The Cinquecento Weekend

You know how you meet a person, and within five minutes they are offering to let you drive one of their cars on a hot lap of Circuit of the Americas?

Yeah, that usually doesn’t happen.

Well, it did to me. (!!!!!!!!!!!!) (Carry on, universe. You are really doing a good job lately.)

So what happened was: I met Lisa Copeland, General Manager of Fiat of Austin and all-around auto industry celebrity. More about her soon. But, to make an actually not very long story even shorter, Fiat of Austin is a sponsor for Formula Run, a footrace taking place at Circuit of the Americas tomorrow.  Three Fiat 500s are serving as “pace cars.” Lisa had two drivers, and needed one more.

I did not know this when I introduced myself.

When Lisa offered me the third Fiat, I temporarily lost my vocabulary. When I recovered it, I nonchalantly agreed to participate. Actually, it may not have been nonchalant. There may have been a hug involved. And a number of exclamation marks.

This afternoon, I picked up a feisty red Fiat Abarth Cabrio (the high-performance 500, and the Fiat equivalent of my MINI John Cooper Works). Tomorrow morning, the Abarth and I hit the COTA track to laugh at runners…no, I meant gently lead those dedicated bipeds up to Turn 1.

Then leave their asses behind with a cacophony of Abarth exhaust snarl.

I look forward to spending some quality time with the Abarth, a cousin to the Red MINI, and telling you all about it. From my drive home from the dealership, I can tell you that the Abarth corners well at (safe, responsible) speed and the clutch is pretty much the most pliant one I have ever used. I barely looked at it, and it sunk into the floorboard. This would be a good car for teaching someone to drive a manual transmission…

As always, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s hot lap!



Abarth 2


Abarth 3


Abarth key


Abarth interior


Abarth seats


Abarth speedometer


Abarth speedometer night


Abarth shifter


Abarth interior top


Abarth wheel


Abarth 4


Abarth 6


Abarth 5