Three longtime Ferrari Challenge racers step up to the world of professional racing.
The Ferrari Challenge series may be designed for amateur drivers, but it’s run like a professional series, from race preparation to driver development. As a result, some racers use it as a springboard to the pro ranks—and this year three longtime Challenge racers moved up to the Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
In early 2018, after several years racing their 488 Challenges with Ferrari of Long Island, friends Chris Cagnazzi and Brian Kaminskey decided to buy a 488 GT3. “We thought, ‘Let’s get the car and have some fun with it,’ and that was that,” says Cagnazzi.
That May, the pair purchased a new, never-used GT3 in the U.S., then sent it to Michelotto, in Italy, for upgrades. In September, Cagnazzi and Kaminskey flew to Maranello for a shakedown test at Fiorano, by which time their plans had changed.
“I had started to do some research into the Blancpain series,” Cagnazzi recalls. “I had been racing in the Ferrari Challenge for five years, and it’s a wonderful, extremely well-run series; Ferrari does an unbelievable job with it. But I was looking for a new challenge, another level of race car, and the GT3 really appealed to me. I wanted to race another Ferrari because I am a huge Ferrari enthusiast, and Blancpain was appealing because there was a pit stop and driver change and racing against professionals. So I said to Brian, ‘I’m going to race this car,’ and he said, ‘I’d love to do that!’”
Since Ferrari of Long Island only competes in the Ferrari Challenge, its Director of Motorsport, Peter Spinella, started a new team, One11 Competition, to support Cagnazzi and Kaminskey.
“We went to Michelotto, and I sent a crew there for training,” Spinella explains. “We were very familiar with the 488 Challenge, but the GT3 is a completely different car, a pure racing car. The transmission is completely different, it has different telemetry, different suspension components, a different ignition system, and way more depth in the ABS and traction control.”