Posts Tagged ‘Fon de Portago’

mille miglia 1957

(Allan Fearnley)

Piero Taruffi’s Ferrari 315S leads the Richard Steed/John Hall Cooper Jaguar and ill-fated Ferrari 335S of Fon de Portago and Ed Lester. Taruffi victorious in the 335S Ferrari powered 315…

Click here for my article about this race;

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/17/peter-collins-mille-miglia-1957-ferrari-335s/

Credit…

Allan Fearnley

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Peter Collins photographed by Louis Klemantaski aboard their Ferrari 335S during the ill-fated 1957 Mille Miglia…

This stunning, evocative shot, one of motor racings’ most famous, was taken by acclaimed photographer Louis Klementaski who ‘navigated’ for Collins capturing the essence of the event and times which seem so long ago.

Klemantaski picks up the story in ‘Automobile Year 44’…’In the fateful Mille Miglia of 1957 I was in the Ferrari Team in the car driven by Peter Collins, a 335 Sport. This model was the ultimate achievement of Ferraris’ creativity of that period. Peter said it was the best handling sports-racing Ferrari he had driven so far. It was certainly the most powerful and I had to adjust my course notes accordingly’.

‘ This photograph was taken as we went through a series of hairpin bends in the Abruzzi Mountains on the way to l’Aquila and Rome. There were no trees around and Peter could see the whole road for quite a way ahead, so I was able to take some time off from giving him signals as to the severity of the next corner and take some shots of the cockpit and him in action. As the G-forces were considerable, I had to make the exposure on the right-hand corner, so that I would be thrown outwards and away from him. We had no seat belts in those days and it was very difficult not to impede Peter on occasion. In those very tight corners first on one lock and then the other, Peter could cope without changing the position of his hands on the wheel, which was just as well, as the corners came up with remarkable rapidity. This is my favourite Ferrari photograph because it was of a Ferrari in action, taken from a Ferrari cockpit- and how much closer to the spirit of these wonderful cars can you get?’

Scuderia Ferrari entered five cars in the 1957 event... 315S models for Piero Taruffi (his car fitted with a 335 engine) and Count Wolfgang ‘Taffy’ von Trips, and the latest 4 litre quad-cam 335S models for Collins/ Klemantaski and Marquis ‘Fon’ de Portago and Ed Nelson. Finally, a 250LWB was entered for Olivier Gendebien and his navigator M Washer.

Taruffi won the race and then retired with Von Trips in second. The Collins car retired at the 5 hour 3 minute mark with a broken driveshaft. Sadly, and infamously de Portago/ Nelson perished in a gruesome accident also which took the lives of nine spectators, five of whom were children in the village of Guidizzolo, Lombardy, 110 Km east of Milan.

Some reports say de Portago should have changed his tyres earlier, a blowout the cause of the accident. The race was banned as a consequence, and so ended a tradition which commenced in 1927, the event run 24 times from then until 1957.

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The view at speed…somewhere in Italy! Klemantaski shot from the Collins 335S (Louis Klemantaski)

The Mile Miglia was started by Count Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti… after the Italian Grand Prix was moved from their home town of Brescia to Monza. They chose a race from Brescia to Rome and back, a figure-eight course of 1500Km or 1000 Roman Miles.

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1957 Mille Miglia course, the race won by Piero Taruffi, Ferrari 315S, from Taffy Von Trips in a similar car and the Scuderia Ferrari 250GT LWB of Gendebien/ Washer

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Fon de Portago/Ed Nelson in their Ferrari 335S go thru the Futa Pass on their fateful ’57 Mille run. (Yves Debraine)

Various courses were used over the years with many of the greats of the day winning. Tazio Nuvolari Alfa 6C 1750 in 1930 and 8C 2300 in 1933, Rudy Caracciola in a Benz SSK 1931, Achille Varzi Alfa Monza 1934 and Alberto Ascari in a Lancia B24 in 1954 included.

Over the years Italians won the race the most, from 1953 to 1957 the event was a round of the World Sports Car Championship, Stirling Moss famously winning navigated by ‘Motor Sport’ magazines’ Denis Jenkinson, the pair setting the fastest ever time of 10 hours 7 minutes and 48 seconds.

The team covered six reconnaisance laps, Jenkinson making ‘pace notes’ on a scroll of paper contained in an aluminium housing. Dennis ‘calling’ the corners and the stunning ability of Moss resulted in an emphatic and famous 1955 victory in their Mercedes Benz 300SLR.

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The 1957 Ferrari 335S…was a development of the 860 Monza and 290 MM sports racers of 1956.

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The Collins/ P Hill Ferrari 335S at Le Mans 1957, DNF engine failure on lap 2 (Unattributed)

A tubular steel chassis frame was fitted with independent unequal length wishbones, coil springs and hydraulic shocks at the front. A de Dion rear axle located by twin radius arms, transverse leaf spring and hydraulic shocks was fitted at the rear.

Drum brakes were used all round, steering was by worm and sector. A strong 4 speed transaxle took all the torque of the big V12 with 6X16 inch and 7X 16 inch tyres fitted front/rear, the whole lot weighing a relatively light 880Kg dry.

The 335 Sport was the height of development of Ferraris’ complex but powerful 4 cam front-engined sports cars which won the World Sports Car Championship in 1957, defeating arch rivals Maserati in the process.

Ferrari 335S cutaway

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Side profile of the Hawthorn Ferrari 335S on the exit of Tertre Rouge corner Le Mans 1957. He shared the car with Luigi Musso, and again DNF due to engine failure (Louis Klemantaski)

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4 litre V12 engine of the Collins 335S during a Mille Miglia pitstop (Louis Klemantaski)

The engines of the 290, 315 and 335S were primarily designed by Vittorio Bellantani…the ex-Maserati engineer received assistance from Vittorio Jano, some elements of the engine having a passing design relationship to Janos’ fabulous D50 Lancia V8 of 1954/55. Jano of course came across to Ferrari from Lancia in the deal which ‘saved Ferrari’s bacon’, devoid of a competitive Grand Prix car at the time.

The 60 degree all aluminium V12 displaced 4023cc with a bore/stroke of 77X72mm. DOHC were deployed with 2 valves per cylinder. Six Weber 44DCN carbs fed the engine with twin plugs and four coils providing the spark. Maximum power was 390bhp @ 7400rpm.

The Klemantaski Archive quotes Phil Hill as saying ‘the 335S was the best front-engined car ever built by Ferrari and certainly the fastest’.

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Cockpit of restored 335S ‘0764’ . 4 speed rear mounted transaxle, worm and sector steering. (Unattributed)

 


 

Etcetera…

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Scuderia Ferrari in Brescia before the 1957 MM start. #534 Collins/Klemantaski, #531 de Portago/Nelson, #417 Gendebien/Washer, #532 Von Trips and the privately entered Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa of Gino Munaron

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Piero Taruffi in the winning 335 engined Ferrari 315S. MM 1957. This very successful driver retired after winning the event then writing ‘The Technique of Motor Racing’, a rather good book! (Unattributed)

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De Portago and Peter Collins in colored beanie before the MM start. Louise Collins in the striped blouse at the rear (Louis Klementaski)

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de Portago and Nelson leave the Rome control in 4th place (Louis Klemantaski)

Photo Credits…

Louis Klemantaski Archive, Yves Debraine, G Cavara cutaway drawing

Tailpiece…

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An equally stunning shot as the one at the start of this article. It reflects the fanatical Italian crowd and their proximity to the cars. Its poignant for that reason as it is one of the last shots of ‘Fon’ de Portago before the fatal accident which took his and ten others lives. Ferrari 335S ‘0676’ Mille Miglia 1957. (Unattributed)

Finito…

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Despite its sculptured Scaglietti flanks, never has an 860 Monza looked quite so good…actress Linda Christian adorns ‘Fon’ de Portagos’ Ferrari

The Marquis Alfonso De Portago, Spanish nobleman and journey-man driver was accompanied by Linda Christian at the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix, an event for Sports Cars.

Fidel Castros’ insurgents’ were on the move in the countryside but for the Batistas’ life went on. Keen to attract wealthy American tourists to the country to pump much needed funds into their moribund economy, an annual motor race was part of a plan to raise Cuba’s profile and provide an event to ‘attract the punters’.

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Out of focus and slightly surreal as a result…Fangio in his Maserati 300S, Malecon Boulevard, Havana, 1957 (Hy Peskin Collection)

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Wonderful panorama of Havanas Malecon circuit. # 14 is the Phil Hill Ferrari 857S, De Portagos’ Monza behind it with Linda Christian alighting…# 16 also a Ferrari , driver unknown ( Pinterest)

Ferrari 860 Monza…

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‘Fon De Portago Ferrari 860 Monza, unprotected nature of the circuit clear, 7 spectators killed in the 1958 event (Pinterest)

The 860 Monza was Ferraris front line sports car weapon, together with the V12 290MM in 1956.

It was part of the family of sports cars built over much of the ’50’s based on the Lampredi designed DOHC, 2 valve, Weber carbed 4 cylinder engine which first found success in the Tipo 500 F2/F1 cars. Ascari won the Championship in 1952 and 1953 in the Tipo 500.

The engine gave circa 310BHP from its 3431cc, gearbox was 4 speed. The usual Ferrari ladder frame of the period was used, drum brakes all round stopped the relatively light car which tipped the scales at 860Kg. The cars curvaceous body was built by Scaglietti.

Independent front suspension by wishbones and coil springs was new for the 860, and effective. A De Dion rear axle was at the rear, sprung by a transverse leaf spring.

 3 cars were built, the models most notable victories were at the Sebring 12 Hours and the Rouen GP, both in 1956.

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The field before lining up pre grid on Malecon Avenue, Havana

The Race and Aftermath…

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On the front row, De Portago Ferrari Monza, Phil Hill Fazz 857S Monza and Schell in the yellow Maser 300S, all the fun of the fair, over 100,000 spectators (Pinterest)

De Portago fought a race long battle with Fangios 300S and Carroll Shelby’s Ferrari 410 finishing third on the Havana waterfront street circuit.

The public relations opportunities for Batista evaporated rapidly when the Presidential motorcade, enroute to his palace was confronted by a relatively small group of ‘natives’ seeking favours from the President, the armed escorts beating the people with unbelievable ferocity and brutality. This fuelled the flames of the resistance movement further .

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Start of the race, Moss Maserati 300S, D Type Jag # 24 of local driver Alfonso Gomez-Mena (Pinterest)

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Fangio # 2 passes De Portago who is slowing a bit on lap 69 in Parque Mart. Maserati 300S and Ferrari Monza (Pinterest)

Jumping forward a year Fangio was kidnapped at gunpoint from his hotel the evening before the race by the rebels. He was returned to the Argentinian Embassy after the abortive event in which 40 spectators were injured and 7 died after local driver Armando Cifuentes lost control of his Ferrari and ploughed into the unprotected crowd.

The ‘race’ lasted 15 minutes or 6 laps Stirling Moss was declared the winner in his Maserati 300S.

Fangio was later to say he was never concerned for his safety,  he was held in a comfortably appointed apartment, was fed well, given a radio to listen to the race and was personally apologised to by Castros’ second in command.

In 1959 the race was not held as Castros revolution was in its final stages, in 1960 he had power. Anxious to create a sense of normality the race proceeded albeit on a circuit at army ‘Camp Freedom’, Moss the winner in a Maserati Birdcage.

Such grubby bourgeois activities as motor racing ceased and ‘Camp Freedom’ used to house the sort of people who attended such events…

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The beauty of the city and enthusiasm of the crowd, and its size come thru in all these shots! De Portago, Ferrari Monza 860 (Pinterest)

Linda Christian and De Portago…

Linda Christian was a successful Mexican/ American actor who starred in the first TV adaptation of the Bond novel ‘Casino Royale’ and in Tarzan, amongst many others. She was with De Portago for that fateful Mille Miglia later in 1957…

De Portago kissed Christian, jumped into his Ferrari 335S, and 70Km before Brescia the car blew a tyre, ploughed into the crowd killing Portago, co-driver Ed Nelson, 9 spectators and the Mille Miglia.

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de Portago and Phil Hill before the race, Havana 1957 (Pinterest)

Etcetera…

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Hill/O’Shea Ferari 857S Monza, Malecon Circuit pits, Cuba 1957 (Pinterest)

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The Castellotti Ferrari 290MM, V12 engined compared with the Monza 4 cylinder engine, both were Ferraris 1956 works Sports Car Championship entries . Castellotti in yellow polo shirt. (Pinterest)

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‘Chicken-plucker’ Carroll Shelby in trademark farmers overalls in the third place Ferrari 410, 1957 would be a great year for him. (Pinterest)

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Military very much to the fore…Fangio Maserati 300S # 2, Castellotti Ferrari 290MM # 10 (Pinterest)

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Juan Manuel Fangio beside his Maserati 300S in Cuba at the start of his final full season of racing in 1957. He drove for Maserati in both Sports and Grand Prix events, winning his fifth F1 World Title in the fabulous and by that time evergreen Maserati 250F…that car finally getting the title it deserved (Pinterest)

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Moss Maserati 300S beside the John Edgar owned # 78 Ferrari 4.9 driven by Carini (Pinterest)

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Hill/O’Shea Ferrari 857S Monza, Cuba 1957. Paul O’Shea checking out the engine (Pinterest)

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Fangio after the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix and release by his Castro captors…(Pinterest)

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It is not recorded if Che and Fidel attended one of Cubas’ Grands Prix…

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Photo and Other Credits…

Pinterest, Havana May Blogspot, Hy Peskin Collection

The End…