Old Warriors

Ferrari 250 Le Mans Berlinetta

Affectionately called  the 'Old Shoe' by its lovers and meant to replace the aging GTO 250,  LM 250 was also called a 250 P with a roof.  A Ferrari first  to boast a 3.0 liter (initially) V12 sitting a few inches away at the rear from the driver. Some how a Ferrari doesn't seem to be  Ferrari if it doesn't boast a V12. 
Though Ferrari had already experimented with V6 and V8 at the rear in the form of Dino 246 and Dino 248 SP, but Maserati's adventure with V12  finally proved that a V12 can sit in the rear. Ing. Alfieri of Maserati had already installed a V12 in the rear in his Tipo 63, though it did not handle well, still proved that it could be done. The LM 250 was more a cross between a Dino and  GTO 250, but still emerged with an identity of its own, that will be remembered by the racing aficionados forever.


Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta

The Dino chassis was marginally lengthened, the old robust and trustworthy GTO 250 V12  engine was shoehorned in the rear which was designed by Ing. Gioacchino Colombo in 1946. At birth with 1.5 liters and 95 BHP, this engine had grown to 3 liters with an output  of 300 B HP. The engine block came in Silumin with steel cylinder liners, The Testa Rossa cylinder heads were mounted at 60 degrees angle with one overhead camshaft for each. A six twin choke Weber 38DCN carburetor was mounted between the heads and dry sump lubrication was fed by a 15 liter oil tank.

Ferrari Dino

Micheal Parkes was entrusted with testing and to cure any of the problems. In 1962 John Surtees drove this car to a lap record at Monza. The car was then sent  to Pininfarina for coach styling. Graced with upholstery, wider glass, two wipers, leather, dash board, the car felt like it was ready to take you for an outdoor shopping. But very much to racing car tradition the car lacked a speedometer. The 250LM now graced with Pininfarina's body work and painted in American racing colors was unveiled in 1963 at the Paris Motor Show. The chassis was a tube frame on which body panels were mounted. Four of these tubes doubled as oil and water tubes, thus making the insides of the car unbearably hot.

A non synchronized 5 speed gear box in one unit with the differential, was mated to a GTO 250 V12 engine at the rear. Two 65 liter fuel tanks were mounted just in front of the rear wheels. Length was 4090mm, wheel base was 2400mm, breadth was 1700mm and standing 1115mm tall, made this a relatively small car. The dry weight was 850kgs and the factory claimed a top speed of 295 kms/hr.
Logically all the 250LMs bearing chassis no. 5749 should have been named 275LM, since the engine capacity was enlarged to 3.3 liters from 3 liters. Ferrari's naming of its cars was dependent on total volume divided by number of cylinders. Hence 3300 cc divided by 12 cylinders should logically be 275LM. But Enzo Ferrari did not want to get around with homologation problems with FIA and, decided against changing the name.

250 LM and GTO 250

250LM was sleek, fast, mid engined and thoroughly reliable. It was one of those cars that people can bet on, without giving much thought. But 250LM did have some tough rivals in the form of Shelby Cobra and Ford GT40. Both these cars were legends in their own right and could not be taken lightly. In April 1964 Ferrari applied for homologation with FIA , but FIA decided against this as the minimum quota of 100 cars were not met. Enzo even maintained that 250LM was a modified GTO250 of which 100 cars were already built. The trouble started after Dr. Carroll Shelby protested heavily that a minimum 100 cars were not built which restricted 250LM to prototype category for which it wasn't designed. The car was extremely agile and fast very much in tradition with conventional mid engined cars.

250 LM - The Body In White

May 1964 was the time when 250LM was finally brought out with a definite version. The rear air intakes were enlarged and placed higher no longer feeding air to the carbs but for cooling the rear brakes. The exhaust pipes were modified to 4 and instruments were placed vertically rather horizontally. In 1964 LM entered 35 races of which won 10. LM driven by Roy Salvadori beat Mike Salmon's Aston Martin on 19th of July in the Scot Brown Memorial race at Snetterton.David Piper won a 9 hour race at Kyalani with Tony Maggs and in Angola GP Mairesse and Bianchi stood 1st and 2nd Places. A win at Elkhart Lake in USA and many more club and hill climb races.Count Volphi of Serderia Serenissima fame also had the LM rebuilt with left hand drive and, plastic rear window, air conditioning and a special roof so that Volphi somewhat small in stature could easily enter the car.
1965 was a good year for LM. Spencer Martin's LM won the Sandourn Meeting in Australia on 21st February 1965 and Willy Mairesse won the Belgian Cup at Zolder a month later. On 12th March nine cars entered the 12 hour race at Sebring. Though all the cars were entered by private racing teams, none of the factory backed cars entered the race. 

This was a sign of protest by Enzo Ferrari who did not agree with the organizers who had decided to include Appendix C cars with their big American Engines. Seven of the nine cars finished the race, the Piper/Maggs LM at 3rd position behind a Chaparral and Ford  GT40.The gear box and wheel were always a weak point in  LM. Finally in 1965 NART entered Ferrari 250 LM driven by Gregory and Rindt won the race in front of LM driven by Dumay and Gosseli at Lemans. Dumays car was leading the race from the 11th hour but shortly before the end of the race a tyre blew, damaging part of the body. The repair took such a long time and the lead was lost to NART entered LM. Another LM driven by Bianchi and Salmon was 6th for the first few hours but the gearbox started to malfunction, forcing them to retire around midnight.
On 22nd August 1965 in  Australia, 200 miles 100 lap event was organized. The favorite was Mike Parkes in a 365 P2 Ferrari. But by the end of the race the scene had changed. The winner was Ferrari 250 LM driven by Jochen Rindt, 31 seconds ahead of Mike Parkes. Fortunately in this event LM did not have to stop for refueling and its Goodyear tyres lasted the whole race. Ferrari 250 LM finally won the prototype category by the end of 1965.
On 19th February 1966 250 LM and Ford GT40 were homologated for the new sports car class. The last LM was bought by David Piper. It was fitted with P2 brakes and different suspension to accommodate wider tyres. At Marnello they still build some highly desirable, exotic machines-but not the way they built 250 LM. This car was designed to race in the GT category, but homologation problems forced it to race in the Prototype category, certainly for which it was not built.
The Dream come true- Le Mans 24 hour race.
June 19-20 1965 will always be remembered as the golden day in the life of 250 LM. The stage was set Millions around the world to witness the magnificent duel between Italy and Americana. The duel between Ferrari and Ford. Dr. Shelby's protest in the past against homologating 250LM as a GT car and inclusion of Appendix C cars by the organizers with their big American Engines had already angered Enzo. This was the last chance for LM to win the race. Of the 51 cars entered, 12 were Ferraris and 11 were Fords.

Shelby Cobra

SEFAC brought two 330 P2s for Surtees/Scarfiotti and Parkes/Guichet, one 275 P2 for Bandini/Biscaldi and 1.6 liter Dino for Baghatti/Casoni. Marcello Concessionaires had entered with a 365 P2 for Bonnier/Piper. A 250LM for Biandi/Salmon. North America Racing Team (NART) had a 365 P2 for Rodriques/Vaccarella and a LM for Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt. Two LMs were entered by Dumay for Dumay/Gosselin and Scuderia Filipinetti for Boller/Spoerry.
The first hour of the race was led by Ford. But when the Fords returned to their pits for refueling, Ferrari took over. The seventh hour saw Bianchi/Salmon's LM return back with a blown gear box.  In the 8th hour hardly a third of the total time of the race, the last Ford GT 40 retreated back to the pits and now it was upto five Shelby Cobras to defend the Ferrari onslaught. 

 Just before midnight Surtees came back with a broken spring and 10 minutes after midnight Bonnier/Piper returned with a broken exhaust mainfold. The tension mounted in the Ferrari pit at 1'oclock in the morning when the drivers of P2 cars which were mounted with new type of brakes with radial ventilation slots started complaining about brake malfunction. By the 11th hour of the race the LM driven by Dumar/Gosselin was heading the race. In the 17th hour due to a faulty transmission the P2 driven by Bandini/Biscaldi had to call it a day and depart. In the GT class Ferrari 275GT driven by Mairesse/Bourlys was way ahead of the rest. Dumay/Gosselin had been heading since the 11th hour of the race, but on a straight drive, one of its tyres exploded damaging part of the body. Gosselin returned to the pits to replace a tyre and lost the lead to another LM driven by Rindt/Gregory. This car which had been following Gosselin's LM for a long time took over and finally finished the race. The second LM was only 75kms behind. The Filipinetti LM stood 6th. Finally Ferrari won the Le Mans with 1-2-3-6-7 with two Porsches in between. Rindt/Gregory covered 4677kms in 24hrs at an average of 195km/hr. 
On 20th June 1965, Ferrari LM 250 carved a niche for itself, the day which is remembered and celebrated by Ferrari even today. 
The Le Mans race is been conducted ever since  1923. LeMans brings back images of exotic and magical machinery being raced every year. A win at  Le Mans Race is the dream of every car builder. This win is the sweetest. It is magical to watch the race especially in the night as the red hot, overheated brakes  throw a visual delight and is  music to listen the chirp from the tyres as the cars corner at high speeds.

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