‘We had everything here, everything inside. All of our kit was here,’ says Juan Manuel Fangio at the start of this video, opening what appears to be a ladies’ hat box containing little more than a helmet, goggles and a pair of gloves.
Of course, in 1954 when the Lancia D50 (it later became known as the Ferrari D50 after Scuderia Lancia’s assets were gifted to Ferrari) debuted in the hands of Alberto Ascari, that was about as far as driver safety went. Harnesses were still some way off being introduced and the D50’s fuel tanks were mounted on the outside of the car, in between the front and rear wheels.
What we’ve discovered here is part of a documentary made in 1981 where The Maestro was comparing contemporary Grand Prix cars with the machines he drove in the Fifties. In it we see the great Argentinian driving a D50 around the principality in his own inimitable fashion, which is mightily impressive, however the most impressive part for us is at 1:40 when he blasts past a row of parked cars! Apparently the circuit was just temporarily closed and not formally closed and prepared for the Grand Prix! Can you imagine getting that past Health and Safety nowadays, regardless of who’s driving?
After the normal-speed clips we’re treated to some surprisingly good (for 1981) slow-motion footage of Fangio sliding and correcting the D50 around various parts of the track. Inspirational stuff. We’re going to watch it a few more times now, with this quote of his (from the film) ringing in our ears: ‘Once you are driving the engine turns into music and the driver becomes a maestro…’