“Did you hear about the Enzo?” somebody asks as I sit down to lunch.
The mere question causes a wave of cringes to circle the table. We all know what happens to Ferrari Enzos all too frequently: they crash. And the word is that the one Enzo on the Tributo Ferrari Pacific Coast rally is no longer — everyone’s all right, but it evidently went into a mountainside sometime after we left Pasadena this morning. Is it a little bit freaky that the day, August 14, was the 25th anniversary of Enzo Ferrari’s death? Yes, it is.
We move on to other topics, such as the growth charts that pediatricians hand out to make you feel like your child is somehow behind the curve. “I’m not interested in 95th-percentile,” says Eric Dane, also known as Dr. McSteamy from "Grey’s Anatomy." “I want hundredth percentile.”
It’s safe to say that this is a competitive crowd.
McSteamy’s holding court at lunch, an Enzo crashed but everything’s OK, and I just drove a 731-hp Ferrari F12 around an autocross course set up in the Rose Bowl parking lot, because this is the alternate reality of a Ferrari owners’ group outing.
The Tributo Ferrari rally is a simple premise: get a bunch of cars together and spend a couple days driving from the LA area up to Pebble Beach. The routes are scouted for maximum entertainment, with one “special stage” each day — in the case of the first day, the Rose Bowl autocross.
I set out from Pasadena with Ferrari’s Karen Vondermeulen riding shotgun and manning the route book. It’s quickly evident that I have the better assignment, by far. While we’re not trying to set any speed records, the event is timed and includes checkpoints. It seems like there’s a turn every quarter-mile as we navigate the canyons around Los Angeles. We go awry at a point where road construction necessitates a detour—and deployment of the F12’s height-adjustable front suspension. We pick our way past the paving equipment with the F12’s nose in the air. It probably looked strange, but it worked.
Later in the day, I try navigating and affirm my profound appreciation for modern GPS systems. But honestly, I needed a break from driving. You can only drive an F12 for so long before giving into the temptation to wring that V-12 out to redline, an act that will inevitably send you hurtling past the California countryside at supremely illegal speeds. The F12’s tattletale trip odometer records top speed, and I’m surprised at one point to glance over and see a triple-digit high score. When did I hit 101 mph? Reset! Reset!
At dinner I’m sitting next to a fellow named Richard Losee. We’re discussing the Enzo. We still don’t know exactly what happened to the black car today, but Losee is optimistic that it can be repaired. And he should know: his own Enzo was once in a bit of a fender-bender, but it’s back in one piece. I ask him what happened. “It was a charity event on a closed road where the cops would clock you and you’d make a donation based on your speed. The cops clocked me at 206 mph.” And then he hit the whoops. “I should’ve pre-run the road,” Losee says. “But I didn’t. And then…” he makes a sine-wave motion with his hand. “The car took off.”
A few years later, he rebuilt the car, added turbos and set a Bonneville speed record. That’s a 100th-percentile move right there.