Joel Mogul and Kenny Lombino’s Most Excellent Adventure (Or How to Cross the USA in Nine Days)
Volume 46 Issue 20
Sep 25, 2021
Joel Mogul purchases a 360 Modena and he and Kenny Lombino embark on an epic journey across America.
Joel Mogul is a long-time member of the Ferrari Club of America, South West Region, a true car collector, and a Ferrari lover, owning a beautiful 599 and a 1971 Daytona. He also happens to be a very dear friend and client of mine.
We shared many adventures last year including Skip Barber advanced racing school twice, a twelve hundred mile road trip I organized with eight other FCASW members in October, and other road adventures.
Joel decided it was time for a mid-engine 8-cylinder Ferrari to add to his collection, and with my help the search was on. After many hours over several weeks, he found one.
A magnificent 2004 360 Modena six-speed, nero with a custom red leather interior. The largest issue was that the car was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2,700 miles away.
After weeks of back and forth negotiation, a deal was struck.
I mentioned to Joel, “You know, we only have one life to live. Instead of shipping it back, why don’t we fly in together and drive it back?”
“But not just drive it back; lets drive it back to LA, and take no freeways!”
I told Joel I would be happy to go and put a back-road trip plan together, share the driving, and we would have the adventure of a lifetime.
Let’s face it, most of us dream about making such a trip, but sadly, few have taken the time to do it.
Joel and I are lucky enough to have the ability to do it, we are great friends who get along well, share the same interests, and love to drive.
It took Joel about 30 seconds to say, “…great idea, let’s do it.”
I contacted FCA member Stuart Field, who is a friend, and happens to live in Philadelphia. I asked if he could check out the dealer, perhaps pick us up from the airport and drive us to the dealer to pick up the car. Of course, he said he would be happy to.
All was set.
Joel and I planned our trip taking into consideration the amount of luggage space the car had, what we would need, which really was only a credit card and necessities for two men over 10 days.
A date was set.
I went to AAA and got maps of every state we planned on driving through, took out my highlighter and started mapping out the route.
We took a mid-country route through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and back to California.
We also invited a few friends who are FCASW members: Alex Callay, his wife Natalie, and David Dunn, (a few others, but they could not make it).
Those three decided they would meet us in Denver, Colorado, and drive the back roads with us to LA.
The date was now official, Friday, May 21st, we would fly to Philadelphia. Saturday the 22nd, we would pick up the car and the journey would begin.
Well, first off, let me tell you, we had the time of our lives.
The car was literally like a new car having only 14,000 miles, so smooth and comfortable, a gated shifter that was unlike any gated shifter I ever driven, just perfect, and the car has plenty of luggage capacity.
The weather was ideal, the gas prices were cheap, including being able to buy 93 octane, the roads in the rest of the country are perfect well-maintained black top, unlike anything here in California.
We knew we were about to have too much fun.
Enzo always said, Ferraris are meant to be driven, and drive it we did.
So many who drive Ferraris never want to put miles on them. Boy, let me tell you, you are missing out; the car wants to be driven.
We took it through every type of condition, city driving, slow speeds, performance speeds, rain, and even a dirt road. The car just performs.
We left Philadelphia on secondary roads and headed toward West Virginia.
Joel, as one could expect, was quite excited. He was driving a new car, very different from his front-engine 12-cylinder cars, a mid-engine six-speed sports car.
The smile on his face was priceless. I was quite excited as well for him. I was also looking forward to my time behind the wheel.
Our first day was amazing. We drove till about 6pm and got rooms at the Hampton Inn in West Virginia, such a pretty state with great back roads.
Day two took us through Kentucky and into Indiana. During our drive through Indiana, we stopped at a friend’s home for a visit and some refreshment. It was a nice break, and she was very gracious.
The back roads of these states are so beautiful, green mountains, fresh paved blacktop, magnificent farms, and very friendly people. We indeed were seeing America.
Once again, we stopped for the night at a Hampton Inn.
Our next day of driving took us across Indiana, a bit of Illinois, and into Missouri.
The country had started to flatten out and there were great looking farms, a view to the horizon of just open green space.
Speaking of Illinois, I was driving that day and wanted to take a classic picture of the Ferrari in front of an old barn and a grain elevator.
The elevator shot went fine, but when I found the barn, which was only a few feet off the road, the story gets a little dramatic.
I placed the Ferrari in front of the barn at a great angle and started to take the pictures, a few moments later I heard a sound of a fast-moving vehicle.
I looked up and saw a pickup truck traveling at high speed toward me. It skidded to a stop ten feet from the Ferrari and out came a crazy outraged 75-year-old farmer complete with three teeth, an overall blue jean outfit with a cigarette hanging from his mouth screaming the F word at us, calling us thieves, trespassers, and all sorts of other adjectives, commenting he had the right to shoot us.
I tried to explain I was sorry; I just thought his barn looked so good and wanted a picture of the Ferrari in front of it. He kept on screaming F words at us, said he was going to burn the barn down and to get off his property.
I backed off slowly, got into the car and Joel and I split as fast as we could. An interesting interaction to be sure.
Well, like I said, we were on an adventure. Happily, that was the only bad experience we had.
We continued on to our next hotel, had a great steak dinner, and talked about the day’s adventure.
The next day was great driving through Missouri and into Kansas. Kansas is one flat state, beautiful, but flat.
We went looking for Oz, the Wizard, and Dorothy, we looked and looked, but could not find them. We asked everyone, got some comments that we would find them over the next rise, but they were nowhere to be seen, we finally gave up and continued on.
As we were driving down a road which the map said was paved, it turned into a dirt road. Actually, it was paved but was covered in dirt.
This was not making Joel happy and the car didn’t like it either.
We saw a farmer up ahead and decided to ask for directions. She was on an ATV, didn’t see or hear us even though we were blowing the horn.
We followed her onto the farm, went down a long driveway, made a turn and watched her pull into a barn.
We waited, but she did not come out. Joel suggested I go in to ask her where we were, but after my last experience with a farmer I said it was his turn.
Just then she came out. She was a pretty 16-year-old.
Joel asked where we were, asked about the route number of the road, she said it was a street and she wasn’t sure.
Then her brother came out, about 14 years old, asked if he could drive the Ferrari, we smiled, then their mother came out.
She was about as friendly as one can be, asked if we needed anything or wanted something to drink, and then explained that the road was indeed the one we thought it was, but it hadn’t been repaved since she was in high school which was twenty years ago. She told us our car would never make it and gave us directions on how to get where we wanted to go.
We thanked her and started to backtrack to get on paved roads.
We pulled into our hotel for the night around 9pm, had dinner, and headed to our rooms for some much-needed sleep. An interesting day for sure.
The next day was an easy one. We were going to finish Kansas, get into Denver, Colorado, around lunchtime, have the Ferrari detailed, and wait for our friends to meet us that evening for dinner.
That evening Alex, Natalie, and David met us at the hotel.
Joel had made plans to meet a friend of his, who made reservations for us at a fantastic historic steak house.
A friend of mine and FCA member joined us for dinner along with David’s brother and sister-in-law.
We had a private dining room and a most enjoyable evening took place.
The next day we were set to leave for the back roads of the Colorado Rockies. I had planned to take us over the Independence Pass but sadly, it was closed as it was still covered in snow.
This was the first of two road closures or detours we encountered that day. Those two detours made our day a 620 mile drive and we wound up spending another night in Colorado. The town I don’t recall, but as you can imagine it was a long, tiring day.
That night we checked into a hotel at almost 11pm. We just went to our rooms and called it a night.
If you have never driven the back mountain roads of Colorado, I can’t tell you enough, you must do it.
It is such a beautiful state. Long winding roads crossing magnificent snow-covered mountains, breathtaking vistas, and beautiful trees. Just fantastic.
The second to last day took us through Southwest Utah. Another amazing state.
Mountains and rock formations that are so unbelievable to see. It is truly a sight to behold.
The roads are perfect, the scenery goes on forever, and the weather is nice if you go in the spring or summer.
This was another long day. It took quite a bit longer because we stopped at many sights including Bryce Canyon,Cedar Breaks National Monument and Zion National Park.
By the time we got to Saint George, Utah, it was late, and all we wanted to do was hit the beds.
We did have a day to remember for a lifetime though, and all thought the drive was worth it.
The next morning we had breakfast and were ready for the push back to Los Angeles.
We took as many back roads as we could but by the time we got to Las Vegas, the freeway was our only choice.
Not really, as there are back roads, but we were ready to get to LA.
Our last stop before returning home was Peggy Sue’s diner for milkshakes. A nice break and an opportunity to relax and talk about the trip.
We said goodbye to David, as he was heading toward Orange County. Alex and Natalie followed us for one last backroad turnoff at Victorville before hitting the 14S to LA.
All in all, an amazing trip was completed. Joel and I had the time of our lives.
His 360 Modena drove the entire 3,900 miles without so much a squeak, a perfect car.
No one had any issues with their cars, and we had no problems.
Just an amazing journey and experience.
I can tell you I would do it again, and I would drive anywhere with Joel, he is a most accomplished driver.
I hope you each get to do it one day; you won’t regret it.
Remember, Ferraris are meant to be driven.