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Auto blogMon, 10 Nov 2014 10:31:00 EST
Luca di Montezemolo may be 67 years old, but he's not quite ready to retire just yet. Not, at least, if the latest reports emanating from Italy are to be believed. According to Reuters, the longtime former Ferrari chief is due to be named chairman of Alitalia.
The troubled Italian airline is on the verge of being bailed out after years of financial difficulty, with Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates set to take a 49-percent stake in the company. While the reports have yet to be confirmed by the parties involved, Reuters cites multiple inside sources in revealing that the airline's board met last week and agreed to appoint Montezemolo as chairman, with current Etihad chief James Hogan to act as chief executive officer.
Montezemolo, of course, long served as chairman of Ferrari, having assumed leadership of the company not long after founder Enzo Ferrari died. He also served as chairman of the Fiat group for several years after the passing of Umberto Agnelli, and has headed numerous trade organizations and sporting bodies. But his tenure at Ferrari and the broader Fiat Chrysler Automobiles empire came to an end two months ago when clashes with Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne saw Montezemolo step down.
The Guinness-certified world record for "fastest speed for a car driven blindfolded" is 186.12 miles per hour, set by Mike Newman in a Porsche GT2 last year at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in England. Then earlier this year, Newman said he'd go for the 200 mph mark - something he might want to talk to fellow Bruntingthorpe speed demons Vmax200 about. UK firm Extreme Motorsport, which seems to have been set up solely to set blindfold driving and riding records, wants to wrest the record from Newman using a Ferrari 458 Challenge and the even longer runway at Elvington Airfield in York, England.
Strangely, it appears the terms "legally blind" and "blindfolded" equate to the same thing. The Guinness record and Extreme Sports say "blindfolded," but Newman and the man who held the record before him, Turkish pop singer Metin Sentürk, are legally blind and neither of them wore blindfolds during their record attempts.
No matter - the real point is that Extreme Motorsport is casting about for a driver to set a new record. The could-be-shady part is that Extreme is pretty vague about what's involved; they'll provide the car or the motorcycle, but you have to "choose a charity and pledge to give them all the funds you raise above the entrance fee and for any other personal expenses you may need to participate in the challenge." Extreme doesn't give any indication of how much that entrance fee might be.
Luca di Montezemolo may not have wanted to leave Ferrari this way, but don't feel too bad for the departing chairman, because he'll be hitting the ground with a golden parachute so big that he'll never have to work again.
According to the latest reports, Fiat will pay Montezemolo 26.95 million euros (nearly $35 million) in severance pay. A little more than half of that will be paid in a lump sum of 13.71 million euros ($17.7M, equivalent to five times his annual salary) on January 31, 2015, with the rest to be paid within the next 20 years.
The payment is contingent on Montezemolo not going to work for a competitor, so don't expect to see him replacing Stephan Winkelmann at Lamborghini or Wolfgang Dürheimer at Bugatti any time soon. At least not until March 2017. Of course with that much cash on hand, the 67-year-old marquis need never work again, but considering how busy he's used to keeping himself, we'd be surprised if he didn't pop up again somewhere.