Superbly organised by Cavallino magazine publisher John W. Barnes Jnr. and his family, the Cavallino Classic is one of North America's best attended Ferrari events. Centred on the Breakers Hotel, West Palm Beach and nearby Moroso Motorsports Park, the six day event attracts a global attendance to enjoy a mixture of track action, an extensive social schedule and a prestigious concours.
West Palm Beach, south central Florida, is an area of considerable affluence where BMWs and Jaguars almost outnumber Buicks and Chevrolets. However, for one week per year it is Italy's automotive icon that attracts the most attention.
Built by Standard Oil billionaire Henry Flagler, the magnificent colonial-style Breakers Hotel stands amidst Palm trees and manicured gardens in an area accessed by bridges across an inland waterway and with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. The 18th hole of the adjacent golf course was used for Saturday's concours, whilst Donald Trump's nearby estate, Mar a Lago, was the venue for Sunday's charitable lunch and determining the winner of the Palm Beach Cup - awarded to the most deserving Ferrari by all Cavallino Classic entrants.
Tuesday 21st - Friday 24th January the action was centred at Moroso Motorsports Park, an all-purpose venue located 40 minutes north west of the Breakers. Conceived by drag racer and engine tuner Dick Moroso, the ten "turn", two and a quarter mile track incorporates a drag racing strip that has seen plenty of action! Home to Trans-Am Champion and International GT racer Justin Bell's Performance Driving School, Moroso is a combination of long straights and a tight infield capable of challenging the most experienced track day driver and racer alike. For me this parkland track has two unique features - the most dangerous grandstands known to man and where else can you share the paddock with perma-hungry storks who seem partial to smoked ham and mustard sandwiches!
Since its inception at the Classic three years ago, the first round of the Factory-supported Shell Historic Ferrari Maserati Challenge has become a personal highlight. Divided into two categories - drum and disc brake, both grids raced over 30 minutes duration. Results were as follows:
Peter Sachs led from start to finish, with Jon Shirley keeping a watchful distance. Third was London-domiciled Canadian, Lawrence Stroll in the ex-Brandon Wang 250TR. Sadly both pre-war entries retired; experienced historic racer Martin Stretton in Ed Davies' Alfa-Romeo P3, with an oil leak, and ex-pat Peter Giddings' Maserati 8CM with a misfire.
Todd Morici lapped the entire field in a controlled, aggressive drive. Regrettably his closest competition, Ray Hartman - also 512 BB/LM-mounted - retired with gear selection problems after seven laps. The race's only incident - sequential spins by Charles Arnott's Daytona Competition and Bill Noon's 308 GTB/M occurred on the opening lap, whereafter both drove really well with Symbolic Motor's Noon finishing third ahead of Arnott.
Floridian collectors Ed and Leslie Davies brought a mouth-watering delection of cars to Moroso - Alfa Romeo P3, 375 MM, 250 TR, 250 SWB, 250 GTO, Daytona Competition and a 250 LWB Tour de France. The latter was driven by French Ferrari collector and former Renault F1 team boss Jean Sage.
Whichever way you looked there was a car to catch the eye: Peter Sachs' 1969 312 P, Lawrence Stroll's 512M and unique 412 P, Jon Shirley's unrestored 500 Mondial Coupe and Chuck Wegner's delectable, Phil Hill-autographed 196 SP.
With its racing career at an end, it was fabulous to see so many 333SPs - seven in total including JMB Racings' highly successful Giesse liveried example.
There were plenty of famous faces in the paddock too - sportscar hero and F5000 champion, Lancashire's Brian Redman, the aforementioned Justin Bell, sometime F1 and CART racer Max Papis as well as '60s GT endurance racer Jean Guichet.
Saturday's concours presented approximately 60 exceptional condition examples of Maranellos' finest - from 1952 212 Inter Ghia Coupe to the latest Enzo. Cars of note included :
The 18th green's centrepiece was a display of supercars - 288 GTO, F40, F50 and the new Enzo - supported by a further four F50s, four 288 GTOs, three F40s, two 410 Superamericas and two 275 NART Spyders.
Choosing a personal "overall winner" was very difficult. Two contestants - Jeffrey and Frances Fisher's stunning Steve Tillack-restored and multi-award winning 212 Export Vignale, and Monty Shallett's infamous "Breadvan". So close I'd happily have both! The 212 would sound fabulous in Cheshire's rural lanes, whereas the racing pedigree of the latter would be best suited to the next stop on my 2003 calendar - Majorca's Trofeo Classico Baleares.
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