From Russia, with horsepower
Near the soaring spires and cobbled streets of the small Russian town of Pskov, about 50 miles southeast of St. Petersburg, there’s a powerful river meandering through the countryside. Relentlessly surging past pine forests and picturesque farms at terrific speed, this streak of churning whitewater has long fascinated the local residents. Awed by its potent charms, they call this river “the Great One.”
Once Pskov’s only claim to fame, that mighty waterway has now been overshadowed by another forceful presence. Equally worthy of “Great One” status, “Hometown Hero” local boy-turned-National Hockey League All-Star Sergei Fedorov is one of the game’s shining stars with more than 15 years under his belt. He now plays for the Columbus (Ohio) Blue Jackets.
“Coming up big at clutch time is what I do, it’s my specialty.”
Fedorov has been “coming up big” ever since playing hockey and soccer in Pskov, and starring for the Soviet Union’s vaunted Red Army team in the 1990 Goodwill Games. His father, who like many Russians waited years to fulfill one of his dreams, was then the manager of a local sports club.
“My family really wanted a car, but we had to wait 12 years before finally getting a Lada,” recalls Fedorov, the owner of several Ferraris, a BMW Z8, and other stylish machines.
“That squarish-looking Lada wasn’t so bad. It did about 85 m.p.h. on a good day, and my family was happy once we got it. But of course my new cars, particularly the 360 Spyder I used to have . . . and Enzo are absolutely wonderful.
“The powerful sound these cars make, the roar, is just incredible.”
Owning one of the 399 Enzos offed by Ferrari — a yellow one at that — hockey’s flamboyant speed merchant, known for his flashy sprints down ice, has predictably been charmed by the Ferrari’s carbon-fiber chassis, carbon-ceramic brakes and paddle-shifted gearbox. An avid fan of Formula One, Fedorov feels this ultimate Ferrari (660 horsepower and capable of a maximum 217.5 m.p.h.) offers a thrilling, low-tothe-road ground kind of ride.
“ It’s just remarkably stable, handling very well in the corners, and it’s just a sheer delight to look at . . . I guess it’s not surprising that I like speed, and with this car you feel G forces especially when going through a turn-the car works for you.”
After picking up a few driving tips from friends in the automobile business, Fedorov took the Enzo onto a Waterford, Mich., racing track. Wearing a helmet, other protective gear and buoyed by the adrenaline rush, he insists that he wasn’t afraid.
“It’s only in the parking lot, when thinking about what I’ve just done, do I get scared.”
To further steel himself for the track’s assorted high speed challenges, he’s usually found relaxing in front of a computerized Formula One racing simulator. Spending hours with this device, he relishes maxxing out at 235 m.p.h., or hitting speeds that vicariously allow him to enjoy the thrills of fabled race facilities such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the streets of Monte Carlo, or other fabled European racing circuits.
That’s Fedorov’s fantasy life, carefree afternoons before he is tossed into the fray of crushing hits and those occasions when the gloves come off.
During Celebrity Car Magazine’s visit, Fedorov was using a Mercedes Benz G-Class sport-ute to muscle his way through traffic, a vehicle that’s now immensely popular with the Hollywood trendies. But since his primary interest is fulfilling his own needs and not necessarily making an impression, Fedorov typically selects “his favorite car for daily jaunts, a 1999 Ferrari 355 black convertible”.
“This is just an awesome machine that looks great and handles superbly,” says Fedorov, insisting that this 375-horsepower “antique” continues to bewitch him with its charms. “I had admired Ferraris in magazines for years, and was eventually able to buy one. Maybe that’s why this one is special. I fulfilled a dream with it, and besides, it drives great and makes these incredible sounds. Just listening to this car gives me a tremendous boost before games.”
Closing in on 40 years of age (he was born in December, 1969), and still in magnificent condition, Fedorov can look forward to a lot more games, a lot more chances to rocket down ice and to score critical lateseason goals.
But unlike his racy Enzo, the 355 and his other dazzling cars that will continue to bang out big horsepower, Fedorov will slow down over time. Even the most prolific players must recognize that they’re vulnerable at some point, and Fedorov will be ready to begin that new chapter in his life.
Smiling when asked about that eventuality, he says, “retiring from the game won’t be so bad. Then I hope to play a little golf, bounce around for a year or two, and get to drive my great cars much more often. I can’t think of a car out there that I really want to buy. I’m satisfied with what I have, and I know why I’ve paid so much money for them. They’re fantastic.”