His Best Race

It might seem unusual to suggest that a top level driver’s best race was when he finished second. Although it would be a matter of opinion of course, it is very possible that Richie Ginther’s best race was the May 14, 1961 Monaco Grand Prix. For Monaco that year Ferrari entered three of its new 156/61 Dino 1.5 liter grand prix cars. One was assigned to Phill Hill and one to Wolfgang von Trips, the Scuderia’s two best drivers, and the third car was given to their development driver, Californian Richie Ginther a close friend of Hill.

In fact, Ginther received the oldest Dino 156, chassis 0001, which one could identify by the fact that it alone used forged front upper control arms, a 1960 item, whereas its later sisters used lighter welded front tubular suspension arms. However, this Dino also received something new, an experimental 120º included angle V6 motor, which Ferrari hoped would achieve both increased power and a lower center of gravity.

In qualifying Ginther let it be known that he would be very competitive, splitting the front row between Stirling Moss, on pole with Rob Walker’s Lotus 18, and Jim Clark in a works Lotus 21.

Ginther led from the start for a number of laps until overtaken by Moss. He then dropped back and his teammate Hill had a go at Moss, but could not get close to the Lotus. Ginther then overtook Hill and closed the gap to Moss, setting the fastest lap on round 84 which was equalled by Moss on the very next lap.

At the end Moss won after a truly superb drive, under pressure the whole way, but Ginther had driven as his equal and was but 3.6 seconds back at the finish. Phil Hill was third, the only other driver on the lead lap, but some 37 seconds behind Ginther.  Ginther was exhausted after his efforts. Here, he is being warmly congratulated by Ferrari’s team manager Romolo Tavoni. The man with the beard behind Ginther is famed racing journalist Denis Jenkinson.

It was indeed a great race.

Photos by Peter Colton ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

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


  1. Jim sitz · · Reply

    Richie was never one to boast, not his style.
    However years later in 1981 we sat in his motor home when he was visiitng
    his son Brett, having glass of wine and he mentioned that Monaco drive.

    He told me with pride how next year in 1962 the program credited him with
    fastest lap in that terrific battle with Moss. Seems that Richie set a time which
    Stirling could only match !

    That was a source of pride and he smiled at the time, the years had shed
    from his weathered face that afternoon. I first met him when he had been
    riding mechanic with Phil Hill in the 1954 Mexican Road Race and all those
    years later he told me he needed a new challenge,

    Sadly he did not live much longer.

    Jim sitz


  2. Jim sitz · · Reply

    Whoops !

    Failed to mention that when I was at Monaco to witness this great event
    the fans there did not know about Ginther,,,
    so, yet another California kid following Phil Hill and Dan Gurney !

    If you ponder that it is rather remarkable, those 3 talented
    drivers from Southern California then. And today we have None.

    Jim sitz


  3. John F. · · Reply

    It could also be said that Phil Hill’s best race was one in which he also came in second. Cooincedently also at a Monaco the following year when he came in second to McLaren in the works Cooper. It was a partially wet race where a sheen of water on a street course seems to bring forth the pavement’s oil making it very slick. Ferrari didn’t improve the chassis much from 1961 but all the British teams did. So here we have Hill in a ill handling car in the wet chasing down a good handling Cooper driven by a good pilot and Hill is rapidly chasing down the Cooper and was right on his tail at the end. Bruce himself said he probably couldn’t hold Hill off for another lap. Remember in those days cars could actually pass. Just my two cents.

    John F. Roberts


    1. A good point and well said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: