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17th Palm Beach Cavallino Classic

The 17th Cavallino Classic took place in Palm Beach, Florida, from January 22 to 27. Having attended each from the first in 1992 until 2005, yours truly was curious, having missed the last two, to see how the event is evolving. Well, it essentially remains the finest gathering of historic Ferraris for track and concours worldwide and seems to have reached a plateau of maturity. The car count, from hallowed 250GTO to humble 308GT4, seems to have stabilized at a little over 300. Of the approximately 1,000 participants, a few hundred form a faithful core returning yearly: collectors, enthusiasts, historians, dealers: 'the right crowd with no crowding', as the Brits are fond of saying.

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Left: Classic Ferraris ready for action at nearby Moroso Motorsports Park
Right: A 250GT sandwich as later Challenge cars join in the fun

As usual the enjoyment started at Moroso Motorsports Park, a small circuit in the Everglades 30 minutes away from The Breakers Hotel, the event headquarters in Palm Beach itself. Two days of private practice preceded the open track days of Thursday and Friday during which owners exercised everything from recent road going Ferraris, through classic GTs, all the way up to 333SPs while historic racers practiced for the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge. As always the track mix of cars was somewhat incongruous, from 250 Testa Rossa to 599 Fiorano and seeing two 360 Challenge cars passing a 250 Europa reminded one of an old lady being harassed by teenagers. F40s, always popular as track cars, were plentiful but what really pleased the eye was seeing true jewels being driven hard such as the 412MI of Chris Cox, the 375MM of Ed Davies, the 250GTOs of Leslie Davies, Greg Whitten, Tom Davis and Jon Shirley or the Daytona Group 4 of Charles Arnott.

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Left: Newcomers may be amused by the lengths to which some Cavallino entrants will go to prepare their car for the event...
Right: ...and the emphasis which they place on the all-important 'books and tools' ("never read or used" might be an appropriate boast)

One particularly appealing car was the 275GTB/C '9057', ex-John Giordano, currently owned by Peter Le Saffre who brought it bare of paint, a very alluring sight. It was stunning to watch on track and he certainly exercised it with gusto.

The Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge drum brake race was won by Peter Giddings who absolutely flew away from the opposition in his Maserati 250F, the nose somewhat dented by an 'off' the previous day. Second belonged to the 300S of Jon Shirley while Ed Davies in his 375MM was the only non Maserati in the top five preceding the 200Si of Chuck Wegner, the 300S of Peter Le Saffre and Leslie Davies in Testa Rossa '0748'.

The disc brake race was headlined by three seriously fast driven BBLMs. As in recent years Todd Morici set a blistering pace and won convincingly ahead of the other BBLMs of Jim Fuchs and Chuck Wegner. Fourth, amazingly considering what was behind him, was the aforementioned 'naked' 275GTB '9057' of Peter Le Saffre. Tom Davis won the unofficial 250GTO cup finishing fifth ahead of its siblings while Chris Cox was a spectacular sight charging hard in the unwieldy, one-off 412MI '0744'.

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Left: If Scuderia Ferrari had finished off their cars like this in period, Rolls-Royce and Mercedes would have been worried
: An old favourite, 250GTO '3445GT' does the rounds

Various cocktails and social functions such as the Jet Aviation party and the Yacht Hop kept participants families entertained until the main event, the Concours d'Elégance at The Breakers Hotel.

The upper portion of the field as always held the most important historic Ferraris, the oldest being a 166MM Berlinetta '0026', a slew of 250GT TdFs holding centre stage while the usual 250GT0 '3445' and a 330LMB '4725' fronted the entrance just a little more adequately than a 430 Scuderia and a very Miamiesque all-white 612 Scaglietti. A few feet away sat one of two 342 America cabriolets and several 400/ 410 Superamericas which seem to be getting more exposure in concours than they ever did when new. Several 250 California Spyders, a 250GT interim and a pair of Lussos including one in a very unusual shade of green compensated for the relative lack of racing cars.

A special Daytona class was well supported with over a dozen cars on display including several Spyders such as Preston Henn's yellow example.

Best of show for the racing class was deservedly awarded to the 166MM '0026' of Jack Croul while the GT award went to the 250GT Pininfarina Cabriolet Series I '0813GT' of Peter Kalikow.