One word is all you need... Ferrari! Want to see fantastic Ferrari Challenge videos? Click here! Videos produced by Ben Menniges/P! Productions.
Will Sir Stirling be tempted to cadge a ride?
Lime Rock Park’s annual Labor Day weekend vintage racing event will feature for the first time a special Formula 1 race group. Historic Grand Prix (HGP), a vintage racing organization that showcases the spectacular 3-litre era of F1 – the cars from 1966 through 1983 – will race both Saturday and Monday as part of Lime Rock Park Historic Festival 30, Friday, Aug. 31 through Monday, Sept. 3.
Historic Festival 30’s honored guest is Sir Stirling Moss, one of Grand Prix racing’s biggest stars. As HGP organizer James King says, “That should give our drivers an extra-special incentive to put on their best show!”
(Although Sir Stirling officially retired from racing just last year – he’d been racing in vintage events all over the world since he quit the professional cockpit in the early 1960s – he may find it hard to resist having a go in one of these HGP F1 cars.)
Bud Moeller, an HGP owner and driver of an ex-Gilles Villeneuve 1979 Ferrari 312 T5, said, “Flying around Lime Rock in an F1 car is like being at a go-kart track on steroids.”
Since 2000, HGP has staged races throughout North America including support of the Canadian and United States Grands Prix as well as premier historic race meetings.
Since 1983, the East Coast’s premier vintage racing event has been the Historic Festival and its companion Sunday in the Park Concours (Sept. 2). Historic Festival 30 will see more than 300 vintage race cars in the paddock (including the F1 cars) between sessions, Sir Stirling Moss will be on hand all weekend – as will some of the cars Moss drove to his more famous wins – and the racing on the track is non-stop from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Monday.
For more information on HGP, visit historicgrandprix.com.
Do you recognize this driver?
If so, then you know how cool it is that we just confirmed this morning that one of motorsport’s most beloved icons, a man many consider the world’s best-ever race driver, will be the honored guest at this year’s Labor Day weekend vintage racing extravaganza.
Sir Stirling Moss, the legendary British driver, will be at Lime Rock Park August 31 – September 3, 2012, for Historic Festival 30.
Sir Stirling will speak and take questions at the Friday evening Participant’s Gala, and will be available at various times throughout the weekend for spectator meet-and-greets as well as one-on-one media interviews. He’s to join the judging ranks for the “Sunday in the Park” Concours, and plans are afoot to bring, for display and demo laps, examples of the cars with which he won several of the world’s greatest races.
While Moss never won the Formula One World Championship, finishing second several times, he was, in the minds of most qualified observers, the most talented all-rounder of all time. Moss won races in Formula One, sports cars, touring cars, road races and rallies. Among his more famous victories are the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio, the Monaco Grand Prix, the Alpine Rally, the Tourist Trophy, the Sebring 12 hours and the German Grand Prix.
Moss drove for Jaguar, Vanwall, Cooper, BRM, Maserati, Aston Martin, Porsche... and made occasional appearances in Ferraris. Did you know that he won 57% of all the races he entered in his career?
Amongst his peers – drivers such as Gurney, Brooks, Fangio, Hill, Salvadori and Shelby – he was known as absolutely the man to beat. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to and achievements in motor racing, Sir Stirling will be present throughout the Historic Festival weekend, including hosting autograph sessions. A parade of some of the cars in which he achieved his greatest victories will be staged.
Don't miss this opportunity to see and hear one of the real legends of motorsport.
Historic Festival 30: Friday, Aug. 31 – Monday, Sept. 3 (Sunday in the Park Concours, Sept. 2)
300+ vintage race cars on-track Friday, Saturday and Monday, and 500+ cars for the Sunday in the Park Concours & Gathering of the Clubs. Tickets available online at www.limerock.com, or by phone at 860.435.5000
Stirling Stuff You Might Not Know...
Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss
Born: Sept. 17, 1929
Stirling's mother's family name of Craufurd can be traced back to William Wallace, whose mother was also a Craufurd.
OVERALL CAREER STATS
Racing Career, 1948 – 1962:
Races Entered: 527
Races Finished: 375
Race Wins: 212
Percentage of wins (to finishes): 56.53%
First Race Win: July 4, 1948, Brough Aerodrome, U.K., Cooper JAP 500cc
Last Race Win: February 4, 1962, 100-mile race, Warwick Farm, Australia, Cooper-Climax 2700cc
FORMULA 1 CAREER STATS
F1 Career, 1951 – 1961:
Grand Prix Wins: 16
Podium Finishes: 24
Career GP Points: 185
Pole Positions: 16
Teams: Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Vanwall, Rob Walker, Cooper and Lotus
First GP Win: 1955 British GP
Last GP Win: 1961 German GP
On-board video of Moss driving and commentating on lapping Donington in an F1 Cooper-Climax: Click here
- Rick Roso
Lime Rock Park 2012 Spectator Event Schedule
May 25 – 27, 2012, Lime Rock Season Opener featuring Trans-Am & Royals Car Show
Lime Rock Park’s traditional season opener, the Memorial Day Race Weekend (Friday - Sunday; no Monday this year), will once again be jam-packed with top-rank sports car series races, featuring the newly revitalized SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series! This is Detroit's big iron going toe-to-toe with each other while fending off the advances of Europe's best sports cars. Stick around or come back Sunday for the third annual Royals Car Show: More than 200 of the tri-state area’s finest muscle cars, tuners, rods and antiques sitting pretty on the front straight, a show that benefits local charities.
July 6 – 7, 2012, American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Presented by Tequila Patron Northeast Grand Prix
The fastest and “greenest” prototypes and GTs – the same cars and stars that race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans – makes this a frenetically paced two days of outstanding racing. The top LMP prototypes are as sophisticated as an F1 machine, and nowhere else in the northeast will you have the chance to get this close to the cars. Support races TBD.
July 21, 2012, Ferrari Challenge
When Ferrari Challenge returned last year after a four-year hiatus, the response from Lime Rock fans was tremendous. The main paddock – always free access for all fans – was filled to the brim with all manner of Ferraris. So the red-hot Ferrari 458 Italia race cars will grace the grounds again in 2012. For the tifosi among you, this is a heavenly Saturday of racing – and eye candy.
August 31 – September 3, 2012, Historic Festival 30 & Sunday in the Park Concours
This year's Honored Guest will be Sir Stirling Moss! ... No other venue in the U.S. has three days of on-track racing sandwiching a prestigious concours event – all on the same property. Since 1983, the East Coast’s premier vintage racing event has been the Historic Festival and its companion “Sunday in the Park Concours” (Sept. 2). With its famous free paddock access for all fans, Historic Festival 30 will be a feast for the senses: More than 300 vintage race cars will fill the grounds, Sir Stirling will be here for you to visit with, the Swap Meet in the Sunoco B Paddock will be packed, the Midway is always alive with activities, a famous collector will bring some terrific cars – and the racing on the track is non-stop from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Monday. There’s nothing like it anywhere on the East Coast.
September 21-22, 2012, North Atlantic Road Racing Championship (NARRC) Run-offs
The best, brightest and fastest SCCA racers from New England put on a tremendous show, with races from dawn to dusk as they settle bragging rights in a multitude of classes. From incredibly agile formula cars and the nimble sports sedans to the big-bruiser GT-1s, race day during the NARRCs is a fun, family friendly event that will please both hard-core and casual race fans. You might even be impressed enough to have your family join the SCCA membership rolls!
September 28 – 29, 2012, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series (DP/GT) & Continental Tire Challenge (GS/ST)
For the Daytona Prototype’s third visit to Lime Rock Park, we’ve got a special treat: It’s the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 championship finale! That means there is a very good chance that you’ll be witnessing the race that decides the driver and carmaker championships in both DP and GT! The feature race on Saturday showcases the same cars that race in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The Daytona Prototypes – Riley, Dallara, Lola and Coyotes powered by BMW, Chevy, Porsche and Ford engines – do battle at the same time with GT-class cars: the fire-breathing Corvettes, Porsches, BMWs, Mustangs, Camaros and Mazda RX-8s. Also on tap are the “showroom stock” cars in the popular Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, where virtually every automaker is represented in the Grand Sports (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes. Support races TBD.
Major-event general admission spectator ticket prices (expected to remain the same or lower depending on event) and the support series for each race weekend will be announced as they’re confirmed.
Keep an eye on your inbox...
Lime Rock Park
On Friday, November 11, guess what showed up at the track for some tweaking and tuning, thanks to the track-time generosity of the Lime Rock Drivers Club and PCA – CVR? A 1956 Ferrari 500 TR, s/n 0650MDTR.
It’s owned by a father and son “team,” Dennis and Chris Nicotra of Fairfield County, Conn. Before the car was put on track, the car was gone over by Ferrari specialists Black Horse Automotive Services of Bridgeport. Black Horse’s Geoffrey Isabelle, who was also on site, kindly wrote up a thumbnail sketch of the car’s provenance, including what the TR did at Lime Rock Park’s first-ever race day, Sunday, April 28, 1957...
At the end of the story are a collection of photos by Rick Roso (Uphill shot by Ryan McIntosh) from last Friday’s “test” day; Nikon D300s, Nikkor 28-300 lens
The 1956 Ferrari 500 TR, s/n 0650MDTR
By Geoff Isabelle
Chassis 0650MDTR is a highly significant piece of American sports car racing history. It was driven by some of the most important players on the West Coast and East Coast scenes during the sports car boom years of the mid 1950s.
The 500 Testa Rossa represented an important turning point for Ferrari. The factory in Modena had just realized that there was a market for selling “turnkey” race cars to privateers around the world. Up to that point, the only way to acquire a proper Ferrari sports racer was to know the right people and deal your way into a well-used ex-works car or be one of Ferrari’s privileged few preferred dealers. The V12-powered racers were expensive, complex and sometimes dangerous for anyone but the most skilled drivers.
The Monza-series 4-cylinder cars (yes, Ferrari built many successful 4- and 6-cylinder racers) were designed as the workhorses of the Scuderia. Strong, reliable and fuel efficient cars that were meant to be there at the end of a race should the V12 “sprinters” crash or break down. But with sophisticated transaxles and independent suspension, they were also too complex and expensive for a private entrant.
What Ferrari needed was a car that was light, reliable, competitive and approachable for the amateur “gentleman” drivers. Using experience from its 4-cylinder engine programs, Ferrari devised a car that combined the light and durable Lampredi-designed engine in 2-liter form with a proven and simple tube frame, live axle chassis. The resulting car was very simple yet extremely well balanced, efficient and a delight to drive at the limit.
Chassis no. 0650MDTR was delivered new in July of 1956 to John von Neumann of California. Right away, this car is special for being one of the earliest sports racing Ferraris to be delivered new to the U.S.A. von Newmann was an entrepreneur, car dealer and amateur racer who was later recognized as one of the key founders of the sports car movement in California in the 1950s. He immediately had the car finished in his signature color scheme of silver with a blue stripe. He raced it with moderate success in 1956 until he hired a young hot-shoe named Bruce Kessler to drive the car for the ’57 season.
In the hands of Kessler, 0650MDTR gained a reputation as a giant killer, consistently beating out serious big-bore machinery such as Jaguar D-Types, Aston Martin DB3Ss, and V12-powered Ferraris. Kessler loved driving it so much that he bought it from von Neumann and continued to race it successfully. It soon passed through the hands of several legends of American motorsport: Fred Ambuster, George Arents, Pete Lovely and Richie Ginther all having owned or driven this car at some point. Both Lovely and Ginther would go on to race in Formula 1 – Ginther ultimately winning for the fledgling Honda team.
Thankfully, we know a great deal about the history of this magnificent racing car. A huge file contains hand written notes, personal correspondence, and a letter from SEFAC confirming its sale to von Neumann. There are firsthand accounts and glorious period photographs that explain the history in great detail – the highs and the lows! This is one of the most significant early American sports racers and the history is there to back it up. Here is just a sampling of 0650MDTR’s pedigree...
* Winner of the first 2-liter race at then brand-new Lime Rock Park on Sunday, April 28, 1957 (beating the fly-weight Porsche 550s)
* Second in the first Over 2-liter main event race at Lime Rock Park on the same day (just beaten in a drag race to the line by Walt Hansgen’s Jaguar D-Type. John Fitch was P3 in another D-Type)
* Winner of the first race at Laguna Seca in 1957 -- the smallest displacement car in the field!
* It also had wins at Thompson and Riverside
The impressive record shows top-10 finishes in almost every race it entered from 1957 through the early 1960s and is simply too long to list here.
From all of the records and correspondence, we can tell that this car was very special from the day it was delivered. From the time it was new, it is described as having perfect balance and precise handling. It’s one of the magical things about hand-built cars – sometimes everything falls into place and the perfect car is born.
After its long stint with Lovely, it was sold to a SoCal Porsche dealer named Sam Wiess, who continued to race the car along with his sales manager Gordon Glyer. At some point in their stewardship the engine was damaged and hastily repaired to make it through the next few races. Being a hard-driven racing car, it was ultimately blown up but replaced with a totally correct unit from another 500TR – s/n 0614MDTR. It retains this engine to this day and it is considered an important part of the car’s history.
0614MDTR has its own storied past – with records showing it winning in class at Sebring in ‘57 and carrying Olivier Gendebien to fifth overall in Cuba. The chassis of 0614 has unfortunately been lost, but its legacy remains under the bonnet of 0650MDTR.
Another interesting fact is that 0650 is known as being the only 500TR with a scoop feeding the oil tank/cooler on the left side of the car.
Following a long period of disuse, 0650MDTR was uncovered and sold by Rick Cole in “barn find” condition in 1997. It was soon restored by the renowned RM Restorations and shown at Cavallino Classic and Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance – continuing its winning ways, but in a more dignified fashion!
Very few opportunities arise for cars of this caliber. It is an incredibly important piece of early American sports car racing history yet remains in thoroughly usable condition. It would be most certainly welcome at any historic event – Mille Miglia, LeMans Classic, Goodwood, the Monterey Historics and most any concours event in the country.
Chris & Dennis with their jewel. That's ace shooter Pawel Litwinski on the trailer...