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November 14th, 2007

Luigi Bazzi tests the new 335S(s/n 0674)at the Modena Autodrome. Photo by Graham Gauld.

MODENA RACING MEMORIES—Italian Sports Car & Grand Prix Racing 1957-1963 by Graham Gauld
148 pp. 10” x 10”
First published in 1999 by Motorbooks International.
Possibly still available at leading motoring bookshops. Some copies available on at around $30.00”

Modena Racing Memories is a book which includes Ferrari lore and is one of those rare books (now out of print) which is totally original. Graham Gauld’s reminiscences of his visits to the Ferrari, Maserati, OSCA and Stanguellini factories in Modena, Italy are fascinating and informative. It was journalists like Graham who helped bring the exciting but hidden world of European motor racing to thousands of us in America in the 1950s and 1960s. “I had tired of reading Denis Jenkinson’s accounts of spending sunny days beside the tiny and confined circuit at Modena waiting to see who turned up to test. I wanted to do it myself,” states Gauld. So the 23-year old, enterprising sports editor of the “small and relative insignificant Scottish weekly motoring magazine called Motor World” boldly wrote letters inviting himself to the factories in Modena.

Gauld behind the wheel of a Morgan based "faux Ferrari", with a special body inspired by the 1951 Ferrari coupe. Gauld co-drove in Scottish rallies with this and other cars. Photo courtesy of Graham Gauld.

In 1957, he didn’t even have a driving license so he coaxed a friend with a new MGA coupe to take the trip with him. At Ferrari, he befriended one Romolo Tavoni, the Ferrari racing manager, who had just finished serving as Enzo Ferrari’s personal secretary. Tavoni and Gauld bonded in a friendship that flourishes still today 50 years later. He visited Modena three more times in 1958, 1960 and 1963, taking the reader into the workshops of the factory to the Modena Autodrome for testing and to visit with Ferrari personalities.

Romolo Tavoni (center) introduced Gauld to the inner sanctum at Ferrari in 1957. They're pictured here 40 years later at a reunion for the members of the Circolo della Biella at the Cavallino Restaurant in Maranello. Photo courtesy of Graham Gauld.

Graham tells his story in a friendly and personal way as he takes the reader through the streets of Modena to the houses of Ferrari, Maserati, OSCA, Stanguellini, Scaglietti and others. The book is replete with observations and stories of Ferrari building road and racing cars and should give us pause to step back from today’s sparkling, perfect restorations and realize just how simple and in many cases crude and rough the cars were. In his 1957 visit, Graham remarked, “The first striking thing was the leisurely and yet confusing way in which these early road Ferraris were built. There seemed to be no order. Down one wall was a series of blueprints, to which the clutch of mechanics around each car constantly referred. . . none of the GTs was in the same state of build. One would have back wheels and axle, some cockpit parts, and perhaps one drum brake at the front. Another would have the full front suspension, steering box and column and Nardi steering wheel, but little else. . . one was left in no doubt that these were hand-built cars.” During his 1958 visit, he observed, “There was now some semblance of a production line . . . The actual production process was now more orderly, and each car was being built to a specific pattern so that much of the hit-and-miss building procedure had disappeared.”

A 250GT chassis, built in the older wing of the Ferrari factory where the metal trestles were still being used. Photo by Graham Gauld.

The photographs, including a number of priceless color shots, document the visits and provide extraordinary insight into the practices of the day and mesmerizing looks behind the scenes. Perhaps the most thought-provoking and haunting are the tragic photographs of the 1957 grand prix cars, the one-off 412 MI and a couple of 250 TRs lying derelict and unwanted in the scrap yard. There are photographs of the people of Ferrari from Enzo himself to Louise and Peter Collins to Carlo Chiti to Ludovico Scarfiotti. There are many photographs of the cars, including exceptional shots of a test session with 335 S, s/n 0674, and the first rear-engined grand prix prototype in early Spring of 1960. Many photographs show the skilled craftsmen of the time at work whether it be installing a clutch and gearbox in a 250 GT or a panel beater at Scaglietti shaping a headlight opening on a 250 GT SWB. Some photos will make you cringe such as the shot of the crumpled 250 GTO, s/n 5095 GT.

Phil Hill testing the rear-engined prototype of what would become the 1961 Ferrari grand prix car in Modena in April 1960. Photo by Graham Gauld.

Graham sheds light on a number of the myths and stories of the Ferrari legend, including Ferrari’s adoption of disc brakes, Enzo’s supposed fixation on racing, the Indy car invasion of Monza in 1957 and 1958, Tavoni’s difficulties with Laura Ferrari, Mauro Forghieri’s struggle with the 250 GTO prototype and its poor aerodynamics, Ferrari’s sacking of Carlo Chiti, Tavoni, Giotto Bizzarini and others and the 850-cc “Ferrarina.”

Little did Graham know he was witnessing significant events that would shape motor racing history as he “. . . watched OSCA disappear, Maserati falter and Stanguellini drift out of existence, leaving only Ferrari.” By 1960, the center of the motor racing universe had shifted from Modena to the small constructors scattered about the countryside of England, and Graham had unwittingly chronicled the demise of the once vibrant motoring racing industry of Modena.

As Graham states in his preface, “Throughout the whole saga, one company has stood head and shoulders above the rest and kept the name of Modena at the forefront: Scuderia Ferrari.” The book provides insight not only to Ferrari but also to Maserati, OSCA and Stanguellini as they created and developed the heritage and history we recognize today. For sure, the influence of Ferrari was (and is) pervasive in the automotive industry and certainly in motor racing. However, Modena Racing Memories documents important facts and events and warrants a place on any aficionado’s bookshelf.

My only criticism of the book is that it was too short as I wanted more stories about those fascinating times. Thank you for the memories Graham.

Jeff Allison has been writing and photographing vintage sports cars and racing events since 1976. He’s served in editorial positions for "MG Abingdon Classics" and "Vintage Motorsport" and now serves as the editor of "Prancing Horse", the magazine of the Ferrari Club of America.

This book review was reprinted with the permission of Prancing Horse.

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