Like all Real Racers, Mr Ferrari had little time for the past – and not much even for yesterday – for him it was always the present, the fleeting moment, and tomorrow that really mattered to him.
This had always, plainly, been the case. Back in the 1950s, when he first entertained thoughts of Stirling Moss driving for him, then Mike Hawthorn, and then Peter Collins and others – his eyes and thoughts would have been squarely focused on the future, both short and long term. About the only thing that made him spend time thinking about matters bygone would be evening dinner – often in a favoured local restaurant with old friends and associates at his table – or, most uncomfortably, when he was forced to revisit the past.
Those uncomfortable moments certainly occurred with increasing frequency through the later 1950s. Mr Ferrari, his activities and what the Ferrari brand stood for within Italian culture took a hit early in 1957, when the team’s reigning Mille Miglia ‘champion’ Eugenio Castellotti – a national celebrity – was fatally injured when his Formula 1 Lancia-Ferrari crashed while testing at Modena aerautodromo. There was no medical help nor ambulance available for him, and he was instead bundled into a private car to be rushed to the trauma department, arriving beyond help. When telephoned to be told of the accident, Mr Ferrari allegedly ignored news of the luckless driver, and simply asked “How bad is the car?”
He’d been there before. He’d seen it all before – ever since picking his dying mentor and team-mate Ugo Sivocci from amongst the wreckage of his Alfa Romeo ‘P1’ Grand Prix car at Monza in 1923… Poor Castellotti was just the latest on the list. But with the Italian mass media barely settled after that tragedy, disaster beset the 1957 Mille Miglia. Ferrari’s finest finished first and second that year – Piero Taruffi winning from ‘Taffy’ von Trips – but their team-mate ‘Fon’ de Portago and his navigator, Ed Nelson, both lost their lives when their sister car crashed at high speed almost within sight of the finish. Making a bad situation infinitely worse, their crashing car had also hit a knot of roadside spectators – killing several, including children, and injuring more.