Il Bollo d’Oro: Ronnie Kessel. The Prancing Horse legacy.

In our first installment of “Il Bollo d’Oro” we dive into motorsports and vintage automobiles with Ronnie Kessel, an experienced Ferrari Challenge and GT driver, currently racing in the 2024 Alfa Revival season with the beige GTAm number 111 from Alfa Delta Racing Team.

May 23, 2024: “Bollo d’Oro” features engaging narratives from the Alfa Revival Cup, offering a glimpse into the lives, challenges, and ambitions of teams and drivers in this prestigious championship by Canossa Events. The name is inspired by the iconic golden metallic emblem that adorned the Giulia Super until 1969, symbolizing the distinguished lineage of Alfa Romeo’s mechanical and design excellence.

Describing Ronnie Kessel simply as “A life in motoring” hardly does him justice. He has transformed his passion for Italian supercars into a thriving career, masterfully integrating the four main dominions of the automotive world – sales, service, competition, and classics – into one entity, Loris Kessel Auto, all under the iconic Ferrari Prancing Horse.

What sparked your passion for motorsports?

“Racing is in my blood, I got it from my family. My father, Loris, competed in Formula 1 during the mid-70s, initially with a Brabham BT44B from the RAM team and later with an Apollon-Fly, a derivative of the 1974 Williams FW03. In the early 1990s, he bought a 1977 Ensign N177 [MN07], previously driven by Clay Regazzoni, to race in historical motorsport events. It’s a single seater of great sentimental value, which I’m privileged to drive at special events like the Bernina Gran Turismo, a hill climb between St. Moritz and Poschiavo.”

How long have you been racing? Is it a job or a hobby for you?

“I started when I was 12 years old. I skipped karting and went straight to GT cars. For me, racing is both a hobby and a profession. I compete in the Alfa Revival Cup purely for pleasure, joining a group of friends who are enthusiasts of classic car racing and live in Switzerland like me.

Professionally, I run Kessel Racing in Lugano, coordinating a dedicated team of 60 people who look after Ferraris competing in the Ferrari Challenge, Club Challenge, GT World Challenge Europe, Le Mans Cup, ELMS, and 24H series.”

Do you prefer racing with a historic or a modern car?

“Both the classic and modern automotive worlds hold a special appeal for me, yet they are distinctly different disciplines. Driving historic cars involves mastering their robust mechanics and handling the raw, direct feel of the gearbox, brakes, and steering. With modern cars, the focus is on driving precision and clean lines in entry and exit, with less concern about the difficulty of maneuvering the vehicle’s controls.”

What does racing mean to you, and how does it make you feel?

“Racing is a form of escape that allows me to disconnect from everything else and focus entirely on the moment, aligning every sense and motion. I am not ashamed to call it a therapy for both soul and body.”

What is the most exciting moment of a race?

“The start is without a doubt the most thrilling moment. The surge of adrenaline just before the lights go out is intense. As the lights change from red to green, my pulse races, and it becomes a battle between me, the car and the track. After the start, it’s all about managing any issues and keeping up the pace.”

Which race has been the most memorable for you, and why?

“The race that stands out the most was at the old Silverstone circuit during the FIA GT3 Championship. The grid was packed with 50 to 55 cars, and I was behind the wheel of a Ferrari 458.”

When did you decide to race historic Alfa Romeos and why?

“It all started this winter thanks to two friends who were already participating in the championship. I joined along with two other newcomers, also from Lugano.”

 Why did you choose the Alfa Revival Cup?

“I had considered several options, but the one-make nature of the Alfa Revival Cup appealed to me the most. It’s exciting to compete against so many GTAm cars: similar cars really bring out the qualities of the driver.”

How are you preparing for the next stages of the 2024 championship?

“Vallelunga was the first real contact with the GTAm. I hadn’t done any testing beforehand.”

What goals have you set for yourself, what do you expect from the season?

“Plenty of fun, the race results take a back seat when there is such a positive and engaging atmosphere.”

What do you think of the Alfa Romeo you drive?

“Behind the wheel, the GTAm feels like a modern car, very precise and consistent, yet it’s romantic in a way only a vintage car can be. The H-gearbox is delightfully satisfying, not to mention the body lines: a masterpiece.”

One final question, this time focusing on your professional life. At the beginning we talked about your business that embraces various aspects of the automotive world, from sales of new and pre-owned cars to running a racing team, as well as technical support and restoration, all centered around Ferrari. What does this brand mean to you?

“Ferrari knows how to embrace the three souls of motoring: classic, road, and competition. For me, Ferrari is more than a workplace; it is a legend that epitomizes Italian craftsmanship. Let’s not forget that Enzo Ferrari started his legendary journey with the Alfa Romeo team. And my father is also connected to the Biscione, as he acquired his racing license in 1971 to drive a Giulia GTAm.”