<- Back to: Races & Rallyes 1000 Miglia 2022... without doubt...  »

Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis


1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis 0388

 

In late October 2009 the Ferrari Classiche department at the factory in Maranello presented their latest full restoration project, the 1954 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis, chassis # 0388. This is a single seater that was specifically constructed to contest the 1954 running of the famed Indianapolis 500 Race. The presentation also revealed new facts about the car, which reveal that the general consensus of opinion regarding the origins of the car is not on firm foundations, according to factory records. It has long been thought that the car was the original 1952 375 Indy car, chassis # 1, rebuilt with a new chassis featuring a shorter wheelbase and a more spaceframe design.



To see whether there were any similarities between the 1952 and 1954 chassis layouts I looked at pictures of both, and there are major differences, including a semi-spaceframe chassis design and a unique twin Houdaille shock absorber set-up on the latter one. Thus, I think that the most we can assume about any interface between the two cars, is that maybe some hardware from the 1952 car was used in the 1954 example. Although we now have a new question – was the 1952 car broken up, or is it still out there somewhere?

There was to have been a 1953 Indy car project, featuring a one-off 3 litre supercharged (later twin supercharged) V12 engine, which was built and bench tested, but is believed never to have been installed in a chassis. The project was abandoned, and the proposed chassis for this engine was eventually used to create the foundation for the proposed 1954 Indy challenger, chassis s/n 0388.

The certificate of origin for chassis # 0388 was issued on 24 February 1954, and it was entered for the 1954 Indianapolis 500 by Luigi Chinetti. It had featured sponsorship from “Car Life” magazine when it appeared on his stand at the New York Salon earlier in the year, just after arrival from Italy. By the time the car appeared at the Brickyard in May the sponsorship deal had gone sour, and the car was entered in the name of Mrs Marion Chinetti, whose name appeared above large Ferrari script on the sides of the car. It ran during the practice sessions in the hands of Freddie Agabashian and Bill Boyd, but apparently there were assorted problems that produced a lacklustre showing, and it was scratched from the entry list before the qualifying sessions. Later, in February 1955, Bob Said set a Grand Prix class speed record of 170.53 mph on the sands of Daytona Beach with the car, some 27.5mph quicker than he had managed in his Ferrari 750 Monza, and on his northbound run he averaged 174.334 mph. It went back to the Daytona Speed Week in 1956, with a number of modifications, to be driven by Bill Holland, who was an Indy racing veteran, but he couldn’t approach the times set by Bob Said in 1955.

Chassis # 0388 reappeared at “The Brickyard” again in 1956, when Guiseppe (“Nino”) Farina took his Rookie tests in it, passing them with ease, before moving on to the Kurtis-Ferrari Special for the qualifying runs. The car was then rented out to Californian entrant John Edgar in mid 1956, and was driven for him by Carroll Shelby in a trio of SCCA hillclimbs. The first of these was Mount Washington in New Hampshire, where he covered the eight mile course in 10min 21.8secs, beating the previous record by 23secs. The following weekend it was the Golden Jubilee running of the Giants Despair Hillclimb at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where Shelby became the first person to break the one minute barrier for the one mile climb, with a time of 58.768secs. The final round of the short series was the Breakneck climb at Cumberland, Maryland, where again Shelby took fastest time of the day, but as he was the only starter in his class, he didn’t score points. However, his points scored at the former two climbs enabled him to become the SCCA Unrestricted Class Champion for 1956.

The next, and final, appearance for 0388 was in 1958 at the 500 Miles of Monza, where it had the engine capacity reduced to 4.2 litres by the factory to meet the regulations, and where it was painted in the USA’s white and blue national racing colours. It was driven by Harry Schell, but was plagued by magneto problems, with him eventually giving up, so its final race appearance was as inauspicious as its first. It then went back to the factory in Maranello, re-emerging in 1960 with a largely new slimmer body by Fantuzzi, front coil spring suspension, and the engine returned to its original 4.5 litre specification. Quite why this degree of work was carried out on a six year old race car, that was just going to sit in a showroom in New York, is unknown, but the factory have the invoice on record for the work carried out.

Thus, as the 1960 configuration is the one in which it last left the factory, this is the one to which Ferrari Classiche have painstakingly  and meticulously restored it for its current Austrian owner. It was to have been driven at Fiorano by Marc Gené, who had flown in from his home in Spain especially for the occasion. However, as so often is the case with games of cricket in England, “rain stopped play”. The weather had conspired against the assembled gathering, and as the owner didn’t want to risk his freshly restored pride and joy to the ravages of the teaming rain, we could only enjoy its raucous V12 symphony reverberating off the walls of the pit garage.

Keith Bluemel         
02/2010