I've spent many years working with and for some of the most addicted speed-freaks in the world. Some were lucky enough to afford indulging in their passion and others were dead broke. No matter what the financial circumstances, the symptoms are the same. It's a disease with no cure.

One particular case springs to mind when I think about the "There's no such thing as too much horsepower" syndrome. When I was developing twin-turbo kits for Ferraris, I had a really nice customer who loved his Testarossa, but he insisted on having as much power as possible no matter what the cost.

I created a kit that increased the horsepower to around 700 whp. It wasn't too radical, just a mellow low-boost kit that gave the Ferrari the beans to run with almost anything street legal.

A week later he was back. "I love it, but can we turn it up a little," he said. I raised the boost, remapped the Motec and on the dyno it pushed 800 hp. It was a beast to drive. It burned rubber in the first four gears and the acceleration in fifth was virtually neck-snapping. He picked up his car and left.

A few days later he was back again. "It's fantastic, but I think I want a little more," he said. I didn't want to risk terminal engine damage. We'd need to rebuild the engine using stronger parts. With 12 cylinders and rods, this wasn't a low-budget job, but he wasn't deterred. He had to have more power.

A few weeks later, I strapped the Testarossa on the dyno again. With the rebuilt engine and bigger turbochargers, we were shooting for 1,000 whp. Several hours later, after installing bigger injectors and remapping the Motec's fuel and ignition tables, the Testarossa generated 1,037 whp on high boost.

I explained that high boost was only to be used for short periods of time in the interest of engine longevity. Even with a built engine, extended high-boost running would probably result in overheating and a blown motor. My customer, with an ear-to-ear grin on his face, drove away and I thought that surely I'd seen the last of him for a while. Famous last words.

Two days later he walked into my shop with a sheepish look on his face. "It's toast," he announced. "I was giving my new girlfriend a ride home and thought I'd impress her. I was on a deserted freeway early in the morning so I got the car into fourth and nailed the gas. The car hauled ass all the way to redline. I was pinned to my seat, wrapped up in the wailing of the exhaust and the feeling of accelerating at such a rate of knots. Then there was a big bang, a clattering sound and the car just died."

I was concerned the engine let go so easily, so I asked him what rpm he was pulling when he changed to fifth gear. He got so carried away that he forgot to change gears, redlining in fourth for about 15 miles. His girlfriend was having a nervous breakdown/panic attack as she was strapped in a screaming monster of a car with a maniac behind the wheel.

So the girlfriend was suddenly the ex-girlfriend and the Ferrari needed a complete rebuild. This time though a more sensible level of boost was chosen and my customer is still driving the Ferrari daily.

Some people have such an addiction to speed that everything else takes a backseat. They can't help it. It's a disease without a cure. Be forewarned.