by Bernard Martin & Luigi Chinetti
The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is honored to host Ferrari as our 2023 Marque of the Year and to pay homage to N.A.R.T. - the North American Racing Team both of which are deeply entwined in Pennsylvania history.
Innovation and Power
Ferrari has been a timeless symbol of speed, power, and passion and one of the most iconic and successful brands in the world of motorsports. Enzo Ferrari began his career as a test driver for a small car company in Milan. He made his competitive debut in the 1919 before moving on to work with Alfa Romeo as a racing driver and later as a team manager.
In the early 1920s, Ferrari began to develop promising racing drivers outside of Alfa Romeo who campaigned for Italian marques such as Fiat and Lancia. In 1929, he established the Scuderia Ferrari racing team as a way to support and develop race driver talent. The team became most successful in the sport, amassing numerous victories against stiff competition.
Ferrari's background as a racing driver, team manager, his passion for cars were combined with a remarkable ambition to succeed. In 1937, Scuderia Ferrari was dissolved by Alfa Romeo and renamed Alfa Corse. It was just a matter of time before he would begin racing under his own name and producing road going automobiles to fuel these racing desires.
On September 9, 1939, Enzo left Alfa Romeo under the provision that he would not use the Ferrari name in association with races or racing cars for at least four years. Subsequently he founded Auto Avio Costruzioni, headquartered in the facilities of the old Scuderia Ferrari in Modena.
In 1940, Ferrari produced his first racing car, the Tipo 815, based on a Fiat platform making its debut at the 1940 Mille Miglia. during World War II, and the factory was destroyed by bombing, after which, the Scuderia Ferrari name was resurrected and he produced first Ferrari-badged car, the 125 S, in 1947.
The Ferrari automobiles established themselves as a force to be reckoned with even at such a young age. In 1949, Luigi Chinetti, much against Ferrari’s wishes, in a car he prepared himself entered and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving 23 hours himself.
Ferrari went on to dominate the early years of the World Sportscar Championship which was created in 1953, winning the title seven out the first nine years besides winning a number of World Championships in Formula One. In fact, Ferrari is the only team to have competed in the Formula One World Championship continuously since its inception in 1950.
Ferrari's success on the track was built on the back of its powerful and innovative cars, which were known for their speed, and reliability. The marque’s most fameous models include the 250 Testa Rossa, the 250 GT California Spyder, and the GTO, to name but a few.
NART: THE NORTH AMERICAN RACING TEAM
One of the key figures in Ferrari's early success in America was Luigi Chinetti Sr. who was appointed as the official importer of Ferrari cars to the United States in the late 1940’s. Chinetti convinced Enzo Ferrari in 1946 that he could sell his cars in North American . Of note, the first Prancing Horse that Maranello shipped across the Atlantic as part of this new partnership was a 166 MM Barchetta, followed by a 166 Corsa Spider. The 166 Corsa was purchased by Briggs Cunningham he is credited as the first American to bring a Ferrari to the U.S. for racing, thanks to Chinetti. Chinetti's passion for the brand, and his belief in the potential of American drivers and teams, led him to establish the North American Racing Team (NART) in 1958.
Italian-born Luigi Chinetti claimed victory in the first post-war 24 Hours in 1949, three years after becoming an American citizen in a 166mm. His naturalization was sponsored by none other than Zora Arkus-Duntov. In 1958, Phil Hill, became the first driver born in the USA to stand on to the top step of the Le Mans podium after winning in his Ferrari 250.
NART was the was one of the first American teams to ever compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. NART was also involved in other international motorsports events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona. The partnership between NART and Ferrari was key in promoting Ferrari in the American market, through the team's numerous racing successes and its lasting impact on the sport.
A significant event happened in 1964. A Ferrari 158 car, officially entered by NART, sealed the win of the 1964 F1 World championship with John Surtees. As the works team competed the in the last two races of the season, the United States Grand Prix and Mexican Grand Prix, the livery of the cars where painted white and blue - the national colors of the team. This was done as a protest because of arguments between Ferrari and the FIA regarding the homologation of a new mid-engined Ferrari race car. It seems the people at the FIA where upset when they found out Ferrari had previously deceived them in just how many cars he had road going cars they produced. (Read more: Do you remember...when Ferrari raced in blue)
Where a racing class requires that the vehicles raced be production vehicles only slightly adapted for racing, manufacturers typically produce a limited run of such vehicles for public sale so that they can legitimately race them in the class. This is what is called homologation. When officials from the FIA visited Maranello to count the number of cars, legend has it that not quite enough had been built – an issue creatively disguised by a lunch break and a group of cars being moved elsewhere within Maranello to be double-counted. Whether it is true or not, the grumbles to the FIA from competing teams persisted.
NART's most famous achievement was winning the overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965 with a Ferrari 250LM driven by Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory. In that race, Pittsburgher Ed Hugus, although not officially credited as a winner, the legend continues that he was a co-driver of the winning car albeit for just a few laps. Ferrari did not win overall at LeMans again until this past June after a 58 year lapse. NART also raced Ferraris in the US with great success, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1968 and 1970. NART's team was made up of notable drivers such as Dan Gurney, Pedro Rodríguez, Mario Andretti, and Phil Hill.
The North American Racing Team's entries in the final three rounds of the 1969 season were the last occasions on which a team other than Scuderia Ferrari entered a World Championship Grand Prix with a Ferrari car.
In 1962 Al Garthwaite Jr. became the owner of Derham Custom Body Company of Philadelphia in 1962 and renamed the company Algar, short for AL GARwaite which would become Algar Ferrari. Today, Algar Ferrari is named Ferrari of Philadelphia but more about that below.
In 1972, Garthwaite and Chinetti partnered to create an automobile importing company fundamental to the birth to the East Coast American Ferrari Dealer Network.
Establishing retailers from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River and through the lower half of Texas, the Chinetti-Garthwaite enterprise imported over 1600 Ferraris to this network through a distribution facility in Paoli, Pennsylvania.
The Chinetti-Garthwaite partnership also became a custom builder of Ferrari’s. Luigi Chinetti, Jr. had a passion for shooting brake models and a talent for automotive design. In 1967, Chinetti, Jr. was started to design custom Ferrari’s. One of these became the famous 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Shooting Brake. But that is a story for another time.
The success of the Paoli-based distribution partnership contributed measurably to the restoration of Ferrari racing greatness. North American sales funded Ferrari Racing. If you’ve seen the movie “Rush” you know that Formula 1 is a contest where dollars produce horsepower. Chinetti’s idea to sell Ferrari’s in North America paid off with a Formula 1 title merely three years after the Chinetti-Garthwaite partnership was established. The Scuderia Ferrari team won the coveted Formula 1 World Championship three more times in the next four years. Many attribute those successes to the funding provided by North American sales.
In addition to its racing achievements, NART was also known for its unique and striking livery, which featured a blue and white color scheme. This livery, designed by Chinetti's wife, became one of the most recognizable in the history of motorsports.
The Chinetti-Garthwaite partnership disbanded in 1980 when Ferrari established a factory controlled entity for US distribution but the team's legacy lives on through its numerous racing successes and its lasting impact on the sport. NART raced Ferraris until 1982, at which point it had participated in more than 200 races with over 100 different drivers. On December 24, 2021 Algar Ferrari was sold and renamed Ferrari of Philadelphia who joins us on the showfield July 22nd and 23rd.
Together, Ferrari and NART wrote one of the most fascinating chapters in motorsports history. Ferrari and NART association with some of the greatest drivers and cars in the history of motorsports is why is has been chosen, for only the second time since 1992, as the Marque of the Year for the PVGP.
If you would like to attend the Ferrari Marque of the Year dinner on Friday July 21, 2023 and meet Luigi Chinett, Jr., click the button below.
This is a compilation of articles from a variety of sources and contributors. Attrition and sources are always provided at the top and/or the bottom of the posting.