The long relationship between Lego and Ferrari has gone one step further with a new attraction at Legoland California that’s sure to delight kids of all ages and turn out new tifosi with every Lego brick built.
“The new Lego Ferrari Build and Race (has come) to Legoland California Resort,” read a release from Legoland in Carlsbad, California. “Featuring a life-size Lego Ferrari F40, Build and Race puts you in the driver’s seat as you make your way through the ‘garage’ to the ‘racetrack’ using your creativity and imagination to build, test and race your own Lego Ferrari.”
One caveat: It’s not a full-size Ferrari, of course, it’s one made out of Lego bricks. And you won’t race it on a real racetrack, but one that digitally scans your kid’s car then projects that digital image onto a very well-designed model of the famous Fiorano test track in Maranello.
The track is about, maybe, 15 feet by 30 feet or so and features miniaturized 3D versions of the real buildings from the real Fiorano, including the house where Enzo lived as well as the two garages next to it. The track itself is a 2D projection, as are the cars racing on it. Kids build their Lego Ferraris in one room then bring them – or one of the many pre-built cars available, I chose a 512 – to be digitally scanned at the faux Fiorano. The computer scan is analyzed for aerodynamic efficiency, weight, and other factors. The kids select either a V8 or V12 engine and pick one of three tire types. An image of the cars is then projected from above, the image pulls out of the pits and starts racing against other cars on the track. Kids can hit a boost button for more speed and a little oversteer, but they have to wait between boosts. Timing becomes critical to better performance. The races last three laps and the winners and their times are posted on a screen above the track.
Patrick McMahon with Dimensional Innovations in Kansas City was part of the team that designed and built the track.
“We worked with Legoland and Lego Ferrari to help bring this idea to life as an exhibit,” McMahon said. “This is a way to replicate what it is to go through the whole design build process, just like what real car designers and engineers go through back at Ferrari. They go through multiple drafts of ideas, they have to consider the physics, the weather, what weight is optimal, things like that, what’s going to produce the best performance.”
Dimensional Innovations built both the physical track and the digital component that allows Lego Ferraris to race on it.
“We have a team of developers who did all of the programming and all the development, and worked on doing calculations on the actual physics of auto racing. Then the actual scanners at the scan station have cameras that detect and scan the car and can depict physics from that. We can calculate weight and drag and we can predict how that will impact your acceleration, handling, and braking. So what the kids do is actually reflected in the performance on the race track. So that’ll help them understand that a bigger, wider car may be a little bit slower while something a little bit more sleek might be quicker on a straight, but maybe not handle as well. So it’s got a lot of give and take.”
If that’s too much to grasp for a young mind, there are the pinewood derby style tracks fed by gravity, or the big whoop-dee-doo tracks where the cars jump through a tire hoop. A separate section uses Lego Duplos, which are larger blocks for even tinier hands.
It’s all massive fun that will have the kids getting up at 4:30 a.m. to watch Monaco.
This is the first such Build and Race but there may be more.
“Lego and Ferrari have had a longstanding relationship,” said Jake Gonzales, spokesman for Legoland Carlsbad. “Lego has been building a variety of Ferrari cars for years. And now it’s an opportunity for us to take that relationship and team up and come into the Legoland parks, us being the flagship park here in North America, to then launch this attraction that hopefully will continue to launch globally.”
So come to Legoland and build your own bella macchina.