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Silverstone, July 25-27, 1997

Back at the site of the first triumph

Silverstone and Ferrari - a meaningful link since the most successful Formula 1-team of all times achieved its first victory in a Grand Prix at the English airfield in 1951.

46 years later, celebrating Ferrari's 50th anniversary, one did commemorate this win during the Coys International Historic Festival at the end of July. Thus the UK's most important event of historic motor-racing nearly turned into a pure Ferrari-party.

Of course, the factory-organized Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge was present again. More info to come.

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From Gonzales to Scheckter

One of the highlights of the Festival were demonstration laps performed by former stars of Ferrari's Scuderia. First of all: José Froilan Gonzales, the winner at Silverstone in 1951. The Argentinian, aged 74, but not showing his age, drove a 375 Indianapolis. The car had been constructed using components of a 1951 Formula 1-car in 1952 for Ferrari's - up to now - only intermezzo at the Indy 500.

A guest-starter in the Challenge was Gregor Fisken, classic car dealer in London by trade. He had the pleasure to drive the first V8-engined car constructed by Ferrari, the Dino 268 SP (s/n 0798). Nick Mason, Hartmut Ibing and Anthony Wang participated in their 250 GTOs (s/n 3757GT, s/n 3809GT and s/n 3769GT), while the latter had also brought his second 250 GTO from New York, s/n 4713GT, to hand it over for the race to American Louis F. Sellyei, Jr.

A victory for Ferrari

The best racing could be seen in the categories which were not exclusively eligible for Ferrari. Hence it was especially amazing for the Ferraristi that a Ferrari was the first to see the chequered flag in the race hosted for pre-1960 GP-cars: Nigel Corner won in his Dino 246 Tasman (s/n 0788) after he had already been fastest in qualifying. Strictly speaking, this car is not a real Formula 1-car - the original Dino V6-engine had been replaced by a V12 to enter the car in the Australian Tasman Series.

When it still had been an F1 numbered 0007, this car marked a milestone in Grand Prix history: In 1960, Phil Hill became 1st in this very car in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza - the last victory for a front-engined car in Formula 1.

There had been two other Dino 246s entered in the same race, both of them being reconstruction’s powered by an original engine. For this reason, the cars of Tony Merrick and Robin Lodge are numbered 0004R and 0006R ("R" indicates that these cars a replicas).

Club-events and an auction

Even more Ferrari, ranging from a 250 GTO '62 to an F50, could be admired in the large area of the Ferrari Owners Club of Great Britain (FOCGB) that traditionally hosted a meeting at the Festival. About 700 (seven hundred!) had come to Silverstone.

Saturday evening saw an important sale of collector cars performed by Coys of Kensington. Many Ferrari had been entered in this auction as well; common models like a 365 GT4 2+2 could be bought as well as a 250 LM (replica). Very special was the Ferrari-powered Timossi Hydroplane, a power-boat from the 1950's using a 375 MM-engine. A demonstration of the incredibly noisy boat caused spontaneous applause among the auditory.

Three of the four F1 worldchampions on Ferrari who are still alive attended the event as well: Phil Hill, John Surtees and Jody Scheckter. Niki Lauda could not come because he acted as a consultant for a German TV-station at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim that took place the same weekend. However, Scheckter drove his very own 312 T4 (s/n 040) in which he once became 1st at Monaco. After the season, the car had been handed over by the factory to the South African.

Tony Brooks (vice-worldchampion in 1959), Cliff Allison (pilot for the Scuderia in 1959 and 1960), Stirling Moss (winner of the Tourist Trophy 1960/1961 in a 250 GT SWB) and Roy Salvadori (who once successfully drove a 250 GTO) could be seen again in the cockpits of their former cars, and even the partially paralyzed Clay Regazzoni took part in the demonstration driving his 365 GTB/4 Daytona which is equipped with handicapped-steering.

Not only the number of motor-racing celebrities present at Silverstone was tremendous, but also the turnout of Grand Prix-cars, sports prototypes and sportscars. Have you ever seen 14 (fourteen) 250 GTOs in one spot?

Three races had been reserved exclusively for Ferrari: Except of course the Shell Historical Challenge, there was a race for 250 GTs and the very popular English Goodyear Maranello Ferrari Challenge; the latter is eligible for nearly everything ever built with the prancing horse on its badge, whether it's a heavily modified Dino 308 GT4 or a modern F355 Challenge. Very prominent in the series is a 250 GT SWB Berlinetta - the tuned 250 GTE-engine installed is rumored to put out nearly 400 hp...

Too many Ferrari?

The GT-race traditionally is one of the highlights of the International Historic Festival. It is questionable if the overwhelming presence of Ferrari pleased all of the spectators because the duels between Ferrari, Aston Martin and Jaguar were missing this year. However, Ferraristi surely had to be pleased by the GT-race's entries: ten 250 GTO, plus 250 GT LWBs and SWBs, 250 GT Lusso and a 250 GT Coupé Boano.

Frank Sytner, BMW-agent and former BTCC-champion took the win piloting the 250 GTO '64 s/n 4399GT of Sir Anthony P. Bamford. "Pink Floyd" drummer Nick Mason became 2nd in his 250 GTO ' 62 (s/n 3757GT), which had once been owned by Jacques Swaters' Ecurie Francorchamps; it had taken "Beurlys" and "Eldé" to 3rd OA in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1963.

Bamford's car is one of three 1962 GTOs which had later been rebodied in the more dramatic 1964 body-style. Graham Hill, Mike Parkes and Innes Ireland had been the drivers when s/n 4399GT was owned by Colonel Ronnie Hoare's Maranello Concessionaires Team in the 1960's.

Restorer David Cottingham of Watford, Herts, brought a real movie-star to Silverstone: The 1956 250 GT LWB Berlinetta Scaglietti "Tour de France" (s/n 0585GT) which he had entered in the GT-race once played a role in the American movie "The Love Bug" (starring the VW Bug "Herbie"). Herbie's Fans will probably remember: The Bug sprayed a load of Irish coffee on the hood of the Ferrari which was the only car to beat the VW in a foregoing race.

Mid-engined sportscars and front-engined prototypes

The field of the participants in the Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge consisted of about 40 entrants, many of them regular drivers, but some new faces, too, could be seen among them.

The Stieger brothers took a win each, Patrick in the 512 M (s/n 1018) and Christoph in the 312 PB (s/n 0888). David Piper and his 330 P2 (s/n 0836) came in on third position in one of the heats, while Peter Hardman strengthened his lead in the championship placing 3rd and 4th in the races.