racing slice

Ferrari 250 GTO

Mourning damage to a Ferrari 250 GTO while reminiscing about a memorable Marane1lo pilgrimage involving a divine intervention.

By the time you read this, I will have winged my way across the Atlantic to spend the winter in Florida. I’ve had a great summer in the UK, the highlights being the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Silverstone GP and Classic. It was an honour for me to present the trophies for the John Fitzpatrick Trophy race at the Classic and quite a surprise to see just how fast these cars are circulating these days. The standard of preparation is amazing, even surpassing that of the original factory cars.

It was the same at the Revival but I was saddened to see Lord Bamford’s Ferrari 250 GTO badly damaged in the GT race. I’d imagine Graham Hill and Mike Parkes would’ve been turning in their graves. I know that some of these cars are worth millions and just how much damage can you really do, but I’d like to see a little more respect for such classic machinery.

I was lucky enough to drive Harry Leventis’ 330 LMB at Silverstone a few years back and was very aware of its value.

Talking about Ferraris, I was racing at Mugello in 1978 and after the race we drove up to Maranello to collect a 308 GTS that I had ordered through Ron Hodgson, the Ferrari dealer in Australia. I’d won Bathurst with Bobby Morris in Ron’s Holden Torana and he gave me a very generous discount on the new Ferrari. A good Italian friend of mine, Bruno Colodi, who ran a superb Italian restaurant in Birmingham, was a Ferrari fanatic and when he heard that I was going to the factory to pick up the car, he flew out with me and came to the race. We drove up to Maranello and he couldn’t wait to walk through the hallowed doors.

When we arrived at the customer delivery department the receptionist asked us to wait because Mauro Forghieri – chief engineer for both the FI and the sports car team – had asked to see us. Bruno was very excited about this and we were given a tour of the race department, where the FI cars were being prepared alongside the sports cars. After our short tour he took us into his office for a coffee. The offices were either side of a corridor with glass walls so you could see people walking past.

I was talking to Forghieri when I noticed that Bruno had gone very still and quiet. I looked across at the corridor and Enzo Ferrari was walking slowly past. Forghieri saw him and signalled for him to come into the office. When he entered we all stood up and we were introduced to him. He spoke a few words to me in English and then to Bruno in Italian. Bruno was completely dumbstruck. He just could not speak. He tried to but it was as if the Pope or Jesus Christ himself had walked in. Enzo left and Bruno sat down, ashen-faced, and wasn’t quite the same for a long time.

We drove the 308 home and enjoyed every minute. Maranello Concessionaires handled the importation for me and was not best pleased that Ron had sold me the car so cheaply. As is the case with most of my cars, I wish I still owned it today.

Ferrari 250 GTO