Featured Image – “Sam Michael (McLaren), Nick Fry (Mercedes), Robert Fernley (Sahara Force India), Graeme Lowdon (Marussia) with presenter Will Buxton – Austin FOTA Fan’s Forum” by Dell Inc. is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“….but the exchange between Will, Jason and the Italians had that fuzzy feeling about it that only is apparent when men get together and share their pure, unabashed love of cars with one another openly. I think I nearly cried.”
Immediately following the the inaugural Free Practice session of the 2014 Formula One season was a 1-hour special show hosted by Will Buxton entitled: The Road to Ferrari (NBSCN). Mr. Buxton, it must be said, has an enviable position. He is paid to travel with the F1 circus and has virtually unlimited access to the behind-the-scenes world of F1 that many of us can only dream about. It’s safe to assume he is on a first name basis with all drivers and probably most of the bigger names in the sport, i.e. team principals, chief technical officers, etc. And most importantly – I’m pretty sure he gets to go to all the after parties. One can only fathom the madness of a grand prix bash after a grueling race weekend. It has been said champagne is consumed by the gallon at such functions.
In any case, for all the reasons listed above, I used to hate Will Buxton. I had nightmares of Will pouring expensive French bubbly down grid girls’ throats while he took back to back shots of vodka with Kimi Raikkonen. Okay I made that last part up but it made for a cool mental picture so what the hell. Anyway, getting back on topic: The program followed Will and his producer, Jason Swales, as they travelled from the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix by road all the way the Ferrari factory in Maranello, making a few planned stops en route.
My ill-will towards Will began to lift just slightly into the first segment of the show. As he and Jason were walking through the subterranean garage of their hotel, they came across a pair of prancing horses: a 458 and an F12 berlinetta. Jason and Will proceeded to get into an argument about which one they’d rather have, Will arguing that the 458 would be his because it would quickly attract beautiful women. The logical reasoning of a car guy – and the first brownie points of many I’d throw to Mr. Buxton that evening.
One of the team’s first stops was at a small carrozzeria (a boutique-type artisan bodyshop commonly found in Italy). He talked shop with the brothers who owned the establishment, nervously navigated an original Fiat 500 around the premises’ narrow confines and started up a customer’s Ultima GTR that was in for some work. In return for the favor of being allowed to drive the Fiat 500, Will offered to let one of the brothers drive the Ferrari FF that had been lent to him for purposes of filming. I’m not sure if that gesture was planned, but the exchange between Will, Jason and the Italians had that fuzzy feeling about it that only is apparent when men get together and share their pure, unabashed love of cars with one another openly. I think I nearly cried. More brownie points then, Mr. Buxton.
From the carrozzeria the pair went on to Monza, The Temple of Speed. As Will recanted the names of the many greats who had been daring enough to tackle the original circuit’s layout, I realized he knew a lot more about the history of grand prix racing than I did. Maybe the job didn’t just fall into his lap after all.
The show culminated at the Ferrari headquarters where Will was to do a brief interview with the biggest boss of all big bosses, President Luca di Montezemolo. But before the interview, Will had a chance to get up close and personal with his favorite car of all time, the Ferrari Dino. As Mr. Buxton swooned over the purple mid-engined machine, he reminded me of myself. As he sat in the car and recalled emotionally that the smell of the interior reminded him of his grandpa, I saw in his eyes and facial expression the same kind of elation that comes over me when I get to do really cool car stuff. I began to envy Will’s success as a journalist less and less and instead took solace in the fact that because at are core we are just car guys – I just might have what it takes to make it in this biz.
Will was visibly nervous and understandably so preceding his encounter with LdM; Ferrari’s chief overlord is one of the most intimidating figures you could ever meet. They had like 10 guys from Ferrari prepping the interview room, it’s as if God himself was coming to chat with Will. The part that got me wasn’t the actual interview itself, but the sequence in which the cameras followed Will in the moments leading up to the interview. Will voiced his obvious anxiety to the eminent meeting and was consoled gently by Jason, his producer. As a typical bloke would, Will even fretted over whether or not he should don a tie for the meeting. Inside my head I gave props to Will for stepping up and performing under pressure with grace and poise.
After surviving the summit with LdM, Will was rewarded with a chance to do what few will ever – a few hot laps around Ferrari’s own private test track, Fiorano Circuit. This promoted the immediate revocation of prior brownie points due to extreme jealously (just kidding). As the show came to a close, Will reflected back on the amazing journey which he had been on the the past few days – and I reflected on my new impression of Will Buxton. He’s got the microphone, he’s got the pitpass – but in the end, he’s just a car guy.
About the Author: Daniel Kim is a graduate of Coventry University’s Automotive Journalism Master’s program. He has worked at Ferrari North Europe, Evo magazine, Autocar and Formula Drift. [wp-rss-aggregator]