Yesterday morning, Helen and I started off on our first Road Rally.  I’ve never been on one, and Helen told me last night that the last time she was on one, she was in an accident (totally NOT her fault, BTW).

We, well actually, I, enrolled us in the “non-competitive” rally.  I thought that for our first, we should just enjoy the drive.  God knows what happens when my competitive fuse is lit, so I quite maturely, I think, decided that we’ll do that “nice drive to Niagara” challenge.

Well, funny enough, it’s Helen who put an end to that nonsense.  While queuing in line for the ladies restroom, Helen spoke with some women who had picked up their “Rally Forms” for the competitive drive.  She looked at ours, and said “this is lame, no clues, or challenges, just a drive”.  So we decided to improvise – instead of doing the lame drive, we would take the competitive challenge, but not be timed, and not actually compete for the prizes.  Sweet.

It actually made the drive alot more fun.  And, unfortunately, slowed me down, and kept me at times going SLOWER than the traffic behind me.  Hey, you try finding the “copper mailbox” at 70MPH.  We started the rally at Legendary Motor Cars in Halton where we were treated to a continental breakfast, and a fascinating tour of their restoration facilities.  And their showroom, Oh My God.  Helen doesn’t know this, but I smuggled out one of their current offering/price lists in my underwear.  And they have a beautiful F40.  It’s also the home to the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame.  Will I see Matthew on the walls there one day?  Who knows!

It was a bit rainy as we started off (at 9:57am, according to my “we’re not really competing, but I just want to know” wife).  The first challenge was “Something a giant chocolate Easter bunny would leave”.  No fricken clue.  Ok, confession.  I hadn’t quite grasped the “slow drive == better observation” concept, as I headfaked my traction control through my first corner.  Sweet start, IMHO.

I won’t take you through the whole adventure, but a couple of key points need to be made.  First, I have found, thanks to this rally, some INCREDIBLE roads around the Halton/Niagara Escarpment area.  Wow.  You have to experience this stuff for yourself.  I’m going back often.  Second, when I see “Road Closed” at what I believe to be the “first opportunity to turn left”, I’m assuming the Rally organizers know about this closure.  <insert ASS U ME reference here>.  That “little” issue had us driving down  HWY 8 looking for a stop sign (the obvious idiocy of that task didn’t make itself apparent to me as I was driving).  So anyhow, we had a wicked backtrack involving U-turns and Queen E runs.

The rally ended at Vineland Vinyards, a beautiful setting.  Vineyards surrounded by Ferraris is a site to behold.  We were all enjoying the food and wine sampling, and touring the production facilities.

Alas, time was marching on, and I wanted to get us to Niagara Falls before the weather turned again.  We took the scenic route through Niagara-on-the-Lake, and eventually arrived at the Sheraton Fallsview hotel.  Did you know that every Friday and Saturday night there are fireworks over the Falls?  Neither did I, but don’t tell Helen because I have her convinced that I did ;)

Our room was right at the top.  Penthouse level.  There are only 2 rooms there, and it’s so exclusive that not even the elevators go there!  When I made the reservation, all I asked for was a Falls view room.  I will attribute the complementary upgrade to Sophia!

So, we’re now finishing breakfast, and getting ready for Track Day!  Sophia will enjoy the legendary turns and hills of The Mosport International Raceway today.  I can’t wait!



Helen and I are in Toronto for the Ferrari Club of America Meet.  On Thursday, there was a Concours of incredible Ferraris from past and present.  The Concours was at the Eagle’s Nest Golf Course in Richmond Hill.  Today, we’re going on a Rally to Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Hopefully the weather holds out.

Last night, we were enjoying Remo Ferri’s hospitality.  Remo owns Ferrari of Ontario, and is the major sponsor for this year’s meet.  The reception was at his Ferrari dealership in Toronto.  Remo spoke for a few minutes to the group and explained that Ferrari has had to change and evolve over the years, and the current economic and environmental issues are driving changes now.  I will have to look more into this, but I recall reading about an EU law coming into effect that requires all automobile manufacturers to have a specific fuel consumption/emissions target that is much more aggressive than ever before.  Ferrari has announced it is building a hybrid that should hit the market around 2015.   Remo also said that to survive, Ferrari must produce more cars.  I have mixed feelings about this.  The brand is special because the cars are unique and relatively rare.  Mass production leads to lowest-common-denominator cars.  I hope that never happens with Ferrari.

Anyhow, I don’t know why I’m up at 3am, so I used this free time to post some of my pix from the Concours to flickr.  Seeing 2 F430 Scuderias, an Enzo and an F40 together was a sight to behold.  Those are just incredibly beautiful cars, and each different in it’s own way.

Our Rally ends at a vinard in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Helen and I are going to stay in Niagara Falls for a night, then head to Mosport early on Saturday morning for some fun on the track.  Can’t wait!


To many of you, this is old news.  But I have resisted writing about it in my blog because I’ve felt uncomfortable about “going public”.  But I have recently come to the conclusion that I should share my experiences on this topic because I am so passionate about it.  So here goes.

Since I was a little boy, I’ve loved sports cars.  When I lived in England, I’m told that I would sit on the floor in our house and race my little cars while listening to the trucks and cars go by on their way to a track where Jackie Stewart would practice.  Like many young lads, I had that iconic Ferrari Testarossa picture on my bedroom wall, along with assorted Porsche’s, and Lamborghini’s.

About 8 months ago, at breakfast, I mustered up the guts to say, out loud, to Helen “Honey, I’d really love to get a Ferrari.”  So I’m expecting a rational, well thought out response something along the lines of “well, that’s nice dear, but it’s not an effective investment vehicle, so let’s not do that.”  But God bless Helen, she says “You should do it!”.

So that started the process.  I started looking at F355 Spiders.  I really liked the look of them.  And due to the incredible strength of the Canadian dollar (or is it incredible weakness of the US dollar?), I decided that the best selection/price combination would be found by importing the car from the US.

I have never imported vehicles into Canada.  Helen imported both our vehicles when we moved back to Canada.  So I had some homework to do.  I quickly establishes that the F355 is not currently admissible by Transport Canada’s Record of Imported Vehicles (RIV).  So I started looking at the newer (and curvier) 360 Spider.

The 360 is a much different car mechanically, and esthetically from the 355.  I love them both, but the 360 is much lower cost/hassle on maintenance (so you drive it more).  More research was commenced.  This particular Ferrari was the first all aluminum chassis/body model, which reduced weight while maintaining stiffness.  Here’s a view of the 360’s other vital stats:

  • Engine: 90 degree 32 Valve V8
  • Engine Displacement: 3586 cm^3 (thus the ~3.6L = 360)
  • 395 BHP (redline at 8500, and what a sound that is!)
  • 0-100km/h in ~4.5s
  • Curb Weight: 3197lbs (fuel+lubricants, no people)
  • Production Years: 1999-2005

What years was I looking at?  What options?  Color – well, my first Ferrari was going to be Rosso Corsa Red with a tan leather interior.  I settled on finding a car with these options:

  • Year: 2002 – 2004
  • F1 Gearbox
  • Scuderia Shields
  • Tubi Exhaust
  • 1 or 2 owner car with low (but not ridiculously low) mileage

Those were my “must haves”.  However, I was concerned about the import process, as well as finding a quality car, so I reached out to James Simpson, President of Simpson Automotive Consulting.  He specializes in importing exotic cars into Canada, and knows all the ins and outs.

In late January, the search was starting to turn up some candidate cars.  After some discussion with the dealers (I wanted to stay with Ferrari factory dealers), we narrowed the search down to 2 cars.  One in Scottsdale, AZ and one in Denver, CO.  After some more diligence, we decided the Denver car was the one to look closely at, and have a Pre-Purchase Inspection performed.

As fate would have it, I was driving from Waterloo to California for my last week at McAfee, and could stop in to see the car myself, and take her for a drive.  It was a great plan!

So, to make a long story a little less long, but still longish, the test drive blew me away.  Bill Orth, the GM of Ferrari of Denver was a wealth of information about the car, company and brand, as well as a really nice guy.  After the PPI came back clean, I said “Bill, ship it to me!”.

My 2004 360 Spider, affectionately named “Sophia” (after that other curvaceous, beautiful Italian lady), arrived April 8, 2008.  She also has the following options (in addition to the ones above):

  • Power Daytona seats with black piping
  • Modular Wheels
  • Black carpet
  • Front & Rear Challenge Grills
  • Premium Sound (like the sound coming from the engine isn’t premium enough?)

One of the places I’ve learned alot about the cars is FerrariChat and FerrariLife.  I’ve met some great fellow owners and enthusiasts in the Toronto area, and have gone on a couple of country drives.  What a great days those are!  Imagine 17 Ferraris touring through the hills and curves north of Toronto.  Heaven!

Helen and I took Sophia to Montreal with us for the F1 weekend.  Sophia was VERY popular with the crowds on the street.  And she managed to consistently get us primo parking right in front of the restaurants we were dining at.  We are both still getting used to all the attention coming our way when we’re driving her.

I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had driving her.  When a childhood dream comes true, it’s hard to describe how special that feels.  But I don’t for a minute forget how fortunate I’ve been, and while I’ve worked very hard and started from pretty much zero, I’ve also been blessed with great opportunities that 99% of the people I share this planet with don’t have.

Oh, and for those of you who are screaming “Mid Life Crisis”, I will share with you a joke I was told prior to buying my first Ferrari:

A man comes home to his wife and says “Honey, I need to get a motorcycle, a 20 year old mistress or a Ferrari.”  His wife says “Dear, you better get the Ferrari, because the other 2 will get you killed.”

Thus my torrid affair with a red headed Italian girl begins…