Ascari and a Barchetta

Ferrari, Ascari, Barchetta, Silverstone

In August 1950 Ferrari sent two of their 166MM barchettas for a race at Silverstone in England. These two cars were driven on the road, probably from Paris, by Alberto Ascari and Teodoro “Dorino” Serafini. Ascari was of course a coming World Champion, now already with Ferrari’s Grand Prix team, while Serafini was an ex motorcycle champion racer prewar who drove in selected Grand Prix and sports car races for Ferrari in the early 1950s. At Silverstone they would compete in the under two liter 1 Hour Production Sports Car Race, a support event for the Daily Express International Trophy which was a non-championship race for Grand Prix cars.

Ascari and Serafini would finish first and second with their barchettas, clearly the class of the two liter runners. Ascari was also entered in the International Trophy, driving Tony Vandervell’s Ferrari 125F1 ‘Thinwall Special.” He was less successful there, spinning off on the eighth lap.

While waiting for a cross-Channel ferry at Dunkerque on the way to Silverstone, Ascari and Serafini met up with Louis Klemantaski as all of them were coming from the recent Formula 2 race at the Nürburgring which had also been won by Ascari with a Ferrari. Louis Klemantaski described the following drive as follows in his Klemantaski & Ferrari:

“So we had a drink or two on the boat and Ascari said, ‘How do I get to London? I don’t know the road at all.’ I offered to tell him how to go. ‘Will you come with me?’ he said. So I joined him. After we had got the barchetta through Customs and all that, Ascari said, ‘Oh, you drive on the wrong side of the road here, don’t you. Would you like to drive to London?’ ‘Indeed, yes,’ I replied and we set off with Serafini following.

“Pretty soon I was going along at 90 miles per hour or so – there was not much traffic in those days and you could do that sort of thing since there were no speed limits – when out of the corner of my eye I could see that Ascari was getting rather agitated. Well, I’m not doing anything dangerous I thought to myself. Finally, I looked at him inquiringly and he pointed down at the gear lever, then held up five fingers. I had never got it into fifth! Five speed gearboxes were not a normal thing then. So at last I put it into fifth and he was soon drowsing away. We were great friends ever after.”

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection –




  1. Jim Sitz · · Reply

    Ferrari and Ascari..what a combination.!

    As a young enthusiast, the pair were representing best of Italian racing
    and he was of course the competition for Fangio then,
    The lithe and lean Barchetta to my eyes was Ferrari, the image burned
    in my mind after seeing the first one built, on view in Hollywood that
    summer of 1949.
    However the owner, Tommy Lee used the car for just
    personal pleasure since his idea of race car was his Alfa 8c2900 MM that
    was entered at Watkins Glen the same year.

    Jim Sitz


  2. The Tommy Lee 166MM with its whitewall tires, and also the subsequent 166MM that won Le Mans in 1949 are now both in the Robert M. Lee Collection in Reno Nevada.


  3. Thank you, Gentlemen, for your comments, and I must add that Klemantaski’s account of driving the Barchetta to London with Ascari riding passenger is an absolutely marvelous piece of historical narrative. These KlemColl posts are always such treats to see and read.
    William Edgar


  4. Thank you, William. We do our best to make them both informative and interesting. You yourself are another keeper of a great amount of motor racing history.


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