This past Saturday in Melbourne, the host city for the 2012 season’s inaugural Formula 1 race, Australian spectators were treated to not only a very unpredictable qualifying session but also a variety of other events that aimed to dazzle those who were present in Albert Park.
Highlights included an aerial display from the PC9 aerobatics team known as “The Roulettes” and the third Australian V8 Supercars race of the weekend. For Ferrari enthusiasts, the day’s most eagerly anticipated track action, aside from the Formula 1, was a parade honoring Ferrari’s sixtieth anniversary in Australia.
At noon, sixty models from Maranello, one for every year that Ferrari has been in Australia, drove their way around Albert Park. The procession was led by the Ferrari 458 Spider, which made its Australian debut and is predicted to retail at around AU$590,000 when it goes on sale later this year.
Amongst the cars featured were fan favorites such as the 360 Challenge, the Ferrari California and the F40. The country’s very first Ferrari, the Ferrari 212 Export Coupe, hit Australian shores in Melbourne all the way back in 1952 and since then, Australia grew to become Ferrari’s tenth most important market in 2011.
As the cars made their way around the circuit, the loudspeakers informed those in attendance about some of the brand’s history within the country including the story of Bill and Ralph Lowe, who were responsible for importing the 212 to Australia.\
Bill was himself a former amateur racing driver and even came third in the 1929 Australian Grand Prix. When he tried to initially order the 212 from Maranello, his request was denied because Ferrari did not have a representative in Australia.
The result was that the brothers became one of Ferrari’s first agents outside of Italy, operating under the name W.H Lowe. By 1974, the Lowes were the oldest Ferrari importers in the world and although today, European Automotive Imports are the prancing horse’s official importer in Australia, the Lowes received a special mention during the parade.
After the cars had completed several laps, they assembled in Legends Lane, where fans were given the opportunity to see them up close and take photographs. One Ferrari fanatic who viewed the display observed that the collection mainly consisted of models that emerged from the late seventies onwards and said that that he was overcome with excitement upon seeing the seemingly endless row of Ferraris parked before him.
His reaction illustrates the kind of enthusiasm that the Australian people have for the Italian manufacturer, which not only ensures that there will be a sea of red during the country’s Grand Prix weekend but also that sales in the company’s road sector keep increasing every year.
Ferrari’s former test driver, Marc Gene, was behind the wheel of the 458 Spider and complimented Albert Park’s spectators after the parade. “It was great to see so much enthusiasm on the faces of all the Ferrari fans around the track,” the Spaniard stated after the event. “Even this far away from Italy, the Prancing Horse is very popular and was great for me to be able to represent it at a special event like this.”
For those Australian fans who missed the display, never fear. The event promises to be just one of many others that will occur throughout Australia in the coming weeks.
By Danielle Blaschuk
Photo Credits: Jean-Luc Dal Prà for Carscoop, & Ferrari