It is said that sometimes the bells ring in Maranello in the middle of the night, when, in a distant time zone, Ferrari has won a Formula One race and the priest of the Church of San Lorenzo, an ardent Ferrari fan, expresses his joy loudly. This, and the many other stories provide an excellent first impression of the otherwise unobtrusive small town near Modena in the northern Italian Emilia Romagna; a gourmet territory, from which the Parma ham, Parmesan cheese, Aceto Balsamico and the best truffles come.
In the 17,000-inhabitant town, everything is superimposed by Ferrari’s “rosso corsa” and the sleek cars which is why company founder Enzo Ferrari has also been given a monument here: the “cavallino rampante” greats at the village entrance in the center of a roundabout right next to the Ferrari factory. Maranello IS Ferrari and Ferrari IS Maranello, not only because of the company’s Fiorano test track being in the city center…
This test track and the world-famous old company gate were our first fanboy highlights when visiting Maranello a couple of weeks ago, invited by famous photographer Günther Raupp in order to get an exclusive look behind the scenes of his 34th production of the official Ferrari calendar. But since we were already there, especially one other major highlight was high up on the agenda: a view behind the scenes of Corse Clienti, Ferrari’s client racing program.
In case you live under a stone and haven’t heard already about Corse Clienti, let me bring you up to speed: besides the “more regular” Ferrari Challenge program which was established as a one-make series in 1993 in accordance with FIA regulations and races across Europe (Monza, Mugello and Silverstone), North America (Laguna Seca, Montreal, and Austin) and Asia (Shanghai, Fuji and Sepang) – a series with 458s and 488s being raced – the XX and F1 Clienti programs aim for the even more ambitious drivers. Or, as the program reads:
“If to own a Ferrari is a privilege, then to possess an XX is a kind of apotheosis. These intriguing letters stand for the three Ferrari programmes dedicated to its most faithful customers who are lucky enough to drive cars produced in very limited numbers and exclusively for the track.”
The FXX was the first car of the series, with a 6.3 litre 12-cylinder engine and an incredible sound. In 2009, The 599XX appeared as a 700-horse monster, while the FXX-K is the youngest and most powerful of its breed, being launched in 2014 with its groundbreaking kinetic energy recovery technology. The outcome: 860hp from the V12 engine and another 190 from an electric motor.
While visiting the holy grail of Ferrari customer motorsports, we are told that the XX program was initially set to life in order to involve clients in the development of future technology, but of course, this program is also a very intriguing way of building a close customer relationship.
You wonder what this miraculous place looks like? We can help…
And then, last but not least, there is F1 Clienti. And just the name might leave you with some goosebumps… Yes, you guessed correctly: a few lucky and very special Ferrari clients are allowed to own and drive an original Ferrari F1 car since the start of the F1 Clienti in 2003. After a two-year holding period to ensure Ferrari’s racing technology is not used by its F1 rivals, everyone is – in theory – able to by his hero F1 racer.
Even more: once you own the car, Corse Clienti takes care of the rest: the car is stored and maintained in Maranello and race-ready for Ferrari-organised events with experts to tutor the gentlemen how to drive +330 kph-single seaters. Private sessions at a particular race track are also possible. The cost for this: Ferrari won’t tell.
While some lucky owners were just able to experience this brute force during the XX and F1 Clienti test days on the world-famous circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, all that remains for us is dreaming about driving one of these on the track one day. But browsing around in this particular workshop felt almost close to actually driving these cars … and, in case you are at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, you might experience some of the magic arising from these cars.