MONTEREY, Calif. – The second day of Ferrari Racing Days had an abundance of on-track activity that harkened to the past, present and future of the legendary auto manufacturer and racing team.
A feature race in the third round of Ferrari Challenge North America won by Cooper MacNeil and demonstrations of the future-leaning XX supercars and iconic 333 SP prototype enthralled fans. Many would agree that the highlight of the day was Corse Clienti Formula One.
Attendees were treated to the music generated by the V10 engines of F2004 Formula One cars with racing pedigree. The actual cars in which Michael Schumacher drove to wins in the first five races of 2004 (Car No. 234) and Rubens Barrichello triumphed at the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix (Car No. 240) were driven around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course by drivers in the Corse Clienti F1 program. Owners get the opportunity to drive the machines with Ferrari’s guidance and support.
“I made a big mistake – I had never driven the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca track, and my first time is in a Formula One car,” said Rick Yan, immediately after driving car 240. “The guys who work on this car do an amazing job. It feels so great to go down the iconic Corkscrew in an F1 car. I can’t believe it.”
The Ferrari Challenge North America feature race was dominated from start to finish by Cooper MacNeil, who scored the overall victory in the 20-lap sprint. Championship rival Benjamin Hites finished second, and Chilean driver Martin Burrowes captured the final spot on the podium. It was something of a home win for MacNeil, son of WeatherTech founder David MacNeil whose company is the naming rights sponsor of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The second-generation driver signaled the victory with his hand extended from the driver’s side window as he crossed the finish line. MacNeil, who also drives for Scuderia Corsa in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, did celebratory donuts in front of the bleachers to commemorate the win.
“It was a good race from flag to flag,” said MacNeil. “The WeatherTech Scuderia Corsa guys worked their butts off to give me a great car during qualifying and the race. If I’m not mistaken, we got max points today. That’s good for the championship.”
Neil Gahani, who finished fifth overall, took the victory in the Pro-Am category. On a separate grid, Mark Issa won the overall Coppa Shell race, and Jay Schreibman won the Coppa Shell Amateur class.
The turbocharged Ferrari 488 cars will return for race two on Sunday with the Pro and Pro-Am drivers competing at 1:40-2:10 p.m. and the Coppa Shell drivers taking the spotlight at 12:45-1:15 p.m. The Clienti Formula One cars will be on track at 11:10-11-40 a.m.