(Source: www.businessinsider.sg)

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

A couple of years back, my son, James, and I drove up to Watkins Glen International, a storied racetrack, to watch a Ferrari race. We did not, however, make the drive in a Ferrari.

In 2015, Ferrari kindly lent us a California T, the company’s “entry-level” car – its base price is $198,000 – to make a return visit. The Cali T is an important vehicle for the prancing stallion now that it’s a public company and needs to grow beyond its traditional 7,000-cars-per-year in sales.

At the New York Stock Exchange when Ferrari, ticker symbol RACE, began trading, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO and Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne said that many of the 9,000 cars the Italian sports car maker plans to sell in 2019 will be Cali Ts.

Thus far, since Ferrari’s 2015 IPO, the spun-off exotics automaker has performed admirably; shares are up al ost 60% since then – and more than 100% over the past 12 months, making Ferrari the best investment in the auto sector of late (better even than Tesla).

The first time James and I went up to the Glen, we watched a Ferrari Challenge race, where amateurs and pros are on the track at the same time, exclusively in Ferraris. In 2015, we attended the Six Hours of the Glen, an endurance race featuring teams from a variety of automakers – Porches, BMW, Aston Martin, Mazda, Corvette – alongside Ferraris.

It was an interesting weekend with a long drive in a cool car and a race that was heavily affected by the weather. Mixed in was a jaunt around the original Watkins Glen road course, where after World War II racers battled it out and before the now famous raceway was built.

We had a lot of fun – check it out.

A few years back, James and I checked out a race series organized by Ferrari and featuring teams running only Ferrari cars.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

James had a blast …

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

… because for a (then) 8-year-old what’s cooler than Ferraris? (He’s 11 now.)

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

In 2015, Ferrari let us borrow a California T, the Italian luxury-car maker’s $198,000 entry-level ride. It has a convertible hardtop!

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

When Ferrari shares started trading on the NYSE, Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne said that the Cali T would deliver a lot of future sales for the car maker.

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Screenshot via CNBC

The Cali T has a fairly diminutive trunk. But it was good enough for a father-son road trip.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The journey would take us from New York City to the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, about a five-hour drive each way.

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Screenshot via Google Maps

James definitely dug this Ferrari.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The weather was rainy for much of the ride, but the Cali T looks good wet or dry. In fact, the distinguishing feature of this 552-horsepower grand touring car, with its twin-turbocharged V8 engine, is its hypnotic, luscious appearance. I couldn’t stop staring at it. The gorgeous and exclusive “Rosso California” color, a deep red, helped.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The heart of every Ferrari is its engine. This turbo V8 is relatively compact, but it packs a punch. The sound took some getting used to, but there’s no appreciable “turbo lag” — throttle response delivers power in less than a second.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Of course, a road trip means drive-thrus. Would you like fries with your Ferrari?

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

How about a donut?

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

We arrived In the idyllic town of Watkins Glen and met up with Giancarlo Fisichella, a former Formula One driver who would be racing the following day as a member of Ferrari’s two teams at the Six Hours of the Glen. In 2016, I would watch him battle for a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

He took us on a tour of the old Watkins Glen road course, which winds through town and the nearby countryside. The 6.6-mile course was the site of the first postwar American road race in 1948. Back then, they raced on cement, gravel, and even dirt!

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The California T is an elegant essay in automotive symmetry, with a long, finely shaped hood and flowing, dynamic lines that culminate in a taut rear end. Grace and power, in one package. Very Ferrari!

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Ferrari

The weather was wet and Saturday qualifying for Sunday’s race was washed out. But the Cali T handled the old road course well, once the downpour let up.

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Ferrari

Fisichella was astounded that race-car drivers would have taken on such a winding course in cars that, while not as speedy as his Ferrari race car, were still pretty speedy.

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Ferrari

The stone bridge is a landmark of the course — and one of the trickier parts to drive!

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Ferrari

Here it is from another angle. After Fisichella showed us around the course and regaled us with stories of his days racing with F1 legend Michael Schumacher, I got to take a turn at the wheel.

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Ferrari

The old course is an excellent test of a car’s handling. It contains twists, turns, sweeping curves, elevation changes, and straightaways. You don’t need to drive it fast to enjoy the challenge. The California T certainly enjoyed itself. I switched the manettino dial on the steering wheel to “Sport” and flicked through the gears using the paddle shifters, massaging the throttle as I went. The turbo V8 makes an exquisite sound and the connection between engine and gearbox is impeccable and seamless. Ferrari is very good at this kind of thing.

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Ferrari

We eased the car back into town and said our goodbyes for the day, wishing Giancarlo luck in the race.

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Ferrari

Race day! To enter the Glen, you drive under this bridge. That’s a section of the 3.4-mile track on top.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Watkins Glen International is a beloved track. It’s technically challenging, but the long straightaways mean that cars build up a ferocious head of steam. The sound of dozens of cars here, roaring around at speed, is a raw, emotional thing that grabs you in the gut.

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Screenshot via Google Maps

Ferrari fielded two teams in two divisions.

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Ferrari

The race started out in the rain, which was tough for the various teams to deal with, but after about an hour the weather cleared and the cars could run flat-out.

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Ferrari

Ferrari had a lot of company — and competition.

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Ferrari

We paid a visit to the pits. This is where races can be won and lost, depending on the skill of the crew. Here, they’re getting reading to add fuel, change tires, and switch drivers! It is a six-hour race, after all, and each car is handled by two guys who alternate behind the wheel.

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The Ferrari brain trust is monitoring the performance of its teams and devising strategy.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The pit crew inspects a set of tires after one of the cars experienced a brush with the wall. Tire wear can indicate whether there’s something more serious wrong with a damaged car.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

An endurance race involves frequent conferences between drivers and team managers.

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Ferrari

Now that’s some racing!

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Ferrari

Ferrari fought for position with host of rivals throughout the race. Only briefly, however, did a Ferrari team lead. The whole point of an endurance race is for a team to survive and be in a position to make a run at the end, if it isn’t too far behind.

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Ferrari

Outside the track and the pits, the teams maintain rolling garages and staging areas where the cars can be prepped and repaired.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

One of Ferrari’s biggest rivals.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The Americans weren’t left out — in fact, Corvette has a very strong team in endurance racing.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

This BMW hit a bad patch on the track and had to be repaired. The ultimate driving machine was out of action.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

James Bond’s automotive brand of choice was also in the picture.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

This Nissan raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It wasn’t taking part in the Six Hours of the Glen.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Uh oh. The rains returned.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The racing got completely gnarly as the storm surged through the area.

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Ferrari

At high speeds, the race cars kick up rooster tails of spray from the wet track.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The nasty weather forced us to retreat to the media center …

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

… where we could study the worsening conditions on TV. Some drivers like the rain because it plays to their skills, but when it gets really wet, no one is having a good time.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Eventually, the race had to be paused. The conditions were simply too dangerous.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

After a restart, the race continued until a crash forced a completion under the yellow caution flag. That’s a Corvette, which won the race in the top prototype class. Ferrari just missed out on a trip to the podium, for one of its teams.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

After the race, James found himself surrounded by guys in racing suits, discussing how they had done.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

In the end, the California T and the Glen proved to be a terrific combination. I picked up a souvenir from the weekend.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

James and I head back to New York City, but we made a quick stop in our Italian sports car for, naturally, some Italian food.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

We had to say so long to the California T. But it was a good ride for the weekend.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Ferrari sells more than one car — but the Cali T is perhaps its most important set of wheels.

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Ferrari

More Info: www.businessinsider.sg

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