The Ferrari Finali Mondiali wrapped up its four-day, first-ever North American experience Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, with two world titles determined and a historic appearance by Formula One drivers on the DIS 3.56-mile road course.
World Finals were held in the Coppa Shell and Trofeo Pirelli competitions, with two 35-minute races. German driver Thomas Loefflad won the Coppa Shell event. Venezuelan Carlos Kauffmann took the Trofeo Pirelli victory.
Rusty Wallace, the 1989 champion of NASCAR’s premier series and a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, came out of retirement for the weekend and finished 10th in the 27-car Trofeo Pirelli field, driving for the Risi Competizione/Ferrari of Houston. He finished third in the Professional, North America class. Previously during the weekend, Wallace posted 15th and 32nd-place results, the latter due to brake problems late in the race.
“I told myself that after the struggles we’d had, that if I could walk out with a solid top 10 in the finals I’d be happy,” Wallace said. “The team did great and I learned a ton. We’ve been here five days, run 1,000 laps and we don’t have a dent on the car.
“This was totally out of the box for me. It was a great opportunity from Ferrari, Risi and Daytona. We had a nice solid run and we had a lot of NASCAR fans here, too.”
After the two World Finals, there was the anticipated Formula One exhibition involving current Scuderia Ferrari F1 drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel, driving respective, stunning F60s. The exhibition format featured the two international stars turning full-speed laps with tire changes and simulated pit stops culminating with side-by-side burnouts.
After the approximate 15-minute exhibition, Vettel said, “it was interesting with the banking. I had not done that before. It was quite a nice sensation. Good fun. This circuit is not easy, quite a demanding track.”
Added Räikkönen: “This is a big weekend for Ferrari. Perfect weather and perfect location – and good racing. It’s been great to be part of it.”
Prior to the exhibition, the drivers were joined by Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne and Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene for a press conference with both domestic and international media in attendance. All gave the Daytona experience high marks.
“It’s not insignificant that we are here in the U.S. and holding the finals for the first time in this country,” Marchionne said. “The U.S. is the single largest market for Ferrari vehicles. It’s about time we came here and celebrated with our American customers and fans.
“This is a phenomenal set-up at Daytona, a great track. I think we need to find a way to make our presence more permanent here. This is a famous track and it’s a humbling experience to be here. There has been some great driving done here on this asphalt.”
Sports car racing returns soon to Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 6-8 with the “Roar Before the Rolex 24” test sessions in advance of the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona event weekend of Jan. 26-29. The Rolex 24 is the season-opening event for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Tickets for all events can be purchased at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com, by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or by visiting the Daytona International Speedway Ticket Office. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat (username: DISupdates), and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.