2004 Ferrari Challange | FerrariChat

2004 Ferrari Challange

Discussion in 'Ferrari Discussion (not model specific)' started by WJHMH, Jan 12, 2004.

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  1. WJHMH

    WJHMH Two Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 5, 2001
    Panther City, Texas
    Full Name:
    Will there still be a 2004 Ferrari Challange for North America? From what I understand due to the newly increased fees & cost is turning away possible enteries for the new season. Any Comments?
  2. Bryan

    Bryan Formula 3

  3. rexrcr

    rexrcr Formula 3

    Nov 27, 2002
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Full Name:
    Rob Schermerhorn
    Same story since 1995.

    IMO, there will always be a version of Ferrari Challenge. Ferrari NA reaps benefits to interactive events. Plus, Maserati Trofeo is coming to NA too. Slightly lower cost.

  4. amenasce

    amenasce Three Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 17, 2001
    Full Name:
    Joe Mansion
    FNA has risen the cost of the already ****ing expensive challenge ? It was already much more expensive than the european one !
  5. sherpa23

    sherpa23 F1 Veteran
    Owner Rossa Subscribed

    May 28, 2003
    Rocky Mountains
    Full Name:
    I was looking into but when I saw all the costs and compared them with the amount of races and locations, I could not justify it. It would be cheaper to buy an older P-car racer and do a ton of SCCA events OR buy a spec car or an SCCA Formula car and do more races. I don't know how many entries they're going to have.

    I would like to know how much money Ferrari makes from the challenge series, though. Look at the amount of sponsors that they have and then the fees.
  6. scuderia47

    scuderia47 Karting

    Nov 5, 2003
    Full Name:
    might be a little off of this topic...but i noticed on the schedule that there is a race at circuit gilles villeneuve on the weekend of the canadian GP. im planning on going to the GP up there, so is it easy to get tickets for the challenge event when im up there? thanks

  7. Debbie

    Debbie Formula Junior

    Nov 2, 2003
    Central Florida
    Full Name:
    In the past the Challenge event was a support race for the F1 race. I don't know if that will be the case this year or not.


    Aug 20, 2001
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    The Challenge series has been in trouble since 2002. Average grids for 360's fell from 30+ cars per race weekend (2 run groups in 2001) to less than 20 in 2002 and as low as 12 cars in 2003. I am not counting the Historic cars only talking about the 360 Challenge races.

    I was a Lime Rock this past July when they invited all the 355/348 Challenge cars for the 10th Anniversary of the series. At that particular weekend there were only 13 360's participating and in the Saturday feature race several retired early so it was less than 10 cars racing.

    The hey day of Challenge racing was in 2001 when they had nearly 40 cars at Watkins Glen (360/355's) and guys were bring backup cars.

    Not any more.

    As for FNA making a lot of money I am not too sure about that. I don't have any clue what they make from the sponsors but they make little from the actual participants. Unless the fee format has changed since 2001 the costs were as follows:

    1) Buy a 360 C (200K)
    2) Pay FNA $3000 per race (must pay for all races)
    3) Pay dealer for race weekend which varies between dealers $8000-$11000
    4) Optional crash insurance 3K per race or 10-15K for a season
    5) Additional $100,000 to run at the front (both legal and illegal modifications)

    Bottom line was about $400,000 - $500,000 to run at the front. Unless FNA makes a crap load of money off the parts and sponsors it looks like the dealers come out ahead.

    The series is way too costly for what it provides. Unless you are paying out of your own pocket and can afford to do so you are going to have a tough time convincing sponsors that it's a good return on their investment to have a couple of 100 fans see their advertising when they can have 10-20,000 fans at a typical Speed World Challenge Race or closer to 50,000 fans at the feature ALMS race.

    It's basically an old boy network for the wealthy to have a playground and feel like they are professionals. Except for maybe one or two drivers the past two season there is no talent whatsoever in Challenge racing.

    And if you do happen to show any amount of talent they will get you booted pretty fast.

    Jeff Segal, son of Bob Segal, owner of Algar, who has posted here on Ferrarichat occasionally got, banned from the Challenge series after he won a race early in the season.

    The story is (maybe Jeff can confirm this) that the other participants told Grand Am he had a BMWCCA Club Racing license and that his past experience (a couple of club races) made him ineligible for the series.

    This despite the fact that Steve Earle races in the LeMans 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hours, and other professional series. Darius Grala races a Daytona Prototype in the Rolex Series and Doug Peterson has won the SCCA Run Offs in Formula Mazda.

    And they threw him (Jeff) out supposedly for having a dinky BMW race license.

    The Challenge series is all about making a bunch of people who can't really race feel good about themselves.

    If I sound a bit sarcastic it's with good reason. I built my car (95 F355 Challenge) between winter of 2000 and early 2001. I told FNA about my desire to run three race weekends (VIR, Lime Rock, and the Glen) about half the schedule.

    At the first open test with Washington Motorsports I was faster than several of Algar's 355's and one of FOW's 355's as well as at lest two 360 C's.

    A week later I was informed that the rules had been changed and payment was required for all 8-race weekends. I threatened legal action but they wouldn't budge and I didn't have it in writing even though I had numerous discussions with FNA about running a limited schedule.

    Coincidence.......maybe but why did they change it less than a month before the season started.

    There was a hilarious story in this month's Rosso about how friendly everyone in the series is and how everyone helps everyone else out. Jim Kenton gave examples about how they share information among the teams and how it's all clean racing.

    I fell out of my chair laughing. Not only do they not share any information among the teams, they cheat like hell, routinely put each other into the wall, and have at least one driver banned every year.

    I will say that the Italian and Euro Challenge series have seriously talented drivers and the series is much more professional.

    I think the Maserati series is the way to go. Owning the car makes no sense at half a million a year. With the Maser series in Europe 125K gets you an entire season. Much more economical than half a million to have 200 spectators watching you.

    Just my jaded 2 cents worth!


    Jon P. Kofod
  9. BigHead

    BigHead Formula Junior

    Oct 31, 2003
    Outside of Boston
    Full Name:
    Your ticket to the GP gets you through the gate for the day. You can watch ALL of the support races, including the Ferrari Challenge. But the FC is usually held pretty early in the morning, so you might have to get to bed early on Saturday night....


  10. cavallino

    cavallino Formula Junior

    Aug 21, 2003
    Full Name:
    Who know the schedule for the Ferrari Challenge Europe and the Ferrari Challenge Italy ???
  11. JSegal33

    JSegal33 Rookie

    Nov 6, 2003
    You more or less hit the nail on the head with regard to the Challenge Series of recent years. However, while I agree on some points, I disagree on several others and feel it is important to clarify in this public arena. Specifically with regard to driver talent in the group of Challenge races. No argument that in years past, the talent has been 'draining' from the series. But anyone who has driven against guys like Jim Kenton, Steve Earle, Doug Peterson, and the dozens of past drivers who ran at the front (ie Drendel, Grala, Nicolodi, Popodopolus...) knows that the competition at the front is quite intense, and a very skilled group of drivers. It always has been. Yes that competition does not extend throughout the field like it once did, but it is important to realize that the blanket generalization of a 'talentless series' is not doing justice to the series. The 2-3 guys at the front at any given race lately are still very talented drivers. It's just that there is a gap of sorts between top 1-4 and the rest of the field, measured often in several seconds per lap. So while most of the field isn't what it COULD be, there is still some great racing to be found for the podium positions.

    5) Additional $100,000 to run at the front (both legal and illegal modifications)
    That comment, from my experience is almost completely unfounded. Throughout the 348,355, anf 360 years people have ALWAYS bickered about cheating and the like. The reality is, that unlike the 348 and 355 where one could toy with little bits here and there, there isn't much room to cheat on the 360! In fact, I don't know of one driver in the past few years that has benefitted from "modifications". I certainly don't suspect it of anyone. In actuality, most of the domination you see is found from seat time at test days, consistent and composed driving, and understanding what the car is doing through data and setup. If you can't utilize the data to the fullest as it is available on the 360, and you can't setup a car well like the 360 DEMANDS to go quickly, you will be hard pressed to run quickly. And that isn't really a money issue, not directly anyway.

    With respect to my situation, i'll refrain from comment. I understand all sides of the dilema after much thought (and trust me, I had a lot of time to think about it!!), and while I am obviously disappointed to not be able to compete in the series, I understand the problems involved. Whether or not I agree with the handling of the situation and the reasoning is irelevant. THe bottom line is that what seemed unfortunate last spring has made the way for bigger and better things in Grand-Am, and next year in Formula BMW (sponsor willing).

    Anyway, it is a shame that the series that used to pull up to 70 entries per race is now languishing with 10-15 car grids. I still enjoy the series, and I really wish that it picked back up. In my mind, I think the Maserati or the next Challenge will be the revival of the Challenge series. The 360 is just to difficult to fix, and costs too much money for average Joe who is bound to have a small shunt or two during the season. Perhaps with the Maserati and its more 'crash friendly' chassis, the Challenge will grow again. I sure hope so anyway. For now, I guess we'll just have to wait and see if the 360 Challenge cars resurface in Grand-Am's SGS class to beat up on the Porsches. I know it looks odd to see a Hoosier decal on a Ferrari, but the series really has potential, and the GT3and 360C are really very very close. We'll be in a Maserati Trofeo Light GT next year around mid season, but I think several SGS 360's will compete at some point after Daytona. As for the Challenge series, I think we all wait watching to see. My thought is give it a few years, and it will come back.
    End of Rant.
    -Jeff Segal
    Maserati Trofeo GT 'Refugee' ;)
  12. rexrcr

    rexrcr Formula 3

    Nov 27, 2002
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Full Name:
    Rob Schermerhorn
    I was at 75% of the Challenge races from the first demonstration event at Lime Rock in 1993 (with Jim McGee, aka Dr. Ferrari) through the busy and well-populated 2000 season.

    There was (is) plenty of team comradery and sharing of information. For instance in 2000, in response to allegations of cheating, F o Houston opened their data to all competitors in good faith, and I took advantage of it as they had some hot shoes on the team. Great data to overlay on a rookie's data who thinks maybe the fast guy's got extra HP.

    Yes, there were cheaters throughout the years, though the exception, not the rule. And they only tarnished themselves when discovered (we all knew who they were). And there are some maniacal drivers, willing to punt you at the earliest opportunity, I won't refute that. There are cheaters in all forms of sport, it's not limited to Ferrari Challenge nor is it the standard to entry in the series.

    We always had fun at the events. The customers, owners, and friends always had fun. What's the point? Fun, networking, friendship, competition. Pretty much like really expensive club racing.

    Yes, a season with new 360 is about $400k. That includes some crash damage (70% self-inflicted) and eight or more test days. I never had a budget for cheater parts. Best investment in speed is seat time.

    OTOH, I've spent as much or more running Trans Am cars in SCCA club racing. A new chassis is $120k, engine new is $40k, $30k gearbox, spares, maintenance and transport and your at the same dollar amount for less track time. The quality of race driving is a bit better, though.

    Personally, I also did not agree on the season commitment requirement, as I had customers willing or able to only partial participation. I understood FNA's motivation, though. (I do still think there's a better way, and includes all Ferrari's.)

    I sympathize with the treatment you received from FNA, I had the same at about the same time, and it hurt (hurt financially, too.) Racing is exciting and addictive. To anticipate racing a Ferrari, the ultimate marque, then to be told "NO", sucks. However, I cannot slight anyone from participating, and take exception to the accusation of blanket cheating. For the drivers and team members, Ferrari Challenge is a blast. Fortunately, none of the participants needs to plead a business case for competing. I sincerely hope FNA Challenge racing discovers and evolves into a larger participant base, higher caliber of rookie driver skills, and more equitable entry rules.

    Best regards,

    Rob Schermerhorn


    Aug 20, 2001
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    #13 FLATOUTRACING, Jan 14, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Jeff and Rob,

    Thanks for all the information. Always good to hear the facts from the horse's mouth.

    Jeff: We have met before. I have run with you several times at the FOW/Algar events (Sunir's friend with the 355 C) and our cars were both housed together at the FOW trailer during the Lime Rock races (355 C red/yellow).

    Thank you for chimming in on your leaving the Challenge series. The story I had posted above came from somone at FOW but I wasn't sure how accurate it was.

    I also did not mean imply that the series did not have ANY talent just short on talent. All the drivers you listed (Kenton, Drendel, Earle, Grala, Nicoldi, Popodopulis etc) are all great drivers and have successfully moved on to other forms of racing but it was rare that all of them competed at the same time to form a huge grid of talented drivers. Possibly 2001 was the best year in terms of a strong grid.

    In terms of cheating, I am referring mainly to the 348/355 years. Arnie Poundstone at FOW told me all sorts of stories of the early years. I also know of at least three 355 Challenge cars that were sold to friends of mine that, when going through gearbox and engine rebuilds, were discovered to have illiegal items, some very minor some very major.

    In terms of extra money to run at the front, I also did not mean to imply that they were neccessarily huge performance boosting items. Some were simple items that made the cars run better or strenghtend weak areas on the cars (355 in particular).

    Since the 360 C was designed as a race car from the start it wasn't as much an issue as the 355 which is bacially a street car with a kit.

    As for SGS class in Grand Am, I think it's a great idea but still a bit expensive at least from a Ferrari standpoint. I heard some figures that FOW will charge 17K per driver and that is a bit high, but again you have noted the expensive nature of maintaining a 360 Challenge.

    Are you, Jim Wilson and Asher running the 360 again this year in Grand Am ?

    Good luck hope to see you at the FOW/Algar event and possibly race with you in a Maserati Trofeo event if one-off races are permitted.

    Rob: Maybe you can clarify why FNA changed the rules for partial participation. I was told through the grapevine that it was to get rid of guest drivers who had little or no experience and also to get rid of the 355's in 2001. Apparently FNA wanted the 360's featured and had applications from at least a dozen 355's that were looking to run only a few races.

    It would have been nice to see more 355's in 2001 and to run with guys like Phil Shearer (not that I could run with him). Sadly he had no one to race with except the 360's in Group B, most of whom he trounced soundly.

    I think FNA got away from the concept of the original Championship series when the 348's ran and early years in the 355's.

    I am hoping that the Maserati Series allows one off races or limited races.


    Jon P. Kofod
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  14. Burnout

    Burnout Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    ...or just don't go to bed ;) Very easy to do when you hit Cresent street at night!
  15. WCH

    WCH F1 Veteran

    Mar 16, 2003
    "I heard some figures that FOW will charge 17K per driver and that is a bit high"

    I'm getting jaded, and I guess I'd need more info to draw any conclusions, but that doesn't seem that out of line to me.

    I'm also interested in the Mas series.

    Cheers, Will


    Aug 20, 2001
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.

    Not sure of all the details but I am sure Jim Wilson could give you more info. I remember being told that his fee for the VIR weekend was somewhere around 15k and that was with two other drivers Jeff Segal (who supplied the car) and Asher Hyman.

    Arnie P, told me that he thought they were leaning towards 17K per driver for a typical Grand Am weekend.

    If that is correct then they are charging anywhere from 34K-52K per weekend based on 2-3 drivers for 2 and 3 hour sprint races.

    I have contacted several teams running Porsche GT3 Cup Cars and that figure is a bit high, but then again I am talking to mid pack teams so maybe it's realistic.

    A better deal is to run the same type of car in Grand Am Cup (GT3 is elligible not sure about the 360 C) for about half the cost per driver and about the same track time. The Grand Am cup races are televised on Speed Channel, run at the same venues with the Grand Am Rolex series and you don't have to worry about trading paint with the prototype racers who will treat you like a moving chicane.

    My gripe is that if you had the car you could hire a pit crew for a lot less. You are basically paying for track support and the use of the vehicle.

    By the way saw your car at FOW without the decals and was told Arnott's son is racing the car this season.

    Bet your counting down the days until the Stradale is here.


  17. rexrcr

    rexrcr Formula 3

    Nov 27, 2002
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Full Name:
    Rob Schermerhorn
    Investing in top notch equipment and very talented, experienced personnel is expensive. Putting equipment and personnel on the road increases overhead exponentially.

    $17k is quite reasonable IMO. Teams that charge less are only looking to offset their internal costs, not make money, just lose less.

    From a prep shop business POV, too many people put little or no value on time and talent. Makes turning a profit tougher. One pays for quality preparation and reap finishing position over DNFs.

    Some shops learn the hard way they must move to low-rent, low cost of living areas to stay in business. The industry relies on the generosity of volunteers and under paid people. The amount of on-track time as a cost determinate is irrelevant compared to total days on the road and total personnel.



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