"Hey, there's two Lamborghini's parked outside the lobby," said my dad as he drank his morning coffee, with 20+ years in the car sales business under his belt. You see, his passion for car culture lies within MSRP and resale values rather than horsepower and torque figures, so when he directs my attention to a car on the street, I usually don't take it too seriously. Imagine my feelings then, when I finally did walk outside the lobby and had a Lamborghini Gallardo—a Balboni edition—staring right back at me.
I was fortunate enough to go on vacation with my dad in Jackson, Wyoming to take in the sights for a few days. I made a morning routine to photograph things I found interesting around the resort. Sunrises, horses, landscapes, think wild wild west.
"Hey, there's two Lamborghini's parked outside the lobby." Suddenly, my plans changed. Regardless of whether it was a Lamborghini tractor (how cool would that be?) or the Veneno, I was going to take pictures of it. As luck would have it, these weren't just any Lamborghini's. One was an Aventador roadster, the other, a 550-2 Balboni edition.
As I oogled over the cars and snapped pics at the rate only a diehard tourist could, I noticed the plate on the roadster was from New York. I'm from New York, and a good friend of mine owns a Lamborghini Countach (a 25th anniversary edition) in New York. I immediately texted him, that message is below.
"Hey Sal, you know these dudes? I'm out in Wyoming on vacation and they're parked outside my hotel. The Aventador has a NY plate that says etc. etc."
Sal texts me back:
"Oliver and Hovik."
He knows them.
Then, he sends me this:
"Orange is Valentino Balboni 'himself'. That's funny."
Everyone knows the way people speak, whether it be sarcasm, ball-busting, or flirting, is never actually translated through text-messages. It's like playing a game of telephone while you're intoxicated. So, I was curious about that Balboni detail, but think nothing of it.
"The orange car is called the Valentino Balboni," Sal reiterated. "He was Lamborghini's test driver for 40 years."
Sure, I knew that.
"…And that's his personal car."
"Yes. The man himself, is driving that car."
Now, imagine my situation for a second: I'm on vacation in Wyoming, staying at a hotel I've never heard of with other people I've never heard of, and the chief test driver of 40 years for Lamborghini has his personal Gallardo parked outside? And I'm looking at it through the viewfinder of my camera?
Too good to be true, right? With my luck, it usually is. But not this time.
Valentino Balboni walked right past me as I sat on the lobby sofa. He looked lost, likely on a search for the hotel's restaurant. Balboni was due to meet Oliver and Hovik there for breakfast, intel which Sal had just provided me. A few intimidating moments and sighs of relief later, I'm chatting with Mr. Balboni about his car, his car, and why he was visiting Jackson Hole. Whether I was successful in avoiding sounding like an obsessed superfan or not I'll never know, but Balboni's patience and openness during our brief conversation is something I'll always appreciate, and never forget. He was a genuinely nice man in every sense of the word.
There's nothing I wanted to avoid more than keeping an Italian from an awaiting meal, so I thanked him for the conversation, asked permission to photograph his car, and went back outside to shoot some more. A short while later, Balboni walked out with Oliver and Hovik, where I learned the details of their plan.
Super Speeders Rob was hosting a rally and invited a few friends. Their route began in Denver, and their final destination was somewhere near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Rob wanted all the cars lined up outside the Jackson Hole sign for a few photos, and so that he could say something along the lines of "I'm an asshole, in Jackson Hole" on video.
Through the continuous clicking sounds of the camera shutters, I heard someone walk up to Balboni as he got situated in the Aventador. "What kind of cars are these?" she asked, pointing to the Aventador's clear engine cover.
In the most nostalgic Italian accent I've ever heard, Balboni replies with, "They are Lamborghinis."
"Is it yours?" asked the woman.
Balboni never answered, but he didn't have to. His face said it all.
To see the entire gallery, check out my flickr page here.
Michael Roselli is Classic Car Club's fleet & media guy. If you follow these accounts, you're following him