Following Ferraris In The South Of France Is A Day Well Spent
Photography by Romuald Clariond
I came across the Padre-Figlio (father-son) Ferrari road rally when it practically passed through my backyard last year. I of course followed along to the finish, where a game of prancing horse Tetris played out at Hôtel Cap-Estel. For the 2019 edition of the predominantly red road trip, the event moved from Monaco to Provence, and I was invited along by Happy Few Racing’s Laurent Blomet, the event’s organizer. I’d just returned from a memorial Cannonball run in the US, and I found the attendee’s package for the Padre-Figlio waiting for me at my front door—there are worse things to come home to after a trip abroad. Thanks Laurent!
On my way to the start, I happened to meet the mayor of the village. He’d gotten wind of the event, but didn’t know who the organizer was, so I introduced him to Laurent Blomet who was happy have the mayor say a few words to the audience, just like Gino and Francesco did after winning the event last year in their LaFerrari.
This year the incumbent champs were in a 250 GT Lusso, but even with the gulf of performance between that and last year’s LaFerrari, they were still “in it to win it” as the Americans say, and as Gino did during his speech this year. After the formalities, the mayor went back to his day job, and we got on with an activity that was the complete opposite of ours. I don’t have a Ferrari, nor a dad or son with one, so I was wheeling one of Happy Few Racing’s support BMWs for the rally with the top down so my photographer friend Geoffray Chantelo could get his rolling shots.
I made sure to leave as much passing room as possible on the narrow lanes and backroads, and I was pleased to see plenty of the drivers taking me up on the offer to get ahead. As you can see, the variety was quite good given the single marque nature of the event, and though I prefer the ‘60s and ‘70s models, it’s hard to avoid the allure of the new stuff too. Like the FF—a deftly handled venture for the brand—and the “modern classics” like the 360 Modena, which is aging better than anyone would have told you ten years ago. The single FF at the event wore a cheeky UK plate “FA55T FF,” and the Brits who brought it displayed some good humor in these Brexit-anxious times, opting for a European Union flag instead of the Union Jack on the hood.
I took a photo of the car at the start and posted it on Instagram, where the father and son team of Robert and Guy found it and got in touch with me later in the day. People say posting things to social media can be a futile and pointless exercise in narcissism, but they tend to gloss over the stories of real connections that are made possible by doing so. In this case, a simple picture on Instagram made me two new friends. The son, Guy, also happened to be a huge Cannonball enthusiast like me, and we traded stories for the rest of the day. He’d even bought the jacket Steve “Yogi” Behr had been wearing when he won the Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in 1972.
That was a particularly wild run, as the team Yogi had put together with Bill Canfield and Fred Olds did a “driveaway” from New York to Los Angeles with a brand new 1973 Cadillac DeVille, to be delivered to its owner in California. They did the “delivery run” In 37 hours and 16 minutes. I had my Audi in the parking lot that I had completed a sub-31-hour run in, and Guy got a kick out of it. As did I, finding a likeminded person who thinks an Audi wagon with a huge fuel tank in the back is awesome instead of absurd.
Enough Cannonball talk though, back to the Ferraris at hand. We were slated to end up at Mont Ventoux for some scenic photographs, but the weather decided we weren’t allowed to have the perfect day of blasting around French esses in Italian sports cars, so were had to make our ascent and descent and the photos in between amidst fog and under grey skies.
As I mentioned, there is a winner at the end of all of this, but it’s no outright race. There are regularity sections to earn points, and a “free drive” that is timed along one section, but if there is a winner here there are certainly none left feeling like they’ve lost. It’s an indulgence after all, isn’t it? A bunch of fathers and sons enjoying some of the most beautiful and potent machines ever built on the kinds of roads that they were built for? How could you come away from that unhappy that you weren’t the best at regularity racing?
When all was said and done and driven, Gino and Francesco won it it again this year, but it looked very much like everyone had, if you judged their faces. The next iteration will move to St. Moritz for summer 2020, and my dad and I are already looking for a way to borrow a Ferrari to participate proper this time. A nice red GTC4 Lusso would do the trick I think, but just being part of the stampede in any form is more than worth the while.