By now you know that Ferrari is celebrating its 70th birthday this year. By our estimate there have been approximately 4 million different celebrations of the Prancing Horse around the world – maybe five – and the year ain’t over yet. But 2017 also marks 70 years since the US Army Air Force became the United States Air Force, and 70 years to the day since then-captain Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Even Ferraris don’t go supersonic.
But how do you celebrate those three unique events together? You find a group like the Ferrari Club’s Southwest Region and a guy like Jim Bindman, vice president of the club. This is the same group that puts on the annual free Ferrari show in Pasadena called Concorso Ferrari, always a cool show. The week before this latest event, Bindman, along with many generous volunteers and the cooperation of Vandenberg staff, put on a pretty impressive car show at Vandenberg Air Force Base, a couple hours north of Los Angeles, that was timed to include a real rocket launch that evening.
“Some car shows are larger and some may even shoot off some fireworks but I think our car show is the only one that launches an Atlas V,” Bindman said.
Lotus Elise vs. F-16!
Of course, the show was planned around the liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V, it’s not like the Air Force added it just for the tifosi. But still, pretty dang cool. That was two weeks ago.
“They said, how’re you going to top that?” Bindman said. “I said, ‘Hang on.”
Two weeks later was the anniversary, and Bindman and the Air Force pulled out all the stops. The Air Force’s Ed “Disco” Buclatin of the 412 TW/PA at Edwards was event chairman for the commemoration of supersonic flight. That would include sub- and supersonic flights on Friday, Oct. 13 by a B1 bomber, F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, F-22s and F-35s. Some of these flights would circumnavigate Southern California so that much of the local population could see their tax dollars at work. Maybe you caught a glimpse of them. That night would be the Air Force Birthday Ball in Edwards’ Hangar 1600.
Then the car show was on Saturday, Oct. 14, the actual anniversary day of level supersonic flight. On the tarmac at Edwards 62 classic and modern supercars lined up around an F-16 and in front of a C-17, T-5 and within a couple hundred yards of some other pretty impressive modern and historic aircraft. Those included a: B-25 Mitchell bomber, B-52, Lockheed YF-117A Nighthawk, F-35, Spitfire Mk IX, P-40, F-4U Corsair and a TBM Avenger.
The cars on display were about half Ferraris and half other sports and supercars. The latter included no fewer than four Lamborghini Espadas, two Miuras, a Jalpa, and three Diablos; a Jaguar E-Type, six Lotus Elises, a McLaren P1, 650S and MP4-12C and an Aston Martin Virage, among others. The MP4-12C is for sale and I have the guy’s email if anybody wants it. The Ferraris included a 365 GTB4, 550, 360 and many others too numerous to name here, but check out the photos.
It was a heck of a couple of days and certainly enough to make you want to buy a Ferrari yourself and move to SoCal just so you can see what Bindman will do next. For our part, we are working on it now with a foolproof system of lottery ticket purchasing that has never failed. So we’ll see you at the next big Concorso.