Here lined up in front of the pits before the start of the 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours is one of the new Ferrari 500TRCs which were 1957’s offering by Maranello for the two liter racing class. These lovely and lithe-looking cars were, in mechanical terms, a continuation of Ferrari’s preceding two liter car, the 500TR, using the Lampredi-designed four cylinder engine which had begun its racing life in 1952. The name TRC reflected the new Appendix C rules which would govern racing beginning in 1957, requiring a minimum windshield height, a door on the passenger side and a fabric top on board. For these cars, Sergio Scaglietti, Ferrari’s prime carrozzeria, created a new lower body with a paint scheme involving a central stripe, bordered generally in white, which swept down and to the sides both front and rear.
The car shown here all ready for its first race was chassis 0696MDTR, the 15th of the 19 cars of this series (including two 625TRCs with 2.5 liter motors built for John von Neumann). It was entered by its first owner Fernand Tavano, an Italian resident in Le Mans, who had received some financial assistance from his friend Pierre Meyrat who thereby made up for writing off Tavano’s 500TR during the prior year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. In 1957 Tavano and his co-driver Jacques Péron from Nice almost made it to the finish but had to retire in the 23rd hour when a valve failed in their Ferrari’s motor.
However, after it was repaired at Ferrari’s Assistenza at Modena, Tavano gave his 500TRC a lot of use, appearing in some 28 races through 1959 with many good class placings. In 1960 this 500TRC was sold to Count Volpi’s Scuderia Serenissima, but was never raced again, although it appears to have had an accident while being tested by Count Volpi at the Modena Aerautodromo. Fully restored after that mishap, it has been the prized possession of an Italian family since the late 1960s.
By the way, the man sanding next to the car, wearing the dark blue shirt and using the Bolex ciné camera, is non other than the famous American motor racing photographer Jesse Alexander.
Photo by Peter Coltrin ©The Klemantaski Collection.