The 458 Spider needs fuel. It’s Day 2 of the Tributo Ferrari rally, and today’s roads lend themselves to a rather fuel-inefficient pace. I pull into the King City Chevron to find a Fisker Karma at the opposite pump. The Ferrari’s capless filler neck is incompatible with California’s vapor-trap nozzles, requiring you to squeeze the pump’s collar with one hand while holding the handle with your other, so I’m at the pump for a while. The Karma silently glides away, replaced by none other than a snarling Alfa Romeo 164. I might skip Pebble Beach and just hang out at this gas station all day.
Nah. About 18 gallons later, we’re back on the trail to continue one of the best driving days of my life. Maybe seven or eight years ago, I was driving north on I-5, got bored and detoured onto some of these roads. And the roads in this part of California, far away from the coastal crowds and the cities, are really some of the best you can find, anywhere. Back when I first had that epiphany, I was driving a Ford Edge and pretending it was a Ferrari. Now I’m here in a 458 Italia, carving corners on roads that are like a racetrack that never ends.
The beauty of this event is that you’re forced to decouple pragmatism and necessity from the act of driving. We could be in Monterey in an hour, probably, but we’re out here in the hills, taking the roundabout route for the sheer fun of it. Even if you own a car like this, that type of trip happens all too rarely. Maybe you take the Ferrari for a drive, but there’s some pretense — a meeting, an errand. Here, we’re just driving for no other reason than to hear that 4.5-liter V-8 uncork its exhaust bypass and scream its way from perfect corner to perfect corner.
At dinner, we’re talking about cops, speeding tickets and how to avoid either of them. Golfer Ian Poulter, a Brit, recalls a particularly unfortunate decision he made behind the wheel of his Ferrari: he had to either slow down to change lanes for a motorway exit, or speed up to slide between two cars. Since the two cars in question were a BMW 5-series and a Volvo wagon, he opted to speed up. Way up. As he executed his daring move, braking hard to slide into the gap between the BMW and Volvo, he learned that both of them were unmarked cop cars, filled with police. “When the cop came over to the window, I figured I needed to say something immediately. So I rolled down the window and said, ‘Well, that was a silly thing to do, wasn’t it?’ And the cop said, ‘Yes, that was very silly, Mr. Poulter.’” And that was the end of it.
Note to self: If I get pulled over en route to any gathering, try to turn the encounter into a Monty Python skit.