I lost a great friend today.
Gerald got me truly revved up about Ferrari cars 20 years ago. And when I mean revved up, I’m not talking about introducing me to the cars that had graced my walls many years ago or the stories I read endlessly in Road & Track, but he really opened my eyes to the world of Ferrari. He had a way about him that fascinated me in a way that no one had done before. His voracious appetite for preserving the history of the marque allowed the magic of Ferrari to be unfurled before my very eyes. My initial introduction was via a phone call to find out the pedigree of my first Ferrari, a wonderful 1984 308 GTS QV S/N 52623. Not only did he take the time to provide me with the skimpy background that this 7,000 mile car had, but spent tons of time educating me on the model, how many had been identified as being built and suggesting additional research material. Additional teaching sessions further exacerbated this fascination to the disease phase that I was slowly slipping into.
Gerald thrived on other individuals taking a keen interest in the prancing horse minutiae as did he and with his teaching background he stoked the fire to the point that I became interested in tracking and preserving the mark as he was. He encouraged me to start the 330 register and track all 330 series cars, when he probably got tired of me asking questions on this model. To this day, I can’t visit a dealership without recording what I can which has led into my current fascination of tool kit research & documentation, new car documentation and the 456 Register. He must have chosen the coolest profession ever, I’ve thought to myself often. Being able to get up early in morning with his coffee, and head downstairs into the lair and document the stories of these cars and the lives of those that were lucky enough to strap on and play caretaker to these great automobiles. I could spend endless hours listening to his and Carol’s stories that make these cars different from all others. I’m sure all marques have their share of enthralling tails, but Ferrari cars have attracted all types of owners, dealers and drivers. I’ll treasure my time strapped to a good scotch and listening to stories ranging from playboys like Porfirio Rubirosa, swapped serial numbers, past flamboyant dealers like Don Fong, mysteriously appearing non-existent models, precious cars buried underneath the ground for dozens of years, torched up into pieces and hidden in barrels of oil, burned to the ground, unceremoniously retrofitted with snakeskin or alligator seats or roofs, transplanted Chevy small blocks and gifts for mistresses. These are the real legends behind these fascinating vehicles. Yes, they were very successful at the track and under the stylistic brush of the likes of Pinin Farina, Vignale & Zagato, but how can you compete with these tales. You just can’t make this stuff up.
First and foremost I fully believe that his integrity as a Ferrari historian he was second to none. I began to learn his methods of tracking and documenting serial & model numbers, Ferrari internal codes, etc. He thought me well on documenting reports from multiple corroborating resources and not from hearsay and continually pointed out errors in documented works . Consistently recording factory nomenclature and deciphering installed components from original documentation was of particular joy to him. Much of his historic note taking has become accepted practices for many a Ferrari serial number geek. His early-on efforts of record-keeping set the standard for future Ferrari knowledge preservation that we are all grateful of.
Gerald was to become one of the coolest guys I had the pleasure of knowing. His love of Carol and his family, Southern rock, Auburn football, old goofy English cars, cooking & good food, wine, scotch, grappa, Italy, the Mille Miglia and of course Ferrari cars was infectious. He was the insiders guide to Monterey week, which we were privileged to have shared with he and Carol for many years which filled us with memories for a lifetime. We talked he and Carol into bringing the MG Tojeiro, Leonard-Special LOY 501 to the Colorado Grand in 1995 (probably after liberal amounts of Grappa), and in spite of spending a glorious week in Colorado, Carol’s idea of a week vacation didn’t include sliding around in a hot, oil slick laden aluminum-floored, sporty car without a top. Gerald returned the following year with Jim Arnieri as co-piloto in the gorgeous little green racecar.
Thanks Gerald for your friendship and wisdom over the years . You will certainly be missed by the Ferrari world and those of us that knew him. So, as I listen to the Allman Brothers, Traffic and Freebird and nurse a 35-year old wee dram, I raise a toast to you my friend. “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me? For I must be travelling on, now, 'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.”
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