The first Ferrari ever to appear at Goodwood was also the very first Ferrari ever to be brought into England. It was the cycle-mudguard 2-litre V12-engined Ferrari 166 Spider Corsa freshly acquired from the Maranello factory by Dudley Folland in 1949. The car’s chassis bore evidence of a repair which might well have dated back to the legendary Nuvolari’s dramatic appearance with it in the 1948 Mille Miglia. The veteran Italian Champion, then very ill and frail, drove so ferociously that the Ferrari progressively fell apart. He finally had to retire it from the race on the final leg, near Villa Ospizio. Exhausted, Nuvolari was assisted to a nearby church where he asked the local priest if he could rest while his mechanic telephoned through to race control in Brescia, announcing that the great Champion was out, and requesting a touring car to take him home. Enzo Ferrari would later recall how he tried to console the Mantuan superstar: ‘I said to him, cheer up Tazio, the race will be yours next year.’ He replied: ‘Ferrari, at our age there aren’t many more days like this; remember it and try to enjoy it to the full, if you can.’
The car that The Old Man had provided for Nuvolari in the great race had in fact been the property of the White Russian racing Prince, Igor Troubetskoy – sometime husband of the much-publicised ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’, Barbara Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth millions. Decades later I asked Prince Igor how he came to lend Nuvolari his Ferrari for that Mille Miglia. He paused and then expressed great surprise. He had no idea he had ever done so. As far as he was concerned his car had merely been sent back to the factory just for a service… as advanced by his contemporary racing mentor and advisor Geoffredo Zehender. He in turn was a pre-war racer who had even aspired to a Mercedes-Benz factory team drive. Postwar he was based in Paris – as was another well-connected ex-driver turned racing entrepreneur and occasional rogue – Luigi Chinetti…
One wonders what kind of deal had been struck between Mr Ferrari and ‘Freddy’ Zehender to talk Prince Igor into allowing his 166 Spider Corsa to be whisked back to the works around Mille Miglia time, for a jolly good seeing to? Well – Tazio Nuvolari certainly took care of that.
Ferrari sports cars would return to our Motor Circuit for the Goodwood 9-Hour races of 1952 and 1955. Indeed the inaugural 9-Hours that first year almost fell to Ferrari since Tom Cole/Graham Whitehead and Bobbie Baird/Roy Salvadori finished 2nd and 3rd in their sister Ferrari 225S Barchetta cars, headed only by the works Aston Martin DB3 of young Peter Collins and Pat Griffith.
For the 1955 9-Hours, three of the fast and demanding 3-litre, 4-cylinder Ferrari 750 Monza sports-racing cars were entered. They were a works-entered car co-driven by Mike Hawthorn – The Farnham Flyer himself – and the Spanish Marquis Alfonso ‘Fon’ de Portago, Jacques Jonneret’s own car for himself and the experienced British all-rounder Ken Wharton, and the Scuderia Los Amigos entry for Harry Schell/Jean Lucas. None of the trio lasted the distance, while Jaguar similarly failed (again) and Aston Martin won (yet again).
The factory Ferrari team then returned to Goodwood for the 1958 Easter Monday meeting, fielding not only one of their latest Dino 246 V6-engined Formula 1 cars for Mike Hawthorn in the Glover Trophy feature race, but also a 2-litre V6-engined Dino 206S front-engined sports-racing car for Peter Collins in the supporting Sussex Trophy race. Collins was unable to do anything about Stirling Moss’s big 3.7-litre Aston Martin DBR2 sports car, but brought the pretty Dino home in a strong 2nd place. Mike Hawthorn then took out the Formula 1 car to dominate the Glover Trophy, waving the Italian car’s inside front wheel high above the track surface all through Madgwick Corner, while demolishing Britain’s best from BRM, Connaught and Cooper-Climax… though significantly in Vanwall’s absence, Old Man Vandervell who owned the team not messing about with non-Championship level races.
Although three 3-litre V12-engined Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sports cars were entered for the first Goodwood Tourist Trophy race, in 1958 – including a works car for Mike Hawthorn – none materialised. For the 1959 TT, the Sports Car World Championship title lay at stake and so Ferrari fielded a full factory team in a last-gasp attempt to deny Aston Martin the crown. These were the Fantuzzi-bodied 3-litre V12 TR/59 team cars, co-driven by 1958 Le Mans-winners Phil Hill/Olivier Gendebien, Tony Brooks/Jean Behra and Dan Gurney/Cliff Allison. They finished, respectively, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in that historic TT – in which Aston Martin won the World Championship title despite setting fire to their leading car in the pits mid-race…
Ferrari’s finest days at Goodwood then dawned in 1960, as Stirling Moss – recovered to race again just seven weeks after breaking his back in a terrible Formula 1 crash during practice for the Belgian GP at Spa – won the then GT-car TT hands-down in the Rob Walker/Dick Wilkins-owned Ferrari 250GT Short-Wheelbase Berlinetta. That car is owned today by Ross Brawn of multiple Williams/Benetton/Ferrari/Brawn/Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 World Championship fame, and there is a very good new book just published detailing its extraordinary history.
In 1961 with a replacement, higher-spec Ferrari 250GT SWB again entered by Rob Walker in his distinctive Scots-blue and white livery, Moss won the TT for his seventh and final time – having driven the winning car in the four consecutive Goodwood TTs run to that time, 1958-’59-’60-’61. He was hounded all the way this time by Michael Parkes in the Maranello Concessionaires/Equipe Endeavour-entered sister 250GT SWB ‘2417 GT’, a freshly ex-works team car liveried in factory Rosso Corsa red.
The Ferrari 250GTs and replacement-model 250GTOs for 1962 then became familiar at Goodwood International meetings, and that year’s TT saw Innes Ireland winning in the UDT-Laystall team’s pale-green GTO, from the twin sister cars of Graham Hill (entered by John Coombs) and Michael Parkes (Maranello Concessionaires/Equipe Endeavour).
It was Graham Hill’s turn to win the Goodwood TT in 1963, his 250GTO wearing the gorgeous racing red and Cambridge-blue livery of Colonel Ronnie Hoare’s Maranello Concessionaires team. Michael Parkes finished 2nd yet again, in the pale-grey Coombs GTO, while privateer David Piper’s BP-green version placed fifth.
It was in 1964 that the RAC Tourist Trophy was run for the final time at Goodwood, and Graham Hill won for the second successive year – in ‘The Colonel’s open-prototype Ferrari 330P with 4-litre V12 engine. Asked post-race how he’d enjoyed the drive Graham told Ronnie Hoare it had gone just fine. And when asked what the car had been like to drive Graham again told it exactly as it was: ‘The car? Oh, just like a f***ing tractor!’.
No media training required on this voyage then…
Photography courtesy of The GP Library