If you're going to throw a party in a place and with people that know how to party, New Orleans has to make the short list. And if it's a party on wheels, there's no better marque to front the celebration than Ferrari. So it was that a group of tifosi quartered deep in the heart of the Good Time Republic of Louisiana decided, about four years ago, to stage a little get together. Objective? Tracking, touring and showing their much-loved examples of Enzo's art. It came to be known as the Ferrari French Quarter Classic, and this, the fourth annual gathering, was bigger and better than ever. In New Orleans, cher, that takes some doing.

Organizers Franco Valobra and John Houghtaling have put together an event that includes all our favorite things. On Friday, there's a balls-out track day within the freshly-minted FIA-style confines of Grand Bayou raceway, about 40 miles west of downtown. The real track name is No Problem Raceway, and isn't that perfect? Roughly 60 cars showed up for this year's festivities, including a stable of racing machinery provided by event sponsor Ferrari of Houston. Structure is present, sure, but activities are not the zipped-up, buttoned-down sort conducted by more uptight sanctioning bodies. Speeds are governed by personal comfort zones rather than mandated limits, with a black flag only serving as a gentle reminder that, "Okay, hotrod, you know what you did, now come in for a few laps and think about it." Rides in various racing machinery ranging from Ferrari Cup to ALMS GT cars were available, with high-profile pilotos such as Anthony Lazzaro and Eric van de Poele to scare the bejeezus out of those brave enough to cram themselves into the passenger's quarters.

From black flag to black tie, the weekend continues Saturday morning with a Concorso, conducted last year in the gardens of Longue Vue House, and featuring Ferraris so clean they'll make your eyes water. There were Enzos, Formula One cars and even the ex-Shah of Iran Lamborghini Miura to send one into sensory overload. But just so there's not too much guilt, know that the proceeds benefit Cancer Crusaders, a local nonprofit, among others. Champagne, good food, live oak trees and dozens of beautiful Ferraris should have inspired us to just hang out at Longue Vue for the remainder of the weekend, but there was more partying to do, drat the luck. That night, our black-tie dinner on a veranda overlooking Bourbon Street provided all the excitement of Mardi Gras without having someone barf on your shoes. The idea of trading beads, thrown from above, in exchange for the gratuitous display of various parts of one's body just may catch on, I predict, at least with the bead-throwing crowd.

On Sunday, if you can rally from Saturday's debauchery, the anarchy reaches an apogee with a frenetic police-escorted, 50-Ferrari parade through the French Quarter. This is no sedate, Palm-Beach style tour, either. Driving a camera car that was down about 50 horsepower on most of the participants, I was hell-bent to keep the pace. The earsplitting wail of sirens, coupled with the snarl of barely restrained Ferrari V8s and V12s, is just the thing to clear Saturday night's cobwebs...or make your head explode. The parade ends at a "people don't really live here, do they?" sized mansion in the heart of the Garden District for a Concorso awards ceremony and yet more exquisite food.

Sponsors Pirelli Tires, Ferrari of Houston, and Shell Oil should be back this year, so we can expect the event to maintain its world-class standards reference: Letting The Good Times Roll.

Further information is available at: www.ferrarifrenchquarterclassic.com

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