I left my keys in San Francisco .
To a Ferrari F430, that is. I got the opportunity to drive the latest product from Modena during the final legs of the 2005 Ferrari Rally. The annual event had a special meaning to the Italian automaker this year, marking the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in America. And that led organizers to literally go the extra mile. What was hard to imagine, however, was getting a phalanx of police to provide a guided tour as the procession wound its way across the Golden GateBridge.
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Actually, it was a good thing the CHiPs only joined the group a mile before the bridge. Had they connected with us earlier on that crisp, clear morning, they might not have been quite so accommodating. During the first two days of the rally, more than 60 Ferraris roared through northern California, drivers collecting points along a challenging road course and occasional track detours.
With Denise McCluggage, the legendary racer, author, and occasional columnist for TheCarConnection by my side, I took control of a new F430 Spider as it entered into Napa Valley ’s lush wine country.
Ferrari Rally crosses San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge on 8/17/05.Enlarge Photo
The F430 is the long-awaited successor to the 360 Modena
, the most popular model the Italian automaker has ever made. Those are tough tire tracks to fill, but with one notable disappointment, we quickly realized that Ferrari has done a more than admirable job.