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Test for a Le Mans Winner: Ferrari in Modena, 1961

It is early June 1961 at the Modena Aerautodromo track right in Modena, often used for testing by Ferrari, Maserati and various other racing teams. Here Richie Ginther is sliding into a Ferrari 250TRI/61 which is already wearing its assigned number for the Le Mans 24 Hours which will take place on June 10-11. This TR had been damaged in an "off" by Wolfgang von Trips during the Le Mans test day in April, but was now fully repaired.

Ginther, a longtime friend of Phil Hill, did a lot of the development work for Ferrari during 1960-61 and was the first to suggest the use of a rear spoiler to improve high speed stability. He also drove sports and F1 cars for Ferrari and would drive one of the new 246S prototypes, Ferrari's first rear-engined sports racer, at the coming Le Mans race.

In the photo above Ferrari's technical chief Carlo Chiti seems to be closing the rear deck lid along with one of the mechanics. Perhaps something was sounding loose back there, so shortly afterward Enzo Ferrari's long time mechanical wizard Luigi Bazzi, complete with his trademark cap, climbs into the spare wheel area – it's a tight fit up against that large fuel tank – to listen first hand as Ginther pulls away.

Whatever it was, they did whatever was necessary and sent the TR on to Le Mans where it won the 24 Hours, driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien.

The Aerautodromo was a great local resource and wonderfully informal until the expanding city finally led to its demise. A somewhat more complex small testing circuit has now been built west of Modena.

Photograph by Peter Coltrin ©The Klemantaski Collection

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