FERRARI 250GTO RALLY The billion-dollar Tour de France Octane regular and #Ferrari-250GTO-Rally
owner Nick Mason reports from an exclusive tour Photography courtesy of Dom Perignon
Paris to the Loire Valley, France / #Ferrari-250GTO
Rally has to have been one of the most prestigious noggin-and-natters in a world where ‘technical back-up’ means the sommelier being able to give an accurate description of the smarter end of the wine list. Some 23 of the 36 GTOs manufactured departed Paris and headed down to the Loire valley, the lovely Domaine des Hautes de Loire becoming our forward operating position. The first night was a little like being back at school. There were a few new boys (and girls) and a lot of old friends.
As this was the 50th anniversary of the GTO, we visited many locations where the Ferrari celebrated its first victories. We enjoyed quite a photo opportunity at the Reims-Gueux pits and then motored on to the Hautvilliers Abbey for dinner with Luca di Montezemolo and Jean Todt.
Although I frequently moan in a rather halfhearted way about the publicity given to the values of these cars, there was something quite attractive about throwing open one’s bedroom window to a car park occupied by a group of cars approaching the billion-dollar mark…
Irrespective of value it’s the driving pleasure that counts, and the GTOs certainly got exercised accordingly, especially while doing a few laps of Montlhéry and the Le Mans Classic. No-one got badly lost and, thanks to the support of Monsieur Dom Perignon, a festive atmosphere prevailed. Despite all sorts of tales of cars being sold in the last year, I’m happy to report that most of the usual suspects were on parade. I remember 30-odd years ago when I was the rich kid. Now I’m the sad old sausage, but fortunately surrounded by a number of other friendly sausages to stave off depression.
There was some drama. One accident – thankfully minor injury and a good opportunity for a bodyshop to show its worth. Then one owner, Bernie Carl, was hospitalised just before kick-off. All credit to Joan Carl for hosting a terrific lunch at their magnificent Loire property. Alarmingly, another couple received news of a domestic drama back in the USA. Fortunately another owner was leaving for America on his own jet two hours later, and he had them on board immediately. Not many other owner groups can offer this level of help. The final day was the road back to Paris and a magnificent dinner in Versailles Trianon Palace.
After the intimacy of our Loire hotel we were a bit taken aback to find the Trianon car park awash with Bentleys, enjoying their own event, and GTOs shunted to various corners of a rather tight car park, but order was restored and the work of that Perignon fellow appeared again to keep our spirits up. And to keep everything thoroughly Euro, a sumptuous dinner was served in a French restaurant cooked by a British chef. We tried to settle the bill in drachmas but they weren’t interested.
Top and above Pitlane of the historic Reims-Gueux circuit provides a photogenic backdrop for 23 Ferrari 250GTOs on the 50th anniversary tour; FIA president Jean Todt and Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo (in centre, Todt on left), flanked by former Microsoft president Jon Shirley and Michelle Yeoh, actress wife of Jean Todt.