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Auto Journalist: Dino Micalizio

About Dino Micalizio

Journals

The CS makes a kid’s day…

The shop has the perfect CS parking spot, not 10 feet from the door, and I get to stare at the great lines while they take the weed whacker to my hair.

This particular day there was a seemingly endless parade of Fcar fans, as I saw more cell phone cameras than usual pop out to record the CS' presence.

One young man in his early 20's stood out from the group, taking pictures from every angle and vantage point.  After he's done, he comes into the shop and starts teasing one of the barbers about getting a new car.  The barber pointed the young man over in my direction.

He was definitely an enthusiast as he knew every aspect and stat on the CS.  He did admit that his favorite Ferrari was the F40.  When I let him know that one just happens to reside with the CS, I saw his knees go weak!

With the chat over, he went back to work at the Starbucks next door.  When I was done getting spruced up, and getting into the CS, I noticed six sets of eyes at the Starbucks window.  As I am strapping in the boys come out and the young enthusiast asks, "How about a test drive"?  I looked over and said, "You can't test drive it.  But if you want a ride, I've got some time". 

I apparently didn't have to ask twice, as before I knew it my passenger seat was occupied with a big grinning Starbucks employee!  The road that my barber is on has a great little hill, with a few twists.  He stated that this was his first ride in a Ferrari, and that he would always remember it.  I was going to make sure that it was going to be firmly etched in his hard drive.

The CS lights to a gutteral growl.  As we head out of the lot, the open road beckons and I give it the 8500 rpm howl through three gears, apexing a couple of corners on the hill.  I can see the grin growing wider and wider, with each exclaimation of WOW, coming from the right seat.

We turned around to head back to Starbucks reality, all the while he enthused about the acceleration, the handling… and that noise!!

As I drop him off, he must have thanked me 10 times.  I doubt he will need anymore caffeine for the rest of the week.

I have been around these cars most of my life, and at times take them for granted.  But giving a ride to a young enthusiast always takes me back to my roots, and how I would drag my parents 30 miles out of the way just to get a glimpse of  a 308 that I thought might be at a dealer.  Car guys bridge all generations.

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The SL55 meets a CS

I had a free morning today so I got up early and headed out to one of my favorite roads that has 15+ miles of switchbacks, decreasing and increasing radius turns and lots of elevation changes. Nirvana!

The perfect neighbourhood runabout…

Remember when you were a kid, and you got a new toy....... and just had to play with it. Well it happens to 'adults' too. In this case it was a retired March/Cosworth 88C Indycar. A little bit bigger than a Dinky or Corgi and much, much louder!

The CS goes home!

The more time I spend getting to know the Stradale, the more I realize that this is going to be a great track car, and I was going to be giving myself a great birthday present… a track day at a brand new 2.75 mile road course!  Heaven calls.

If I didn't know better I would say that as I entered INDE Motorsports Ranch in Wilcox, Arizona, the CS's exhaust note got more excited, as if to say, "Thank you for taking me home"!  

INDE is the latest in a line of member only, country club tracks sprouting up all over the States.  It is run by CJ Doreland and his father Graham Doreland.  You would be hard pressed to find two bigger car enthusiasts.  If you think Americans can only turn left, visit INDE, it is a world class facility, and rivals tracks like Laguna Seca.

Even though I was new to the track, CJ took my background as an FCA chief driving instructor and vintage Indycar racer to mean that I could actually figure out the challenging 21 turn track with lots of elevation changes.  He gave me a couple of lead and follow laps and cut me loose with a group of serious race cars.  Boy was he wrong!  I spent the better part of my first session trying to figure out braking points and which way the track was turning at the top of crests leading into blind corners, all the while looking in my mirrors and getting out of the way of the race cars.  I loved it!

Here was a track that actually takes more than 5 minutes to figure out.  A track that would take many, many laps to reveal all its secrets.  And just when you think you've got it down, you realize you don't.  I can't think of a better partner to find those secrets with than a Challenge Stradale.

The CS has had a bit of work since my last entry to extract even more power.  We have given her a carbon fiber intake and complete exhaust, from the headers on back, and then my software wizards at www.veloceperformance.com dialed it all in to reveal around 470hp.  With only around 2800 pounds to push, this is a recipe for huge fun.

The CS is one of the rare cars that works with you in tricky situations.  The steering is so precise, and so tactile that you can tell exactly how many pebbles and the make up of those pebbles on every inch of a track.

As the day wore on I was beginning to feel the rhythm of the track as well the talents of the CS.  What a great car.  Most road cars will understeer, the CS is neutral and will not.  The P Zero Corsas are incredible tires, fantastic on the road and infallible on the track.  No matter what I did, or how far I missed an apex, the CS and the Corsas made me look good. 

By the end of the day I was pretty shot.  The CS on the other hand was ready for a 24 hour race.  I was ready for my hotel!

I have to thank CJ for inviting me down and allowing me use of this great track.  But I really have to thank my incredible wife for coming down and being my support crew.  She is definitely not a track rat, but having her there made the day that much better.  

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Road trip, Ferrari style

It all started with my normal ‘browsing’ through the want ads in the usual places: Autoweek, Autotrader, etc. I had dreamed of owning a Testarossa, but the prices a few years ago were still in the stratosphere.