Fire Accident, Franco Scribante, Ferrari F430

SEFAC Ferrari track day: Flame grilled

Across from where we sit, enjoying a hearty breakfast, white words on a light-purple background stare back at us: ‘Flame grilled, it just tastes better.'
Outside the highway is moving at an unforgiving pace, almost non-stop, presumably some of these fast paced cars are heading towards Kyalami Raceway for the Southern Equitorial Ferrari Automobili Club (SEFAC) annual Ferrari track day.

This should be a great event. We arrive on invitation from Willem van der Westhuizen and Black Mamba Zoo, who invited us to a few laps around the Kyalami racetrack.

At the entrance gate we were greeted by a horde of security guards, dressed in neon-yellow. With a friendly attitude they pointed us in the direction of the parking area. The "guests" parking area was already packed to the rafters. The security guards’ high-visibility gear formed a deep contrast to the rest of the red Ferrari day. I wonder if Mr Obama got the same deal when he visited South Africa. Strangely enough, the security aura gave the SEFAC Ferrari track day an opulent fragrance. With our yellow arm bands and later a white one (after signing a compulsory indemnity form), we wandered around the Kyalami pit complex, ogling the Ferraris on display.

A sea of red stretched out before us. Approximately two-hundred ostentatious Ferraris pitched for this momentous occasion. In this sea of ultra-red Ferraris, you’ll find the odd yellow, black and blue ones; proclaiming that not everybody prefers the norm. This is exactly what makes our society so unique: the ability to choose your own colour. Some of my readers might have a different opinion, but not all Ferraris have to be RED!

The day was divided into three colour sessions: red, black and blue. During these sessions Joe Public were treated to a once in a life time experience: A couple of laps as passengers in a Ferrari around the Kyalami racetrack.
Some of us were more privileged than others and was offered a mind-blowing trip in a real racing Ferrari with a real racing driver. (All Ferraris are equal, but some Ferraris are more equal than others). We were in the red group with Willem van der Westhuizen and Black Mamba Zoo, #73. Black Mamba Zoo (BMZ) is Willem’s Ferrari 360, with a strange lacklustre, black rubbery skin. A shiny black skin just wouldn’t have done it for BMZ, the matt black finish looks more powerful and fearsome than a prissy high gloss façade would’ve.

The Mamba was waiting for me. A few months back I lost my footing at Zwartkops Raceway and ended up feet first in the gaping jaws of this fearsome creature. As tough as nails, I stepped out of its belly, to tell my tall tale to the world. The Mamba did not forgive me; it was time for me, to pay again. With the mind of Darth Vader, and the shrill voice of Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Black Mamba Zoo did not appreciate me surviving our first encounter on the black.
Today I will man-up, I will endure the fast paced Kyalami racetrack, truly believing that Willem, as BMZ’s keeper, will have full control over the fearsome beast.

First lap out on the circuit, the Mamba was still stiff; holding back. We swerve from side to side to wake it up. There was definitely nothing wrong with the snake’s Pirelli underbelly, as it slithered around the Kyalami racetrack. The turns were calculated precisely as we squeezed nice and tight through every one of them. Willem’s hands were firm on the Ferrari’s racing-steering-wheel, and between gear shifts, his fingers reached back to paddle shift the Ferrari into a higher/lower gear, to suite racing conditions.
After my 8 laps (whose counting), I felt like Neil Armstrong, when he first stepped out onto the Moon—elated! BMZ on the other hand, hated my euphoric expression; with its dim red eyes transfixed on my back, I knew, this was far from over...

As I left the race garage, with BMZ still shooting mind-bullets, to pick up my Nikon gear from the pit wall, an overwhelming blast (like a bomb exploding) shocked through the Kyalami pit complex. According to my calculations, judgement day is still a few years off, so what the hell just happened?

It was definitely not our economy hitting rock bottom; two-hundred ostentatious Ferraris were telling a different story. All I could see was a mass of red-and-orange-flames, rolling from side to side, like angry waves during a storm. In a dire attempt I ran across the pit lane to capture what could have been tomorrow’s newspaper headline (before it vanished).

Flame grilled. In a momentary lapse of judgement, Franco Scribante’s Ferrari F430 was engulfed in flames. Before I could utter any sound, the fire extinguishers blasted off. Like snow falling at its own pace to the ground, so too did the powdery stuff fell to the pit floor, covering every neighbouring Ferrari in its reach: Nicky Dicks was there with Dorothy, his Ferrari F430 (in her sultry ultra-red couture); next Willem van der Westhuizen with BMZ (turning its black skin into a dull grey); to his left Jaki Scheckter with his Ferrari 360; the Dan Shenkman Ferrari 360. Across stood the ironic flame grilled Remo’s Fratelli Ferrari of Franco Scribante (without any serious damage); next to it, Mark du Toit’s Ferrari 360. At the garage entrance, the vintage model of Jaki Scheckter, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GTM, stood gasping for air. In a momentary lapse of reason or is it judgement, anything is possible. Unfortunately, I only managed to capture the receding flames, not even worth publishing.

And as the sun reels its flames in to lay it down on another part of our beautiful blue planet, so too did I come to realise that a medium to rare flame grilled Franco Scribante Ferrari F430 can bring tears to a grown man’s eyes (of course from the extinguisher powder). Paddy McAloon could be right when he sings: ‘Some things hurt more, much more than cars and girls’ But then, he has never witnessed a flame grilled Ferrari before.

To all the passionate people that made the SEFAC annual Ferrari track day such a huge success; to Willem van der Westhuizen and BMZ (C3 Engineers); to the roller-coaster girl (with her arms joyfully up in the air, every time she came down the pit straight) in that black Ferrari 360 Spider; to the dark-pink-haired girl, with her soft eyes and beautiful smile that got away—THANK YOU! Hoping to see you all again, soon. And REMEMBER, to keep those hot wheels rolling, passionately. —Godspeed!

Words & Photos: Adriaan & Martine Venter (SEFAC Ferrari Track Day, Kyalami Raceway, South African Motorsport, 2013/07/13, 203 images) Main Image: Franco Scribante, Ferrari F430.

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MORE: SEFAC Ferrari day photos on Facebook (64-203)—click here