BLOOD RED ON THE TRACKS
Six decades of Maranello magic in America was an anniversary we couldn’t overlook.
But as RACER magazine, we wanted to focus on their amazing achievements on track.
errari’s place in the history of U.S.
motorsports began taking root long before
Luigi Chinetti turned on the lights at the
marque’s first American dealership on
West 55th St, Manhattan, 60 years ago.
Chinetti was a story in himself: without
him, not only would Ferrari have taken
longer to establish a presence in the U.S.,
but there might not have been a Ferrari in
the first place. He and Enzo Ferrari met as
colleagues at Alfa Romeo, where Chinetti
worked as a technician before becoming one
of the greatest sports car drivers of his era.
He won Le Mans twice with Alfa Romeo
in the 1930s, and 15 years later he drove
almost the entire 1949 race himself to
secure victory in a Ferrari 166M, becoming
Le Mans’ first three-time winner and giving
the Prancing Horse its maiden win at
La Sarthe. All this from the guy who first
convinced Ferrari that it might be smarter
to build sports cars than open a machine
shop (Enzo’s original plan). So Chinetti had
secured his place in racing history even
before he became Ferrari’s first U.S. agent.
In keeping with the company DNA,
Ferrari largely ingratiated itself to the
Americas through racing. Local credibility
was enhanced by the likes of Briggs
Cunningham, one of Chinetti’s earliest
customers. Cunningham and Peter Rand
gave Ferrari its first U.S. podium in 1949 at
Watkins Glen, and Cunningham swapped his
166 Inter for a 166 Spyder Corsa to win
the Heart Trophy on the Suffolk County
Airport track in New York the following year.
When the doors to Chinetti’s Manhattan
dealership finally opened, Ferrari and the
jangling pockets of prosperous 1950s
America were ready for each other.
The first era of American glory for
Ferrari was heralded by the arrival of a
three-car factory team to spearhead the
marque’s first attempt at the Sebring 12
Hours in 1956. That foray resulted in the
860 Monza of Juan Manuel Fangio and
Eugenio Castellotti leading its sister car
(Luigi Musso/Harry Schell) to the checkers
to make Ferrari the first manufacturer to
achieve a 1-2 in the event…and against a
stacked field: Aston Martin, Jaguar,
Maserati and Porsche had all joined
Ferrari in making the trip to Florida.
Yet even more remarkable than the ’ 56
win was the streak that lay ahead. From
1958 through ’ 64, Ferraris would win
Sebring six times. For ’ 58, the company
Collins, Luigi Musso/Olivier Gendebien
and Mike Hawthorn/Wolfgang von Trips –
supplemented by three privateer entries.
It was a formidable lineup and it needed to
be: Aston Martin’s DBR1 was a strong
answer to the new three-liter rules, and a
driver roster of Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks,
Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori had no
problem running the cars at their limit.
Going into the fifth hour, the Astons ran
1-2 with the works Ferraris filling out the
next three places behind them. But
transmission problems soon accounted for
both Astons, and Hill and Collins duly led
Musso and Gendebien across the line for
Ferrari’s second Sebring 1-2. One year on,
Hill and Gendebien survived a downpour,
a breakdown and a car swap to lead a
third 1-2 ahead of Jean Behra and Cliff
Allison in their 250 TR.
The streak was interrupted by a Porsche
win in 1960, after both the Stuttgart
manufacturer and Ferrari declared factory
boycotts of the race due to a dispute over
fuel sponsorships. Ferrari circumvented its
own boycott by having Chinetti enter its
cars via his new North American Racing
WORDS Mark Glendenning IMAGES Ferrari archive & LAT archive
(LEFT) The Bonnier/Bianchi Ferrari TRI/61
won the ’ 62 Sebring 12 Hours by 10 laps.
(ABOVE LEFT) Luigi Chinetti, center, with car
owner Lord Selsdon after they won Le Mans
in ’ 49 in a Ferrari 166MM. (ABOVE CENTER
and RIGHT) Daytona conquerors, 31 years
apart – 1967 330 P4s and 1998 333 SP.
“In ’ 59, Hill and Gendebien
survived a downpour, a
breakdown and a car swap
to lead Ferrari’s third 1-2”