Tag Archives: fca

Wish List: Do a Bondurant Fiat Trackside Experience in an Abarth Fiata Spider

It’s been a few years since I discovered I have no future as a race car driver… that feeling came about behind a wheel of an SRT Charger as I was screeching tires making a turn into one of the high speed corners of Road America in Wisconsin. Since that time though I did three more SRT Track Experiences around the country… but instead of pursuing that sort of “racing” hobby I figured it would be much cheaper to volunteer as a marshal (even though that is expensive as hell in itself). BUT… boy was it fun!

The SRT Track Experiences were run by Richard Petty Racing School. It was one of few subcontractors SRT and other performance brands like AMG relied on to help teach their customers how to drive their cars without actually using their cars… Chrysler for example provided more than a dozen cars, everything from a Crossfire to the Viper… and I as a guest of the Track Experience got to drive every single one of them, multiple times. And at the end of the day I simply walked away… no need to buy new tires, or fix any issues that the car could have developed after being flogged by amateurs around the track. Arrive and drive events in someone else’s vehicles are awesome, certainly better than messing with your own car.

And that’s where the Bondurant Racing School comes in. I remember Bondurant when they ran orange SVT Mustang Cobra’s… I remember that because someone at the company sent me a list of cars for sale when they decided to ditch the blue oval and move on to GM (remember those yellow Corvette’s and black Cadillac’s?) and now they do Chryslers… in particular the Dodge SRT line that I got to experience several times with Richard Petty… luckily FCA, the parent of Dodge also has non-HEMI powered machinery for which Bondurant has a whole separate web site, calling it Fiat Trackside  https://fiattrackside.com/ which seems like a perfect way to experience the Abarth line-up and in particular the Abarth Fiata: Fiat 124 Spiders… and I intend to one day take advantage of their offerings to experience this Italian (Japanese) creation…

If anyone has a hook-up, my birthday is coming up in September feel free to get me some time behind the wheel of the Bondurant Fiata… I’ll take care of the flight to Arizona but the rest I’m too broke to afford.

FIAT brand’s Abarth models, including the all-new 124 Spider Abarth, join the lineup at the legendary Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.
image credit: Bondurant.com
image credit: Bondurant.com

 

Bondurant Racing School also offers a Teen driving program, which is probably more up my alley than an actual high performance Abarth experience, but I wouldn’t turn either of them down if presented with an opportunity.

image credit: Bondurant.com

I’m not sure how these track experiences operate, and if they carry any similarity to the SRT track experiences which I’ve done several of in Wisconsin, Colorado, California and Florida… I’m sure there are some good folks on the Fiata forums that would spare their VIN# for me to experience these cars on track at the Bondurant facility.

This is definitely high on my wish list!

Want to buy a Fiata? There’s a Few Abarth 124 Spiders in Winchester, VA

A couple brand spanking new Abarth Fiata’s caught my eye today on the drive home from Florida. Bright and early in the morning I visited my usual pit stop at Sheetz the last stop I need to make on the drive (back in my Summit Point days I’d refill here too, and with the Miata it’s almost exactly 300 miles to Northern New Jersey so a good place to top off for the last time). Next door is a Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram dealer that a few months ago had a nice Gray NC PRHT in the lot… it made me wonder, who the hell would trade-in a Miata for a Dodge?

Well, duh! In places where Alfa Romeo Fiat dealers aren’t available, Fiats are sold through other FCA dealerships. Seeing the two Fiata’s parked up front made that point really obvious!

So I pulled in and took a few shots…

Both cars seemed to have Virginia inspection stickers in the center of the windshield, but also the window stickers in the passenger door, so I’m not quite sure if they’re brand new or lease returns. but either way they looked spotless! I have no affiliation with this dealership so I can’t recommend or otherwise, but the least I could do is give heads up if any enthusiast is in the market… keep in mind Summit Point Raceway is just a few minutes away on the Virginia/West Virginia border.

Fiat 124 Spider: Fiata Sighting at Auburn Hills, Michigan (FCA HQ)

Taking advantage of the opportunity of being in Detroit for the Grand Prix I figured it would be a good chance to spy the pre-release Miata-based Fiat 124 Spider in the wild… friends I talked to claimed they were roaming around and you could spot them everywhere, so when I failed to see one within the first few days of being in Michigan I started obsessing about it, making it my mission to see the Fiata in the flesh before I leave Detroit to go home.

I succeeded!

Although at a cost. The cost of fuel that is… trying to spy a Fiata on Detroit suburbs streets was nothing more than a fuel burning exercise with very limited success.

The most obvious place to look for the new Fiata that I could think of was driving through the FCA HQ at Auburn Hills. Being a big SRT fan I’ve visited the place before and knew it was possible to visit as “general public” driving around Chrysler Dr. I did this heading out to Detroit to register for the Grand Prix with SCCA but failed to see one on the first day. Getting a little antsy I reached out to a few Chrysler people I knew, including my host for the weekend, to pick their brain on where would be the most likely place to spy a Fiata without getting into trouble. And both said that since the embargo has been lifted as the car was presented at various auto shows, it shouldn’t be an issue… hell one of the guys said they should be hitting dealer lots in the next month or so, so I’m sure they’re stamped by huge quantities already in production form.

But I haven’t seen one yet, so I was eager for a chance. The most likely scenario of spying one at the HQ was being at the right place and at the right time… so to optimize I chances I did a drive-by right around lunch time and then once again at quiting time, at the end of the day…. the success came just after 11am… I saw a beautiful red model that I caught just out of the corner of my eye leaving the parking lot as I drove past… I had to slow way down for that car to catch up to me and took a few snaps:

fiata fiat 124 spider at aburn hills michigan fca hq 1

fiata fiat 124 spider at aburn hills michigan fca hq 2

fiata fiat 124 spider at aburn hills michigan fca hq 3

fiata fiat 124 spider at aburn hills michigan fca hq 4

fiata fiat 124 spider at aburn hills michigan fca hq 5

FCA HQ has it’s own Interstate 75 exit/entrance ramps, and the gray haired big wig driving this thing hopped on and took off. I thought it would be weird following him, so I went the other way hoping I would spot a parked version of this car so I could take some much better still shots. But I failed in locating one.

First impressions of the car: I feel like I’ve seen it before! I realize it’s a new model and all, but it has a familiar look to it, something ordinary something that’s already on the market. I realize people would say: well, it’s based on the Miata and that’s already out. But that’s now what I mean. It looks nothing like a Miata. The ND MX-5 is unique with it’s looks, it looks like nothing else on the market. While the Fiat 124 Spider that has yet to hit the dealer lots already looks like a slightly squared NB Miata that’s been sold for a decade.

I don’t know how I feel about it yet…. I guess it’ll grow on me.