All-Female Ferrari Rally Revs Up In SF, Raises Cash And Curiosity

By Carolyne Zinko
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Seven fierce females joined forces for a 3 day race car rally (not only because they are totally cool) but to raise funds for a nonprofit benefiting underprivileged high school girls.

San Francisco Chronicle

Seven women gunned the engines of their high-performance Italian race cars on the top of Nob Hill on Friday — an “I am woman, hear me roar” salute — before taking off for Santa Barbara in a history-making, first all-female Ferrari rally in the U.S.

Clad in jumpsuits, sunglasses and metallic shoes to lend feminine flair to their $1.4 million LaFerraris and $260,000 458 Spiders, the group had plans to shop, dine at winemaker dinners and take a helicopter tour once at Bacara Resort & Spa. But the real purpose of the trip, which cost participants $5,000 each through donations or sponsorships, was to raise money for the Prancing Ponies Foundation, a nonprofit benefiting underprivileged high school girls.

Their route on the three-day rally, which began at the Fairmont Hotel, took them through downtown to Interstate 280 and south on Highway 1, a roughly 350-mile leg they are to repeat in reverse when returning Sunday. The high-performance cars outside the hotel drew dozens off gawkers who snapped photos and took videos to capture the earsplitting sounds of the engines.

“We are creating women leaders one girl at a time by raising funds to send them abroad to help them develop their self-esteem and self-confidence so that someday they are leaders and can own and race their own Ferraris,” said Chanterria McGilbra, a North Bay pharmaceutical executive who created the foundation and organized the rally.

McGilbra bought her first Ferrari last year with stock options from work and credited her experience abroad — earning a master’s degree in business from the International University of Monaco in 2007 — with improving her self-confidence.

“I’d given up my apartment, my job and sold my car,” she said. “I had nowhere to go backwards to — moving forward was key. That’s where most of the psychological work begins and ends for these girls going abroad.”

The world of Ferrari is chummy; owners who buy from any of the 37 dealers in the United States meet one another at car shows or any of the five rallies held in the U.S. each year. About 2,640 Ferraris — six models ranging from $198,000 to $485,000, not including the limited edition LaFerrari — were sold in North America last year, according to Krista Florin, a corporate spokeswoman, but few of the owners are women.

Even fewer of them engage in amateur racing in their Ferraris, and McGilbra is one of them. She calls racing “meditative,” noting, “It’s just me, the car and the next turn.

McGilbra reached out to a few female owners she knew, including fellow amateur racer Christine Sloss, wife of Google exec Benjamin Sloss. A Ferrari concierge put McGilbra in touch with Gabriela Forte, whose husband is president of Vita Forte Inc., an organic and super-food manufacturer. Instead of pledging her sponsorship money to Prancing Ponies, Forte was allowed to direct it to the Mid-Coast Fire Brigade, which has been fighting the huge fire in Big Sur.

Other participants included Agne Christensen, an artist and creator of the Seek Fine Art app; Colleen Costello, a mother of two teens; Hayley Melidonis, a manager at Intel Corp.; and an interior designer and contractor specializing in tech real estate who identified herself only as Susan D.

Costello and Susan D., it should be noted, drove Lamborghinis, not Ferraris. Costello said her vintage Ferrari was not up to a long road trip, while Susan D. said upping the mileage on her Ferrari would decrease its value. Her 2016 Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce was a limited-edition model, with a sticker proving it was the first of 600 made.

“I am doing this because I wanted to inspire young ladies that they can dream big and they can achieve it,” she said. “They can be successful, dream, and they can write their own checks.”

Onlookers gawked at the cars lined up in front of the Fairmont Hotel, the rally’s starting point. As the drivers hit the road, they also had to keep their urges in check.

“Hey!” a man shouted through the open window of his tiny Smart car, pulling up alongside McGilbra on the Embarcadero. “Wanna race?”

She burst out laughing and revved her engine with a playful “Vroom! Vroom!”

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