“I’m glad that nothing happened to me. It is important. At the same time, it’s two years of my life, fifteen hours per day…” and it’s at this point Federico Sceriffo seems at a loss for words and trails off for a few seconds. Then with an authentic determination says, “I’ll come back stronger. I will come back stronger,” nodding his head in affirmation.
It’s not often that Formula Drift fans are united in opinion or viewpoints; however, the Ferrari bursting into flames during Federico Sceriffo’s lead run against Chelsea Denofa in Long Beach is a moment where many of us shared the same reaction and screamed, “Noooo,” in utter disbelief. The moment was such an unexpected, violent and heart-wrenching instant where we couldn’t tell where Federico was until we saw him laboring to get out of the burning car. His life and safety was of utmost priority, so, when his feet were on the ground, it seemed a collective exhale was released when fans recognized he was secure. With dismay, we witnessed devastation to not only a vibrant icon of beauty, but also Federico’s time and passion. However, not all was lost. His tenacious spirit was perhaps raised by some unexpected moments he experienced after his car was towed back to his pit.
In his grieving process, Federico was visibility upset and being consoled by a teammate in his trailer. Wiping his face, he looked up to see Formula Drift’s Director of Operations, Andy Luk standing in front of him. Known as a no-nonsense, straight shooter, Andy had a message for Federico.
“I told him to go look at all his fans, they’re all here to support you. And, I grabbed him, put my arm around him and took him outside,” said Andy.
The crowds, four to five people deep, were anxiously waiting to hear news regarding the charming Italian driver (and to trying to ogle the wreckage), when Andy and Federico walked towards the spectators and Andy announced, “He’s okay!” The entire crowd cheered for Fiorella’s driver, and responded with embracing Federico in a group hug and pats on the back.
“It was an unexpected thing. I had a lot of solidarity as I was told [by the fans], “We are with you.” I love the atmosphere. I love the fans here. I feel so welcome and they understand my passion….” and it’s on the word “passion” when his throat constricts and he chokes up. A quick beat later he continues his thought, simply stating “I’ll be back.”
Already trying to help him get back on the track for future rounds are two other drivers that offered unsolicited support. Florida based, Pro2 driver Kelsey Rowlings immediately posted that she may be able to offer her demo car to the Italian team for the Orlando round. Federico saw the message and let Kelsey know that he appreciated her kindness and would respond back to her. Pro2 driver, Rob Carlsen, who has experienced a car fire in the past, bounded into Sceriffo’s pit and offered to help wrench on the car. The team very politely declined the offer, but did exchange contact information as Rob then explained that he lives near the Willow Springs track and could possibly help with parts or storage.
An understanding of passion, devotion and dedication is what unites Formula Drift enthusiasts from all around the world to come together and work as a unit to complete an objective and, we saw many examples of that in this situation. We know the expressive Federico and his team are still dealing with the aftermath from the fire, but what started as a distressing and destructive event will hopefully be bookended with a triumphant resurrection and we hear that twin supercharged V12 Ferrari roar once again.
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