The Le Mans Test Day in 1961 occurred on April 9. Ferrari wanted to see how their new Testa Rossa 250TRI/61 would do at Le Mans so they sent Wolfgang von Trips, seen here, to carry out the assignment. As can be seen it was evidently a rough day for the car, at both ends. Research done at Ferrari has established that this same Testa Rossa, repaired and with a revised windshield, would be tested at the Modena Aerautodromo in early June and then would return to Le Mans later that month to win the 24 hour race.
When the Ferrari brigade arrived in June, Trips along with Richie Ginther were now in a Ferrari 246SP, a new generation rear-engined car using a 2.4 liter V6, with which Trips had been victorious in the Targa Florio on April 30 with Olivier Gendebien and third at the Nürburgring on May 28 with Gendebien and Ginther. At Le Mans Trips and Ginther put the 246SP on pole. Even though they took the lead, their very fast Ferrari retired when it ran out of fuel out on the circuit during the night.
Trips’ April Test car would now be driven by the experienced endurance team of Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien. Here is Gendebien during the race. Hill and Gendebien had trailed the Trips/Ginther 246SP in the early evening, but when that competition and its fuel evaporated they were challenged by the Ferrari 250TR60 entered by the North American Racing Team for Mexican brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez. The Rodriguez car’s motor expired early on Sunday afternoon, leaving the victory to Hill and Gendebien and their 250TR/61.
After its Le Mans win this Ferrari was again modified with a lower tail and cut down windshield and sent to Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team. It finished second its first race in North America at Mosport with Pedro Rodriguez in September 1961. Rodriguez drove the TR again at Nassau winning the Governor’s Cup race. The Le Mans winner continued to be raced in America through 1964 by various owners. It is still in America today, restored to its Le Mans-winning form.
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