SF LogoFerrari Racing Days at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a three-day fest of Ferrari’s, with many traditional red, black and yellow cars … and multi-colored Ferrari 458 Challenge cars, ┬ásome of which are wrapped rather than painted.

Twenty-eight F458 cars are entered, and all have been on track. Friday three broke suspensions, but all of them qualified. One of the three, ALEX POPOW of Venezuela in No.2 Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale, has the pole – a new lap record. This despite his fastest qualifying lap being disallowed due to improper tire procedure, i.e. tire change during qualifying. Drivers must start race on Qualifying tires. His second fastest lap was 1:27.561/92.014 mph. Second fastest F458 driver was ONOFRIO TRIARSI of Short Hills NJ in No.23 at 1:28.252/91.293 mph.

Alex Popow's #2 F458
Alex Popow's #2 F458

Popow’s car is an all very shiny chrome with a red racing stripe down the middle. It looks fast standing still. He was racing last weekend at Laguna Seca where he droe a CORE AUTOSPORT ORECA FLM09 PC in the American Le Mans Series six-hour sports car endurance race. He finished sixth overall, third in the Prototype C class, co-driving with TOM KIMBER-SMITH. Popow is leading the PC points standings.

ENZO POTOLICCHIO of Venezuela in No.22 Ferrari of Fort Lauderdale lost a wheel in Turn Two on his second lap in Saturday morning practice, and had to replace the wheel. He will start the race in P27.

Another well-known driver in the 458 series, for those reality show fans of Shark Tank, is ROBERT HERJAVEC of Toronto Canada, racing No.007 for Ferrari of Ontario. He had an off Friday in Turn Eleven but survived and was back out Saturday, qualifying sixth in CS, twelfth overall.

The top four F458’s are in the Trofeo Pirelli class, the faster drivers. The other class is Coppo Shell, for less experienced drivers.

The top C driver was RYAN OCKEY of Calgary Canada in No.89. Twenty seven drivers of the 28 entries qualified.

Both Popow and Ockey race cars which are ‘wrapped’ rather than painted. They are among several flashy eye-catching designs. The average time to wrap these cars is a day. There was one car which took two days, and a couple others estimated time two to six hours.

Ryan Ockey's No.89 F458
Ryan Ockey's No.89 F458

Also on the program for the weekend are the lone F1 Clienti Ferrari, four 599xx Ferrari’s driven by fellows who use pseudonyms, one Ferrari XX Evo driven by ERIC CHEUNG YIN WAI of Canada, and a 1997 Esobizone IMSA 333 SP Prototype driven by MICHAEL SCHEIN. One tricked out red and white 599XX, No.36 was driven by OLIVIER BERETTA. It’s not on any list. He had some interesting lines through Turn Six.

Friday the F1 Clienti car, owned by BUD MOELLER was driven by him Friday and the top trap speed on the Start-Finish straight was 174 mph. This is after he slowed for Turn Eleven’s curve, and then up shifted five gears uphill towards Turn One. One of Italian crew members told me “there’s more.” The car is the 2003 F1 car raced by RUBENS BARRICHELLO, running on semi-treaded tires, rather than racing slicks.

Sharing the car with Moeller Friday was former F1 driver, MARC GENE. Saturday morning ALMS Ferrari sports car racer, GUY COSMOS got his very first ride in a F1 car.

This weekend Barrichello is at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Indy 500 Pole Day qualifying – the ‘Rookie’ who isn’t really a Rookie, qualified tenth. He races a Chevrolet Dallara DW12 for KVRT Racing.