If I could take this blog on the road and charge admission, it would go like this: invite dozens of Ferraris and other sports cars to the most picturesque town in the Ozarks, then spend days devouring local roads. Don't hold your breath for Ozarkbahnfest, though. The annual Crescent Classic Ferrari Tour in Eureka Springs had the idea way before me, and has quietly become one of the premier performance car meets in America.
The attendees make their headquarters at the Victorian-styled, spooktacular Crescent Hotel of 1886 vintage. From there, the prancing horse tifosi and friends day trip on brisk guided rallies throughout the spiderweb of roads outside Eureka Springs.
If you fear a meeting of men with boater hats, imported navy blazers, and "daughters," don't worry. To keep the focus on driving, the Crescent Classic organizers have a strict dress code: jeans only. The cars are the stars of the weekend.
Exotics too often become static displays, imprisoned in climate-controlled garages. While Ferraris are objects of status and privilege, they are meant to be driven. The violent, beautiful sound is worth the exposure alone. Even this Shell gasoline advert is content to watch and listen.
[Your author's favorite television commercial of all time]
New or old, there is no such thing as a Ferrari that looks, goes, or sounds badly, so it's exciting to bring them out in numbers. After the group returns to the Crescent for the evening, it's an assuring sight to see an ocean of Ferrari Red smeared with bugs and brake dust. Sure, each is hand-washed nightly courtesy of the event sponsors, but there's a degree of respect in challenging the usual hazards of the open road. Last year an unlucky 360 Modena owner had a encountred a deer, vermin of the Ozarks. You can figure the rest of the drive was pretty fun, though.
The 2009 Crescent Classic takes place Thursday, September 10, through Sunday, September 13th. If you can respect a policy of look, but don't touch, no one minds terribly if you ogle the machinery up close in the hotel parking lot. Another chance to see the cars in person is during the parade and show in downtown Eureka Springs, usually on Saturday. The more modern and reliable Italians like the 328, 355, and 360 are best represented, but there's no telling what will show up. An Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint or Lamborghini is pretty good company.
If you want to see it yourself, the best part is that fine Ozark drives like Highway 62 or 23 are unavoidable. Event organizer Chris Parr said, "I grew up on these roads and have always felt like this area of Arkansas had some of the best roads in North America."
The Crescent Classic Ferrari Tour is a great excuse to grab your friends and take the day off. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.