THE Italians introduced this new long-distance GT and Prototype event without a great deal of warning, and as it counted in the Manufacturers’ Championship series, it meant that Ferrari could forgo the Sebring 12-hour race and still participate in the required number of championship events, with this one on his doorstep. He sent his team out in force for this event, the only opposition coming from Ford, as regards Prototypes, but as the Le Mans test weekend indicated, the new four-camshaft Ferraris are powerful, fast and reliable.
In order to take a large number of starters, the organisers used the full 10-kilometre Monza circuit, which includes the concrete bankings, and to reduce the risk of things breaking on the modern lightweight cars, some artificial corners were arranged before the entrance to the south banking, otherwise the big Ferraris and Fords would have been hitting the rough concrete at 180 m.p.h. Even so, mechanical breakages were not eliminated and suspensions, steerings, wheels and tyres all suffered in various ways. The 4-litre and 3.3-litre Ferraris ran away from the Ford coupes and in the GT category, where Ferrari did not enter any official cars, the Dutchman Pon and Slotemaker came home ahead of the A.C. Cobras, in the overall picture, even though each car won its class. The race was marred by the fatal accident to Swiss driver Tommy Spychiger, when he crashed in the very fast 4.4-litre Prototype Ferrari of the Scuderia Filipinetti.
An interesting newcomer appeared for this race in the shape of the 1,600 c.c. Dino Ferrari, a GT Prototype coupe using much of Ferrari F.1 knowledge, including the V6 four-camshaft engine mounted amidships. With cast-alloy wheels and all-enveloping coupe body, the Dino looks a very formidable proposition as a prototype car. If, as is promised, Fiat are going to produce it in sufficient numbers for it to be homologated, it will be interesting to see how close to the protyotpe the production models can remain. It was an inauspicious debut, as it went out with engine trouble on the opening lap.