Ferrari’s history is full of many glorious moments. However, some episodes fill our hearts with pride more than others. Moments in which Ferrari’s overwhelming power crushes its opponents. 16 June 1963 is a date that remains carved in the annals of motoring. Lorenzo Bandini and Lodovico Scarfiotti, driving a Ferrari 250 P, won the world’s most prestigious and demanding race: the 24 Hours of Le Mans, now in its 40th edition, which, unusually, turned out totally rain free. It was the first and only time that a fully Italian crew won the race, doing so at the wheel of an Italian car.
We are talking about two young promising drivers not yet in their thirties: Bandini was 27 and Scarfiotti 29, nicknamed Lulu, and a cousin of Gianni Agnelli. The two drivers were talented, and they showed it by also going on to win in Formula 1: the former in Austria in 1964 and the latter at Monza in 1966. At Le Mans they shared the work more or less evenly: Scarfiotti was at the wheel for 10 hours and 50 minutes, Bandini for 12 hours and 44. They pulled into the pits 12 times, losing only 26 minutes in an intelligently fought race. In second place from the sixth hour in, they took the lead six hours from the end, taking advantage of another problem with John Surtees and Willy Mairesse’s 250 P, with the Belgian only narrowly escaping the flames that enveloped the car when fuel leaked during refilling. Then came the Ecurie Nationale Belge 250 GTO, crewed by Jean Blaton, nicknamed “Beurlys” and Gerard Langlois van Ophem, while another official 250 P, driven by Mike Parkes and Umberto Maglioli completed the podium. The Prancing Horse was totally dominant, occupying the top six positions: Dumay/”Elde”, in the 250 GTO; Sears/Salmon in the the British importer’s 330 LMB sport; and Gregory/Piper in the NART team 250 GTO LMB.
Le Mans was a Maranello fiefdom from 1960, with the three consecutive wins by the specialist Olivier Gendebien: one paired with Paul Frère in an all-Belgian crew, and two with Phil Hill, but actually the duo had previously won in 1958. So 1964 was the fourth consecutive victory for the Prancing Horse; another couple came over the following years.
The P 250 was a car from which much was expected, since it was the first with a 3-litre 310 hp mid-engined 12-cylinder power unit. It was designed by Pininfarina, now written as one word, after a decree in 1961 by President of Italy Giovanni Gronchi allowing the change of surname. The car stood out for the rollbar/wing behind the driver’s head and the two air intakes on the rear wheel arches, accompanying a very clean and effective line. In 1963 it won three races out of four and took the World Endurance title.