FB Instagram

Moretti's Ferrari (English Version)

• Por Alfa Romeo Clube do Brasil
50 years ago two Italian "gentleman drivers" came to São Paulo with the most powerful and fastest racing car that had ever appeared on the tracks.
Moretti's Ferrari (English Version)

MORETTI'S FERRARI

                                                                                By Alberto Maurício Caló  

 


 

50 years ago, two Italian gentlemen drivers came to São Paulo with the most powerful and fastest racing car that had ever appeared on Brazilian tracks.

 

Alberto Maurício Caló tells the incredible adventure of a small Italian team and their fabulous Ferrari in ....

 


MORETTI'S FERRARI

 

Our story begins with an event that shook the automotive world. After a Ford versus Ferrari in the 60's we had a Porsche versus Ferrari in the 70's. This time a “classic contest” between two European racing car manufacturers.

 


THE BATTLE OF THE TITANS - 1970/1971

 

A well-known story, but worth repeating. Since the 1950s, there has always been some controversy over what the “sports version of a touring car” was, a “sports car”, a “grand touring” or GT car and a “racing prototype”.


And how to mix them up in a race and group them by categories, with different criteria, such as cylinder capacity (displacement), engine aspiration form, number of passengers, number of vehicles produced, etc.?


In the mid-sixties, the prototypes of the top category, no longer had displacement limitations, although they had to observe prosaic regulations such as the ability to carry a suitcase of certain dimensions, a spare tire, a complete electrical system and a passenger seat, no matter how tight and uncomfortable.

 

Frightened by the performance of the gigantic Ford J and Chaparral-Chevrolet with their 7-liter engines that competed in the 1967 championship, the FIA announced that for 1968 the regulations would come into force that provided for prototypes engines limited to 3,000cc or 3 liters. (Group 6). To take advantage of already built cars and not have to stick with “thin” grids, the FIA regulated the Sport or “Sport” class (Group 5) with engines of up to 5 liters and at least 50 examples built for homologation. Then an amendment to the regulation was made, reducing the quantity for approval in the “sport class” to 25 copies. The initial idea was to house the Ford GT 40 (with more than 50 units already built) and with this addendum, also the Lola-Chevrolets.

 

What the FIA forgot was to say that these 5-liter engine blocks should be derived from series blocks, as in fact the Ford and Chevrolet were. This forgetfulness opened the gap to make true 5-liter prototypes with engines specially built for such purposes.

 

This spurred Porsche on with good financial support from its partnership with VW to build 25 examples of the Porsche 917, which was unveiled in May 1969, in what was followed by Ferrari later that year.

 

After a providential injection of capital by FIAT, Ferrari announces at the restaurant Gatto Verde at the foot of the Apennines, hovering over Maranello, its decision to produce 25 copies of a 5-liter prototype that would become the Ferrari 512 S.

 

The “battle of the titans”, or Ferrari vs Porsche, began with the best drivers in the world at the wheels. A brief (1970/1971) but unforgettable time in the history of sports car racing. A show we will probably never see again.

 

But paradoxically, this soon created an unprecedented problem for Ferrari and Porsche.


During the sixties and until then, these prototypes were made in very few units, used by the official teams and, in the following season, carefully distributed to the “client teams” that already had a good structure.

 

Also, because Porsche and Ferrari were jealous of their reputation and did not pass these cars on to amateurs who could have disastrous performances, tarnishing the prestige of the brands.

 

But now the situation was different. They would have at least 25 cars, very expensive, highly specialized prototypes that would soon have to be sold to third parties. Cars that in 1970 already had power figures close to 550 HP and even more than that in 1971.

 

Counting on the needs of the official teams, client teams, reserve cars, etc., there would still be a good number of cars to be sold, to “pay-back” part of the investments.



HOMOLOGATION

 

The factories' first difficulty was to present the 25 cars built for homologation. Initially the factories sent a “order list” to the FIA confirming a “production order”. But normally it was a “hypothetical list”.

 

John Starkey in his book “Lola T-70” recalled the homologation of the Lolas T-70 coupés by the FIA to the new 1968 championship rule.

 

Eric Broadley, Lola's boss, was comfortable as he had already produced a much larger quantity of T-70 spiders in the MKI and MK II versions but was surprised in early 1968 as the FIA wanted to see 25 Lolas T 70 MKIII "coupés" of which he had only made 11 examples since early 1967.

 

Starkey describes in his book” -...Lola called all its English customers to “return” their cars to the factory. He put them in line and then lined up all the chassis in the assembly line and then lined up some more “body kits” available.........and made the FIA stewards go through this “forged assembly line” very quickly, after a lot of conversation and a very good lunch...”.

 

Rico Steinemann, Director of Competitions at Porsche, recalled (quoted here by Kiko Barros in an excellent article in the Brazilian Porsche Clubnews of Sept/ Nov 2001).


“FIA inspectors were content with statements that the cars would be built and accepted, as evidence, customer order lists or the existence of parts and components…… long halls with mirrors in the back, forged documents, and endless factory tours where five cars were displayed in the morning, then five more at lunch, five more in the afternoon and so on, when in fact it was always the same five cars. ......... We had components and parts for the twenty-five cars required, but we had only assembled six and the FIA demanded that we had the twenty-five units ready...... we provided everybody in the factory a screwdriver to assemble the twenty-five Porsche 917s..........to the surprise of the FIA inspectors there were twenty-five Porsche 917s in a row..........all engines worked, the gears engaged and they moved back and forth...........but surely only three or four would successfully complete a lap around the block...........after the inspectors' visits all the cars were dismantled and later reassembled by "a little more skillful mechanics..."


In fact, the FIA had carried out an inspection on March 20th of 1969 and found only three (or six depending on version) complete cars, others in various stages of construction and parts and chassis to assemble the others. With the homologation being refused, Porsche “ran” to assemble the 25 cars, as reported above, for the inspection on April, 21st of 1969, although most of the cars were not exactly in “running order”.


In fact, over the years Porsche went too far and ended up building 59 cars including long-tail and coupé versions of the early series (1969), 36 chassis of the famous short-tailed 917 K (Kurzweck) including the rare examples with “magnesium chassis”, new versions with long tail body (70/71), experimental hybrid versions like the 917/20 (1971) and spider “Can-Am” versions (917/30) in addition to a number of chassis that never competed and became “donor” of parts.


Photo: Maranello- The 512 S lined up for inspection. Note that the rear hood is still in the original configuration without the various spoilers that would be added. Homologation would be in January 1970 before departure to Daytona. Further down a yellow 512, possibly the chassis 1002 of the Scuderia Montjuic from Spain. The other “factory” yellow 512 S would be the 1030 chassis of the Belgian team Ecurie Francorchamps (Jacques Swaters). In the homologation 17 cars were assembled and some more chassis and bodies for 8 further copies ....




Photo: Ristorante Gatto Verde -Maranello November 6th of 1969: the 512 S and his parents from left to right engineers Walter Salvarani, Giacomo Caliri, Franco Rocchi, Giancarlo Bussi, Giovanni Marelli, Giuseppe Dondo and Mauro Forghieri.

 


Stuttgart, Germany, April, 21st of 1969: 25 Porsche 917s in the initial “ long tail” version awaiting FIA inspection.

 

With Ferrari, the FIA was a little more permissive. Homologation took place in January 1970 on the eve of the departure of five cars to Daytona/USA. Only seventeen cars out of twenty-five were ready. The others "in assembly". But knowing the huge fights that Ferrari could create and not wanting to be a “disappointment” to the American promoters (Daytona and Sebring ) the FIA approved the 512 anyway.

 

To give you an idea, the Porsche 917 was launched in March 1969 with a “list” price of 140,000 marks equivalent in period values (about 35 to 38 thousand US dollars) while a new 911 would cost between US$ 4.2 to US$ 5 thousand. That's not counting spare parts, etc. and everything else that would be the “package” for operating a racing car competitively.

 

John Woolfe the first “privateer” to buy the Porsche 917 would have paid the equivalent of 16,000 pounds sterling (at which time the pound was worth more than twice the dollar).

 

And it is precisely in this scenario that the “search” for these new customers begins.



Photo: Porsche Courtyard, Stuttgart, April, 21st of 1969: the famous FIA inspections: lots of talk...an aperitif ....visit to the factory….a good lunch...visit to the racing department... more talk... a cup of tea or coffee... and lots of cars most of which wouldn't be able to go around the block ... in dark suit and tie the young Porsche Competition Director Ferdinand Piech,  later to become famous President of Volkswagen Group and an automobile industries' tycoon.



FAST AS A FORMULA 1

 

Let it be understood. In the 50's, 60's and early 70's it was common for F1 or “grand  prix pilots” to actively participate in F-2 and prototype racing. Not only because the F-1 championship was made up of few races, but also so that these drivers could complete their gains as professionals.

 

So, in a normal context , the factory 917s and 512s and those of the “satellite” teams were actually driven by drivers who were, were, or would soon be F1 drivers. Talented and experienced drivers (example: at Porsche, Jo Siffert , Pedro Rodriguez, Brian Redman , Richard Atwood, Helmut Marko ) (example in Ferrari, Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx , Chris Amon, John Surtees, Jo Bonnier, Mike Parkes ). Occasional participants in these Porsches, Ferraris, Lolas, Matra Simcas or Alfa Romeos were people like Ronnie Peterson, Denny Hulme, Jack Brabham, Henri Pescarolo, Jean Pierre Beltoise, Jackie Stewart, Reine Wissel, Tim Schenken , Carlos Reutemann , Emerson Fittipaldi , etc.

 

And so, they should be. But why?

 

Because the 917 and 512 had a power-to-weight ratio close to an F 1 and – believe me – in the 1970 season they even bested the F-1's time on certain faster tracks, taking advantage of their aerodynamic bodies. For example, in 1970, Jacky Ickx with a Ferrari 312 B set the fastest F1 lap of the Austrian GP in 1'40'4 ex-aequo with his teammate Clay Regazzoni. The same Ickx, in the same venue (Zeltweg also known as Osterreichring) now with a Ferrari 512 M he made the best lap of the 1.000Kms of Austria with 1`40`` 0.

 

These prototypes were so fast that they also entered the Can-Am races (then the fastest category in the world on a road circuit), against the McLarens, Chaparral and Lolas of 7 liters and were not so far behind, always qualifying well, although without be able to beat the almost 800hp McLaren Chevrolet.

 

Finally, 917s and 512s were among the fastest cars in the world and required top-notch drivers behind the wheel.

 


Photo: Monza was an extremely fast and untechnical track without the chicanes. In 1971 the best lap of the 1.000 km of Monza in 1971 was set by Pedro Rodriguez (Porsche 917) in 1'24. and the best lap of the F1 Italian GP was set by Henri Pescarolo (March Cosworth) in 1`23``8. In the same year (1971) and on the same track Emerson Fittipaldi with the famous Lotus-Turbine Car (Lotus 56-B Pratt & Whitney) qualified on the F1 grid in 18th position in 1`25`18 (photo).

 

But that became a problem. Now they had to sell some cars to less qualified teams with more or less amateur drivers.

 

It was a dangerous context and that became clear when Porsche sold the first 917 to a private team, the “John Woolfe Racing” owned by British entrepreneur and amateur driver John Woolfe .


Upon receiving his car, it was immediately entered in Le Mans 1969 even before the small English team had time to put it in their official colors (Royal blue with yellow stripes). The car was presented in official Porsche white with longitudinal blue and yellow stripes.

 

It is well known that these first 917s from 1969 were very unstable cars, difficult to drive, with long tail bodies. Short-tailed, more “civilized” cars would not appear until the 1970 season. As he took his first laps in practice, Woolfe 's co- driver Digby Martland , soon withdrew from the competition claiming that the 917 was "not a car for amateurs". Porsche hastily arranges for its experienced test driver, Herbert Linge , to qualify the car and team up with Woolfe in the race.

 

Woolfe was a 37-year-old British amateur driver and for the first time he was in a very competitive car starting in ninth place. According to the period newspapers` version, Woolfe had brought the whole family from England to see him in action in the most traditional race in Europe. Knowing that in long races the car could break down even before the second driving stint, Woolfe insists on participating in the start (still in the old style with drivers running to the cars on the other side of the track) and doing the first driving stint.

 

It is not known what actually happened, but the consequence of this type of start was common for several drivers to do this first driving stint with their seat belts unbuckled, or, worse, try to lace-up them with the car in gear.



Woolfe Racing 's tragically famous Porsche 917 illustrated at its worst what could happen to unstable, fast prototypes in less experienced hands.

 

The consequences would be tragic. Possibly excited to be amongst the leaders, (he was 12th at the time of the accident) and running close to the “factory” Porsches still on the first lap Woolfe skids at Maison Blanche, the car crashes and breaks in half causing his death and a massive fire that hit other competitors including Chris Amon's Ferrari 312P.



WIDOWMAKERS

 

Porsche, in addition to the defeat for the Ford GT 40 at Le Mans 1969, still faces criticism from the world press for having sold a prototype not yet properly developed to a private team, causing the death of its driver.

 

The car is called the “widowmaker”.

 

In this dramatic context, in late 1969, Porsche and Ferrari will have to look for buyers for their magnificent (and dangerous) 917s and 512s.

 

The problem of Porsches 917s and Ferraris 512s in the hands of small private teams would be the ones that everyone already imagines, for example:

- Lack of preparation of the teams to give adequate maintenance and adjustment to sophisticated cars;

- Lack of adequate stock of parts due to “tight budgets”;

- Lack of experienced drivers to set up the car;

- Inappropriate choice of “minor” events (such as events on winding tracks, events on street circuits, hill climbs).

 

All this collaborating so that these small private teams sometimes ended up giving more or less embarrassment and their private 917 and 512s ended up being “sitting ducks” to be beaten by low-displacement prototypes prepared and piloted by more professional and competent hands.

 

Happily, on the other hand, another part of the demand for cars would be the official teams and traditional customers.

 

In the case of Porsche, the 917 would be used by the factory team, in 1970 represented by Porsche Salzburg (owned by Louise Piech, born Louise Porsche, and mother of Ferdinand Piech, Porsche´s Competition Director, head of the 917 project) by the Gulf Porsche (John Wyer)  and Martini Racing (Count Gregorio Rossi di Montelera of Martini & Rossi).

 

In the case of Ferrari, Scuderia Ferrari would own some cars, the others would go to the American team NART North American Racing Team (Luigi Chinetti),

for the Swiss Scuderia Filipinetti (Georges Filipinetti) and the Belgian Ecurie Francorchamps / a.k.a. Ecurie Nationale de Belge – Jacques Swaters).



Moretti , Manfredini and the “Scuderia Picchio Rosso”

 

Gianpiero Moretti (1940-2012) would build a respected curriculum as a pilot and businessman.

 

A member of a traditional Milanese family of the pharmaceutical industry, he found his own ways and in the mid-60s he created the factory of small sports steering wheels, with leather-covered rims with his “Momo” brand, to which he would join the manufacture of his competition overalls under the brand name “Nomex”. Both brands (Momo and Nomex) would eventually become their pseudonyms on the tracks.

 

But the truth is that by the end of 1969 Moretti was an amateur, a gentleman driver with a limited curriculum.

 

Until 1967/68 Moretti had practically only participated in Italian national competitions, most of which were hill climbs and with low-capacity cars (Fiats, Fiat Abarths, Simca Abarths and then a 2-litre Porsche 911). Some participations in Mugello Circuit and Targa Florio without major results and with few continental European competitions of international level.

 

It was not until 1969 that, associated with his friend Corrado Manfredini (with a longer but equally limited curriculum) that they gathered at the Scuderia Picchio Rosso (of some tradition in Italian F2 and F3) they start to compete in races with a more up-to-date car, a Porsche 907.

 

The 1969 year would give the first more significant results to Moretti as a 4th place in the  “6hs of Vila Real” (Portugal) in a Porsche 907 paired with Manfredini and a 10th place overall and 1st class in the Targa Florio with a 2-liter Porsche 911, this time paired with Everardo Ostini.

 

Corrado Manfredini, also a gentleman driver, 9 years older than Moretti was a veteran of the now defunct “Mille Miglia”, with some international races including Brazil in 1957 (Interlagos-São Paulo and Quinta da Boa Vista Circuit-Rio de Janeiro). But his racing career was equally an amateur affair, with more active years and less active years, including because he ran the family business in the construction/real estate development  with his father Ercoliano Manfredini in the business that still exists today created in Rovigo and later transferred to Milan.

 

This is how, taking advantage of his good relations and friendship with the “Commendatore” Ferrari and his son Piero Lardi Ferrari, Moretti was invited, or invited himself to purchase a Ferrari 512 S for Scuderia Picchio Rosso. It is said that half of the car`s price was paid for with Momo steering wheels, which at that time replaced the beautiful Nardi wood rimmed wheels in Ferrari sports cars. Others say the entire car was paid for with a stock of steering wheels (who knows?). Others still claim that the car was bought in partnership with Manfredini, and Moretti paid his share with the steering wheels…

 

Finally, the value of a 512 at the time was 25 million Italian lire, that is, in any case, a small “fortune” (a period value of $39/40,000 US dollars when a luxury car would cost around $7,000 to $8,000).

 

And so, begins one of the most incredible stories of the adventures of a small team and an exceptional car.

 

Moretti himself recalled that he went to collect the car at the factory, took just three laps around the Ferrari`s test track to a “shakedown” and left for the 24 hours of Daytona to be held on January, 31st of 1970 with Manfredini and only 2 mechanics without knowing anything else about the car and its behavior on the track.

 

That was chassis 1032.

 

24 HS of Daytona (USA) – January, 31st of 1970

Drivers: Moretti / Manfredini - race car number: 30



Photo: Daytona, January of 1970. A brand-new Ferrari 512 S (chassis 1032) is prepared for the start of practice. Moretti had driven the car briefly in Modena. Manfredini was going to be introduced to him right there in Daytona.

 


Photo: Daytona 24 Hs, January, 31st of 1970. Moretti and Manfredini on the same occasion were “introduced” to the American track where they had never set a foot before.


At Daytona, naturally, they started from the back of the field (33rd time with 2'19'') well away from the other 512 and 917. The 512 in pole position made 1'51''56. Even so, in the long race, after three hours of race they are in 11th place and after six hours of race they were in 9th place. After midnight they were involved in a minor accident with another Ferrari (NART´s 512 S of Gurney /Parsons). At approximately 3 AM, after 12 hours (or half) of the race, when they were up to 7th place, they abandoned due to suspension trouble. (Eventually attributed to the “touch” with the NART`s Ferrari).

 

RAC “ Easter Cup” – Truxton / England March, 30th of 1970

Driver: Moretti - race car number:2

 

They return to Italy where the Ferrari is repaired at the factory and in March they decide to “take a ride” with the Picchio Rosso team in the truck that was taking the Brambilla brothers’(Vittorio and Ernesto) Formula-2 cars to a British race at Truxton for the inaugural round of the European Formula 2 Championship. 

Formula 2 was very prestigious and several of the F-1 aces were present. Picchio Rosso carried two older single-seaters, a Brabham BT 23 for Vittorio Brambilla and a Ferrari Dino 166 F-2 for his brother Ernesto “Tino” Brambilla .


The “supporting” event of F-2 was the season opener of the British National Championship of sports cars and prototypes, the “Royal Automobile Club Easter Cup” on March, 30th of 1970. 


It was a short 25-lap race, also referred to by some as “Embassy Trophy”. The race brings together prototypes of different classes, with the works’ Chevron B 16 (1.8 liter) on pole position with Brian Redman at the wheel, followed by David Piper's Lola T70 and Moretti starting in 3rd with the Ferrari.

The favorite, Jo Siffert, started from sixth with the David Piper's Porsche 917.


Moretti, surprisingly, takes the lead and manages to lead briefly ahead of the Porsche 917 with Jo Siffert behind the wheel.  

But the euphoria is short-lived. Pressed by Siffert , and unused to the track, Moretti soon gets over-excited and leaves the track on the second lap, damaging the Ferrari's rear hood.



Photo: Moretti leads briefly with the Ferrari at Truxton Circuit (Hampshire, Southern England) - march, 30th of 1970.

 

The following event is the subject of doubt. One version says that Moretti went to participate in an Italian championship race in Vallelunga, near Rome. In fact, on April 4th and 5th of 1970, an Italian championship stage was planned in Vallelunga (Coppa Automobile Club di Roma ) but there is no further information on whether Moretti actually participated in the event. The version that considers this hypothesis suggests that Moretti would also have suffered an accident in this race. The data collected indicate, however, that this event in Vallelunga was not open to groups 5 and 6 cars (sports and prototypes) but only to Group 4 cars (grand touring and modified touring cars).

 

Coppa Automobile Club di Verona – Monza / Italy – April 12th of 1970

Driver: Manfredini - race car number: 2


The dominant and proven version claims that the next event was on April 12th of 1970 at Monza with Manfredini at the wheel as amply confirmed by the entry list and press reports shortly after the race. This event would be the “1st Coppa Automobile Club di Verona” at the Monza racetrack, a national event for Group 4 and 5 cars. It was an Italian championship event; it is worth remembering that the race was on the same weekend as the 1.000 km of Brands Hatch that attracted the top teams contesting the world championship. For the Monza race, Manfredini was the clear favorite and already had the best time in practice, but according to witnesses, at the end of practice the Ferrari was on fire and Manfredini takes time to notice and stop the car. The fire, which was caused by leaking brake fluid, causes irreparable damage to chassis 1032.

 


The late Giacomo Moioli (“Noris”) seen here with the same Porsche 910 with which he would win the Coppa Automobile Club di Verona in Monza, was an esteemed veteran amateur racer, expert in hill climbs. Unfortunately, he would disappear a few years later in an accident with his Porsche 908/2.

 

This race would be won by Noris'  Porsche 910 (being “Noris” a pseudonym of Giacomo Moioli), a well-known expert in hill climbs whose main opponents in Monza were the Abarth 2000 prototypes of Carlo Benelli and Antonio Zadra.  Most of the field in this race being touring and grand touring cars mainly Alfas GTAs and Porsches 911s.

 

The 512 chassis 1032 returns to the factory where they try to rescue some mechanical components. It seems uncontroversial that remaining parts of the 1032 chassis were later used by Manfredini to assemble the 1050 chassis in which in 1971 he would appear in the world championship events at Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans. The Manfredini/ Gagliardi duo was entered in 1971 under the banner of Scuderia Filipinetti. This chassis is nowadays known as “1032/1050”.

 


OUR CAR

 

Here comes a new chassis, the 1022.

 

Now begins the true story of the cars known by Brazilian fans as the “Moretti´s Ferrari”. The car that was shown in Brazil in 1.000 Miles race and  the Copa Brasil at Interlagos.

 

There is no doubt about this car that came to Brazil, but its origin was a little controversial as we will see below.

 

In other words, everyone seems certain that this chassis is the 1022, but its origin was uncertain till recently.

 


A VERSION

 

Used chassis or new chassis? The current version says that chassis 1022 was an original Scuderia Ferrari car that started its life competing in the 24 hs of Daytona January, 31st of 1970 with  Vaccarella/Giunti at the wheel with the nº 26 and ended up crashing after a suspension failure in the race.

 

According to this version, chassis 1022, still at Scuderia Ferrari, was repaired and sent to the Le Mans test session in 11thand 12th of April 1970 using a long tail body and driven by Jacky Ickx. They took a very competitive 2nd time overall...

 

So, this car would be one of  the “leading” cars of Ferrari works team, driven by its main F1 driver in the tests with a long tail body that was specially prepared for the long straight of Le Mans (Hanaudières for the French or Mulsanne for the Britons).

 

What supports this version that the 1022 was already a used car, is the fact that the Scuderia was known for selling its own cars, even often selling used cars as “new” ones. Another fact that supports this version is that the car was delivered in Monza for Moretti and Manfredini to compete in the 1.000Kms of Monza just two weekends later than the unfortunate accident of chassis 1032, meaning that 1.022 was ready in running condition (leading to believe that it was actually an existing and used car).

 

Finally, some even detail that the engine had been stressed at Le Mans and blow up at the end of the official timing session at Monza where Ferrari promptly provided a new one for the race.