Every year, the Ferrari Club of America holds an international gathering for hundreds of the Ferrari faithful and their cars. The 2013 event at Road America celebrated the FCA’s 50th year, but, honestly, it was just another truly fantastic Annual Meet. The formula is tried and true: a world-class concours d’elegance, a spirited road rally and several days of high-speed track driving. While many club members look upon these meets as purely social events, there is a cadre that comes to compete—and there’s no higher award than the Coppa GT.
Winning a Coppa GT isn’t easy. On average, fewer than three “Coppas” have been awarded every year since the award’s inception (FCA bylaws allow for a maximum of three per annum), and the FCA’s website warns that the competition is “no walk in the park.” Like playing in college basketball’s March Madness, competing for a Coppa GT requires clearing a series of hurdles before the game even begins.
The first step on the path to a Coppa GT is earning a Platinum Award (i.e., scoring 95 or more points out of a possible 100) in the Annual Meet’s concours. Judging is done to standards and guidelines created by the International Advisory Council for Preservation of the Ferrari Automobile (IAC/PFA), which emphasizes originality, or at least factory-correctness. (Respray in period-correct color? No problem. Aftermarket chrome wheels? Big problem.) While many readers have likely garnered such an honor in their local FCA concours, doing so at the national level, under the critical eyes of the most knowledgeable Ferrari judges anywhere, is much more difficult.
Next, Platinum winners who registered beforehand are eligible to advance to the next round: the Coppa Bella Macchina (loosely translated, the Beautiful Machine Trophy). The CBM rules are pretty straightforward, and the gist is that everything on a car must work as originally designed. Yes, everything: the windshield washers, the air-conditioning system, the sound system, the seat-belt retractors, the turn signals’ self-cancelling function, the glove-box lock. The list goes on and on; the score-sheet packet is about as thick as the Manhattan Yellow Pages. The judging process takes several hours to complete, as every component in the car receives a pass or fail grade.
If the car passes the static test, the CBM judging moves onto the road. With the owner driving, a judge in the passenger seat samples the car’s acceleration, braking and handling to ensure everything works, sounds and performs as Enzo (or Montezemolo) intended.
So what happens in the event of a problem? According to the rules, the car’s owner has one hour to try to fix the first issue discovered. (For example, it’s not all that uncommon for a light bulb to burn out unexpectedly.)
If the problem can’t be addressed, it’s game over. If the problem is fixed, judging continues, but a second issue will knock the car out of contention. When the dust settles, if every single component works perfectly, the car wins the Coppa Bella Macchina.