It came in the form of a visit from a representative of the Dunlop tyre company, bearing a missive that had been at the very least approved by Enzo Ferrari and, in all likelihood, actually sent by him. In short Chinetti was told to slow his drivers and let the Belgians win. Why? Because Ferrari was under contract to Dunlop and there were Dunlops on the Belgian LM. By contrast, the NART car wore Goodyears.
Happily for fans of proper racing, Chinetti was one of very few people who was not afraid of the Old Man and had no problem standing up to him. He told the Dunlop chap what he could do with his message and urged his drivers onward.
Which left the race genuinely on a knife-edge, right up until a Dunlop on the Belgian car exploded. It would have looked by poetic justice to the NART team, but to Gustave Gosselin trying to control a three wheeled LM at 190mph it probably looked more like a rather large dry cleaning bill. He got it back to the pits, but by the time the bodywork had been bodged back together and the car returned to the fray, all hope had gone. Rindt and Gregory won, five laps clear.
That was 54 years ago now and Ferrari’s most unlikely victory in the French classic remains to this day its most recent.
Photography provided by Motorsport Images.