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The First Race of the Season

- Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge, 1st & 2nd heat -

Monza, May 17-18, 1997

The first event of the Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge in 1997 took place on May 17 and 18 at Monza near Milan in Italy. The racing series for historic Ferrari race-cars had been embedded by organizer Jean Sage into the program of the Coppa Intereuropa, a major Italian historic racing event which is hosted on the famous Grand Prix circuit in the royal park of Monza.

330LM s/n 4381SA

This was the first time for the participants in the Historical Challenge to pilot their cars in an event that did not exclusively invite Ferraristi like in the various events in 1996 which had seen "solo Ferrari", but also racers in several other categories.

The Coppa Intereuropa in recent years has somehow become Italy's equivalent to the German Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, being an event for historic touring-, GT- and Grand Prix-cars.

Excepting a heat in the FIA European Championship for Formula 1-cars built prior to 1986, the cars of the Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge were the major attraction of the weekend and hence had been highlighted in the promotional work done for the Coppa Intereuropa.

340MM s/n 0280AMPre Start Monza.

Nevertheless, there were not too many spectators attending the event, possibly caused by the hot temperatures around 30° Celsius. Thus, some participants were missing the atmosphere of the enthusiastic Italian tifosi. However, the high speed track somehow seemed not to be very suitable to many of the older Ferrari in the Challenge, the indicators of their rev counters steadily vibrating near the critical point on the long straights. Well, one participant decided not to need a rev counter in the qualifying session after the one in his 500 Mondial Spider Scaglietti s/n 0528MD had stopped work. He eventually ended up with a blown engine, having damaged the four cylinder-block irreparably.

Emanuele Pirro, then the reign champion of the German STW-Cup, had changed the cockpit of his victorious Audi A4 once again for the one in the 512 M Berlinetta of a German collector for the weekend. Piloting this race-car s/n 1028 with 610 hp which had been driven to 4th in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1971, the professional driver easily took wins in both heats.

512M s/n 1028

Neither Patrick Stieger, nor Marc Caveng could stand up to Pirro although both of them were driving 512 Ms, too. While Patrick Stieger became 2nd in both of the two heats in his father's s/n 1018, Marc Caveng from Geneva drove his 512 M more carefully since he was not yet used to the car.

512M s/n 1018512M s/n 1050

Unfortunately, Caveng ended up in a crash barrier on Sunday after he had lost control. But the last of the 25 512s ever built luckily was not damaged severely, and even more important the driver remained unhurt as well.

330P2 s/n 0836250LM s/n 8165

David Piper came in third in both heats, once in his 330 P2 (s/n 0836) and once in his 250 LM (s/n 8165). On Sunday, he made the race very exciting since he had to start from the last position (because the timing in qualifying determines the driver's starting position, and since Piper did not drive his 250 LM, but the P2 during qualifying, he had to start from the end of the row) and then make his way through the pack.

512M s/n  1018 & s/n 1028166MM s/n 0040M

The differences between the younger prototypes or GT-cars and the cars of the late 1940's and early 1950's are enormous, especially as far as the top speed is concerned. On Sunday, the two leading 512 Ms of Pirro and Stieger had lapped all other cars in the race; Sally Mason-Styrron, the eventual Ladies Cup winner in her little 166 MM Barchetta Touring s/n 0040M, was even lapped three times!


These striking differences in the performance of the cars are considered in the championship scoring, granting special favors to the older cars in the series. So, a driver piloting a Ferrari built in 1953 eventually became the leader in the championship after this first event: Christian Gläsel, who drove his father's 375 MM Spider Pinin Farina s/n 0370AM, scored the maximum of 18 points. He had become 11th and 10th overall in the heats, but had become 1st in the class of the oldest cars.

250GT SWB s/n ????

Austrian Egon von Hofer became 2nd in the championship; he, too, scored 18 points, but driving a younger car (250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, s/n 1791GT) which had been the best performing GT-car in the 1960 Targa Florio.

Ranking 3rd in the championship after the Monza event was Fritz Grashei who had competed in his rare 860 Monza Spider Scaglietti #0602M, which once had been driven with much success by Fangio, Musso and Castellotti.

But there are not many entrants who really care about the points and the ranking. The most important thing for the drivers in the Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge is to have an occasion to compete in their valuable machinery on various race-tracks just to have fun.

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