Testing at Modena

Ferrari, Surtees, Forghieri, Rochi

We are at the Modena Aerautodromo in September 1963 where Ferrari, Maserati and other constructors around Modena did a lot of their their testing in the 1950s and 1960s. The Aerautodromo was actually a small airport, used primarily by a local flying club, but it had an approximately 1.5 mile road running around the perimeter which was used by racing cars. For a number of years there was a Modena Grand Prix held on this little circuit. There is even a famous YouTube video from 1957 of Juan Manuel Fangio driving around the circuit in a Maserati 250F.

Testing in those days was a rather informal affair with just a couple of mechanics and sometimes a few engineers to observe the results. The session above was to run a 1963 Ferrari 156F1 Formula 1 car with new hire John Surtees behind the wheel. This is probably Mauro Forghieri’s new 156 Aero with a stiffer chassis than the preceding design as used in 1961/62. On the left is Franco Rocchi who had a lot to do with the design of Ferrari motors from the company’s early days up to the 1980s. To Rocchi’s left is Forghieri, Ferrari’s famous team manager and technical wizard, then a young man still. Forghieri was at Ferrari from 1962-1987 and had a hand in the design of all Ferrari racing cars during those successful years. Next to Forghieri, wearing a tie, is Swiss fuel injection specialist Michael May, a former F1 driver now turned engineer, who may have been in attendance for experiments with fuel injection in place of the Weber carburetors previously used. Finally on the right with his back to the camera and wearing a white shirt is development engineer Giancarlo Bussi.

Although Ferrari’s V6 F1 motor had been the winning one in 1961, Ferrari then entered into one of its eras of working more on its sports cars than the F1 racing cars and the new Coventry Climax V8 1.5 liter motor used by Lotus and the BRM V8 attained better power in better-handling chassis. Ferrari responded with more improvements to the V6 and a new V8 as well which would give Surtees the World Championship in 1964.

In October 1978 poor Bussi was kidnapped in Sardinia and was never seen again, although a ransom had been paid.

Photo by Peter Coltrin ©The Klemantaski Collection

One comment

  1. At those times (’60 years), the Ferrari team used the small circuit of Modena (inside the city) for its practices. Technicians often pit in the opposite side of the boxes (as in the photo), to be far away from spectators and journalists to protect their work


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