Writer Joseph J. Airdo
Photographer Bryan Black
Arizona’s streets and freeways in November will be populated with several hundred Ferraris, all driving in different directions to grand adventures around our state.
The cars—and their owners—will be visiting the Valley to participate in the Ferrari Club of America’s Annual Experience, an event that is expected to benefit Arizona in a variety of ways, but most notably by exposing our spectacular cities to some very wealthy individuals. This is thanks, in part, to Peter Volny—an Australian-born car enthusiast who now takes pride in calling Arizona his home.
“For me, cars are therapy,” Volny says. “They are a source of relaxation and pleasure. When I get into a car on a Sunday morning and it is quiet and I can go out and play, I forget all of life’s hassles and problems.”
Volny’s obsession with automobiles goes back to when he was just a kid. He recalls that even at the age of 2 or 3 years old, he was fascinated by cars. That fascination expanded and intensified as he grew older to the point that he acquired his first car—a racecar—at the age of 16. Volny did not even have a driver’s license, but that did not stop him from pursuing his passion.
“I tried my hand at racing cars, but I just did not have the necessary skills to make a good living out of it,” he says. “That career in racing took me into automotive marketing, and that is where I had a business.”
Volny’s career in automotive marketing wound up being lucrative, allowing him to fully explore and enjoy his interests in not only automobiles, but also travel. To-date, he has visited 162 countries and lived in seven of them—including Canada and England. However, he wholeheartedly says that of all the places in the world he has been, Arizona is the one in which he is happiest living.
Volny arrived in Arizona about 15 years ago and fell in love with the state. He and his wife Linda decided to make it their permanent home. In 2011, he purchased a red 2010 Maserati Gran Turismo MC.
In 2014, Volny founded Concours in the Hills—an annual high-performance car show in Fountain Hills. This past February’s event featured 941 cars, saw more than 25,000 spectators, included 108 dealers and sponsors, and raised more than $155,000 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
The Ferrari Club of America’s Desert Region participated in the event and, because Volny’s Maserati had a Ferrari motor in it, they invited him to join the organization. The next year, Volny solidified his association with the brand with the purchase of a red 1972 Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona—the same model that is owned by Barrett-Jackson Auction Company CEO and Chairman Craig Jackson.
Founded in 1962, the Ferrari Club of America now has more than 6,500 members across 16 regions and 51 chapters across the United States, Canada and Mexico who participate in social gatherings, parties, track events, rallies, drives and charitable events. More than 200 of those members belong to the Desert Region, which comprises all of Arizona and Southern Nevada, including Las Vegas.
Volny, who now serves as the Desert Region’s sponsorship and PR director, saw an opportunity to do something positive for Arizona by bringing the Ferrari Club of America’s Annual Experience to the state. The event, which draws hundreds of participants and cars from around the world, features a swap meet, a Concours d’Elegance, a rally, a track event and banquets in a different city each year.
“I thought that bringing it here would expose Arizona to a lot of people with high net worth,” says Volny, noting that Ferrari is often acknowledged as one of the leading brands in the world and arguably the leading automotive brand in the world. “These cars are expensive. The least expensive new Ferrari that you can buy is in excess of a quarter of $1 million. And they go up into the millions.”
Volny adds that used Ferraris—particularly the classics—can be very expensive. For example, one Ferrari Club of America member last year spent $72 million on a 1963 Ferrari. Therefore, the organization’s members tend to be older, more mature and distinctly wealthy individuals.
“They are going to come to Arizona and see how beautiful it is here,” Volny says. “Some of them, like me, will become permanent residents while others will buy holiday homes here.”
So, three years ago, Volny submitted a proposal to the Ferrari Club of America to host its Annual Experience in Arizona. The national organization accepted his proposal and work began on planning the massive event.
The Ferarri Club of America’s Annual Experience will take place Nov. 6–10 and feature two days of track time at Apex Motor Club in Maricopa, a cocktail party at Phoenix’s Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix, and a Concours d’Elegance at Scottsdale Sports Complex.
Several half-day, full-day and overnight drives are also planned, including to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Kartchner Caverns and Pima Air and Space Museum.
“It was originally estimated that we would get about 300 people to come along if we were lucky,” says Volny, noting that last year’s annual meeting was held in New York. “Now they are estimating that we are going to get more than 600 people. So it is a pretty big event. It is going to be very prestigious for Scottsdale, Phoenix and Arizona.”
Because of the unexpected bump in attendance, Volny and his roughly 70 volunteers have had to scramble to make changes in order to accommodate everyone. For example, the host hotel—Scottsdale’s Doubletree Resort—sold out in less than two weeks, so arrangements had to be made with six or seven other hotels. Restaurant reservations also had to be renegotiated or, in some cases, changed altogether due to seating limitations.
“It is a big project and there have been tons of challenges,” Volny says. “It has become virtually a full-time, unpaid job. As my wife keeps telling me, I did not work this hard when I had my own business and was earning a very nice living. Now I am working harder, I am not earning anything and it costs me a lot of money.”
Volny picks up a lot of the expenses out of his own pocket but does not mind because he is having fun fully exploring that passion for cars that has given him pleasure throughout his entire life—and sharing it with others.
“This will be, by far, the most prestigious car event ever held in Arizona,” says Volny, who is also one of the directors of Scuderia Southwest—another organization that is known for its “cars and coffee” gatherings held 7–10 a.m. the first Saturday of every month at the Scottsdale 101 Shopping Center.
In addition to his Ferrari and Maserati, Volny owns a 2006 Ford GT and a 2014 Audi RS7—both also red. He says that most Ferrari Club of America members own multiple cars because Ferraris are not the ideal cars for driving around on a daily basis.
“If you have got a car worth $1 million, you do not want to park it in the Costco parking lot,” Volny explains.
As for all of those Ferraris that will be driving around Arizona’s streets and freeways next month, Volny says that we need not worry about the high-performance vehicles causing any problems beyond being eye-candy for those of us who dream of one day sitting behind the steering wheel of one of them ourselves.
“The vast majority of us are very sensible driving around the street,” he adds. “I have got cars that do well over 200 miles an hour. But as we drive along Shea Blvd., my wife says, ‘You are like a little old man. You the slowest car out here.’ I try to explain to her that, on a racetrack, everybody is going in the same direction and nobody is texting, so I feel a lot safer on a racetrack than I do driving around the street.”
Ferrari Club of America’s Concours d’Elegance
Thursday, Nov. 7 | 9 a.m.–3 p.m. | Scottsdale Sports Complex | 8081 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale | Free to Spectators | fca2019.net