This is the scene in Ferrari’s preparation area near Brescia on April 23, 1949 the day before these cars will start the Mille Miglia. Grouped here are three of the new 166MM barchettas with Touring bodywork (nos. 624, 641 and 642) and an earlier 166 Spider Corsa (n. 630). All these cars were team cars or otherwise prepared and supported by Ferrari with professional drivers. Most of the five other Ferraris entered were driven by their owners.
N. 641 will be driven by Felice Bonetto with Pasquale Cassani as his passenger. Bonetto was a famous prewar driver who continued to appear postwar, sometimes for Ferrari, as well as with Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Maserati. This time Bonetto had real success, finishing second overall. He would be killed during the Carrera Pan-Americana in November 1953 in a Lancia when he did not see a vado (a depressed area of the road) entering a town and crashed into a house with fatal injuries.
The two men in the center of the photograph are standing behind n. 624, another 166MM barchetta. This will be the winning car in this year’s Mille Miglia, driven by Clemente Biondetti with Ettore Salami as his passenger. It would be Biondetti’s fourth win in this Italian classic race, finishing 28 minutes ahead of Bonetto’s car. They are seen at the left in the mountains, probably at Piantomia. Biondetti had also won in a Ferrari in 1948, with a rather ungainly-looking Allemano-bodied 166 Sport berlinetta, a car which appeared again in this year’s race, but would retire.
N. 642 will be an early favorite, as it would be driven by “the Silver Fox,” Piero Taruffi, with his mechanic Sergio Nicolini. Taruffi, a great endurance race tactician but who had as yet not won the Mille Miglia, would challenge Biondetti for the lead on the return leg from Rome but would retire after Ravenna with transmission failure. Taruffi would have to wait another eight years to earn his victory.
N. 630 is a 1948 166 Spider Corsa with a rudimentary body by Ansaloni. These 166 SC cars could be used either as sports cars or, with their cycle fenders removed, could compete in races for single seaters. This one is owned by the wealthy Ferrari client and gentleman racer Gabriele Besana, here partnered with the more experienced Franco Cortese who will do the driving. Running fifth at Rome, they would retire after Padua and not far from the finish at Brescia.
Photos from the Archivio Corrado Millanta ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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