When 11-year-old Austin, from Jacksonville, Ark., was granted his wish through Make-A-Wish® to drive in a LaFerrari limited production hypercar, he never dreamed it would include driving in two Ferrari Challenge racecars on a real race track, off-track driving in the exotic Ferrari vehicle he fantasized over, AND the unexpected meeting of Grammy-winner frontman of Maroon 5, Adam Levine. But this past weekend, thanks to members of the Ferrari Owners Group (FOG), the Ferrari Owners Charitable Foundation (FOCF) and alignment with Make-A-Wish®, Austin, who suffers from Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, and his family, were treated to a weekend of Ferrari-inspired events including his special day at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
According to a Make-A-Wish® spokesperson, the entire weekend was a complete ‘can’t buy’ experience and one that Austin and his family will find hard to forget. The unplanned meeting and photo with Adam Levine within Ferrari’s VIP hospitality area became a conversation of care and an outreach of friendship that marked the day that much more special.
The thrilling three-day program, prepared especially for Austin, included hot laps at Sonoma Raceway in a retired 430 Ferrari Challenge car (#61), driven by FOG member Jeff Westphal and provided by Ferrari of Beverly Hills; hot laps in a 2015 458 Ferrari Challenge Car (#113), driven by San Francisco Ferrari Challenge Coach “MHP;” and street drives in not one, but two LaFerrari hypercars on Highway 121 in Sonoma (the red LaFerrari owned and driven by collector David Lee, and the yellow LaFerrari owned and driven by Christine Sloss). The Ferrari Owners Group (FOG) presented Austin with his own specially-made race suit and FOG embroidered jacket, and he was loaned an official racing helmet at the track.
The Bay Area FOG and its charitable FOCF organization have supported Make-A-Wish® for three years, raising more than $500,000 to date. On September 10, 2016, the Foundation will launch the 2016 Golden Gate Ferrari Festival, www.goldengateferrarifestival.com, in the civic heart of San Francisco. An estimated 400 Ferraris, many selected from the finest and rarest collections, will be on display at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza Park, where the streets encircling the Park will be shut down to allow for a truly exceptional event – with a goal of raising an additional $500,000 for Make-A-Wish®.
Austin and his family are intending to return to the Bay area in September for the Golden Gate Ferrari Festivalevent. It should be noted that Austin’s affinity with Ferrari has another alignment – historically speaking, Alfredo Ferrari (nicknamed Alfredino or Dino) (1932-1956) was an Italian automotive engineer and the first son of automaker Enzo Ferrari. He too had Duchenne muscular dystrophy and died at the age of 24. This is the same disease from which Austin suffers, and a further tie-in for Austin to the Ferrari brand.