We’re back racing again! The experience of racing this 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Interim’ at the 2021 Goodwood Revival, 61 years after Jo Schlesser raced the car on the very same circuit, is one which will stick in the memory for a very long time…
Simply put, there is not a show on earth like the Goodwood Revival. The event transcends historic motorsport. In fact, the cars are just the start. It’s a kaleidoscopic cocktail of vintage style, drama, aviation and good old-fashioned fun. After a year off because of the pesky pandemic, there was an even greater sense of occasion at this year’s event – a certain sense of rediscovery, fascination and awe.
This year’s Revival was special for myriad reasons, not least because Max Girardo was invited to race a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Interim’ in the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy. Chassis 1509 GT is the fourth of only seven ‘Interims’ built – a brief but significant development stepping stone between the long-wheelbase ‘Tour de France’ and the immortal 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. If you’d like to discover more about this rare and incredibly special Prancing Horse, you can read Girardo & Co.’s guide to the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Interim’ by clicking here.
‘Our’ car was delivered new to the French racing driver Jo Schlesser and finished in the national colours of Madagascar, where he was born and grew up. In addition to the Tour de France Automobile, the Nürburgring 1,000km and the GP Rouen, Schlesser raced the car in the Goodwood Tourist Trophy in 1960, finishing seventh overall. Returning this beguilingly original 250 GT to Goodwood to race for the first time in 61 years was an honour and a privilege.Not only was the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy the first race of the Goodwood Revival weekend, taking place at dusk on Friday evening, but it was also undoubtedly the most beautiful.
The hour-long two-driver affair is held specifically for pre-1963 closed-roof GT cars and this year’s 30-strong grid comprises Ferrari 250 GT SWB/Cs, Jaguar E-types, Aston Martin DB4GTs and a handful of AC Cobras, among others. Max was paired with Philip Kadoorie, the duo sharing the hallowed asphalt with everyone from seasoned historic motorsport veterans to Formula 1 legends Jochen Mass, Jenson Button and Martin Brundle.With both the single 30-minute qualifying session and the hour-long race taking place on Friday, it was a jam-packed day for Max and the estimable gents from The Light Car Company, who had prepared the ‘Interim’ so beautifully.
Bathed in soft golden autumnal sunlight, the kind you only seem to get at Goodwood on the cusp of autumn, the assembly area prior to the early-morning qualifying session was truly a sight to behold.Max headed out first, and looked to be finding a rhythm until a safety car thwarted proceedings. Naturally, Max brought the car straight in and handed over to Philip, who enjoyed a solid familiarisation run for the remainder of the session. Such an original car and one which was the oldest on the grid was never going to be fighting for top honours. But this was about sharing the car with the crowds, retracing Schlesser’s figurative tyre tracks and, of course, having lots of fun on the way round!
Max was naturally buzzing after qualifying. “It was great fun,” he said. “There is nothing like driving a 1960s Ferrari GT here at Goodwood and to bring this car back here for the first time since it raced here in period is a really special feeling. The car was beautifully prepped, sliding around with balance and poise, and that’s credit to the guys at The Light Car Company. I cannot wait for the race this evening.”Come six o’clock, the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy cars lined up once again in the assembly area. The excitement was perhaps most palpable among the hordes of photographers, who were about to be rewarded with the perfect sunset against which to capture the race.
Max took the start, with Philip poised to take over during the pit window. The start itself went well, Max steering clear of any trouble and engaging in a number of wonderful battles with the two Porsche 356s, an E-type and the Lotus Elite. Agonisingly, around 15 minutes in to the race, an oil pressure warning light appeared on the dash and, wary of preserving the Ferrari’s precious original engine, Max dutifully peeled off into the pits to retire.
The race might have ended all too quickly for the number 158 (that’s racing!), but nothing could take away from the experience of racing at the world’s greatest historic motorsport event in one of the most significant and original GT Ferraris extant. “Thankfully, the owner’s appetite has been whetted and we’re confident that this won’t be chassis 1509 GT’s last competitive outing.” Onwards! Photos: Tom Shaxson for Girardo & Co. A special thank you to the owner of this magnificent Ferrari and The Light Car Company for preparing it for the Revival meeting so beautifully.