No phantom race
Much seems to have been written recently concerning the racing history of the AC Cobra and, as you point out In your article in April’s Motor Sport, “deciphering the actual and the apocryphal isn’t an easy task”.
One story which seems to have passed into the realms of myth in recent years concerns the alleged ‘cancellation’ of the Coppa Inter Europa at Monza in 1964. Recent articles, including your own, stating that this event was cancelled at the behest of Enzo Ferrari have never rung true particularly after reading Roy Salvadori’s autobiography, in which he claims to have finished second in a race that apparently never happened!
The October 1964 issue of Motor Sport and Denis Jenkinson provide the answer. In his ‘Reflections on the Italian Grand Prix’ Jenks tells us that “after a lot of humming and haaing, and a complete lack of information.., it was finally decided that there would be a one-hour race for GT cars over 2000cc combined with prototypes. This decision was made after it was known that Shelby was not interested in entering…”
The Italian organisers were unhappy because an Aston Martin had beaten the Ferraris in 1963 and they were scared that a Cobra would do the same thing in ’64. No doubt Mr Ferrari was stirring them up on the subject but it would seem that the race had never actually been planned and was only put on in a ‘Ferrari-friendly’ form at the last minute. As such the race was probably never seriously considered as a GT championship event, but the race certainly did happen.
The GT championship in the 1960s was only really a serious concern for Shelby. Despite what seems to have been written of late, Ferrari considered it a fairly low priority after Formula One and prototypes and left it to privateers. Much more important to him was not being beaten in certain high-profile events, hence the politics behind the Coppa Inter Europa. Incidentally, the race was won by Nino Vaccarella from Roy Salvadori and David Piper, all driving 250LM Ferraris.
Monza would not have been the finale to the GT championship anyway: there was a round at Bridgehampton in the USA where Cobras took the top six GT placings and no GT Ferraris ran at all.
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