After our reports on the two Concours at the Breakers and Mar-a-Lago it is time to finalize our coverage of this year's Cavallino Classic with the activities of the first two days of the 4-day meeting.
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Beside the beauty of the design and the quality of craftsmanship shown on the lawn cars are still meant for driving and as no other marque is linked more to the race track than Ferrari it is just logical to add some track days to the program. The organizers of from the Cavallino Magazine became aware of this fact very early and so the track time on the nearby Palm Beach International Raceway was always an important part of the event although both the track and the races saw many changes in the last year's.
The raceway located on the Beeline Highway connecting Palm Beach with Jupiter was known as the Moroso Motor Sports Park for many year after its then owner Dick Moroso. Just in 2008 the name was changed back to its original name Palm Beach International Raceway by the new owners and the track was rebuild to suit newer safety regulations. A look around at the new facilities clarifies that the road track is not meant for the big spectators events attracting a lot of visitors or media as just a few provisional grandstands are available and the fences running around almost the entire track lack some hole for the photographers. Unlike the associated drag racing strip that regularly attracts larger crowds with its own floodlights for the evening shows, the road course is rather used by race teams for some winter tests or track days of different car clubs.
Not just the track changed a lot over the years but also the Ferrari racing scene. Years ago the Cavallino Classic was part of the American Ferrari Challenge and during this time a lot of vintage Ferrari could be seen in Palm Beach. After the Challenge stopped a few years ago the opportunities to race these cars with like minded became rare as club racing is not as popular as in Great Britain and with the ever increasing value the owners of the multi-million dollar cars became more and more afraid of risking their investments on the track, a problem that affects all sort of driving events on both sides of the Atlantic. With the lack of racing less and less cars are really race prepared these days with the necessary safety features like fuel cells or roll bar contradicted to their originality.
Having the last track days in mind the expectations on this year's event were not very high when entering the paddocks on Thursday morning. The first impression was that there were less tents and large team trucks than in previous years and a look at the entry list and time table showed that there were less modern Ferrari Racers present, mainly because of a support race for challenge cars at the Daytona 24h 200 miles north at the same weekend.
On the other side the race schedule featured a new race this year as a pre-war race was on the program for the first time. Back in the days of the Ferrari Challenge several owners entered some Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8Cs in the drum brake class so this race gave some of them the opportunity to enter in another race beside the normal drum and disc brake class. No less than 4 Alfa Romeo including a Tipo B and three 8C were entered, joined by an armada of 5 Bugatti making their debut at the Ferrari event. After the practice on Thursday 3 of the Alfa were running in the front of the field followed by the Bugatti, fastest car on the track was the ex-Nuvolari P3 of Peter Giddings, followed by the 8C Monza of Ed Davies and the Touring Spyder of Chuck Wegner. Unfortunately the second spyder of Tom Price did not start in the race. The Bugatti had a race on their own and although they were not competing for the podium it seems that they had a lot of fun as they prefigured their return for the next year Cavallino Classic, maybe joined by some more cars as the Bugattisti are usually very adventurous.
Peter Giddings was also the fastest in the second race, the drum brake class. In his Maserati 250F, an ex-works racer in the hands of Musso, Behra and Moss he was running well in front of the field together with the second 250F (2527), also a works car driven by Fangio back in the days.
Following the two Grand Prix cars was another duo of Ferrari´s competitor of this period, the 200 SI sports racer again driven by Wegner and Price who had both a car in every race.
The Ferrari followed on the places, the two true competition cars of Ed and Leslie Davies racing each other for the entire race in their 250 TR and the older 375 MM. Less sportive were the 212 Inter (0147E) that was rebodied in the mid 1960s as a California Spyder and especially the 250 GT Boano (0527GT) entered by Jack Thomas. The heavy GT car showed the most body roll of all the cars racing that weekend and Thomas had his hands full manoeuvring the car though the chicane. Although (or because of being) slowest of the Ferrari he was handed the Tie of Sportsmanship by last year's awardee Wegner during the prize giving at the Yacht Hop very much to the amusement of all the participants.
The last race on Friday was the disc brake class spanning the period from the late 1950s to the 1970s. With a period that long the cars were running at a very different speed. The two front running 512 BBLM were a lot faster that all the other cars and so they had to entertain themselves changing positions several times a lap running side by side until a “photo finish” of Jim Fuchs inches in front of Todd Morici, but the smiling faces of both of them showed that they enjoyed it equally.
Two of the eight cars in practice were not able to compete in the race as the 250 GTO of Tom Price (4757GT) rolled out in the chicane on Thursday afternoon with an engine failure. More spectacular was the burst engine of the 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competition (14065) at the same place leaving a cloud of oil smoke that could be seen on the entire grounds. With the chicane covered with oil the fire brigade had to march out and the practice was red flagged. This left the newest car, a 308 GT/Michelotto, a lonely race behind the 512 BBLM, followed by the 250 GTs.
Oldest of the trio was the TdF (1321GT) that could be seen on all the 4 days on the various events. It was running behind the 250 GT SWB and the 250 GTO again in a family race between Ed and Leslie Davies with the better end for Leslie in her 250 GT SWB Competizione (2729GT).
The newer cars did not race but had some track time between the races. The sports and GT cars up to the newest F458 Italia included several challenge cars but also road cars whose owners wanted to experience the feel of the circuit simply by putting up a helmet.
A nice outing had one of the most interesting cars of the meeting on Friday, the one-off 275 GTB/C Competition (06885). After sitting in the paddock and on its trailer on Thursday the class winning Le Mans entry of the Ecurie Francorchamps of 1965 did a few laps on Friday very much to the enjoyment of the few visitors.
Although the track days are not the highlight of the weekend anymore they are still an appreciated addition to the following concours events. A few brave owners are still willing to drive their prized treasures and one can hope that a few more follow their example in the next years, the pre-war race was certainly a superb addition to the schedule and might be extended in future. As many owners of classic Ferrari own several other cars in their collection maybe opening the other races to a few other cars of equal quality might by a solution as well.
Report & images ... Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de