your subject. Accompanying a commitment to a person, sport, school, church, whatever is the luxury of making large investments of time and resources to ensure the success of the relationship or endeavor. Exotic cars are no different. Well, exotic cars are no different for the enthusiast. I am sure some people buy these cars with no intent of them being anything more than a fancy toy or really expensive commuter. Clearly, that is not my case, nor the folks I have met during my time with the car. With the Ferrari I have established a relationship with the Ferrari Club and some members. At first I was hesitant to invest much time and effort into this relationship. As with most things you get back what you put in. Going to the F1 races at Tonkin, signing up for the Walla Walla trip required an investment of time and effort on my part. Even though I did not buy the car from them I have established a relationship Tonkin and really come to like the folks there.

I am just beginning to understand the eccentricities of the 355. Catalytic converter ECUs, SLOW DOWN lights, leather dashes, dingy shift knobs, sticky interior bits. If I let myself I could spend all day researching the car, figuring out how to make my seats softer or dash lights work. In just a few months I have invested a big chunk of time and mental effort and developed a pretty good corpus of knowledge about Ferraris, specifically 355s. Not much of this knowledge or the relationships I have developed translate to a Lamborghini.

Sure I could develop a competency around quickly assimilating the n+1 number of salient tidbits of esoteric knowledge that provide their owner with the glow of an insider but what to you get out of that. Tourist in Ferristan again, if the goal is to own a bunch of different exotics then why bother knowing more than how to drive them and where to go for service?

On to a different subject

The Ferrari is leaking a few drops of what looks like blueberry Kool aid. I have yet to taste test it but given the location it is coming from I doubt someone set a cup of Kool aid in the car and it is slowly dripping out. That’s one benefit, or detriment, to having a white tile floor in your garage. No drop, no matter how small can be ignored. Since the Ferrari is the only car to ever have parked on its side on the new floor I can’t blame it on Barb’s minivan either. It appears to be only a drop or two per day but this afternoon I will take a look. If I can’t find and fix the problem back to Tonkin we go.

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