Here is one of those frenetic Ferrari pit stops. This is at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 14, 1956. The car is a Lancia-Ferrari, actually one of the 1955 Lancia D50 Grand Prix cars which were turned over to Ferrari in the summer of that year when Lancia was no longer able to continue to fund its Grand Prix team. That transfer was a somewhat controversial transaction which was put together by the political powers of Italian motorsport so that the sophisticated Lancias would have a future and Ferrari would have a much more modern and potentially far more successful F1 car. Enzo Ferrari took the gift, which also included a substantial cash inducement from Fiat, with ill grace but quickly discovered that the D50s were a lot faster than anything he had at Maranello. Ferrari made various modifications to the ex-Lancias, such as moving the fuel tanks from the side sponsons to the tail.
This particular car has had a tough race already as can be seen by its squashed nose. It was started by Eugenio Castellotti, the winner of the 1956 Mille Miglia, who has just climbed out. He is in the white helmet with his goggles on it just under the “1-2” pit sign. Jumping into the car to replace Castellotti is the very talented sportsman and ridiculously brave Spanish nobleman Alfonso Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, the 17th Marquis de Portago, but known to his friends as “Fon.” Portago had started another Lancia-Ferrari, but had had to turn it over to Peter Collins after Collins’ car had expired, as Collins was a lot faster. On the other hand, Castellotti had had a difficult day and his car was on its last legs, so Portago was given the chance to see what he could do with it. A couple of laps later he ended up pushing in over the finish line in 10th place, but he also benefitted in terms of points from the talents of Collins with whom he would share second place behind team leader Juan Manuel Fangio. Just a little confusing…
Up front, Juan Manuel Fangio won the race in his Lancia-Ferrari, inheriting it when the seemingly invincible Maserati 250F of Stirling Moss lost power and fell to second and then broke its gearbox. By the way, the lady standing up at the pit counter in seeming control of the proceedings is Andrea “Beba” Buerret who was Fangio’s long-time girlfriend and who appears in many photographs involving Fangio during his racing years. We especially enjoy the Inspector Clouseau-like nattily-dressed gentleman standing behind the Ferrari mechanic at the left rear wheel of the car.
Photo by Alan R. Smith ©The Klemantaski Collection