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Piloti Che Gente: Peter Collins and Louis Klementaski

This is perhaps Louis Klemantaski's most famous image: Peter Collins on his way to victory during the Giro di Sicilia on April 8, 1956 in a 3.5 liter Ferrari 857S with Klemantaski as his navigator. The Giro, known as the Tour of Sicily in English, was a 671 mile open road circumnavigation of the island, often used as a kind of warm-up for the Mille Miglia. This photograph was used by Enzo Ferrari for the cover of his book Piloti che gente… (Drivers as People).

The Giro used the same long coastal straight as the Targo Florio, with which Collins was familiar from his victory in the Targa with Moss the year before with a Mercedes 300SLR. This knowledge of what was, albeit somewhat straight, still a dangerous Sicilian road allowed Collins to get his elapsed time below that of the leader, Piero Taruffi with a Maserati 300S, and achieve a surprise win by some 53 seconds after a 10-hour race. Luigi Villoresi, the third place finisher with an O.S.C.A., was 28 minutes behind.

There is also some confusion about the Ferrari 3.5 liter four-cylinder sports racers. There were actually two quite different versions. The 857S was a kind of halfway house between the 750 Monza and the models that would follow in 1956. It used the tipo 510 chassis of the 3 liter 750 Monza with a new long stroke 3.5 liter motor derived from the 750's and referred to internally as tipo 129. The 857S had considerable handling deficiencies until modified after its initial races. The subsequent 860 Monza, of which Collins had one for the 1956 Mille Miglia, used the same motor but with the new, more sophisticated and far better handling tipo 520 chassis which was shared with the 3.5 liter V12 290MM. Both the 520 chassis and the 129 motor were developed by a new technical team at Ferrari, following the forced resignation during the summer of 1955 of designer Aurelio Lampredi – father of Ferrari's hugely successful 4-cylinder motors of the early 1950s.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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