A happy Carroll Shelby about to climb out of the Ferrari 375 Mille Miglia (0286AM) with its rounded style Vignale body that he has just driven to a win at Torrey Pines in California on July 11, 1955. Sitting in the car and holding the checkered flag is the car’s owner Alan Guiberson.
This Ferrari had already experienced a long and successful racing career. Originally a factory Scuderia Ferrari car, it had been entered in the 1953 Nürburgring 1000 km race and was driven to victory by Alberto Ascari, the reigning World Champion, together with Giuseppe “Nino” Farina who had held that title in 1950, the first year of the modern F1.
Like many ex-Scuderia Ferrari cars, this 375MM found its way to the USA. and into the hands of Luigi Chinetti who took a young, enthusiastic and somewhat terrified customer, the Spanish nobleman Alfonso de Portago, for a ride in the Carrera Panamericana later in the year. They retired due to engine problems. Then the now getting older 375MM went on to Guiberson who arranged for Phil Hill and Richie Ginther to drive it in the next year’s Carrera once again. A headrest and fin, à la Jaguar D-Type, had been added, perhaps in an attempt to add stability at the high speeds expected on the long straight stages late in the Carrera (photo from the Hans Tanner archive). Hill and Ginther had an eventful race, but hung on to finish second to Umberto Maglioli’s newer factory-entered Ferrari 375 Plus. Hill and Ginther would win two stages but were about 24 minutes behind Maglioli on aggregate time.
The result in Mexico was impressive for an almost two year old race car and it also gave a very important boost to Phil Hill’s career, giving him extra confidence. In Inside Track he commented, “We had beaten Fangio’s 1953 record and I was satisfied with what we had achieved. At last I felt confident that here was a sport in which I could really compete.”
And yet this 375MM had even more in her for Carroll Shelby in 1955.
Photo by Peter Coltrin ©The klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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