Behind the wheel of a Ferrari in Maranello

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By Dave S. Clark

The sleepy Italian town of Maranello was forever changed in 1943, when Enzo Ferrari moved his automobile company in and built what would soon become the Ferrari factory.

Ever since then, the town, nestled between Modena and Bologna, has been the birthplace of every Ferrari car as well as the home of the company’s F1 operations. Although it’s kind of out of the way in the northern countryside, you’ll know the town when you see it. Yeah, it’s the one with bright red supercars driving around everywhere you look.

To this day, Ferrari builds all of it’s cars – street and racing ­– here at it’s factory, which is a bit difficult to get into if you aren’t a Ferrari owner or journalist. But there are plenty of other things to see here, including the Ferrari Museum (article coming soon), which you could spend a very good portion of the day in.

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As cool as the museum is, many car guys will surely be looking for something a little more hands on, and who can blame them? I know everyone would love to be able to rip an F1 car down Ferrari’s test track, Fioriano, but I think there are very few people in the world to be that lucky.

The rest of us will have to settle – and I don’t really mean settle – for driving your choice of supercar around the mecca for Italian car enthusiasts.

While on the Motorstars Tour, I got the chance at Pit Lane Red Passion, an outfit conveniently located right beside the Ferrari Museum, known as Museo Ferrari in Italian.

I have driven a lot of cars in my short existence – Fords, Toyotas, Nissans, BMWs, Datsuns, Porsches – but none of them were supercars… not even close. My first supercar would be Ferrari’s grandest GT car, the 599GTB.

If that isn’t the particular prancing horse you are after, they also have the 458 Italia, 430 F1, 430 Spider, 430 Scuderia and California to choose from. Prices range from 60€ for 10 minutes in the 430 F1, to 600€ for being behind the wheel of a 599GTB for an hour. I’m sure their availability will change over time, so be sure to check their website for the current roster.

Merging on to the highway just outside of Maranello in the 599GTB.

Whatever car you choose, it’s well worth it. As you get into the car, you realize that every Ferrari you’ve ever seen has been crafted in the factory right beside you. Every Ferrari, from the street cars to the F1 cars, is born right here. When I got behind the wheel of the 599GTB, it gave me chills driving around the town that Enzo Ferrari chose to build his empire in. Before you start driving, you’ll have probably already heard the screaming of engines from Fioriano. Who is that driving right now? What are they testing at that moment? The newest prototype? New components for their F1 team? Use your imagination.

On the drive, a co-pilot comes with you and gives you directions around the congested little town and then on to the highway, which gave me a chance to open up the 620-hp beast. I took the 10-minute drive and I definitely wanted more. I always imagined that when I drove a car that was worth more than my house, I would get some looks from pedestrians and other drivers. Not so. This may be one of the few places that you probably stuck out more if you were driving a Japanese or Korean econobox.

If you want to remember every detail of your drive, be sure to ask them for a DVD of your experience. The cars are all fitted with cameras mounted just behind the driver.

After your drive, be sure check out the Ferrari Museum, or head out of town for the Pagani factory, Ducati factory or Lamborghini factory and museum. For more information, also take a look at our article on how to get to Maranello from other parts of Italy.

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