Posts Tagged ‘Ferrari 312P’

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(Richard Meek)

The Ballinger/Stewart Arnolt Bristol Bolide at Sebring in March 1956 at dusk, such an evocative shot…

They were 13th outright and 2nd in the 2 litre sports class, the Fangio/Castellotti Ferrari 860 Monza won.

The photo below, of another time and age is the Miller/Maassen/Rast Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, DNF, in 2011. The race was won that year by the Lapierre/Duval/Panis Peugeot 908 5.5 litre turbo-V12 diesel.

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(Rick Dole)

Credits…

Richard Meek, Rick Dole, Racing One

Tailpiece: The ’69 Sebring field awaits the start with the Amon/Andretti Ferrari 312P on pole, the race won by the Ickx/Oliver Ford GT40…

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(Racing One)

 

 

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Mario Andretti ‘using the cushion’ during qualifying for the ‘Sacramento 100’ Champ Car event, California, Fall 1969…

The ‘Sacramento 100’ was contested at the California Sate Fairgrounds, in Sacramento California, 100 laps of a 1 mile oval on 28 September. The event was won by Al Unser from Gary Bettenhausen and brother Bobby Unser. Mario had a loss of oil pressure, retiring his 1960 Kuzma D/Offy on lap 83, winning $853 for his efforts…

Magic Mario…

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Bernard Cahiers’ portrait of Mario Andretti circa 1966

One of my mates contends that the title of ‘most versatile racer ever’ goes to John Surtees hands down, its hard to argue with the ‘World Championships on two wheels and four’ line of logic. The only other contenders are Mike Hailwood and, perhaps Johnny Cecotto with Hailwood the far better credentialled of the two on four wheels.

But what about most versatile on four wheels?

Right up until the 1970’s the nature of drivers contracts allowed them to race in other classes, in fact the pro’s needed to race lots of cars to earn the start and prize-money to eke out a living. The likes of Jim Clark could and would jump from Lotus Cortina, to Lotus 30 Sports Car, to Lotus 25 GP car, and then some, in British National Meetings.

It isn’t necessarily the case that drivers will be equivalently quick in single seaters, sports cars, touring cars, on bitumen and dirt, and road and speedway courses, but that is the criteria to apply in working out our ‘most versatile’.

If we limit ourselves to the absolute elite, Grand Prix Winners, there are a few names which usually come up in these conversations; Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, John Surtees, Dan Gurney and Mario Andretti to name a few.

I am not discounting the Pre-War aces who raced GP and Sports cars on varying surfaces, but suggest the greater variety of cars was available to post-war rather than pre-war drivers.

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Lotus GP teammates that year, Mario Andretti and Graham Hill , Indy 1969. Hill an absolute candidate for ‘most versatile’, the only winner of motor racings ‘Triple Crown’ ; World F1 Title, Le Mans and Indy victories (unattributed)

Moss apart from his obvious success in GP and Sports cars, also rallied successfully.

Brabhams career started on Sydney Speedways, and then encompassed single seaters of all types, front and mid-engined like most of his peers, some sports cars, and some touring cars. He also raced ‘Champcars’ and CanAm. So Jack has to be ‘up there’ in consideration.

John Surtees is very similarly credentialled to Brabham without the Speedway or equivalent dirt experience.

Dan Gurney is also similarly credentialled to Jack, but without the dirt background. He came from the West Coast Sports Car scene, not through the rough and tumble of Dirt Speedways, and then into Road Racing in the way AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones and Mario Andretti did.

Mario is hard to toss as our ‘most versatile ever’…

He started in Speedway racing sedans and midgets, then into faster cars, dirt champcars, paved speedway champcars, into Nascar whilst still racing on Dirt Speedways and then as he built his name and reputation into road racing.

He was scooped up for the factory Ford GT40 program, to Lotus in Grands Prix, and all the rest, but still, well into the 1970’s racing speedway…he walked away from GP racing for a while in the early-70’s as he could not get the driving variety he sought by signing a restrictive F1 contract, ‘Vels Parnelli’, the American team with whom he made his F1 comeback allowing that freedom.

Its interesting to look at just one season, 1969 to see the breadth of cars, classes, surfaces, and circuit types on which he raced, just to test my contention…

Lotus 64 Indy 1969

Andretti testing the Lotus 64 Ford, 4WD and turbo-charged at Indy. The car was fast in testing, but a hub failed causing Andretti to hit the wall hard, with no time to rectify the problem, the cars were withdrawn and Andretti drove his regular USAC mount, a Hawk Ford to victory (unattributed)

Early in the year he raced at Sebring, co-driving a factory Ferrari 312P with Chris Amon…

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Andretti hands over to Chris Amon in the Ferrari 312P, this car a 3 litre V12 engined Group 6 prototype. Sebring 1969 (unattributed)

In March he did the first of three 1969 Grands’ Prix for Lotus… the South African GP, he also contested the German GP at the Nurburgring and US GP at Watkins Glen later in the year.

His first GP was at Watkins Glen, in upstate New York, the year before, 1968, he put his Lotus 49 on pole, really shaking the established order. In 1969 he drove both the conventional Lotus 49 and experimental, four-wheel drive Lotus 63, quite different challenges, the latter a very unsuccessful car.

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Another challenge…driving the Lotus 63 Ford 4 wheel drive car on the Nurburgring, one of the toughest driving challenges in one of 1969’s worst cars. The 4WD experiments that year of Matra, McLaren and Lotus were all unsuccessful, tyre technology and wings providing the grip the teams sought with 4WD (unattributed)

His primary program for 1969 was the USAC Championship…

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Andy Granatelli of STP, crew and Andretti in the 1969 Indy winning Brawner Hawk Ford, a turbo-charged 2.65 litre V8 (unattributed)

Most of May was spent at Indy, very successfully, winning the 500 in his turbo-charged Brawner Hawk III Ford V8 on the famous Super Speedway. He won the 1969 USAC Championship which was contested on five dirt speedways, ten races on paved tracks, eight on road courses, and a hillclimb, this series alone a true test of a drivers versatility and adaptability.

In late June he contested the Pikes Peak Hillclimb…winning it in a mid-engined Chevy V8 powered open-wheeler on the famous dirt course 12.4 mile ‘climb to the clouds’.

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Andretti in his Hawk Ford, Pikes Peak 1968, he was 4th in ’68, won in ’69, the majestric but challenging nature of the course readily apparent…(unattributed)

The CanAm was run annually in the Summer…Holman & Moody entering a Ford 429 powered McLaren M6B in several of the events, not a particulary competitive car but another quite different driving and engineering challenge. Andretti in a factory McLaren M8B would have been quite someting to watch!

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Andretti prepares to board his ‘Holman & Moody’ entered and prepared McLaren M6B Ford 429 CanAm car at Texas International Speedway, test session (unattributed)

Mario only did one Nascar event in 1969…at Riverside in February, one of the road racing circuits on the tour, it was never a big part of his career but still demonstrates his versatility.

Mario Andretti Riverside 1969, Ford

Mario in his Ford, ‘Motor Trend 500’ Nascar race on the Riverside road circuit February 1969. He qualified 7th and was classified 18th after engine failure on lap 132 (spokeo)

Mario raced on 34 weekends in 1969…his season commenced with a front-engined rear drive Ford Nascar and then a Ferrari mid-engined 3 litre V12 sports prototype…the Lotus’ GP cars he raced were the 3 litre Ford Cosworth normally aspirated V8 powered 2WD 49, and the 4WD 63.

His Hawk ‘Indycar’, for paved road-courses and speedways was a mid-engined single-seater, 2WD car powered by a turbo-charged Ford V8, but he also practiced the Lotus 64 mid-engined 4WD Turbo Ford at Indy.

His dirt-track ‘Kuzma’ was a front engined, rear drive 4 cylinder Offy powered single seater His McLaren CanAm car a mid-engined sports car powered by a normally aspirated 429CID Ford, finally his Pikes Peak car was a Chev engined ‘Grant King’.

The variety of cars and different driving challenges are enormous, the differences in cars and venues in one year of his career qualifies him as our most versatile ever! Let alone the other four decades in which he competed.

Andretti won the World Drivers Championship in a Lotus 79 Ford in 1978…he returned to Indycars after leaving F1, his last Indycar win in 1993, perhaps the only big win which eluded him is at Le Mans, but he was successful elswhere in sports cars of course.

He is synonymous with speed, and revered globally as a champion driver, sportsman and ambassador for our sport…he is also, surely, the most versatile driver ever?

Andretti Ford Mercury 1969

The gift of communication…Andretti with the press, Riverside 1969. Ford Mercury Cougar (unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Pinterest unattributed, Spokeo, The Cahier Archive

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Enzo Ferrari at the launch of his 1969 endurance contender the 312P…

Motorsports governing body introduced new sports car rules for 1968; Group 4 Sports Cars with a capacity limit of 5 litres and a minimum production of 50 cars, and Group 6 Prototypes with a maximum of 3 litres. In effect the CSI were making obsolete the ‘unlimited cars’ being built by Ford and Ferrari, ( the 7 litre ‘pushrod’ Ford MkIV, 4 litre ‘racing engine’ Ferrari P4)  which they considered were getting too fast for the circuits of the time.

Ferrari, in time honored fashion didn’t race in 1968 in protest at this sudden rule change but returned in 1969 with the Group 6 312P, again in time honored fashion using many parts he had ‘on the shelf ‘ from other cars.

The chassis used was a downsized version of their 1968 Can Am challenger the 612P…It was a semi-monocoque, a spacefarme reinforced by aluminium sheet. The first cars were built with high downforce Spyder bodywork, but later cars were built or re-bodied for Le Mans as stunning low drag Coupes.

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Aluminium semi-monocoque chassis. Double wisbones, coil springs, Koni shocks at front. Single top link, lower inverted wishbone, twin radius rods, coil springs and Koni shocks at rear. Adjustable sway bars front and rear. Rack & pinion steering. Ventilated discs all round. 680 Kg.

The 3 litre V12 was based on the highly successful old sports car engine albeit with 4 valve heads and Lucas fuel injection…Ferrari claimed 420 BHP, all of which hit the road through a 5 speed transaxle.

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312P engine, 5 speed gearbox and rear suspension. 60 degree V12, 2.99 litres. 77X53.5mm bore/stroke. 11:1 compression ratio. 4 valves per cylinder , DOHC, Lucas fuel injection and circa 420BHP @ 9800RPM. (Tony Adamowicz)

Chassis ‘0868’ was shown to the public at the Hotel Fini in Modena in December 1968, which is probably where this unattributed shot of Enzo Ferrari with the car was taken.

From the outset Ferraris’ sports car plans in 1969 were limited as the development of the 3 litre ‘Flat 12′ engine for F1 in 1970 was Technical Director, Mauro Forghieris’ main project.

The first car was damaged in testing, but repaired and put on pole at Sebring by Mario Andretti, the car finishing second co-driven by Chris Amon despite overheating after a collision with a slower car.

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Chris Amon leaps aboard the 312P he shared with Mario Andretti at Sebring 1969.

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Smoky Amon. Ferrari 312P, Sebring 1969. Second outright and first in class with Mario Andretti (Nigel Smuckatelli)

The car was very fast at Brands Hatch, but the Le Mans testing weekend revealed the need for slippery coupe bodies on the Mulsanne. The bigger issue was the appearance of the Porsche 917, 25 examples of which had been built by the Germans to comply with the CSI’s new Group 4 rules, not what the rule makers intended at all…

The 312P’s were fast at Monza filling the first 2 grid positions but failed to finish with tyre problems, the Firestones not coping with the rigours of the Monza banking.

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Pedro Rodriguez, Nurburgring 1000Km 1969.

The 917 was on pole at Spa, but Amon proved the 312P’s competitiveness again, he broke the lap record at The Nurburgring. At Le Mans the two cars entered were fitted with gorgeous Coupe bodies formed around shortened 206SP Dino windscreens.

The 917 was on the Le Mans pole… but few believed they would last the distance, Amons 312P was damaged by debris from the fatal accident which befell the John Woolfe 917 on lap 1, the other car suffering gearbox failure after a retaining nut vibrated loose several times. Jacky Ickx and  Jackie Oliver won the race in Ford GT40 ‘1075’ the same chassis victorious the year before.

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Chris Amon behind the 312P, now with Coupe body, at Le Mans 1969 with Peter Schetty. The car was out on lap 1, running over debris from the John Woolfe 917 accident (Pinterest)

The arrival of the 917 was  a game changer, Ferrari responded with some of the Lire invested in his business by Fiat, in building 25 512S 5 litre cars to go head to head with Porsche in what many say was the greatest 2 years of sports car racing ever, 1970 and 1971.

The two remaining 312P’s were sold to Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team at the end of 1969, the cars scoring class victories in major races such as Daytona, and Sebring and also racing at Le Mans in 1970 where Tony Adamowicz, and Chuck Parsons were non-classified but tenth. The other car was taken as a spare and unraced.

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Wet weather 1970 Le Mans shot of the NART 312P. (Bruce Thomas)

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NART Adamowicz/ Parsons 312P Le Mans 1970 , tenth in the race won by the Herrman/ Attwood Porsche 917K (Pinterest)

The 312P has only a small part in Ferrari racing history but the factory learned valuable lessons from the program when it next raced a prototype, the 3 litre 312PB in 1971, this car using a variant of the F1 ‘boxer’ engine, the 312PB the dominant and championship winning sports car of 1972.

Etcetera…

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Amon/Schetty Ferrari 312P Le Mans pits 1969.(Pinterest)

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Pedro relaxes before the off, Bridghampton CanAm 1969. (Dogfight.com)

 

 

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‘0870’ in the 1969 Bridghampton  CanAm pitlane. Rodriguez was 5th in the heavy relatively low powered 3 litre car, Hulme and McLaren 1st and 2nd in McLaren M8B Chevs. (Dogfight.com)

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Mike Parkes in the NART 312P , Daytona 1970. Tall man, and bubble as a consequence (Pinterest)

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Another shot of the Adamowicz/ Parsons 312P during Le Mans 1970 (Yves Debraine)

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Interesting drawing showing the differences in dimensions of the Spyder and Coupe versions of the 312P (Pinterest)

Photo Credits…

Pinterest, Tony Adamowicz, Nigel Smuckatelli, Yves Debraine, Bruce Thomas

Finito…