I finally get it. For men it's a no-brainer -- Ferraris are cool -- but I needed a test drive anyway.
Ferrari must know that. Why else would it invite journalists who don't normally write about cars to actually drive its latest, raciest, quarter of a million dollar car, dubbed the F430 Scuderia?
It took only two laps behind the wheel, tackling seemingly impossible curve trajectories at breakneck speeds, to understand.
They're right, these cars are cool.
A test drive of Ferrari's latest model attracted an excited group of foreign journalists to Italy to the Ferrari headquarters in Maranello. Covering the story were reporters from Russia, Brazil, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Holland, the United States and more.
We couldn't have come on a better day -- the evening before, Ferrari Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen had won the Grand Prix of Brazil, and with the victory clinched, the World Championship.
For Ferrari drivers, officials, workers and even reporters, it was champagne all around.
The next day started early -- we were ready to go at 8:15 on a damp, gray morning in the flatlands near Modena.
A bus brought us through the famous gates with the prancing horse (the Ferrari logo) and dropped us off directly at "la cabina" or the pit. No point messing about with factory tours and press conferences quite yet. It was right down to the business at hand.
We were herded into a little high-tech racing garage on the edge of Ferrari's Fiorano test track. All Ferrari cars are tested here: Formula One as well as Gran Turismo (road) cars.
This was to be our introduction to the car, the track and the technology before our test drive. We were handed red Ferrari earphones and radio mikes -- the kind the pit crew wears during races. You could hear fine without them, but this was the real thing, so we all put them on as Nicola Porciani, the head of road testing, welcomed us.
Most of the garage, the doors, the floor, part of the walls, almost everything was painted the famous Ferrari red, known to generations of racing enthusiasts.
And almost everyone was dressed in red, down to their shoes. There was no mistaking this team's color!
So imagine our surprise when we feasted our eyes on one of our test cars: Red? No! It was black. It was also beautiful, sleek, shiny and low -- Scuderia is Italian for "stable." It was the reason we were all there.
As Porciani pointed to flow charts and graphs on the monitors and elaborated on the marvels of this car, I was soon over my head in automobile terminology, not to mention technology.
Porciani filled us in on all the innovations in this vehicle: The S430 Scuderia is a car designed for the road and the track, it comes with the most Formula One technology ever applied to a road car.
Almost 250 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the base F430, the new F430 Scuderia, or Scud as it is called, is basically as close to a racing car as you can get in a street-legal car.