Merstheman Mario Visits the Shop.

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Last week during the Road & Track shoot, Jim came up to me and said someone from Brazil was coming to check out the cars.  ”Brazil, Indiana?” I thought to myself.  Two days later I could now say I have a friend who lives in Brazil.  The real Brazil.  The story below was posted on FerrariChat.  Read on to hear his about his journey.

“OK, so now that I am back home in Brazil, after a great and much needed holiday week in NYC, I feel like I should write a better account of what went on last week.

Everything started right here on F-Chat, when Jim posted about the test and I noticed that very coincidentally (and fortunately) I would be in the NYC area when it was slated to happen. Now, while I would usually refrain from asking about this sort of thing, I thought the opportunity was too good to pass up, and knowing how much Jim enjoys sharing the cars with people I thought to myself: “Why not?”. So I asked, and he replied to my PM very encouragingly. The whole thing was being organized, but it would probably happen around 8/28, and if I were around something could probably be worked out, so I should contact him closer to the event. I was so happy with this answer, that I told no one here at home about it because I was afraid I would jinx it or something like that.

So I waited, patiently.

About 3 weeks later, sitting inside the plane, I sent Jim an e-mail – was this happening? Could I come? I got my answer on Friday morning: Road & Track were taking pics at the shop on Monday, and I was welcome to come if I’d like. The track test was on Tuesday, weather permitting, and I was invited to that too. I spoke to Jim on the phone and we worked everything out. As you can imagine, my weekend was spent in anticipation. In fact, I had a bit of a panic on Sunday when my phone suddenly stopped working properly causing me to have to restore it from an old backup and lose a few months’ worth of pictures and messages and all that. Crap! But I got it working and what better way to go back to taking pictures with it than this, right?

On Monday morning I took a train up to where the shop is located. When I got to the address, Jim opened the door for me and welcomed me into what is, basically, a good earthly representation of what it must be like to be in paradise. As soon as I saw that row of cars that we here on F-Chat know so well from all the pictures, it hit me like a punch in the face. I was actually SEEING Jim G’s collection, in the flesh. Honestly, for the first few minutes I didn’t know what to look at, I must have looked like a complete and utter fool. I’m sure I sounded like one. Jim was very nice to me, and I bet he realized I was a little starstruck because I must’ve been babbling a little bit in my effort to find the adequate words to describe how appreciative I was for the opportunity he had provided me with. P 4/5 and P4/5 C were both in spotlit positions, as the R&T guys were already there and had already started their shoot. Once I got over the initial awe, and started to acclimatize myself with the incredible surroundings (as much as one can, I suppose), I was introduced to Gene Sanchez Leeds, who is Veronica Glickenhaus’ husband, and who is responsible for the P4/5 C website, and all these amazing pictures Jim posts all the time. Gene is a really really nice guy, who was very very hospitable. He and Veronica have just gotten married – another great addition to the Glickenhaus family, for sure.

So, as I left Jim & Gene to their own devices, helping out the Road & Track guys with their important work, I met Alex Nunez, the features editor for R&T.com, and Dave Speranza, the magazine’s chief Art Director, and the man responsible for the new look which I love. There were a few photographers there (whose names escape now, and I’m sorry about that) as well as a friend of Jim’s called Ed, who is a retired mechanic, teaches mechanics to high-school kids, and is the father of Veronica’s good friend Alex.

And speaking of mechanics, it was about then that I first spoke to one of the coolest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and a real living legend – Sal Barone.

Sal was in the workshop when I arrived, splitting his time between working on the gearboxes of 0846 and 0854, helping Jim and the R&T guys position the cars for pictures, and patiently (and many times hilariously) answering questions being fielded by Ed & I about all the cars inside the shop. Sal even went out to get us some Pizza for lunch, at one point! The man knows every nut and bolt in the cars in that shop, and he can answer pretty much any question you throw at him about them, in a very Italian accented English. He’s also a very funny guy. Jim is lucky to have him working on the cars, for sure.

So the day went by pretty quickly, as the R&T guys took pictures of P4/5 and P4/5C, and the rest of us guests kept taking our own pics and basically drooling over all of the wonderful machines inside that garage. I was particularly taken by J6, a car I knew I would love but which takes a completely different proportion once you stand near it. Another car which completely stole my heart was the 159S #002. What a masterpiece of design that little car is. Every single detail on it, everything, was of the highest quality. It completely floored me. Sal talked to me about the restoration process and was very proud to say that that car was, as he put it, 99% original. He left the 1% out because he wanted to be modest. Also because the car has modern lap belts.

Of course, I can’t leave out my impressions of P4/5 and P4/5 C, after seeing them in the flesh. Personally, P 4/5 is my favorite of the two, just because to me it is the essence of what a modern Ferrari should be. It is knee-weakingly good looking, from any angle, and the contrast between the black “canopy” and the red bodywork, to me, tops off what is a museum-worthy design. The car is a spectacular sight, wide, but not too wide, with a meanacing pose. Gorgeous. P 4/5 C on the other hand, is all business. It’s incredible to see them both side by side, because you can tell all the work that was done over the PF design to make P 4/5 C into a competitive race car. You need to have acrobat skills to crawl into that cockpit, for instance. Everything on that car’s design is completely functional, yet it looks absolutely gorgeous. Also, you’d be surprised how similar they are to each other in size.

Jim showed us around the shop, and was an incredibly nice host, answering all types of questions, and talking very openly about the cars and everything else. If I already thought that was the case from reading his posts here, now I know he is a honest, no bullshit guy, who has a real love for his cars, and for automotive culture and history in general. My kind of guy. We are very lucky to have him as a member here on F-Chat. He asked me if I wanted to go to Monticello with them on the next day, to watch the cars being raced, and after spending the day next to them as static pieces of art, how could I not want to see them driven in anger?

“See you at 7:30 AM tomorrow, then.”

The next day I woke up very early. Perhaps having gone to see guitar player Jim Campilongo play the late set at the Living Room wasn’t the best idea in the world, but the music was great and I was on holidays, but let’s just say I needed an extra shot of espresso to get myself going that early, and make my way back up to the shop to meet up with everyone before we headed out to Monticello.

As I got there, Ed and one of his buddies who also teaches mechanics at the same school that Ed does were also arriving, as well as the guys who drove the tow truck that would take P 4/5 C up to MMC. It was raining very slightly, but the forecast was optimistic and so after Jim, Gene and Sal arrived we got ready to leave. Jim drove P 4/5 with Gene all the way up to the track, as we followed the tow truck in Sal’s car. It was about a 2hr drive from the shop, and Sal entertained us with some great stories, including the one where Jim went out in Dino Competizione in the pouring rain, and the aftermath Sal had to deal with with water having made its way into the engine.

When we got to Monticello, the R&T guys were all there, and ready to begin work. The weather got better and better, and eventually the sun came out, and never hid again. I actually got a bit of a suntan. They (and I) took more pictures of the car, as we awaited the arrival of Sam Posey and his son John, who were driving down from Connecticut in Sam’s Z06 Vette.

While we waited I was introduced to Roger Garbow, who works at MMC. The track itself is a real beauty, set in a very nice environment, with very very cool facilities and a fleet of Jaguars available to members for all kinds of applications. It’s a really great venue and everyone there was very nice to all of us.

When Sam arrived, it was straight to business. What a great pleasure it was to meet him and his son, and he was one of the nicest guys I’ve met. He answered a few of my questions, and we spoke a bit about his racing in the old days, but soon he was taken away by Alex, Jim & Roger, so that he could learn the course. Soon enough, Sam went out in his car while Jim followed in P 4/5 C to warm it up. That was the first time I heard the race car’s V8, and it sounded quieter than I expected, with a very loud gearbox. It was still a great noise. When they came back, it was decided that Sam was going to drive P 4/5 first, then P 4/5 C. On both runs he would follow Roger in a gorgeous orange V8 Jaguar F-Type, as Roger knew the racing line probably better than anyone there.

Listening to P4/5 drive flat out is an experience I highly recommend to anyone who has the chance to do it. That 12 cylinder engine is just about the greatest sounding road car engine I’ve ever heard, and the periscope style exhausts certainly make it sound even better. P 4/5 C at full song also had a great sound, especially when the exhausts crackled and gargled under braking. Incredible. As Sam drove the cars around, Alex Nunez, Gene & I took pictures – we even got in trouble for standing in what Roger later revealed to us as being the “impact area” on the hairpin. Yikes!

When Sam came back from driving P4/5 I asked him how it compared to the 512′s and he told me they were quite similar in many ways. He also told me that the greatest test of a car is whether it makes you want to keep driving it. He told me the 512′s had it, and P4/5 and P4/5C had it too. High praise.

We had lunch at the track (delicious food, by the way) and hung around as R&T took more pics of the cars, this time at the track. It was a great “car guy” hang, with the subjects of conversation going from vintage Ferraris, all the way to modern VW’s and Jags and all that. I’m sure a great time was had by all, and I learned more about cars that day than probably any other day in my life, courtesy of Sal and Ed & his shop buddies. All the while I kept thinking “Damn, how lucky am I?” I’m still thinking that, actually.

Finally, it was time to go, and as we all packed up and got into Sal’s car, this incredible trip reserved one last treat: Following P 4/5 through some beautiful back roads in upstate New York. Seeing that car out in the wild is like witnessing something that was brought to this world by aliens. It looks so completely different to anything else on the road, you could tell how amazed everyone was by the car. I took a picture of it in a small town gas station which sort of proves what I’m trying to say. Some people acutally drove a little dangerously trying to get a picture of it. You should have seen (& heard) Sal’s reactions to any car that got even close to it on the highway. He treats those cars like they’re his kids, and in many ways, they are.

Well, as we arrived at the shop, we all said our goodbyes, and I was left with that sad feeling when a great time is had and you don’t want it to end. Jim invited me to come and see SCG Race at the Ring when 003 is ready, and I have to say, after spending those two days in his and some of the SCG team’s company, I find that a very very very enticing proposition. The only thing I told him was that if I did make it up to the ring in 2015, I would want to help in any way that I can. We made it a deal, and Jim drove off in his gorgeous 8C as Gene drove me back to the train station.

Thinking about all of this now, I can’t help but feeling very grateful, and very great. Never in my life did I ever think, after seeing pictures and reading stories of Jim and his collection, that I would ever meet and see this collection in person. And not just that, but that I would spend time with all these wonderful people and have the opportunity to have some great conversations and – dare I say it – begin a friendship that I hope will continue as the years go by. I think I thanked Jim something like 875 times since he first allowed me to come up and be a part of this whole thing, but here is thank you 876!

I also wanted to say thanks to the R&T guys for letting me hang around while they were doing their job. And what a great one it is. I will certainly become a subscriber, and who knows, after having a few words with Alex I may get more involved with the magazine. But we’ll see about that.

Finally, I wanted to thank F-Chat, because if this place had never existed, none of this would have happened. I’m very glad to be a part of this community, and I hope to keep learning and participating here for many years to come.

See you in 2015, I hope!”

-Mario Carneiro Neto (merstheman)

You can see Mario’s photos of the trip here.

2 Comments
  1. Mario Carneiro Neto September 4, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Wow, thanks a lot Gene for compiling this and posting it on here! As I wrote, it was a great time and I’m still sort of feeling awestruck by it all, a week later.

    I only regret I didn’t spend a bit more time editing this account, as I have the tendency to begin spotting all the mistakes in my writing as I re-read. But I didn’t want to take too long to write it lest I forget some important details. So I guess this’ll have to do, haha…

    It was great meeting you all, and lets hope it happens again, soon!

    All the best, from the real Brazil,

    Mario

  2. Guy Brown September 4, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Mario, you must be the luckiest fella around just now, What a great visit.

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