Ferrari shows driven women how to get ahead

Ferrari shows driven women how to get ahead

WHEN you’re a driven woman and you like driving cars fast, you’ll do whatever it takes to get your fix. So when Ferrari Australasia invited Madam Wheels to a recent track day with like-minded women who shared her fetish for automotive excellence, she was on the plane to Sydney in no time. 

‘Australian women are natural thrill-seekers but any serious Ferrarista would probably pay the motherlode to have been included in what went on this day.’

The chopper ride from Mascot to Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek, via Sydney’s resplendent harbour, was a bonus. But the real fun began when the Ferraris and instructors were rolled out on to the track. 

If Madam Wheels needed any evidence as to why more women in Australia own Ferrari motor cars as a percentage per capita than women in any other country in the western world, everything became clear during this Prancing Horse track day. 

Australian women are natural thrill-seekers but any serious Ferrarista would probably pay the motherlode to have been included in what went on this day. Participants had the opportunity to drive a couple of track-capable Ferraris flat-out, the only real restriction being that we kept the cars on the track.

The mid-week event was the first in a new Ferrari series celebrating “dedicated, determined and passionate” female fans of the brand called “Ferrari Driven Women”. The ultimate goal, according to Ferrari Australiasia’s CEO, Herbert Appleroth, is to get more women behind the wheel of Ferraris in an effort to dispel the myth that these cars are for boys only, or are in any way difficult to drive. Truth? They’re just not. And the modern comfort and appointments inside modern-day Ferraris are consistently motivating serious brand-switching behaviour for those who enjoy automotive performance blended with luxury.

Five of us had this combination in spades when we took to the Sydney Motorsport Park track that day in Ferrari’s powerful 488 GTB and 488 Spider (the convertible version). Chosen from fields spanning business, entrepreneurship, entertainment and sport, the girls were invited to push the cars without limits. No speed cameras here, ladies. In fact, the whole point was to experience the cars the way Ferrari engineers designed them to be driven - a street-legal track machine comprising all the experience and technology gleaned during Ferrari’s seven decades of racing.

The physical impact on the body of driving cars like this so hard and fast, even just for two laps, is extraordinary. Adrenaline floods the body, breathing becomes shallow and so many muscles switch on. My instructor had to remind me to breath at one stage, and I discovered that relaxing while applying peak concentration made all the difference to the way the car could be pushed into and out of corners. The traffic cones helped, too, laid out as they were, to indicate where the vehicles should hit apexes along with the constant instruction on where to look, when to brake, how hard to do it, and when to accelerate again from the professional race car driver sitting nervously in the passenger seat. Brave souls, those, given the inexperienced nature of many of the students they have to coach while at full speed. Most exhilarating were a couple of hot laps with MotoKenetic’s chief drive instructor, Renato Loberto, a competitive race car driver who showed us how to do it in his 485 Challenge, roll bars and all. 

But this wasn’t just about cars - model Miranda Kerr’s local favourite hair and make-up guru, Allison Boyle, was on hand to correct matters after the helmets came off, and tense shoulders and back muscles were relieved in the massage chair. It was all so very Ferrari.

Lunch was laid on, too, a buffet overlooking Pit Lane with plenty of French champagne flowing post-drive. Not that any help was needed to lift an already exuberant mood among the girls there. 

Which brings us to a key highlight of the whole experience - those women. Yes, Ferrari makes everything easy by planning and presenting a seamless event and it would be impossible not to enjoy driving those cars. But the real richness in the day was in the friendships that were formed or strengthened among the women who were brought together for the event. You remember those gals, for one reason or another. 

They say you can choose your friends but not your family. Well, that’s not true of the car industry. Ferrari, If you can afford to buy one of its cars, welcomes you into the Ferrari Family, making you a Ferrarista. And once you’re there, the opportunities for experiences like this are endless.