Between 1951 and 1967 a non-Championship Grand Prix was held, generally in the Spring, on a 3.4 mile temporary public road circuit near the city of Syracusa on the Ionian coast of Sicily. This was an Italian “warm up” event before the start of the European Grand Prix season and often a race for the benefit of Ferrari.
The 1956 running was held on April 15th and Ferrari arrived with four of its Ferrari-Lancias, being modified versions of the cars received from Lancia in mid-1955. These were assigned to Juan Manuel Fangio, Eugenio Castellotti, Peter Collins and Luigi Musso, the latter being the only of Ferrari’s drivers with experience at this circuit. On the left the Ferrari team waits in the pits for the start of practice: Fangio on the left, then Castellotti, an unidentified lady, then actress Fiamma Breschi, Musso’s girlfriend, Musso and finally Collins under the Shell sign, with nearby admirers.
Generally, the main change to the Ferrari-Lancias was to move the fuel tanks from the sides to the tail, exchanging the D50’s lower polar moment for a rear location which was more normal and familiar at Ferrari. However, this change led to increased understeer. Maserati sent a single 250F for Jean Behra and “Mimmo” Dei supplied one of his Scuderia Centro Sud 250Fs for Luigi Villoresi. Connaught, which had had a surprise win at Syracuse in 1955 with Tony Brooks, sent two cars as did Amédé Gordini. Three private 250Fs and a pair of now rather ancient Ferrari 2 liter cars, one bored out to 2.5, rounded out the 15 car field.
Fangio led the way for the Ferrari team with Castellotti with him, but joined by Behra in the works 250F on the front row. After the start the Ferrari-Lancias quickly took the first four places, followed by Behra. Castellotti took over in front of Fangio but then spun and damaged his car, Behra retired with an oil leak and fourth place was held by Villoresi who would stay there to the finish but three laps down to the Ferrari trio. Fangio took the win as team leader and here in this evocative portrait gets ready for the start.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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