Pushing down the gas pedal in a Ferrari is not something you forget. Read Nicole Smith’s reflection from her day behind the steering wheel during her program in Reggio Emilia, Italy!
On 23 October, I went on a tour with USAC to the Ferrari Factory and Museum in Maranello, Italy. This was an incredible day for two reasons: 1) it was my 25th birthday and 2) we were going on a tour of one of the most famous car brands in the world. I couldn’t have been more excited. We arrived at the factory with about 30 minutes to kill before our tour began. Most everyone got coffee and a bite to eat at the café across the parking lot. In the parking lot was a beautiful Ferrari, so naturally, I took some pictures with it.
Next to the café was a sign that said “test drive,” I figured why not, let’s see how absurdly priced this drive is. I go ask one of the men in the racing suits and he showed me the price list. €50 for ten minutes and 7km. My heart began to pound. This is crazy and impossible. I ran inside the café to find Simona to ask how long we had, “About 10 minutes,” she tells me. I tell her what I am going to do and go back inside the office. When I get outside and in front of the car, some of the other students are asking me what I am doing, and when I tell them, they are super excited. I asked one of my friends to take pictures for me and hold my purse while I go on the ride of a lifetime. My instructor sets up the engine, it roars to life and off we go.
It was incredible. I have never felt so much power in a car before, and still, it barely felt like anything at all. My entire body was shaking with adrenaline and I could not stop giggling. It was amazing. The sun was out and there were no clouds in the sky, it was the perfect day to be in a convertible, and not just any convertible, but a Ferrari F430 Spider. My instructor tells me where to turn and the ride is under way. About a kilometer or so from the office, we come to a straightaway, he tells me to push it. I give it a bit more gas, he tells me more, and I floor it. The engine sounds the way I have always heard a Ferrari engine to sound on TV, but this was nothing compared to that. It was more power than I could comprehend, and it didn’t even feel like I was going that fast. I needed to slow down to make a turn and the engine followed as quietly as it had sped up.
The whole drive lasted about 10 minutes and in that ten minutes I could not stop smiling. My hands were shaking and my whole body was pumping full of adrenaline. When we got back, I was still in shock. I thanked my instructor a million times over for giving me the most amazing birthday present ever. When I went inside the office, they had the video of my drive uploading to a CD, the woman at the front desk said that they are going to give it to me for free as a birthday gift. I was floored. I thanked her and went to join to the tour and that I would be back after to get the CD. The rest of the day I was still shaking. My heart was racing and I could still feel the adrenaline pouring through my veins. It was an experience I know I will never forget. It was a birthday I will never forget.
This was something I could not have even dreamed of if I had not decided to take the leap and study in Italy this fall. I can’t thank USAC enough for being a part of this incredible day.
We are so glad Nikki got to have such a fun and unique experience driving a Ferrari! Visit the USAC website and find out where you can go and what kind of experiences you could have.