Last year, Jim Glickenhaus had a charity auction for a trip to the Nurburgring 24 to see the P4/5 Competizione in action. I immediately decided to win that auction at all costs. I did, and this is the adventure I went on. It was more amazing than it looks.
(Andrew Tate won the opportunity to attend the Nurburgring 24 with Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, and made a whole trip of it. He documented it on FerrariChat and was also gracious enough to share it with us. This is his account of a car guy's dream world. - TO)
This is a long time coming but since P4/5 Competizione is now home, I wanted to share my adventure. Last year Jim and the team announced an auction for a trip to the Nurburgring. It was to benefit the charity that his son is a part of. I wanted to win. And I made sure it happened.
Winning was like a dream, yet nobody believed me that it was true.
After convincing my best friend I hadn't been suckered into a Nigerian scam, we put together a plan to "do the trip right." We arranged flights, a car, and planned out a trip that would require us to arrive in Frankfurt, Germany and travel down to Modena, Italy. There we would visit Ferrari, Lamborghini, and finally, Pagani. After that we would bomb back to Frankfurt where we would meet the team and watch P4/5 Competizione compete in the Nurbrugring 24.
It would be the perfect trip.
So after 30 hours and four flights (Boise is a nightmare to get to anywhere from) we touched down in Frankfurt, grabbed the car, and headed to our hotel. We rested up and started our way to Italy, arriving at our first stop: Hockenheim.
After leaving the Hockenheimring we were driving along and all of a sudden my friend yells out something like "Holy crap that's a TU-144!"
So we pull off at the next exit to find it. Sure enough it's a real deal Tu-144 airplane mounted on a plinth. We had arrived at the Auto & Technikmuseum Sinsheim, an absolutely astonishing museum. Hundreds of cars, planes, etc. We got to go inside a Concorde and the TU-144. Mind blowing!
After leaving and grabbing some food we stopped for the night at a place called the V8 Hotel. It's an astonishing car themed hotel that has several exotic car dealerships attached to it.
After spending the night we got up planning to head out early. However the dealerships had opened up and there was also a car meet put on by some locals. We had to stop and chat.
But then we bombed down to Modena.
Why? For Ferrari and Lamborghini. And Valentino Balboni.
But more than Ferrari and Lambo, we wanted to see Pagani. We were given a tour of the factory and saw many of their amazing cars.
No pictures allowed in the production area but saw Huayra 006 and 007 under construction, the Zonda R Evo having the final touches put on it, the press Huayra which arrived during our tour, and then a very special Zonda being built for a special customer: Lewis Hamilton.
It's known as the Zonda 760 LH and is a three pedal six-speed manual. We were there on the day it was complete and fired up for the first time. Unfortunately my camera battery started to die so I was unable to get many photos of it. However, my friend did and some of his photos are here.
The next day we went from Maranello to Frankfurt in one 11 hour drive. We attempted to do the Stelvio Pass but we ended up on the wrong portion of it and found it closed due to the weather. (They didn't miss anything. - TO) We then got caught in a white out in Switzerland and finally made it to Frankfurt. We stayed at a pretty terrible hotel but the next day would bring something amazing.
We dropped off our rental car and waited at the airport for Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus to kindly pick us up and take us to the Nurburgring.
During this time, we got our passes, which is when I started thinking "Shit just got real." I was pretty tired but unbelievably excited. My friend was so overcome with joy and anticipation that he slept the entire journey.
We got to the hotel and instead of taking an offer to rest up, we immediately departed for the track. This was my first trip to the Nurburgring (hell, it was my first trip outside the US!) and I marveled in its magnificence. You can feel the history. It's stunning. At one point we were stuck in traffic and I looked to my right and saw a race car screaming past. I realized that the stretch of road we were on was parallel to the track and you could see the cars through the trees. I had hit automotive Nirvana.
I was a jumble of nerves as we walked into the team's suite. I felt almost like I didn't belong. I don't come from anything resembling money, my family views cars as tools rather than things of passion, yet here I was at the place of my dreams about to meet a team, an owner, and above all, a car that I thought I would never, ever see in my life. So I did the thing that I thought was the most appropriate: I simply drank it all in. No photos, no videos for a few minutes. Just bask in the sun, drink a delicious beer and watch the cars scream by.
My friend and I chatted a bit, and then all of a sudden, boom: Jim Glickenhaus.
He was dressed in full race gear, still wearing his headphones. We shot up from our seats and shook hands. He immediately launched into a status update on the car and told us we could go down and view it in a few minutes. We were waiting for his son, daughter-in-law and the other auction winners to arrive. I had completely forgotten there would be others there.
Soon after that there was a team meeting. I was stunned when Jim looked at us and said something like "You all can gather around and listen in." What access!
We took that invite. There was a lot of Italian going around which I could not understand so I wasn't exactly sure what was being said, but strategy was being discussed. Soon after we went down and saw the car for the first time. What. A. Machine.
That concluded day one. After that we packed up and headed to the hotel. Even with massive excitement building I slept like a rock. But seriously Germany, what is it with you and no top sheets on the hotel beds? Why just one heavy blanket? Come on!
Day two was race day, and that eventually turned into something completely magical: Race night. We took pictures, We had drinks at the restaurant Sabine Schmitz's family owns.
I lasted until about 4:00AM when Jim announced he was headed back to the hotel for a brief nap and a shower. I decided to do the same. I shared a ride back with him and one other person and had a moment of quiet reflection as they discussed all manners of racing. If I could sum up my feelings at that moment with a single word it would be "Grateful."
I woke up three hours later and headed back to the hotel, driven by a completely wired young Italian guy named Lorenzo. He was hopped up on God knows what and was asking me all sorts of words in English. Funny moment, cool guy.
P4/5 Competizione had soldiered on through the night and was absolutely hammering it. It was running well and was in 14th (I think) at the time. I was a bit nervous because at this point the car had shrugged off all sorts of knocks, bumps, etc and I wanted to see it finish high in the order. The Nurburgring takes a heavy toll on both man and machine.
As the hours ticked by, I could feel the anticipation rising. At about the 22 hour mark I knew, I just KNEW, the car would finish and cross the line with the checkered flag waving. Once the flag dropped the excitement was unreal and we all headed down to the pits to celebrate. I was able to climb the fence and cheer as the cars crossed the line. Amazing feeling!
After that there was much champagne and celebrating. Well deserved for such a hard working team! The day was finished by checking out the car post race and then attending an awards ceremony. What a way to cap an incredible adventure.
And it was also the end of my trip. I met some amazing people, saw some truly amazing things, and got to see a gorgeous car race at the Nurburgring from the best vantage point I could think of. It's something that I'll never forget.
Photo Credits: Andrew Tate/Ferrari Chat