California dreamin’

IMG_2259_49463f3f26e3f-lightboxThis morning is a particularly exciting one as I am on my way to meet a group of fellow friends in Newport Beach, California for our first “Paupers Run” to Las Vegas. I am driving my pride and joy, a black on black Ferrari 1996 F355 Berlinetta and have been looking forward to what promises to be a fun filled trip to Vegas based around 800+ miles of driving over the next 4 days.

We meet in a centrally located car park and after exchanging pleasantries with some new folk and catching up with old friends we’re off. A hot yellow 360 complete with custom 19″ wheels and shrieking Capristo level 3 exhaust leads the pack of 8 F cars, navigating us all through the maze of Southern Californian freeways to our second and final meeting point where we hook up with 8 more of Maranello’s creations. Starbucks and 20 minutes later and we’re on our way directly to Vegas (not withstanding one more fuel stop). Some spirited freeway driving sees speeds reach highly anti social levels, plus the sound of our convoy is an event in itself. Other cars move out of our way or else we zig zag and carve through them as though playing another round of Forza on Xbox, (of course overtaking in any lane is permitted in California!)

We arrive in Las Vegas thankfully without incident or drama, and cruise down Las Vegas Boulevard with tourists and onlookers turning their necks back and forth as though watching a game at Wimbledon. Our various Tubis and Capristos ricochet their music off the hotel facades and sidewalks. Life is good and we’re in for a great time.

Friday morning and we meet in the car park of the Paris hotel where we have arranged VIP private parking complete with security patrol. The evening prior was low key with everyone behaving themselves in anticipation of some great driving today. We’re off and this time we are led by Paupers Run organizer, and very good friend, Jeffrey Cheng in his Rosso Scuderia 360 Challenge Stradale. The immediacy of its throttle and ferocious sound are intoxicating although I am still in love with my 355 which sports a Tubi exhaust plus Tubi test pipes. We travel into the Valley of Fire in the Nevada desert about 20 miles outside of Vegas and drive on the most incredible, unpopulated roads . The adrenaline is rushing and I am grinning ear to ear, windows down and oblivious to the incredible and dramatic red rocks and scenery blurring by.

Lunch is a good old burger and fries overlooking Lake Mead with animated conversation. Stories and moments are shared and I was complimented on my 355 shooting flames at every 8,500rpm upshift. The 355 is running strong and is having no problems keeping up with the various 360 Modenas within the group. We are a very spirited group of drivers so our pace is fast and evenly matched as well as thrilling to be part of. These are the roads which Ferraris were made for. Visibility for miles, no other traffic and just your own sense of self-preservation holding you back. Enzo would have been proud!

The only issue a few of us more aggressive drivers experience is some light gravel on the road which when kicked up at 120mph plus causes some serious road rash. Today it definitely pays to stay back but my joy at being free from SoCal’s congested roads and my desire for the 360 in front of me to see the whites of my eyes results in the nose of my 355 turning from Nero black to primer color. The sound of the sometimes deafening gravel is sickening but the adrenaline and fun keeps me in his slipstream.

We roll back into town and head over to the new Wynn hotel which is home to a Ferrari dealership complete with service facilities, showroom and souvenir shop. Once again, parking is secured underground but not before we circle in front of the hotel entrance, where camera phones are clicking away and everyone is giving the group a collective thumbs up. We pick up some more prancing horse memorabilia from the gift shop and admire the yellow and the red Enzo displayed in the showroom.

The evening which proceeded definitely follows the current Vegas advertising campaign slogan of “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Needless to say, the half of the group I was in was only just going to sleep when the other group was leaving to have another go at the previous day’s run. However we do manage to rendezvous for lunch and then take off again on some fantastic open roads. This really is the reason we all own Ferraris and the fun continues. Another great evening with friends, good food and fine wine finishes off another incredible day.

The next morning we agree on an early departure as we don’t want to get caught in the heavy traffic leaving Las Vegas back to Southern California. We try to be mature but within a few miles the right foot gets the better of us all, and the high speed convoy proceeds. We make it back to Los Angeles in record time, happy and proud that each of our machines had performed flawlessly if a little battle damaged.

A week has now passed and the memories and stories live on in a thread on My 355 has just been dropped off for what is turning into a complete respray. Serious money, stretching into the many thousands. No one said that owning a Ferrari was cheap!






Edward Yu