Here is Mike Hawthorn about to go out to practice for the 500 Miles of Monza, also called the Race of Two Worlds, which would take place on the Monza banked oval on June 29, 1958. The 1958 race was the second of the two such “Monzanapolis” races between European cars and Indy roadsters. It used only the Monza banked oval, run counter-clockwise for the benefit of the Indy machines.
In the photo above in the upper left corner with glasses is Ferrari’s private secretary and Scuderia Ferrari team manager Romolo Tavoni. Leaning in from the left, right arm akimbo, appears to be Ecurie Ecosse’s head mechanic Wilkie Wilkinson who will be overseeing his team’s Jaguar D-Types. In the tan coveralls at the right is probably Ferrari racing mechanic Adelmo Marchetti.
The car Hawthorn is driving was a one-off special created by Ferrari just for this race. It probably used an old 375F1 grand prix chassis but modified for the race with a very powerful 4.1 liter four-camshaft V12 motor similar to those which had been used in the Scuderia’s sports cars to win the prior year’s World Championship. Rumor has it that this motor had been recovered from the 335 Sport driven by Alfonso de Portago which had crashed near the end of the 1957 Mille Miglia. That crash resulted in the deaths of Portago, his co-driver Edmond Nelson and nine spectators, some of them children, and caused the permanent abandonment of Italy’s most famous road race. The motor of this special used Weber carburetors rather than the Solex units used on the 1957 sports cars along with more radical cam timing which probably produced well over 400 hp.
Luigi Musso was selected to qualify the beast and put in a lap at over 174 mph which got everyone’s attention. Phil Hill, meanwhile, was given a 3.1 liter V6 engined single seater, probably on a modified 246F1 chassis, and using another former sports car motor.
In spite of Musso’s brave qualifying lap, as Hill observed that the 4.1 special was “bouncing and bounding around,” and that it also ate its Firestone tires (replacing Ferrari’s contracted Engleberts for this race) at an alarming rate which resulted in a series of pit stops in each of the three heats. After Hill retired the smaller V6 car in the first heat with engine failure, he asked to join Musso and Hawthorn in the 4.1 for Heat 2. Musso was done in after his initial stint in Heat 1 and Hawthorn detested the 4.1 special so he was happy to have a replacement at hand. Musso returned for Heat 2, sharing with Hill, while Hill and Hawthorn were drove it for Heat 3. In his autobiography Hill states at one point that he drove all of Heat 3, although in another part of the book and the race records say otherwise. It probably felt like it was the whole Heat after halfway!
Certainly it was all a great spectacle with hard fought racing at speeds not seen before in Europe. Those in the pits could not believe the scene of cars in packs passing by at 160-170 mph overtaking each other on both sides of the road, Musso at one point overtaking almost in the pit lane. This was real motor racing for sure.
Photos by Peter Coltrin ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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