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University of Notre Dame men’s basketball junior forward Austin Burgett enjoyed the birthday present and ride of a lifetime as he celebrated his 21st birthday in memorable fashion, thanks to his Irish teammates.
Following two nights in Pesaro, the Notre Dame traveling party departed the popular beach town and resort and headed to its next destination, Venice. To break up the nearly four-hour drive to the northeast region of Italy, the Irish made a stop at the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, near Moden. There, the team toured the museum, getting a first-hand look into the road and racing cars. The museum, however, does not showcase merely cars; also on display are trophies, photographs and other historical objects relating to the Italian motor racing industry. Many of Ferrari's most iconic cars from its history reside in the museum, which is a short distance from the Ferrari factory that annually produces approximately 6,000 cars.
Several members of the Irish travel party took advantage of a unique chance (with a driving instructor present in the car) to test-drive a Ferrari along the public streets of Maranello near the Ferrari factory. Head coach Mike Brey and his daughter Callie, as well as trainer Skip Meyer and team doctor Mike Yergler, took to the streets of Maranello for nearly 30-minute drives, recording speeds of about 75 miles per hour. It was a near perfect day, as little traffic congested the roads on this Sunday afternoon.
Brey, Meyer and Yergler bought special Ferrari red shirts for their drives and, on completion of their road tests, commented on what an awesome experience it was and the beauty of the countryside. Brey even hinted on his Twitter account that maybe we (Notre Dame) “needed to add Ferrari to our dealership program at ND.”
The Irish players wanted to give Burgett a special and memorable 21st birthday present, so everyone chipped in and bought him a 20-minute test drive of his own around the streets of Maranello--and it was something he will never forget. With his teammates taking pictures as he got into the Ferrari and cheering him on when he returned, the normally stoic Burgett had a huge grin pasted across his face.
When he got out of the car, the only word that came to mind was “awesome.” And when pressed if it was the best birthday present ever, he could only remark, “Yeah, best present ever,” but the smile on his face certainly indicated that Burgett will long remember his 21st birthday in Italy.
After a long day of travel, the Notre Dame team arrived in Venice. The city on the water is comprised of nearly 200 canals, and there is not a single roadway where cars can drive. Here boats take the place of cars, and all commercial deliveries — from produce to appliances — are made by water. And because of that, Venice is the second-most expensive city in all of Italy.
After departing the team bus, water taxis took the traveling party to our hotel, Splendid Venice, at the heart of the city. On Monday, the Irish will tour the city and then play the third game of its tour against the Opitergium Gladiators.
Fino a domani (Until tomorrow).
-- by Bernie Cafarelli, assistant athletics director