Does Ferrari Have the World’s Best Customer Racing Program?

two blue ferrari sports cars on a race track
Ferrari ‘Clienti’ Customer Racing Program Rules!Ferrari

Ferrari’s victory this week at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a reminder of the great racing history of this most-storied marque. Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of the Scuderia?

Well, you can. And I’m not talking about buying a hat with the logo on it, though that is certainly the most affordable approach. There is an entity called Ferrari Clienti and for only six figures—or more—you too could be racing some of the greatest cars ever built.

Other manufacturers have factory racing efforts where they assemble a couple of their cars and race them in IMSA or the Michelin Pilot Challenge or Pirelli GT4 America.


And if you consider NASCAR to be Stock Cars, then that has some manufacturer participation, too.

Mazda has the MX-5 Cup, with over 250 Miatas built for that series so far. And the Toyota GR Cup for those Toyota 86s is cool. And let’s not forget the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, the Porsche Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy, and all those other Porsches racing all over the world.

But the one you’d want to enter if money was no object is Ferrari Clienti.

a race car on a track
Ferrari Challenge is for 488s and 296s.Ferrari

I got to hang out in the paddock and even ride along for a couple laps at a once-a-year program called Ferrari Racing Days, held this year at Laguna Seca, and it made me wish I had been born into the family of Thurston Howell III, or at least wish I had some sponsorship dollars.

It is one of the last bastions of the Gentleman Racer (or Gentlewoman racer, it doesn’t discriminate). The drivers you see on the track are not famous names, but they are having famous times of their lives.

“Ferrari Racing Days is really the pinnacle, where we have all of our client-side programs all together for one weekend,” said Ferrari Clienti’s Antonella Coletta. “It happens once per year in each of the different regions.”

Ferrari Challenge

There are regular races for the Ferrari Challenge throughout the year, with regional programs for Japan, the UK, Europe, and North America. The North American series is the biggest, with 80 cars, 78 in Europe, 32 in Japan, and “18 or 20” in the UK, Coletta said.

But only once do all the categories get together. This year the North American region’s Ferrari Racing Days took place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California.

ferrari challenge laguna seca
Ferrari Challenge at Laguna Seca2024 Bob Chapman - Autosport Image

There were four main categories, take your pick: the Ferrari Challenge for 348s and 296s; the XX Programme for those rare and beautiful XX cars that live on the track and nowhere else; the Sport Prototipi cars like the ones that won Le Mans this year, and even F1 Clienti, a series for Ferrari cars that ran in the most sophisticated racing series on the planet: Formula 1.

Drawbacks? Well, there is the cost. The first hurdle of Ferrari racing is getting ahold of a 296 or a 488. There’s no way around the cost of that. And those cars aren’t cheap, especially when you add up the cost of converting the car to racing spec for the Ferrari Challenge.

A 488 Challenge Evo is about $370,000 and a 296 Challenge car is a bit over $400,000. Those are both base prices, excluding a few options such as a passenger seat, optional colors, etc. Plus, you have to get it to the track, have a pit crew, stay in a motel—the logistics of which are helped by regional Ferrari dealerships. But it’s still the most affordable way to go racing in this program.

a race car on a track
2024 Bob Chapman - Autosport Image

The Ferrari Challenge began with 348s at Laguna Seca in 1993. About 20 cars took part and ran a limited schedule that year. The series has since grown into what Ferrari now calls “the most renowned single-marque championship (in the world)… A competition for those who, not satisfied with just driving their Ferraris on the road, feel the urge to compete in top-level sprint races.”

To give drivers of all levels an equally good time, the series is divided into four main categories: Trofeo Pirelli, Trofeo Pirelli Am, Coppa Shell, and Coppa Shell Am. Each driver is associated with and assisted by a dealer, from Ferrari of Central New Jersey to Ferrari of Beverly Hills and so on across the country.

The series is broadcast in over 90 countries worldwide, which the company points out, “therefore provides significant potential visibility to any of the drivers’ sponsors.”

a yellow race car on a race track
Making the drop at the Cork Screw.Ferrari

The Ferrari Challenge started this year at COTA, went to Laguna Seca and Montreal, and will continue with Watkins Glen July 10-14, Sonoma Aug. 21-25, and Indianapolis Sept. 11-15. The year concludes in Imola for the Finali Mondiali Oct. 16-20, where the best drivers of all regions in the world will come together to compete.

XX Programme

The next step up from Ferrari Challenge is the XX Programme, launched in 2005 for the gorgeous FXX K cars. These are rare and beautiful things, indeed, boosted in power and aerodynamics for ultimate performance. An FXX K sold at auction recently for $4.3 million.

Based first on the Enzo, then on the 599 and finally on the hybrid hypercar La Ferrari, this program takes what are already ridiculously quick street cars and turns them into wildly fast but still gorgeous track-only monsters.

When the La Ferrari FXX K version came out in late 2014, it could lap Ferrari’s home test track of Fiorano a full five seconds quicker than stock, in 1:14.5.

The FXX K’s naturally aspirated V-12 alone makes 848 hp at 9,200 rpm, while 187 more hp come from Ferrari’s HY-KERS kinetic-energy recovery system, bumping total system output to 1,036 horses, 86 more than the 950-hp LaFerrari, which had been the most powerful car Maranello offered at the time. (The K in the name stands for “KERS,” by the way.)

On the track, sophisticated active and passive aerodynamics, electronic controls, and 1,168 pounds of downforce at 124 mph keep the car in line and on the ground.

There are nine stops on the FXX K world tour, from Abu Dhabi to Imola. At Laguna Seca, 14 FXX cars ran, half of them being FXX Ks.

a couple of cars on a road
FXX Ks of Ferrari ClientiFerrari

Sport Prototipi Clienti

Perfectly matched to Le Mans this year is the Sport Prototipi Clienti, a class for the very cars that won at Le Mans the last two years, the 499P. Four 499P Modificatas ran at Laguna Seca’s Ferrari Racing Days this year.

Each one is powered by a racing version of the 120-degree V6 hybrid found in the 296 GT3 race car. In this car it makes 858 hp, with the combustion engine powering the rear wheels while an electric motor spins the front wheels. A “push-to-pass” button adds 161 hp for a judiciously applied seven seconds.

The cars are produced in a limited series and not intended for competition—all derived from the Hypercar that triumphed at this and last year’s Le Mans.

A closeup look at the cars in the garage at Laguna Seca between runs revealed what looked like space ships, or something from science fiction.

The “Sport Prototipi Clienti” program was launched this year and will run alongside the F1 Clienti and XX Programme. 499P Modificata owners get Ferrari assistance with maintenance and support—both technical and logistical—for all the dedicated track events.

F1 Clienti

The ultimate ride, short of being Charles LeClerc, is the F1 Clienti program.

Started in 2003, F1 Clienti has “offered a small group of enthusiasts the chance to buy Formula 1 single-seaters that have been raced by Scuderia Ferrari in recent seasons, as well as vehicles that have competed in the championships 20, 30 and even 40 years before, and to drive them on the track,” according to Ferrari.

a red race car on a track
F1 Clienti and Sport Prototipi ClientiFerrari

F1 Clienti is running at eight tracks all over the world this year, but only one of the F1 cars from the program ran at Laguna Seca, after several more had just run the previous week at Sonoma.

The Laguna Seca car was the F2003-GA number 2, which raced in the 2003 World Championship with Rubens Barrichello behind the wheel. It represented the 49th single-seater in Ferrari's history.

Throughout its racing career, the F2003-GA notched seven victories, with Michael Schumacher claiming five wins and Barichello two—in the British and Japanese Grands Prix.

Ferrari F1 cars have sold for various prices all over the world, with one of the F2003-GA cars hammering for $16.5 million just two years ago. But a 1982 Ferrari 126 C2 driven to victory in the 1982 German Grand Prix by Patrick Tambay (and piloted by Mario Andretti to pole position and 3rd place in the Italian Grand Prix) sold for “just” $2.1 million in 2019.

So there’s hope for us all.

Ferrari pulls out all the stops for its F1 Clienti, too, offering, “Impeccable organization, unparalleled service, and outstanding coaches such as former Formula 1 drivers Marc Gené and Olivier Beretta are just some aspects that make F1 Clienti and the XX Programme unrivaled in the automotive world.

a group of people sitting at tables
Some of the hospitality at F1 ClientiFerrari

Technical and logistical assistance, telemetry analysis after the sessions on the track, a physiotherapist and masseur on hand, and a comfortable and exclusive lounge provide participants with an unparalleled experience.”

There are even “beauty spa treatments,” but those are only offered in Europe. Dang.

Since the series was founded in 1993, over 1,000 drivers have gotten behind the wheel of hundreds of Ferraris in hundreds more races. See your local Ferrari dealer. And bring a suitcase of cash.