Words: Nic Jimenez | Photos: Jeff Tomascak
In the spring of 2010 Ferrari North America personally invited its most respected customers to purchase the Ferrari 599XX. Only 31 were to ever be produced. The owner, whose name we will leave out, not only accepted the invitation to purchase but also took time to carefully customize his finishes in conjunction with the factory options. This matte Bianco Fuji 599XX that bears the #10 was one of the last 599XX’s made.
With their XX cars, Ferrari has forever raised the bar on the racetrack and subsequently on the road as well. The XX Programme began back in 2005 in Maranello, Italy with a stripped down, track version of its street legal race car, the Ferrari Enzo, named the Ferrari FXX. FXX owners still participate in various Ferrari track tests and brand development programs.
As part of the XX program, the new 599XX is also kept and maintained by the Ferrari factory. The purpose of this particular program is to allow Ferrari’s best customers the most exclusive access to the latest in Ferrari technology so that owners can provide first hand feedback for the development of future Ferrari models. The 599XX package cost 1.4 million Euros (excluding tax) which translates to 1.92 million USD.
Upon ordering and securing financial agreements, the process proceeds while the owner is updated weekly via email with photos from inside the factory showing the paint and build stages (photos we cannot publish). After almost a year of waiting, the BIG day arrives, the 599XX is completed and delivered for what Ferrari calls “599XX shakedown” at the beautifully scenic Mugello circuit in Italy.
Ferrari clearly knows how to cater to their customers. Each meal and every accommodation is 5 star not to mention the high caliber crew that assists with care and maintenance of these high tech race machines. For each Corse Cliente event that hosts the 599XX program, Ferrari sends nearly 60 employees. Each and every mechanic, technician, and manager, is assigned a 599XX. Each Car has the equivalent of full race team.
Programs like this clearly show that Ferrari is innovative on their own terms. Collecting data on the track allows the team to illustrate to the driver how the car is behaving as well as understanding the car’s behavior in real time scenarios.
As one of the world’s most recognized Automotive brands, Ferrari clearly states that it has always had a very close relationship with its clients. Ferrari also says they will always focus a great deal of energy on motorsports because of the mutual passion they share with their clients.
The XX programme is extensive and those owners privileged enough to participate get a year’s worth of activities to keep them motivated to better their skills and come closer to the limits of their machines.
We documented our first few encounters with the 599XX program in late April 2011 at Sonoma’s Infineon Raceway and then a few weeks later at Monterey’s Laguna Seca. But we recently caught up with this #10 Bianco 599XX at the Spa Francorchamps circuit for one final private invitation before the Finali Mondiali in Mugello, Italy.
The weather wasn’t ideal but when you are at the wheel of one of Ferrari’s greatest late model creations, with your own team of engineers and techs at your disposal, you can’t help but feel a little bit like Michael Schumacher. Additionally, for anyone who enjoys time on a racetrack there might not be anything more fun while getting wet than driving a piece of modern Art in the rain.
So, I guess the 2million dollar question isn’t how fast is the 599XX? or what does it feel like to drive a 599XX? The most important question here is whether the experience of the 599XX program is worth the price of admission? From the owners we spoke to they all answered with a BIG smile… “YES” or “ABSOLUTELY”.
There are many other weekend race programs, some local – many closer to home than Ferrari. But Ferrari does race car programs like no other manufacturer – through Formula 1, Ferrari Challenge, and the XX programs, Ferrari uses data learned on the racetrack to build better road cars. It is through all this that Ferrari continues to develop at a more rapid pace than its competitors while inviting owners to participate in the experience first hand.