Since 1993 Uwe Meissner's Modena Motorsport has hosted a trackday event on tracks like Spa Francorchamps and the Nürburgring. Although Modena Motorsport deals exclusively with Ferraris, the event is open to exotic and racing cars from all manufacturers. The 'Modena Trackdays' offers owners the opportunity drive their prized possessions on a racing track without the pressure of competing against the clock or others. This setup brings out a wide variety of sports racers and Formula 1 cars that only very rarely see action. In addition there is a concours d'elegance, which is open to all the Ferraris entered in the event. Like the most recent editions, this year's Modena Trackdays was held on the Nürburgring Grand Prix Circuit. Although the track itself has changed little, we were pleasantly surprised by the new main grandstand facilities. One of the new attractions is a rollercoaster that accelerates along the start-finish straight from 0-200 km/h in less than 4 seconds. Unfortunately it was not ready for a test drive yet, so we could focus all our attention on the on-track action, which has resulted in an exclusive 120-shot gallery
Formula 1 cars
In 2003 Modena Motorsport became the first 'F1 Clienti' base outside the factory, so it is not surprising that Ferrari Formula 1 cars play a central role in the event with a dedicated group. The oldest machine to take to the track in this group was the 1967 Ferrari 312 F1, which was originally driven by Chris Amon and Derek Bell. With its 'spaghetti' style exhaust pipes sprouting from the center of the V12 engine, it captured the imagination of most visitors. Among them were the judges, who picked the car as 'Best of Show' in the concours d'elegance. Not nearly as pleasing to the eye but far more efficient was the Ferrari 312 T4 also present. It was used by Jody Scheckter to clinch Ferrari's last driver's world championship of the 20th century. The success finally returned in 2000 when Michael Schumacher won the first of his five world championships with Ferrari. He retired in 2006 after racing the Ferrari 248 F1 for a full season. Two of those were brought for their owners by the Corse Cliente team. There were also various non-Ferrari single seaters on track and even a two-seater, which was piloted on the first day by Marc Gene. Another interesting non-Ferrari was the McLaren MP4/1B, which is one of the few McLarens sold to a private owner since Ron Dennis took over in 1981. Also present but unfortunately not on track was an ex-Alain Prost Williams FW15C Renault.
Classic and modern cars of interest
Two of the four other groups were reserved for classic and modern cars of interest. The classic group saw a mix of road and racing cars. Among them were two Maserati 250Fs, an AC Cobra and the Ferrari 250 GT 'Breadvan,' which driven very spectacularly. Slightly newer were the Ferrari and 512 M and 312 PB, which were originally raced by Jacky Ickx. The Belgian endurance racing legend was, as always, on hand but did not drive any of his old cars. Instead he gave lucky passengers a ride around the track in the new V10 engined Audi R8. When asked what he thought of his old cars, he explained that the five liter 512 M was a very heavy car to drive. By comparison the smaller engined 312 PB was like a “toy.” The modern road cars were mostly a mix of Ferraris and Porsche 911s of different guises. The rarest was no doubt a road going 911 GT1, which was joined on track by one of the racing cars.
Modern sports racers
Perhaps somewhat unusual for the Modena Trackdays, the real stars of this year's edition were not Ferraris but McLarens and Mercdes-Benzes. Two McLaren F1 GTRs, with a rich racing history, could be found out on the track. One was of 1996 vintage, originally campaigned by the Gulf team while the other was one of the 1997 'Longtail' works cars raced by BMW. An even rarer sight was a 1999 Mercedes-Benz CLR. This ill-fated racer will forever be remembered for its 'flights' at Le Mans, where it took off no fewer than three times. We always thought all surviving cars were crushed but this one clearly escaped. It was one of the cars withdrawn from the race after Dumbreck flew into the trees in the run up to Indianapolis. From the same stable came the Mercedes-Benz CLK LM that was driven to the FIA GT championship a year earlier. Complementing the CLK line-up was a CLK DTM car. A fourth 'Mercedes' of interest was a Sauber-Mercedes C11, which made its debut after a complete restoration. Ferrari was represented in this group by two glorious 333 SPs, a Ferrari F40 LM and the lesser known but highly successful 'Monte Shell' F40 GT that dominated the Italian GT Championship in 1994.
There really is no event quite like the Modena Trackdays. Its relative low-key approach is probably essential to attract these very special vehicles. Even though it was well advertised in advance and tickets not very expensive the spectator count was not highly impressive. Perhaps picking Monday and Tuesday ensures that only true enthusiasts make the effort to come down. Visiting the next edition, held in two year's times, is highly recommended. We will surely be back for more!