Eric Marston of Goleta turns the love of Ferraris into collectibles and amateur racing | Homes and Lifestyle

Eric Marston, resident of Goleta, remembers wanting a Ferrari when he was only 7 or 8 years old.

“I watched ‘Magnum, PI’ a lot,” he said, referring to the 1980s TV series starring Tom Selleck, whose character was driving a red Ferrari 308 GTS. “Since I was a child, I have said to people, ‘I will own a Ferrari.’

“I have always loved cars, and a Ferrari is the ultimate car – a symbol of art and performance.

Since the father of four started collecting Italian cars in 2012, he has bought and sold 15. By comparison, Marston is a small collection: “Some people can own 75 to 100 cars,” he said. declared.

True collectors have a habit of buying and then selling, always looking to upgrade.

Marston, 46, owns seven Ferraris, one from each of the models in the lineup, minus the convertible, he said; their prices have ranged from about $ 300,000 to $ 1.2 million.

Three of his collection fill the garage of his house in Goleta. One is canary yellow, the other is dark blue, and the third is dark red, and they’ll be accompanying Marston to the Montecito Motor Classic on Sunday at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. The event benefits the Santa Barbara Police Activities League and the Santa Barbara Police Foundation.

Two of Marston’s Ferraris are racing models, which means they’re not street legal. They are stored in a racing store in Las Vegas.

“You usually run with a racing store linked to a Ferrari dealership,” he said.

Marston said he went from being the crazy boy at Ferrari to the amateur driver he is today by “working hard and doing well in my businesses” which gave him an edge when it came to ‘buy luxury cars.

At the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, the city he grew up in, Marston turned his Ferrari dreams into reality by joining the Ferrari Challenge, a single-make championship that brings together dream cars and customers on the tracks. most picturesque in the world, according to the website. The challenge attracts those who enjoy high-level sprint races.

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Eric Marston at May’s Club Competizioni GT at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York. (Courtesy photo of Eric Marston)

“The challenge is how an average guy could both own a Ferrari and run,” said Marston.

He joined the Sports Car Club of America, a non-profit club founded in 1944 that sanctions and supports road racing, rallying and autocross in the United States. The SCCA provides beginner competition licenses, gives access and “is good for beginners,” Marston said.

He also trained with instructors, both in person and online. One of the schools was the Porsche Track Experience in Birmingham, Alabama, and another, the Ferrari Driving School in Maranello, Italy.

One last thing: riders must own the vehicle in question because it is in the scheme of things.

“You have to own a Ferrari before you can participate in a race,” said Marston.

Before purchasing his first Ferrari in 2012, Marston and his wife, UCSB graduate Amy, started their family. Their children are Madeline, 17; Gwendolyn, 15; Tristan, 13 years old; and Declan, 11.

Marston’s first competition took place in 2017, on a “track day” at the Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, Kern County. The event, sponsored by the Ferrari Club of America, “resulted in his instant addiction” to the sport of racing, Marston said with a smile.

The racing categories are based on the make of a car; in the case of Ferrari, it could be a 488 Challenge competition. With each competitor in a similar car, judges hone the skills of individual drivers, he said.

Marston’s latest Ferrari is a 488 GT Modificata. The new model was flown to him from Italy in May, when Marston resumed racing after the COVID-19 pandemic “shook the 2020 racing schedule”.

In fact, Marston’s only competition in 2020 was at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey County, as it is accessible by car.

“I was unwilling to fly last year,” he said.

The May competition was held at Watkins Glen International in Dix, NY, near the southern edge of Seneca Lake. Marston appears in a 2017 YouTube video of “Inside the Monaco FIA Driver Briefing”.

At the time of the May event, Marston was the first American to own the 488 GT Modificata. Only 30 cars have been assembled, he said, and this is “Ferrari’s ultimate GT car and is based on the same car that traditionally drives at Le Mans,” he noted.

“GT” technically means “Grand Touring” or “Gran Turismo” in Italian. In racing, “GT” is an umbrella term for all cars with fenders (as opposed to open wheels) and is generally (but not always) based on a production streetcar, Marston said.

With street cars, a “GT” is more luxurious but remains a performance-oriented car, almost always with the engine in the front. Current Ferrari GT cars are the 812 Superfast and Roma, he said.

Eric Marston was the first American to take delivery of a new 488 GT Modificata shipped from Italy.
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Eric Marston was the first American to take delivery of a new 488 GT Modificata shipped from Italy. (Courtesy photo of Eric Marston)

Marston’s 488 GT Modificata is “quick” on any track, where speed in the corners is key and straight stretches are less important in the long run.

Later that summer, he flew to Road America, a race track in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. On this track he raced his GT Modificata again. Road America is a big, fast track, he said, and the difference in the Modificata was “even more amazing with the incredible power of the car”.

Before the pandemic, Marston raced around the world, as Ferrari Challenge events are spread across North America, Europe and Asia. Some events are “support races” for other more important races, such as Formula 1.

He joined a 2019 race in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a race that supports the Canadian Grand Prix, he said. The crowd that day numbered 150,000 and Marston won the event.

He flew to France and raced at the famous Le Mans, and in a final of three Ferrari Challenges which took place outside Florence, Italy. Some are track races, and others cover public roads converted to temporary tracks.

Marston trains and is supervised by a professional driver, the Italian Alessandro Balzan, winner of several racing championships.

“He gets paid to run, and I pay to run,” Marston said, adding that he pays the entry fee, the mechanics who maintain and repair his cars, to transport his racing team and cars to events, and for insurance.

While Marston’s street-approved Ferraris are covered by its regular auto insurance, racing vehicles have special coverage. He gets discounts for low mileage, because in reality cars don’t accumulate a lot of miles until they are driven.

The insurance is divided into “pit and paddock” coverage – property insurance when the car is stored, unused at an event or in transit – and “on track” coverage for race days. , which Marston buys “by the event”.

Any true “wheel to wheel” racing insurance is difficult to obtain and “very expensive” because it covers damage caused by accidents.

One would assume that running would be a perilous sport, but Marston said otherwise. In fact, cheerleading is the most dangerous, closely followed by horseback riding; both involve falls, he said.

“Driving racing cars is at the bottom of the list. It used to be risky, but the safety innovations put in place like steel roll cages and fire extinguishing systems make it pretty safe. People usually stay away from accidents, ”he said.

In March, Marston will have a car transported by truck to Austin, Texas to participate in the Circuit of the Americas event, he said.

What advice would Marston, who works as an “internet entrepreneur” during the day, share with another kid eager to race in a Ferrari? “Work hard, start your own business and keep believing!” “

– Laurie Jervis tweets @lauriejervis and can be contacted via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own. She would gladly take the wheel of a Ferrari if she had the chance.

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