A Car from SAIPA

Robert Baird, Ferrari SAIPA

Here is Irishman William Robert (“Bobby”) Baird at Snetterton with his Ferrari 500 F2 car on May 30, 1953 at a race meeting organized on the Norfolk circuit by the West Essex Car Club. Baird’s Ferrari 500 (and also a Ferrari 250MM that he drove in the sports car race) were entered by S.A.I.P.A. Srl which was an organization located in Modena that allowed foreign drivers to register their cars in Italy on MO (Modena) plates and thereby avoid both export restrictions and also import duties on cars brought into their home country on a temporary basis. S.A.I.P.A. had been created by the Italian driver Nando Righetti who was also a Ferrari customer. S.A.I.P.A. was a sort of Italian equivalent of the British “registered keeper” system.

Baird finished third in the race for F2 cars (above) and finished an excellent second in the sports cars race with his 250MM. Baird then retired with his 500 from the Formula Libre final race when he and another car hit marker barrels which the other had thrown into the track during a spin.

Baird came from a wealthy Belfast publishing family which had founded the Belfast Evening Telegraph newspaper. Bobby Baird had commenced his interest in motor racing in the 1930s with a Brooklands Riley as a rally car. After the war, he began racing again with an MG K3 Magnette before turning to Ferraris in 1950 as he became a direct owner of the newspaper. Baird then had a real stable of Ferrari sports cars which he used in competition from time to time in 1952 and 1953.

One of Baird’s last sports cars was a Ferrari 340MM Vignale, actually Marzotto’s 1953 Mille Miglia winner. Baird had entered his Ferrari 500 for the USAF Trophy at Snetterton in late July and the 340MM for a support race. He was practicing in the 340MM for that support race when he went off into a shallow ditch and the car rolled over him. Baird had seemed uninjured but was advised to lie still until the ambulance crew could arrive. Assuming he was ok, he got up and started to walk back to the pits but collapsed and died when a broken rib punctured a lung.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx


One comment

  1. Jim sitz · · Reply

    Seems like Bobby Baird always had interesting cars, both Maserati and Ferrari.even had rare 340 America to run in 1951 Tourist Trophy in his native Ireland. Personal transport was
    1949 Buick Roadmaster convertable.!

    I suspect he was yet another victim of the later 340 MM car, ans recall Phil Hill
    telling me later of being present at Snetterton for that fatal crash, Hill regarded
    that type as tricky car and was ” relieved to retire ” at 1953 Rheims 12 hour
    while co driving with Chinetti in one.. Other drivers impacted were Frenchman
    Pagnibon, Hans Ruesch and Tommy Cole. when Phil and I compared notes.


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