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A Mexican Pit Stop: The 1952 Ferrari 250 Sport

The red car above is a Ferrari 250 Sport, the only one built. The "1-2-3" on the car is not a car number but sponsorship by a Mexican oil company. This Ferrari first appeared in the 1952 Mille Miglia, driven by Giovanni Bracco with Alfonso Rolfo as his passenger. The 250 Sport was a sort of factory hot rod of the time. It was based on the 2.7 liter 225 Sport ET with the advanced tuboscocca chassis, the "ET" standing for Export Tuboscocca, which had a tubular structure that ran up around the firewall to provide greater chassis stiffness for racing. Ferrari then fitted a full three liter 250 motor, a forerunner of the next year's highly successful 250MM. With this combination, Bracco and the 250 Sport had achieved an important victory in the Mille Miglia.

After its Mille Miglia win, the 250 Sport had a full season of racing, primarily in Italian events with Bracco at the wheel, including a victory in the 12 Hours of Pescara, but with a visit to Le Mans as well, entered for Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi. They failed to finish, but Ascari set the fastest lap. For the year's final race the 250 Sport was sent to Mexico for the Carrera Panamericana Mexico where Bracco would again be the driver with Gino Bronzoni along with him as mechanical support. The Carrera was a huge and dangerous open road race with its length in 1952 being 1934 miles which was divided into eight stages.

Ferrari also entered four of the new 340 Mexico cars, three berlinettas and one spider, the latter car not actually competing in the Carrera. The main competition were three Mercedes 300SLs, two coupés and a spider. Like Mercedes, Bracco had arrived a month in advance and had carefully checked the entire course, leaving stocks of tires along the route. Thus well prepared, Bracco and the 250 Sport, being refueled above, ran with the leading cars for the first six stages and with consistent results had built up a lead of 3 minutes 45 seconds over the eventual winner, Mercedes driver Karl Kling with his 300SL. Late in the sixth stage the 250's engine had lost power and Bracco knew he would not be able to continue for long, retiring for good some 20 miles down the road during the seventh stage.

All the works Ferraris had been pre-sold before the Carrera to Franco Cornacchia of Scuderia Guastalla in Milan. Cornacchia had many customers racing in South America. Therefore, the 250 Sport eventually found its way to a second year of racing in Argentina.

Photo by Günther Molter ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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