Want to see an Italian Formula 1 car in action, but don’t want to pay the high ticket prices at Monza or San Marino? Head to the Ferrari test track outside Bologna.
The husband went to Monza in 2004 and had a glorious time (Ferrari was first and second on the day, so the Italians were deliriously happy), but last year he decided not to repeat that trip. Instead, he got lucky – during our stay in Bologna, he read in the Italian sports daily that the Ferrari would be testing at the test track near the factory and museum in Maranello. We’d been to the museum in 2004, and seen where the track was, but nothing was going on then so we didn’t stay. This time was different.
After touring an acetaia (where they make and store balsamic vinegar) in nearby Modena, we drove over to the test track – la Pista di Fiorano – and parked on a dirt road near one of the hairpin curves on the track. There’s a tall chain-link fence surrounding the track, and a big patch of grass between the track and the fence, so it’s not as if they’re exactly encouraging spectators (would it kill them to put up some bleachers?), but they’re also not actively discouraging them, either. We waited for twenty minutes or so in the noonday sun, the husband ever-conscious of my general disinterest in anything car-related, before we heard the sound.
If you’ve been to an F1 race, you know what I’m talking about. To those of you who haven’t (and I’m among you), when the sound began, I thought, “Either someone has just started up the most powerful lawn mower on earth, or a little red car is going to come shooting out of that tunnel any minute now…”
I got the camera ready and managed to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 shots in the car’s 15+ laps. I think only about 10 of them are worth talking about, but I was pleased with the results (my favorite is the one above left). The husband was overjoyed to see the car that close. What I really enjoyed, however, was the rest of the “crowd” that was watching the car with us. When we arrived, there was a handful of people along the side of the track where we were, and we could see a few on the opposite side of the track as well, but that was about it. By the time we left, the crowd had tripled in size (still not many people) – many of the spectators were workmen on their lunch breaks who had driven their big vans right next to the fence so they could climb on top for a better view.
For the die-hard fan, of course, there’s always the apartment with the balcony overlooking the track.