The holiday town of Pescara on Italy’s Adriatic coast was the scene of various important motor races both before and after the war years. Pescara was sometimes the point where the course of the Mille Miglia passed through either on the way to Rome or, if run anti-clockwise, coming from the Eternal City. A driver named Enzo Ferrari won one of, the first races here in 1924. In the 1930s Pescara was the site of the Targa Abruzzi (so named for the mountain range behind the town), a 24 hour sports car race. Postwar, the sports car races, were shortened to 12, 6 or 4 hours and one Championship Grand Prix event,took place, held on August 18, 1957.
The course at Pescara was the longest in postwar motor sport at almost 26 km (16 miles). It was a true open road circuit, bumpy and dangerous, which left Pescara and followed a triangular shape as it first climbed up into the Abruzzi mountains and then descended to provide two long straights one returning to the coast and the other along the coast road back into Pescara. The above photograph shows Juan Manuel Fangio with his Maserati 250F driving through Pescara during the 1957 Grand Prix.
The race was indeed colorful as this image of the pits in Pescara clearly shows with tiered spectator areas overlooking the pit area. Here the Maserati mechanics work on a pair of their cars with n. 2 being the 250F of Fangio.
After the spectator deaths which resulted from the de Portago crash in the 1957 Mille Miglia, Ferrari found himself subject to criticism over safety and refused to send cars to Pescara as the open road circuit might involve him in another disaster. He finally relented and sent one of his type 801 Lancia D50 derivatives for Luigi Musso who was looking to win the Italian Championship. Therefore, of the 16 starters 10 were Maserati 250Fs with two F2 Coopers and three Vanwalls plus Musso’s Ferrari.
In practice Fangio had the best time, some 10 seconds faster than the Vanwall of Stirling Moss, followed 7.3 seconds later by Musso.
Overnight, Moss persuaded his mechanics to fit a different back axle ratio to his Vanwall and that seemed to make a world of difference n the race as he led from the second lap right through to the end. Second was Fangio over three minutes later, he having to stop to replace a wheel after a spin on oil and contact with a kerb. There were only seven finishers after three hours of racing as the rough road combined with the engine strain of running for long periods at peak revs took their toll.
Photos by Edward Eves ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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