Before the 1957 Mille Miglia

Ferrari, klemcoll, Peter Collins, Wolfgang von Trips, Alfonso de Portago

The date is probably May 10, 1957 as the Ferrari team assembles in the factory yard at Maranello before departing for Brescia and scrutineering the next day to be followed by the start of their Mille Miglia on the 12th. The car numbers indicate the starting time of each car.

Car n. 534 is a new 335 Sport which will be driven by Peter Collins, facing the camera and laughing, with photographer Louis Klemantaski as his navigator. They will be well on their way to break the record set by Stirling Moss in his 1955 Mercedes win when they will hear grinding sounds coming from the transaxle at their refueling stop in Bologna. However, they will continue on until the final drive gears fail near Padua when only about 80 miles from the finish at Brescia.

The next car n. 531, also a 335 Sport but built up from an older 290 Sport, will be driven by Alfonso de Portago, here with his back to the camera and wearing his leather jacket, with his navigator being Edmund Nelson, an ex-elevator operator at New York’s Plaza Hotel. They will suffer a tire failure at high speed only a few miles before the finish. The resulting crash will kill de Portago, Nelson and nine spectators, some of them children. It would result in the cancellation of future Mille Miglia races.

Standing next to Collins, arms akimbo, is Wolfgang von Trips who will drive another 335 Sport not seen here and will finish second overall. Leaning against his 250GT “Tour de France” berlinetta to the left of Trips is Olivier Gendebien who will drive with his cousin and longtime rally navigator Jacques Washer to an astounding third place overall, only five minutes behind Trips, and setting a new record over the last section of the Mille Miglia.

Car n. 535 was originally a 315 Sport but received a larger 335 engine for the Mille Miglia. Its driver, the white-haired Piero Taruffi, is visible sitting in the car, surrounded by some Ferrari mechanics. Taruffi would win the Mille Miglia by overtaking Trips late in the race, having started three minutes behind the German. The last car visible is a n. 451, a Ferrari 500TRC two liter car which will be driven by Gino Munaron to eighth place overall and winning the two liter class.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

To see more of our photographs please go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx

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